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Reflection on the Gospel for 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time

16th Sunday of the year (A)

A saintly old lady was out for a short stroll one night, before going to bed. It was a beautiful night, clear sky, bright stars, full moon. The old woman was deeply touched as she looked up at the sky. With a deep sense of reverence at the awesomeness of God, and his creation, and her own limited humanity, she fell on her knees, and cried out, ‘Oh God of infinite goodness and beauty, please don’t ever let me offend you in the slightest, tiniest way again.’ Then she heard a voice saying, ‘My child, if I granted that request to everyone, how could I ever show my infinite mercy and forgiveness, which is one of the clearest ways I have to let people know and experience my love.’

Sometimes in life, we really wish everything would be alright, that every mess would be sorted out, that every problem would be solved, that like our little old lady, we would never sin again, that we would get out of our bad habits and bad lifestyles, that all bad people would be taken out of this world and so on. And so at times, we would wish together with St Julian of Norwich, that ‘all will be well.’

Friends, one of the many things that our gospel is telling us today is really this. In the parable of the wheat and the weeds, the servants who saw the ‘darnel’ (weeds planted by the devil) growing alongside the wheat, they asked the owner, if they can uproot them. But like the voice that the lady heard in the story, the owner said ‘No, because when you weed out the darnel you might pull up the wheat with it…Let’s just let them grow until harvest time and then we’ll gather the wheat into my barn and burn the weeds.’

I read somewhere a caption that says, ‘If your Church claims to be the Church of the Saints, stop going to that Church.’ If this church only opens its doors for the ‘good’ people, then this would not make any sense at all. It’s just like a hospital that admits only ‘healthy people.’   Friends, though we are not for this world, but we are still in  this world. And everyday we are confronted with all sort of things, confusion, chaos, violence, injustice, and the list can go on and on. To be able to uproot all these weeds in our society today is delusional. This is so because some of us might think that all these ‘bad’ things are only done by ‘bad’ people. Some of us just pass the buck to someone else. But  we have to know, that one of the very bad things in our times, is for the ‘good’ people to do nothing. And our idle mind, mind you, is the favourite workshop of the devil. We know this in our gospel today, the evil one went to the farm at night, when no one was there, and sowed the bad seed.

The other day, a friend told me that even though he’s doing the best he can, there are still people who are turning against him. This upset him and he wanted to express his anger to them. I calmed him down, telling him that ‘a fire can only be extinguished with water, not by another fire.

Yes, we may at times feel we’ve sown a good seed, but one day, we just wake up finding weeds in our precious field- a friend on whom we were relying lets us down, a kid for whom we had high hopes and done so much goes wrong, our relationship with each other goes sour and even leads to break-up.

What can we do then? First, let’s allow the weeds to grow, learn from these ‘weeds’ in life, but we should not imitate or allow these weeds to outgrow us. Second, let’s reflect and make this our prayer, our first reading today from the Book of Wisdom. This tells us of our God who cares for everything, who only has to will, and has power over everything. Third, turn to God in prayer, as St Paul urges in our Second Reading today. He knows our weakness. He knows everything in our hearts. We just have to allow his Holy Spirit to dwell and work in and through us, for it is this same Spirit who would strengthen and sustain as we continue to grow as ‘the wheat’ of God even though we are surrounded as well by the ‘weeds’ of this world.

Let this be our prayer then…That we would stop categorising people as ‘good’ or ‘bad’, but rather we would help each other to grow in love and holiness as we go on with our pilgrimage towards the Kingdom of Heaven. Otherwise we would leave nothing for God to do. Amen.

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