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A Reflection On The Gospel (Matthew 13. 24-43) For 16th Sunday In Ordinary TIme (Cycle A) By Fr. Isidore Clarke, O.P.

A Reflection On The Gospel (Matthew 13. 24-43) For 16th Sunday In Ordinary TIme (Cycle A) By Fr. Isidore Clarke, O.P.

Greetings from Fr. Isidore Clarke on 16th Sunday of Ordinary Time.Today I'm going to continue our reflections on parables in which Jesus uses different aspects of cultivation to tell us about the Kingdom of Heaven.Here, in Matthew 13. 24-43, it's a question of what to do about the weeds.

During the 2nd World War my brothers and I used to grow our own vegetables.'Digging for Victory' was our small contribution to the war effort. As the tiny lettuce and cabbage shoots broke the surface, weeds would sprout up among them.

Even we lads knew that if the weeds remained they would stifle the growth of our plants.But we also realised that if we pulled out the weeds too soon we would remove some of our precious seeds. A wise farmer or gardener bides his time till it becomes easy to separate the unwanted weeds from the good seed.

In today's Gospel Jesus develops the parable of the sower, which we heard last Sunday.He now focuses on the weeds which, threaten the healthy growth of the Word of God. What should we do about them?Can we learn from the experienced farmer?

The seed itself is certainly good –it's the Word of God. But the weeds are harmful; they choke the growth of the good seed.Darnel was a special problem. It tangled its roots around the sprouting grain. It could not be pulled out without removing the good seed. Worse still, darnel grain was poisonous. It also looked very much like the good seed. What came from bad seed had to be separated from what came from good seed, but that could only be done after the harvest.

Who are the enemies, who sow the poisonous weeds?They are people who threaten the life and growth of the Good News in Christ's followers.They are not only outside the Church, but also within it. Let's face it!! Each one of us is a mixture of good and evil.At times, we all set a bad example and lead people astray.Zealots, who would welcome only the perfect would exclude everybody. If they were honest, that would include themselves among the excluded!

The Church would be empty. But Jesus recognises that His Church would surely contain sinners.Instead of instantly destroying them, He is patient; He does all that He can to seek the lost sheep, to bring the sinner to repentance.Only at the Last Judgment will the Lord of the Harvest sort out and punish those who refuse His mercy.

But what should be done with these enemies? They are people who sow the poisonous seed, the darnel of the secular, materialistic values of modern society. They attack the growth of the Word of God. Today we rightly place great store on freedom of speech.That's a matter of justice.Silencing those with whom we disagree leads to totalitarian dictatorships, which don't allow open criticism and correction.Indeed, this is a greater evil than allowing people the freedom to spread false ideas.

But we must insist that freedom of speech carries serious responsibilities -to seek the truth and share it with others.

We, living amidst a mixture of truth and error, must show great discernment in distinguishing the one from the other.Those who are most vulnerable need to be protected from harmful ideas and images.In extreme cases certain material may be so offensive that for the good of the community it should be suppressed and its disseminators punished.But following the argument of the parable, drastically weeding out error is not always the best approach.

Meanwhile God is patient with those who spread false ideas, which undermine the Good News and can cause so much harm. Eventually He will sort out and punish such people; the Good News of the Kingdom will be triumphant.

Above all, God recognises that nobody is completely evil.There's some good in all of us.God's grace and mercy can encourage us and lead even the worst sinner to conversion.The weeds can become desirable fruitful plants!But that's not part of this parable.

Isidore O.P.

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