Sunday Homilies by Fr. Rudolf V. D’ Souza

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16th Sunday in Ordinary Time
July 20, 2008 Year: A
Wis. 12:13, 16-19; Rom. 8:26-27; Mt. 13:24-43
The good seed

 

First Reading...
"There is not god besides you, whose care is for all people, to whom you should prove that you have not judged unjustly.

For your strength is the source of righteousness, and your sovereignty over all causes you to spare all. For you show your strength when people doubt the completeness of your power, and you rebuke any insolence among those who know it. Although you are sovereign in strength, you judge with mildness, and with great forbearance you govern us; for you have power to act whenever you choose.

Through such works you have taught your people that the righteous must be kind, and you have filled your children with good hope, because you give repentance for sins." [Wis. 12:13, 16- 19]

Second Reading...
"The Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words.

And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God." [Rom. 8:26-27]

Gospel Reading...
"Jesus put before the crowds a parable: 'The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field; but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away.

So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared as well. And the slaves of the householder came and said to him, 'Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where, then, did these weeds come from?' He answered, 'An enemy has done this.' The slaves said to him, 'Then do you want us to go and gather them?' But he replied, 'No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. Let both of them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.'

Jesus put before them another parable: 'The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.'

He told them another parable: 'The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.'

Jesus told the crowds all these things in parables; without a parable he told them nothing. This was to fulfil what had been spoken through the prophet: 'I will open my mouth to speak in parables; I will proclaim what has been hidden from the foundation of the world.'

Then Jesus left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples approached him, saying, 'Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.' He answered, 'The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man; the field is the world, and the good seed are the children of the kingdom; the weeds are the children of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels.

'Just as the weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they 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 their Father. Let anyone with ears listen!'" [Mt. 13:24-43]

Incident:
Lenon, a young man approached me saying that he was feeling lost in his life. He had no job, and was in to many types of addictions. I tried to guide him, help him. In the process I discovered that as soon as he finished his 10th, he was out with the youth, especially in the college. He was told that going for mass, visiting church and praying was the task of old ladies. So slowly he gave up all that he learnt from his childhood. All this happened over two years of his college life. He would never come for mass, never pray. Gradually he entered into the habit of drinking alcohol with his friends, wasted money and now he is weak, jobless, and suffers intensely. What made this young man lose all that he had learnt? Bad talk, bad thoughts, and bad friendship. Wheat grows, weeds also grow, but at times weeds out number wheat, and the entire crop is destroyed.

Last Sunday we meditated on the parable of the sower. Jesus explained the parable to the disciples and they were satisfied. Today we meditate on the parable of the good seed that fell on the good ground and then the seed sprouted and the workers noticed that there were also weeds along with the good. Now the dilemma, what to do with the darnel, or the weed? Do they have to weed the weeds? Jesus cautions them. Let them grow, when the time for the harvest comes, you can pluck them first, bundle them and burn.

Modern Situation:
My son and my daughter were very good. Now they are not. Modern world, school, market, malls, play stations, cyber cafés are the places where they gather good and evil. Bad seeds sown in school and college campuses must be rooted out and parents have greater role in weeding them gradually and slowly at the same velocity of getting them sown. Of course when the weed is already grown, some parents use humiliating language and violent means of facing such situations. Of course Jesus says you need to have patience.

How to weed the weeds? There is a method proposed. Leave the weed to grow. When both the wheat and weed have grown, it is easier to pluck the weed out. So what we should do? We need to allow all that is good to grow, and the evil will have a lesser chance to overpower the good. So, if you are good in some areas of your life, continue to be good, and let the evil be there, but be watchful, it will die out or it will be easier to pluck the evil through the power of the good. Do not allow the weed to grow and choke the good. Concentrate on good, and then you will see a marked change in your approach.

Find out the goodness you have. Just do not concentrate on the bad habits. For example, if you are good at listening music, go ahead, and monopolize this habit, and your habit at bad thoughts will disappear.

You are in the habit of watching bad movies, continue to watch movies that are good. The desire for bad movies will die eventually. Then try to overcome addiction to good movies too. That will help you get out of this vice.

Let us analyze the passage:

  • He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man,

  • the field is the world;

  • and the good seed, these are the children of the kingdom;

  • and the darnel are the children of the evil one.

  • The enemy who sowed them is the devil.

  • The harvest is the end of the age,

  • and the reapers are angels. 

Four parables in Matthew Chapter 13 deal with "Nominalism" in the visible church. Christ is not the only one sowing seed, the devil is also. But while Christ sows the Word of God, the devil sows lies. If one responds properly to the Word of God, he becomes a son of God. But if one responds to the devil instead, he becomes a son of the devil. There are only these two kinds and these are distinct. There are no "half weed, half wheat" hybrids. "He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life." 1John 5:12 You are either one or the other.

HOWEVER, this is not to say that it is necessarily easy to distinguish between the two. "Jesus was referring to a weed called a "darnel", which looks exactly like wheat in its young stages and, in fact, only the expert can distinguish some species of this darnel from true wheat. Later on, the differences are remarkable. The darnel has far smaller seeds than wheat, and it is claimed that these seeds, when ground to flour, are poisonous, due perhaps to a particular fungus which develops in the seed itself!" [from Zondervan's Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible.] An appropriate description of the devil's seed!

Don't be so gullible to presume that all the members of your church are children of God; nor even presume that all the members of particular churches in the New Testament were all children of God. It is to be understood that it is not so easy to identify or distinguish between children of God and children of the devil when they are still in infancy. Jesus is discouraging people from inferring that if one is a member of church, such a person must be a child of God. Nor can you simply go back and infer from a single event, of "praying to receive Christ" or getting baptized, must mean that the person is a child of God. Yes salvation occurs at a point in time and continues to eternity. But whether it actually occurred at the particular point in time when the person says it did, is debatable.

"Assurance of Salvation" is different than "Eternal Security". Yes, Once saved, always saved, and the object of faith for justification is the atoning work of Christ. But what is the object of faith for the assurance of one's salvation? Should our assurance that we are saved be based on a single thing that we did at a single point in time? Not according to the Bible! 

It becomes easier to distinguish them when they grow to maturity and produce fruits. "Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them (Mt 7:20). Paul, disturbed at their behavior, even questioned the Corinthians:  "Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you unless, of course, you fail the test?" (2Cor 13:5) And how do you test yourself? By examining the out workings of your faith. "No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God's seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God. This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother (1John 3:9,10). But though the distinctions may be subtle now, they will be clear in the judgment. A weed may be growing next to a stalk of wheat and think it has a common destiny with the wheat. But its end is destruction. The weed is also harmful to the wheat, its roots trying to starve the wheat from its source. False brethren can even become institutional leaders and bring much harm to the maturity of the believers. In his final farewell, Paul speaks to the elders of the church at Ephesus. "I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them (Acts 20:29,30)

  Click here for other Sunday Homilies 

A New book from Fr. Rudy :
Short review of the book: This book is an out come of a serious exegetical study on the important words and texts from the writings of St John of the Cross. The study deals with a short life and writings of the mystic and then does a complete study on GOD, MAN and WAYS to EXPERIENCE GOD. The book is available at: St. Joseph Church, Near Holy Cross Convent School, Mira Road East, Thane Dt. Maharashtra State - 401 107, India. Books can be ordered through email: rudyocd@yahoo.com or rudyocd@gmail.com

The cost of the book is Rs. 125/- pp.xviii + 234, The Title of the Book is: THE DYNAMISM OF SPIRITUAL GROWTH - An Exegetical Study on St. John of the Cross, author: Dr. Rudolf V. D' Souza, OCD, MA. PhD.

Dear friend, my homilies will be posted on Thursdays and you can benefit them and if you need more resources, you could contact me on rudyocd@yahoo.com or rudyocd@gmail.com

Let us make this ministry fruitful one so that the Word of God becomes a source of joy for me and for you and help people become more aware of its riches. You are also welcome to share your feedback with me. Thanks and God bless. 

 

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