16th Sunday in Ordinary Time A
We are reminded by today's Gospel that we are all sinners. Everyone of us. It would be presumptuous of us to sit in judgement and condemn others. Instead, we can best persuade others to follow Christ by living the Gospel in our own lives.
In using three parables of the weeds of the field, Jesus tells us that the actions of the Son of Man, Jesus, are opposed by the evil one, the devil.
Humanity is divided into two groups: the children of the kingdom and the children of the evil one.
The focus is on the great judgment that will come at the end of time. Just as the weeds are collected and burned with fire, so it will be at the end of the age.
The Son of Man will send His angels who will collect out of His Kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, and they will throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the Kingdom of the Father.
The fact that God permitted (and permits) sin and its consequences does not suggest in any way that God was the author of evil, or that God could not do anything about it, or that it took God by surprise and spoiled God’s plan. God saw (or, bet¬ter, "sees") the whole of history in the very act of creation.
Now that history includes original sin, but it also includes our salva¬tion, for even when we disobeyed God and lost His friendship, He did not abandon us.
First, He sent His Son to redeem us and reopen heaven to us. Then He and His Son sent Their Spirit, Who "helps us in our weakness" and "intercedes" for us “ according to the will of God," as we hear in the Second Reading.
Why did God allow the origi¬nal sin? The answer is that He had given Adam and Eve free will, which was necessary for them to freely relate to Him in love, but of course, because of this free will, this always included the possibility of their rejecting Him.
Why did God allow the con¬sequences of their rejection? Pre¬sumably He could have simply erased the original sin, but then He would have had to do the same for the next sin, and the next, forever. That would mean taking away our free will, for if He corrected every wrong choice, we would end up having no real choice at all.
As any gardener knows, weeding can be the greatest threat of all to the life of the young seedling. At first, the problem is one of proper identification. What is a weed and what isn’t?
So, the weeds must be left until the seedling can be clearly recognised. Even then, removing the weeds may pose an even greater threat. Weeding might damage the seedling's root system. Pulling out the weed brings the seedling away with it.
And, In the case of human beings it is an even more hazardous option. 'Weeding-out' has no history of success but that doesn't seem to have stopped us humans from weeding out those that we judge to be undesirable.
Fifty years after Hitler's final solution, the horrendous weeding out of six million Jews in concentration camps, the Bosnian Serbs were attempting the same brutal policy of 'ethnic cleansing'. And we continue to have many other examples of man’s inhumanity to man.
Race, religion, colour, sex, politics are still being used to identify and eliminate society's weeds.
And now our tremendous advances in technology had provided humankind with new and more sinister instruments for weeding out.
The unborn child, who is the seed of life, is brutally eliminated in the hundreds of thousands yearly by the sinister act of abortion. While at the other end of life, mercy killing or euthanasia is proposed as the final solution for the new Jews, that is the old, the maimed, the incurables and the burdensome. Right through life, we humans continue to weed remorselessly.
The weak and unwanted are eliminated, the handicapped are institutionalised, the delinquent are penalized, the deviant are ostracized and the poor are patronised.
And this weeding out is not just confined to a faceless government acting in our name.
We all try our hand at it. As we sit in judgment on our fellow human beings we like to think our judicious weeding-out has prevented many great personal calamities. We are very sharp at spotting the undesirables, the troublemakers, the misfits.
One shudders to think of the people who might have been weeded out if men had gotten their way and God himself had not chosen to intervene.
Most probably a great majority of the saints in our calendar would have been weeded out by our remorseless purging and we would also probably have condemned them all to hell.
If it was up to us, Peter, for example, after his triple denial in the crucifixion crisis should have been weeded out for failing the leadership test.
And don’t you think it strange that Christ never weeded out Judas?
The lesson of the parable of the weeds is so simple and but yet so widely ignored. To the question 'Do you want us to go and weed it out?' the answer is a categorical 'No'.
This week the President of the Canadian Association of the Knights of Columbus wrote a short, respectful but demanding letter to the Governor General of Canada. In it, Natale Gallo respectfully demanded that the Order of Canada given to Henry Morgentaler be immediately rescinded.
This letter is dated July 16th over two weeks since Canada Day. The date is important because it serves to emphasize that this matter is far from over.
You see, one of the strategies of the culture of death is to expect a lot of initial opposition from the silent majority – but if history is a teacher – they know that this opposition will quickly die down.
It seems that the vast majority of people will sort of salve their consciences by signing petitions and sending letters and the like but will soon want to return to the peace and quiet of their daily lives and will tire of the debate. Especially if the topic is unpleasant.
The matter will then quietly fade and the Order of Canada fiasco will stand as a testimony and another victory for the culture of death. And you will see the popular media helpthe issue to die a quiet death.
But the defenders of life are not about to let this happen and so Mr. Gallo’s letter is very timely.
Not only that but Mr. Gallo has sent a letter to all the Knights of Columbus Councils asking that all 230,000 members renew their efforts and to write letters all over again to their member of parliament, to the Prime Minister and to the Governor General. Unfortunately some of the Knights of Columbus members appear to be on the opposite side of the fence.
So, it will be a tough battle to get the job done. Only by consistent pressure, consistent prayers and fasting will the victory be won.
As a final word, I want to tell you about two ladies who spoke to me about this Morgentaler issue.
One was angry when she told me and I quote “how dare they say that they are giving Morgentaler his award because of what he has done for women. What he has done for women is given the vast majority of us a legacy of pain and hurt that will not pass by human intervention. Only God can heal this hurt.
Morgentaler has not helped women as much as they lead us to believe. It is men in fact who stand most to gain by his actions. Who do you think pays the emotional and physical price for this act. Not men. An act which was initiated by a man and woman many time leaves the women alone to pay the price but we never hear about that in the popular media.” Unquote
And another lady who wasn’t as angry but she was very determined not to let the matter die. This lady showed me her 75 letters, all handwritten because she was told this would be most effective because apparently all handwritten correspondence is usually read personally by the recipient as opposed to a secretary who intercepts all emails and typewritten correspondence.
All of her letters were just two or three sentences long. All respectfully demanding that the Order of Canada be rescinded from Morgentaler. All of them sent postage free.
She intends to send one letter a week to the Prime Minister, her member of parliament and the Governor General. She said she will contine to send a letter a week for six months to each of them. She had her letters are all written and ready to go and she showed me the box they were kept in.
Why so many letters? Well her plan is to always keep this issue before the faces of the politicians until victory is won for the right to life for the unborn. She follows up the mailing of her letters with a rosary praying for their success.
The mailing of her letters also keeps the issue fresh in her own mind. She does not want to forget the thousands of babies who are terminated even as she is praying for the perpetrators.
While we may not want to be writing a letter a week to our politicians, I think we have to admire her devotion to the cause of life. They certainly will tire of her persistence, won’t they? She prays with the determination of St. Monica who prayed for years for her playboy son, Augustine, who after fathering an illegitimate child, finally ended up contvertin to the faith, became ordained a priest, and ended up as a Bishop and great doctor of the Church and a Saint.
So you see our job is not to sit in final judgement on our brothers and sisters but rather to pray for their conversion. By following Christ’s example we must show them the way by living the Gospel ourselves.
That is why the church teaches us that we must hate the sin but love the sinner.
That is why we can and must hate abortion and euthanasia and work hard to eliminate it as an evil but we must also love the abortionists and pray for their conversion. We must remember That they are also God’s children and He loves them dearly..
This has always been the church’s teaching even though we her members have not always been faithful in followng her teaching. He would willingly have died on the cross just for Morgentaler alone as He did willingly for each one of us.
Only God has eyes sufficiently discerning and fingers sufficiently gentle for the job of judging and weeding. Weeding ¬out is God's prerogative. Life would be so much better for every¬body, if only we would leave the judging to him. Our job is to pray for our brothers and sisters.
After all, we are our brothers keepers, aren’t we. Dear brothers and sisters – keep up the pressure. Don’t let this issue die a silent death. Be faithful to the end.
Deacon Bernie Ouellette