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Saturday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Jesus proposed a parable to the crowds. “The Kingdom of Heaven may be likened to a man who sowed good seed in his field. While everyone was asleep his enemy came and sowed weeds all through the wheat, and then went off. When the crop grew and bore fruit, the weeds appeared as well. The slaves of the householder came to him and said, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where have the weeds come from?’ He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’ His slaves said to him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’ He replied, ‘No, if you pull up the weeds you might uproot the wheat along with them. Let them 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.”’”
Opening Prayer: Jesus, as I come before you today, I am struck by how easy it is for me to focus on everything wrong with the world and the challenges I face in living my faith. I want to focus on you, on your life in me, on the hope that is mine because you love me and desire my good. I want to love you by uniting my will and my way of seeing things with yours. Lord, help me learn to be merciful as you are merciful.
- Seeing Weeds: If we consider the wheat as all that Christ taught and all that we are called to, we don’t have to look far to see that in today’s world there is much that contrasts with the Christian life. In other words, there are weeds. In fact, it may appear that the weeds are even more prolific than the wheat, or at least they’re easier to see. How is it that God allows weeds to seemingly overtake us? Jesus himself said that our “heavenly Father…makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust” (Matthew 5:45). When we see the weeds present in today’s world–the social issues and lifestyles contrary to the Gospel–do we find ourselves becoming discouraged or do we look for ways to make the Kingdom of Christ present in the world around us?
- Merciful Love: There have always been weeds, and there will be weeds until the end of time. When we focus on the weeds we can slip into judgemental thinking and retreat from interactions with those who don’t see things the way we do. We may find ourselves becoming negative and losing the hope and joy that we are called to live. Love calls us to see not only what is but what can be. Jesus said, “Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you…” (Matthew 5:44), and “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. Go and learn the meaning of the words, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ I did not come to call the righteous but sinners” (Matthew 9:12-13). As Christians, we are called to look with mercy on those who are living far from our faith. St. Teresa of Calcutta said, “I believe God loves the world through us”; do I allow God to love the world through me?
- Judgment Belongs to the Lord: St. Paul tells us that God “is patient…not wishing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance…” (2 Peter 3:9). This parable reminds us that while there will be judgment, only God knows the truth of each person’s heart and the state of their soul. While it isn’t possible for the weeds in a field to become wheat, transformation is possible for human beings. Mercy is the source of this conversion. St. John Paul II said, “What is mercy if not the boundless love of God, who confronted with human sin, restrains the sentiment of severe justice and, allowing himself to be moved by the wretchedness of his creatures, spurs himself to the total gift of self, in the Son’s cross …? Who can say that he is free from sin and does not need God’s mercy? As people of this restless time of ours, wavering between the emptiness of self-exaltation and the humiliation of despair, we have a greater need than ever for a regenerating experience of mercy” (“Regina Caeli” message, April 10, 1994).
Conversing with Christ: Lord, thank you for the generous love you pour out on the world. Whether or not people accept your love, you reach out to them. Lord, I get frustrated seeing people behave in ways that are counter to what I know you desire. I find it hard to reach out to them. Lord, help me see them as you do and give me a generous heart, a heart overflowing with love for all people.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet for those in most need of your mercy and, if possible, I will invite someone to join me in praying it.
For Further Reflection: Pope St. John Paul II’s second encyclical, Dives in Misericordia (Rich in Mercy).
Janet McLaughlin and her husband Chris live on a mountain in rural northeastern Oregon. She puts her Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies to work as she shares the beauty and importance of the lay vocation in her writing, speaking, and teaching on spiritual topics.