Central idea: God’s justice and mercy. Doctrine: The message of the Last Judgment. Practical application: Conversion and penance.
Central Idea: God’s judgment and mercy
Reading 1 Wis 12:13, 16-19
There is no god besides you who have the care of all,
that you need show you have not unjustly condemned.
For your might is the source of justice;
your mastery over all things makes you lenient to all.
For you show your might when the perfection of your power is disbelieved;
and in those who know you, you rebuke temerity.
But though you are master of might, you judge with clemency,
and with much lenience you govern us;
for power, whenever you will, attends you.
And you taught your people, by these deeds,
that those who are just must be kind;
and you gave your children good ground for hope
that you would permit repentance for their sins.
- One way God shows his power is by condemning sin, especially in those who know better (for example, when those who know him act arrogantly and recklessly). When God condemns sin, he is just.
- Yet God’s power, justice, and mercy are one, so he judges with clemency and governs with leniency. “Love and truth will meet; justice and peace will kiss” (Ps 85:11). God accepts our repentance.
- A similar quality ought to be practiced by men: by his way of dealing with his people Israel, God taught that “those who are just must be kind.”
Responsorial Psalm Ps 86:5-6, 9-10, 15-16
R. Lord, you are good and forgiving.
You, O LORD, are good and forgiving,
abounding in kindness to all who call upon you.
Hearken, O LORD, to my prayer
and attend to the sound of my pleading.
All the nations you have made shall come
and worship you, O LORD,
and glorify your name.
For you are great, and you do wondrous deeds;
you alone are God.
You, O LORD, are a God merciful and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in kindness and fidelity.
Turn toward me, and have pity on me;
give your strength to your servant.
- Since the God who has revealed himself to Israel is the only true God (“There is no god besides you who have the care of all, that you need show you have not unjustly condemned”) and since he is both all-powerful and all good, it is inconceivable that he would not become the God of everyone on earth. Thus,
All the nations you have made shall come and worship you, O LORD, and glorify your name.
- This prophecy has come true in Christ and his Church, whose mission is to bring the Gospel to all peoples.
- An obstacle, then and now, is the weakness of God’s servants: we sin and so need God’s “pity” and we are weak and so need God’s “strength.”
Reading 2 Rom 8:26-27
Brothers and sisters:
The Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness;
for we do not know how to pray as we ought,
but the Spirit himself intercedes with inexpressible groanings.
And the one who searches hearts
knows what is the intention of the Spirit,
because he intercedes for the holy ones
according to God’s will.
- God wants what is best for us. When we want what God wants, or at least want to want what God wants, deep down the Holy Spirit expresses it within us. So even though we don’t “know how to pray as we ought,” the Holy Spirit prays for us, asking for what is best.
Gospel Mt 13:24-43
Jesus proposed another parable to the crowds, saying:
“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.’”
He proposed another parable to them.
“The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed
that a person took and sowed in a field.
It is the smallest of all the seeds,
yet when full-grown it is the largest of plants.
It becomes a large bush,
and the ‘birds of the sky come and dwell in its branches.’”
He spoke to them another parable.
“The kingdom of heaven is like yeast
that a woman took and mixed with three measures of wheat flour
until the whole batch was leavened.”
All these things Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables.
He spoke to them only in parables,
to fulfill what had been said through the prophet:
I will open my mouth in parables, I will announce what has lain hidden from the foundation of the world.
Then, dismissing the crowds, he went into the house.
His disciples approached him and said,
“Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.”
He said in reply, “He who sows good seed is the Son of Man,
the field is the world, the good seed the children of the kingdom.
The weeds are the children of the evil one,
and the enemy who sows them is the devil.
The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.
Just as 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 who cause others to sin and all evildoers.
They will throw them into the fiery furnace,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.
Then the righteous will shine like the sun
in the kingdom of their Father.
Whoever has ears ought to hear.”
- In the parable of the weeds in the field, Our Lord is revealing something that “has lain hidden from the foundation of the world.”
- God wants men to be morally good so as to be children of the kingdom and one day in heaven “shine like the sun.”
- Yet some men, by their actions, are morally evil, and so, children of the evil one. One day they will suffer in hell in “the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.” This fate will be deserved because in the kingdom of God they have been those “who cause others to sin and [are] evildoers.”
- This parable provides an answer to why God permits some evil. The Master in the parable says, “if you pull up the weeds you might uproot the wheat along with them.” God does not uproot every evil now because to do so would do greater harm than good.
- One reason God permits on-going evil is that those who do evil and cause others to sin can repent.
- In addition, those who are “good seed” also need time to repent. It could be said that some wheat stalks want some weeds around them. Some Christians are living compromised lives.
- Ultimately, we are either “weeds” because we do evil and follow the devil (whether or not we know it) or “wheat” because we do good and follow God (whether or not we know it).
- We are all good seed planted in God’s garden, but we have a liking for the weeds and some of us choose to become all weed. God lets us be what we want to be, while he helps us be good if we want that. We are choosing either the most terrible fate or the best possible fate.
Doctrine: The Message of the Last Judgment
- At the moment of death, every man will receive “his eternal recompense in his immortal soul.” This is the particular judgment by Christ. (CCC 1051)
- Those who will shine like the sun are “the multitude of those gathered around Jesus and Mary in Paradise [who form] the Church of heaven, where in eternal blessedness they see God as he is . . .” (CCC 1053).
- “Following the example of Christ, the Church warns the faithful of the ‘sad and lamentable reality of eternal death’ (GCD 69), also called ‘hell’” (CCC 1056). The burning and wailing and grinding of teeth is the punishment “of eternal separation from God in whom alone man can have the life and happiness for which he was created and for which he longs” (CCC 1057).
- But both the Church and Christ want no one to be lost and for God “all things are possible” (CCC 1058).
- “[O]n the Day of Judgment all men will appear in their own bodies before Christ’s tribunal to render an account of their own deeds” (CCC 1059). This is the general or Last Judgment.
- The future Last Judgment “calls men to conversion” now, since everyone who hears about it, as Christ told the crowd about it in the parable of the weeds, still has time. Right now, for us, therefore, this is “the acceptable time, … the day of salvation.” This truth should inspire in us “a holy fear of God” and a commitment “to the justice of the Kingdom of God,” that is, to live the Gospel. (CCC 1041)
Practical application: Conversion and penance
- God wants every one of us to do good deeds and to stop doing evil deeds.
- Now is the acceptable time to do so. Not the past which is over and not the future which may never come.
- To do so, we can ponder the words of the parable of the wheat. Even though God is merciful and gives us grace, we can make ourselves into weeds.
- This is why a daily examination of conscience and frequent confession are essential for all of us.
- And here is a special urging for priests:
- Preach the reality of sin and hell.
- Preach the remedy of the Sacrament of Penance.
- Put yourself into the confessional so people can get this medicine!
The Homiletic Directory offers the following themes and Catechism points for the Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time:
- CCC 543-550: the Kingdom of God
- CCC 309-314: God’s goodness and the scandal of evil
- CCC 825, 827: weeds and seed of Gospel in everyone and in the Church
- CCC 1425-1429: need for ongoing conversion
- CCC 2630: prayer of petition voiced profoundly by the Holy Spirit