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07/23/17 Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Deacon Ron

Deacon Landry ~ Homily Summary for the Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

When I wander in our yard with guests I like to inform them that my lawn is an example of a loving and merciful God. That’s because weeds and grass are the same color.  I’ve built several rock gardens in our yard, and I take pride in cultivating a variety of flowers and shrubs for which the deer have shown a remarkable appreciation. And of course, I take great care to carefully weed our gardens.

In today’s gospel narrative, the master requests that the laborers not pull up the offending weeds. Of course, this goes counter to the very core of my being. Weeds do not belong in my gardens; I find them offensive. What could the parable possibly mean by suggesting that we allow the weeds to grow up along with the wheat?

And of course, that’s exactly what the parable is meant to do: cause you and me to reflect upon the real meaning of today’s gospel. The Bible is, after all, the word of God in the words of man. It is here to help us understand God, and to live our lives accordingly. So what, therefore, are we to learn from weeds and wheat existing side-by-side?

One does not have to strain one’s imagination in order to recognize weeds living among the wheat of our daily lives. Our nation is torn apart politically, with any number of hot button issues causing not only, but anger and resentment among us. There are challenges within the Catholic Church, where one might expect to find sanctuary from the disagreements and agendas of society. At work we are forced to not only exist next to, but actually function effectively with, the weeds that are growing—even thriving—all around us.   

 Sometimes we must look the other way to avoid the unsightly weeds: the homeless, for example. “There, but for the grace of God, go I” we gratefully proclaim. We see weeds everywhere. The concept of protecting our paradise from invasive weeds can even expand to include whatever—whoever—is unlike the wheat. We can even build walls and pass laws to separate the weeds from the wheat.

When I take a good, honest, look at myself, I begin to squirm a little. How do others perceive me? I like to think of myself as the wheat—certainly not as a weed—but, who actually makes that distinction?

It’s enough to make one question the whole concept of judging other people. Who am I to categorize people as wheat or weeds? And who’s to say that wheat and weeds cannot co-exist?

The evangelists preached to different audiences. It follows, then, that each might have a focus in their preaching specific to his audience. Interestingly, the narrative in today’s gospel is unique to Matthew. Could it be that Matthew is addressing a division among the Jewish Christians and the Gentiles? Some scripture scholars suggest that the Jews felt entitled to a laid back approach to Christianity due to their heritage; and that the Gentiles might feel relieved of responsibility due to being freed by Christianity from archaic laws. 

However, the Sermon On the Mount calls all Christians to a way of life that does not excuse us from responsibility, but requires our actions to exceed that of others. Our savior declares, “I have come not to abolish but to fulfill…Amen, I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter into the kingdom of heaven.


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