This past week has been a distressing week for me personally. I just can’t help but be affected deeply by the three events happening in the world in the past few days.
One thing that caused me distress is the terrible fate of the Malaysian Airline flight MH17 being shot down and crashed in Ukraine killing 298 people on board. My thoughts go especially to those who lost their father, mother, grandparents, brother, sister, son, daughter, whole family even, and a friend.
Another thing that ‘sickened’ me is the horrible news of the death of more than 300 people including 73 children (as of latest news), killed in the conflict between Israel and Palestine.
And the third event that also caused me distress is the typhoon that lashed through some parts of the Philippines, leaving some 94 people dead (as of latest news), destroying several billions worth of agriculture, and displacing hundreds of thousands of families. I know this was a natural disaster but what upset me was the thought of some senators being arrested in the Philippines a month ago for corruption, for plundering hundreds of millions pesos from the taxpayers money. The money they had senselessly used for their own selfish ambitions and own gratification could have been of great help to these many victims of typhoon.
Events like these honestly made me question God: ‘How could he allow these terrible and unthinkable things to happen?’ How could ‘the one who cares for everything’ according to the Book of Wisdom (cf Wis 12:13,16-19) we heard read today, let this horror occur?’
While reflecting on the gospel today (Mat 13:24-43), I got an answer. God may allow evil things to happen but He never gives us bad things. The seed he sows in the world and in our hearts us is always a good one and for the good of everyone. So it is not fair to blame God for all the bad things that are happening in the world. We put the blame however, to the evil one who sows the ‘darnel’ alongside the ‘wheat’ in the world. We can also put the blame to some people who allowed the evil one to sow the evil seeds in their hearts and even nourished these seeds with hatred, selfishness, vengeance, murderous intentions, and senseless killings and the like.
How I wished, God takes over and silenced these evildoers RIGHT NOW! How I wished God would do something ASAP to let these people realize the evil they have done, the horror they have caused, and the beautiful and precious lives they have put to an end! How I wished I could do something to put an end to all these?
However, after thinking much deeper on the gospel I said to God: ‘I would take back what I wished for the evildoers’ otherwise I would be the first one to go. I too am a sinner. I too, have ‘weeds’ and ‘darnel ‘growing in me. There are two opposing sides in me: the saint and the sinner, the pull to do good and the pull to do evil. Like St Paul, sometimes “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” (Rom 7:15).
But despite the fact of the ‘weeds and the darnel’ both growing in us, God gives us the chance, the opportunity, the power to overcome the darnel and become the wheat worthy to be kept in his barn at the time of the harvest.
The gospel today offers us such opportunity and power.
First, is that we are not to take matters into our own hands. This calls for humility and patience. We need to trust God and his divine justice to weigh things over at the harvest time. This means we must not give in to what Pope Francis calls in his Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel), “the evil spirit of defeatism [which] is the brother to the temptation to separate, before its time, the wheat from the weeds…the fruit of an anxious and self-centred lack of trust.” (EG85). However, this does not mean we just can sit there, doing nothing, while waiting for the end to come. We rather keep up living with our Christian hope, enlightened by the truth that beyond the cross of Jesus Christ, there is the glory of resurrection.
Second, let us live with the ‘darnel’ or the ‘weeds’ but not be outlived by it. St Paul gives us two valuable tips to survive in this challenge to spiritual life and growth. One is that ‘we overcome evil with good’ (Rom 12:21) and two is that we should ‘not grow weary in doing what is right’ (Gal 6:9).
Third is that we grow with the darnel or weeds but not be outgrown by it. This we can do through nourishing our souls with spiritual food and with heavenly longings, such as constant connection and communication with our God, in prayer, in our constant and regular encounter with Jesus in the Eucharist and in the sacraments, in the service to the poor and the needy, in bringing God into our day to day life and work, just allowing God to be part of our life and to be on top on the ladder of our priorities.
Yet to take on all those challenges mentioned above, we need to take our Christian faith seriously. This is one seed of the kingdom that God has planted in our hearts to be nurtured and to be cared for. Like the small mustard seed our faith must grow and bear fruit. Like that yeast, our faith must help us transform from within. Without faith, life would be bleak for us, and life would seemed to have no way out, nothing beyond. But with faith, life would have more meaning. With faith, we can make so much difference. With faith, lived, expressed and nourished by good works, we can live on, despite the evil things happening around us. With faith we live on without being outlived by the evil one. With faith, we can grow as worthy subjects of the Kingdom of God without being outgrown.
So let’s take our faith seriously. I leave you with a quote from Michael Kent because this speaks so much of how can our faith give meaning in our life now. Kent said: “Darkness can best be eliminated not by cursing it but by lighting one small candle.” This small candle is our faith, let’s keep it burning and we’ll be amazed of the difference it makes.
God bless everyone and with faith in our hearts join me in this prayer:
PRAYER FOR THE VICTIMS OF NATURAL AND MAN-MADE
Almighty, Father, God of mercy and of peace
we humble ourselves in prayer
and lay down our unified thoughts before you:
For those who have perished in the plane crash in the Ukraine and
for their families who grieve,
For the people caught up in the conflict between Israel and Palestine
and in countries where tensions and war are evident, and
For the people in the Philippines who are once again affected by the
latest typhoon Rammasun/Glenda.
We believe your compassionate heart is crying and is suffering with us at this time.
Look with mercy on those who have lost their lives,
Let your loving embrace comfort the grieving families, those families
torn apart and those families being displaced,
Let us all experience your loving presence and consolation.
Give us strength and encourage us to extend our support in any way
We humbly ask you Father,
please don’t let us lose hope,
please don’t let us give up,
please don’t let these events crush our spirit,
please help us all not to get discouraged,
rather help us to be more generous of our time,
of our skills and of our resources.
We ask you this, through your Son, Jesus Christ,
Our Lord whose suffering gives us redemption. Amen.