16th Sunday in Ordinary
Time – “The Wheat and the Weeds”
'Do you want
us to go and pull them up?' Jesus
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
Solzhenitsyn, who I will definitely mention in other homilies as well because
he is such a fascinating figure who lived through several different imprisonments
in Russian prison camps before coming to the US and warning the US that he was
seeing things similar to Communism that were already taking place in the US. He gave one of the most epic commencement
speeches of all time to Harvard graduates in 1978 where he gave that warning!
some of us likely have a good question which is “why doesn’t Jesus just destroy
all the evil people in the world.”
Solzhenitsyn answers our question this way “If only it were all so simple!
If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and
it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them.
But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human
The fact is
that we are not allowed to give up on anyone.
We all have evil in our hearts, although none of need let evil triumph
in our hearts nor in our lives, but because each of us has evil in our hearts,
none of us is allowed to judge another person as good or evil. We ought to judge actions, but never judge
this year during Lent as I was proclaiming the Palm Sunday Passion narrative
from Matthew. In that Passion narrative it
says the two thieves on either side were reviling Jesus.
Gospel recounts how, as Jesus’ death draws nearer, one of the thieves rebukes
the other, and then asks Jesus to remember him when Jesus comes into His
kingdom, and Jesus says “Today you will be with me in Paradise”
What is the
takeaway from these Gospel passages? it is that when the two thieves were hung
on either side of Jesus, they were both mocking Jesus. But one thief, whether it was conversation
with Jesus or simply watching Jesus suffer, in his last moments of his life,
turns to Jesus, understanding now fully that Jesus is the Son of God and the
Messiah and makes this beautiful request
for us is obvious – we are not allowed to judge anyone, nor are we allowed to
give up on anyone. But by the way we
live our lives, by the ways that we endure suffering patiently and with hope,
those things will attract people, and will inspire some of them to convert at
the very end of their lives.
We pray that
each of us will have the courage to endure suffering patiently, and so be a
witness to all who see us, and inspire those who would have otherwise been
thrown into the fire at the end of time.