16th Sunday O T – Year – A – 14
Wis.12:13, 16-19; Rom.8:26-27; Matt.13:24-43
There is a story about a guy who falls in love with a beautiful woman and begs her to go out with him. “Be serious,” the woman says. “You’re fat, bald, ugly and your wardrobe is atrocious.” So the guy goes on a diet and loses 80 pounds and starts working out at a gym. He gets a hair transplant and plastic surgery. He goes to a tanning salon and buys himself a new wardrobe. Finally, he goes back to the woman and asks her what she thinks. “What a hunk!” she says, and she agrees to a date.
So he arrives at her door with a limo and driver. She emerges from her house radiant, promising him a never–to–be–forgotten evening. As they walk together toward the limo, lightning strikes the man. So now he’s lying on the street dying, and he cries out, “Why now, God? Why now, on the happiest day of my life?” God answers. “Sorry, Sam. I didn’t recognize you.”
It’s funny, sure, but not at all accurate. The psalmist says, “Where can I go from your spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there. If I take the wings of the morning and settle at the farthest limits of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me fast.” (Ps.139:7-10) One of the words we used to describe God is “omniscient,” which literally means “seeing everything.”
We live in a strange world, don’t we? So many people begin things with good intentions, wonderful visions, and really want to make things better, both in their own lives and in the lives of others. Marx and Lenin, the fathers of communism, really wanted to make the lives of their countrymen better. Atomic energy was supposed to make the world a better place. But, as in so many great efforts, things are likely to eventually go wrong.
The same is true in our own personal lives. People fall in love and get married with nothing but the best of intentions, with high hopes, with hearts filled with love, and with wonderful visions. Then, somewhere along the line, things turn sour. Life is mixture of good and evil. We are imperfect people living in an imperfect world.
There’s much in our world that is both good and bad. Our governmental officials are both good and bad. There’s much in our Church that is good, and there are some bad things in it too. If we’re honest, we see that there is both good and bad in us individually and collectively. Everywhere we look we find this strange mixture of what’s right and what’s wrong.
Today’s readings from the Holy Scripture provided us with a very powerful message. The First Reading from the Book of Wisdom spoke of God’s righteousness. The Second Reading from the Letter to the Romans spoke of the intercession of the Holy Spirit on behalf of the children of God. And in the Gospel Jesus says that the kingdom of heaven is “like a man who sowed good seeds,” or “like a mustard seed,” or “like yeast”. Notice how tiny and insignificant are the three examples that Jesus uses! Then, something creative and powerful happens!
The good seed has grown into a field of rich grain; the little mustard seed has developed into such a bushy tree; and the tiny bit of yeast has caused the dough to ferment into delicious bread! These parables open up layers of meaning of the mystery of the Kingdom, depending on how you focus your camera. They can be looked at from different angles.
Jesus is not just talking about seeds of grain. Grain is life sustaining, but there are many other different types of seeds: seeds of doubt, seeds of evil, seeds of sin and despair. Like the enemy in the parable, in our society, there are people and situations sowing bad seeds in our minds. Sometimes “weed” creep into our lives and our marriages.
It can be a woman who flirts with your husband, or a man flirting with your wife. Result is a broken family. Sometimes, weeds appear to us in “attractive”, “interesting” and pleasurable forms. A weed can be a friend who invites you to take drugs, alcohol or go for gambling. Allowing the weeds to grow in our lives could mean the death of a relationship with family or friends. It could be a death of your education and progress toward your career.
The parable of the yeast instructs us on what to do with our lives. Spread love until it touches everyone. We all want as much love as we can get. We expect our families to love us. One day when you come home all gloomy, tell your wife or husband how your boss chewed you out. He or she knows how to boost you back up. And he or she will, because you love each other.
Christ urges us, let love work throughout our lives. So we can rephrase the parable of the yeast. The kingdom of heaven is like love mixed in among the good and the bad. Like the good seed, yeast and mustard seed, let our love spread out to more and more people.
Now the question is what do we do with the problem of evil? That’s the question raised in today’s readings. Answering the question is a big problem for all of us. The Scripture passages in today’s first reading and today’s gospel account suggest that we deal with evil as God deals with it, with patience and forbearance.
There are a couple of interesting points about the parable of Jesus we just heard that I want to point out to you. One is that when He was asked where the weeds came from Jesus replied: “An enemy has done this.” He doesn’t tell us why God has enemies; He simply takes it as a fact. We simply must take it as a fact of life. People, of their own free will, choose to defy God and do things on their own quite apart from Him.
Why, we ask, doesn’t God simply pull up all of evil’s weeds? Why doesn’t God, with fire and brimstone, simply blast evil off the face of the earth? Well, that’s a lot easier said than done. Suppose God did, what would happen? What would happen to each one of us? Aren’t we all a mixture of good and evil? Wouldn’t we still get caught up on their firestorm of evil’s destruction? Which brings me to the second point, namely the fact that so very often what is evil appears to be good, and what is good appears to be evil. We can’t make the sorting; only God can.
There are no “quick-fix” and easy solutions. Patience and forbearance are necessary, and to have patience and forbearance one must have faith. This is what Jesus is calling us to have – faith in His heavenly Father’s plan, faith in His heavenly Father’s ultimate ways of dealing with us and with our world.
Yes, it is a strange world we live in. But at the same time it is a beautiful world, a beautiful world filled with wonderful… even heroic people. The great miracle is that goodness and love have survived evil’s onslaught. What is the vision in which you live? Do you really have faith in God your heavenly Father? Today, once again, Jesus invites you to share in His vision, in His hope, and in His faith that in the end God will bring good out of evil. Truly Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. Amen.