July 19th, 2020: Homily- Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

ANG masamang damo ay hindi namamatay” or “Bad grass never dies”, a Filipino dictum goes. Of course, it doesn’t mean if you’re 75 and above, you’re a bad grass!

What our Lord is saying on this Sunday is that the bad grass or evil is here with us, it co-exists with the good one. Such realities are around us – people are killed, abandoned, abused and countries are at war.

Someone might ask, “Why do such heartless killers exist? Why do evildoers go free and prosper while good people seem to suffer in this world?” And “we who’re trying to be good seem to be the losers!”

This is a question that has been raised, and continues to be raised in our age and time. Perhaps you yourself are raising the question in frustration right now.

Such is the mystery of evil in the world.

But an answer seems to be found in Jesus’ parable this Sunday of the weeds and the wheat. “Let them grow together,” Christ says (Mt 13: 30). There will be a time to separate the weeds from the wheat, and the weeds will be burned.

On examining more closely, the farmer, which represents God in the parable, said not to pull up the weeds lest they uproot the wheat but this is not right according to the standards of farming and gardening. You do not wait to pull out the weeds only at the time of harvest.

But Jesus has a message here. He wants to show us that God’s ways are radically different from ours. He’s telling us, “That’s how patient God is with sinners.

Obviously this does not mean that criminals and wrongdoers should go unpunished and not weeded out. Jesus considers the conversion of a person. And conversion for him is a process, that’s why he wants to judge a person at the end time. By doing this, he always gives a space for a person to change. Indeed, he is a God of second chance. He does not punish a person outright. While a person lives, there is hope for transformation and conversion. (There is hope because there are opportunities for dialogue, negotiation, and understanding.)

What the Lord is saying is that while justice must be meted out now, there will be a final judgement when the weeds and all the evil men will get their just punishment.

That’s why God delays His final judgement till the harvest time. However, the delay is also a warning. Christ is saying that we should shape up or reform if we want to be saved from eternal damnation.

While we fight evil in society, we should do the same in ourselves. Evil lurks in our hearts. For instance, we get angry or jealous. We hate our enemies and even want to harm them. But it is in struggling against evil within us that helps us grow and become fruitful. Struggling from sin and suffering make us stronger, more resilient, and more trusting. It is by forgiving others that we become stronger and more patient.

Likewise, while waiting for the final judgment, we should do what we can to counter evil instead of talking about them and criticizing. As the dictum puts it, “It is better to light a little candle than to curse the darkness.

So, let us patiently and lovingly treat the “weeds” in our society as our brothers and sisters and do all in our power to put them back on the right road to Heaven, especially by our good example, encouragement and our fervent prayer for their conversion. Let us remember that most of us have been “weeds” in God’s field, and God has shown us mercy. God is so merciful that He allows evil to exist in order that what is good may grow. He allows evil to exist also because He can turn it into good. Through the power of the Spirit, God can change even the ugliest thorn into a blossom of Faith. In God’s field, we have two responsibilities: to grow in grace or God’s favor and to share His Word and love with others. We need to grow up as healthy wheat in God’s field, leaving the “weeds” for God to take care of. Our acts of charity, kindness, mercy, encouragement, loving correction and selfless service can prompt the “weeds” in our society to reassess their lives, modify them and become useful members of society.

Edmund Burke, a British statesman, once said: “The only way by which evil men prosper in society is for the good to do nothing.

Thus, let us always reflect on our last end or Christ’s analogy of the bad grass that is thrown into the fire (hell). That should make us think twice before committing crimes and wrongdoings.

In the end, let’s ask ourselves, “Am I a good wheat or a bad grass?” If it’s the latter, let’s strive to reform.

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