Thursday, December 15, 2011

Homily: Sixteen Sunday of Year A: Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo

Homily: Sixteen Sunday of Year A: Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo
Readings: Wisdom 12;13, 1 6-19; Ps 86;5-6,9-10,15-16; Rom 8:26-27 and Matt 13:24-43

The Weeds and the Wheat

“You, O Lord are good and forgiving and abounding in kindness to all who call upon you….”

This prayer from Psalm 86 summarizes the Bible lessons of today. Our God gives us time. He is a merciful and a forgiving God, in spite of who we are. He is patient with us.  He is kind with the weeds, that we sometimes play, but we are constantly called to be the wheat producing -life in our Christian faith. He wants us to get into that Kingdom.

This forgiving or inviting image of God is well expressed in the first reading of today, just read, the Book of Wisdom, which says,

“There is no God besides you who has care of all, that you need show you have not unjustly condemned. For your might is the source of justice….but though you are master of might, you judge with clemency, and with much lenience you govern us…you gave your children good ground for hope that you would permit  repentance for their sins.”

The meaning of today’s gospel parable of the weeds and the wheat is hidden in this Wisdom narrative. Christ has sown in this life as seed to bear good fruits. But often time some have turned out to be the weeds playing bad fruits while some become the wheat, good fruit in deed.

But as we grow as God’s sown seeds we need patience with ourselves and neighbors. We may not have to rush to harsh judgments. Time will tell, Christ tells his disciples:

 “ let them (weeds and wheat) grow together until harvest, then at harvest time I will say to the harvesters, First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning; but gather the wheat into my barn.”

This is how God works, indeed. He gives us time for repentance and conversion. The incomprehensibility of God’s mysteries is also shown in the other parables of the mustard seed planted by  an ordinary farmer, and of the yeast that a woman took and mixed with three measures. The mysterious workings of God in history are allegorically shown in the mysterious growth of the mustard seed into a humongous tree, accommodating birds of all walks of life.  Of course, the initial small yeast of this woman has grown also to produce sufficient bread for all. Each of us, man, woman, child has something to offer.

In other words God’s ways are not our ways. The kingdom of God can be measured by the way we treat our next door neighbor. The kingdom of  God can be calculated by how we find time to visit with the neglected seniors in our nursing homes. The kingdom of God could be present for us in the sick we visit with the Holy Communion or with “a get well soon card.” The kingdom of God might be hidden in the poor that we share our bread with or with the stranger that we volunteer to offer directions. It can be present by not rushing to judgments on our neighbors.

This image of Matthew’s Jesus is consistent with the Beatitude in Matthew chapter 5 “blessed are…for theirs is the kingdom of God.”  And in Matthew chapter 25 we are reminded, still of the wicked and the righteous, the weeds and the wheat, who shall be separated as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.

Remember the Lord of the Kingdom as Saint Paul would put it, “is the one who searches  (our ) hearts knows what is the intension of the Spirit it, because he intercedes for the holy ones” ( Rom 8:26-27).

And who are these holy ones? Those who make little effort to feed the hungry, to visit prisoners, provide water for the thirsty, comfort the broken hearted and welcome the strangers. Above all we are invited to be merciful and gracious to one another as God would have been merciful and generously gracious unto us.