Father Valan Arockiaswamy

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HOMILIES

Close Dear Audience,
For better understanding of the spiritual message behind this homily I kindly remind you to first read and contemplate the biblical texts before reading or listening to my preaching - a human reflection on the Word of God!

Sixteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year A)

Jul 23, 2017 Views 129 Listen 4 Downloads 0
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First Reading

A reading from the Book of Wisdom (12:13, 16-19)

There is no god, besides you, who have the care of all, that you need to 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.

(P) The word of the Lord.
(R) Thanks be to God.

Responsorial Psalm

Psalms of David (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. (R)

All the nations you have made shall come and worship you, O Lord, and glorify you name. For you are great, and you do wondrous deeds; you alone are God. (R)

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. (R)

Second Reading

A reading from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Romans (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 the hearts knows what is the intention of the Spirit, because he intercedes for the holy ones according to God's will.

(P) The word of the Lord.
(R) Thanks be to God.

Gospel

A reading from the Gospel according to Matthew (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 well 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 what 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 fulfil what had been said through the prophet: I will open my mouth in parables, I will announce what has laid 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."

(P) The Gospel of the Lord.
(R) Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

Homily

Our Lord Jesus frequently used parables to convey the ultimate truth of his gospel messages, and these are recorded in the Synoptic Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Some parables are shared by all three gospels. Of the 23 parables recorded by Matthew, seven are narrated in the 13th chapter alone. Last week we read about the parable of a farmer who had scattered seed, which fell on four different types of ground - the hard ground, the stony ground, the thorny ground and the good ground. Of all the grounds, only one of them accepted the seed and produced much fruit.

Jesus compared the four grounds to four types of hearers of his Word - hardened hearers, shallow hearers, distracted hearers and receptive hearers, and said that like the good ground which accepted the seed and produced much fruit, only those who would hear the Word of God with joy, desire, devotion and faith, and understand it, and retain it both in times of prosperity and in adversity, would bear much fruit and become faithful Christians.

In today's text, we read three parables. One of the parables is about a farmer who sowed good seed in his field to grow wheat but while he and the others were asleep that night, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat. When his servants noticed the weeds, they first questioned the quality of the seed. They asked him, "Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where then, did these weeds come from", Matthew (13:27). When the master replied that an enemy had sown the weeds, the servants overcome by anxiety, immediately wanted to go to the field and pull out the weeds. But he restrained them, saying that in gathering the weeds they might uproot the wheat along with them. Instead he ordered them to allow both, wheat and weeds, to grow together until the harvest.

The word used for these weeds in the original Greek text is zizania which denotes darnel, a weed which very closely resembles wheat, and is plentiful in Israel and Palestine. It can hardly be distinguished from wheat until the plants have matured and the ears appeared. By the time of harvest, the ears on the real wheat are so heavy that it makes the entire plant downward, while the ears of the darnel are light, and stand up straight. So, for one thing, it is not easy to separate weeds from wheat, and for another, their roots are intertwined below the ground.

While pulling out the weeds one might uproot the wheat as well, and thus, doing more damage to the crop than leaving the weeds to grow together. Hence, the farmer in the parable not only stopped the servants from taking immediate action but also told them that the work of separating the weeds from the wheat, clearly was not their work either. He told them that at harvest time he would rather send out harvesters to collect and burn the weeds and then gather the wheat into his barn, Matthew (13:28-30).

Later when the disciples asked Jesus for an explanation of the parable, he told them what each element of the parable represents. He compared the filed sown with both wheat and weed to "kingdom of God" also called "kingdom of heaven". Both expressions are used interchangeably in the Bible, and they refer to God's reign of justice, love, peace, and joy in individuals and in human society. Jesus explained that the sower of the good seed is the Son of man, that is Jesus himself; the field is the world; the sower of the weeds is the devil; the good seeds are the children of the kingdom; the bad seeds or the weeds are the children of the evil one; the harvest is the end of the world; and the harvesters are the angels, Matthew (13:37-39).

Jesus did not, however, say whom the "slaves" or "servants" in the parable represent. They probably represent the disciples, or anyone who hears this parable. Jesus further clarified his message by saying that at the "harvest time", that is, on the day of judgement, he would send his angels not his disciples to separate the wicked from the righteous, Matthew (13:41-46). Until then the disciples were called on to exercise God's own qualities of enormous tolerance and patience. They were to leave the work of judging and separating the good and the bad in God's hands.

Between the parable of the sower and its interpretation, Jesus also told the crowd two much shorter and simpler parables to describe what the kingdom of heaven is like. The first one is about a mustard seed that grows into a large tree. The mustard seed is among the smallest of seeds. But the plant typically grows into a shrub of three to four feet so birds can have a resting place. The point of the parable is that the kingdom of God starts small but grows into something big and great, Matthew (13:31-32).

The second parable is very similar. Jesus says that the kingdom of heaven is like a small amount of yeast or leaven placed in a bowl of flour which slowly and steadily transforms and changes into dough. With this analogy, Jesus taught his disciples that the kingdom of heaven is something very small, but once initiated, brings about complete transformation in the world. Through these two parables Jesus reminded his followers that they may be small, but together they can help to make the kingdom of God grow.

Jesus ended his parables saying, "Whoever has ears ought to hear", Matthew (13:43). Ears are very important sensory organs in the human body, and hearing is the main function of ears. But there is a difference between having ears and having "ears to hear." When Jesus addressed those who had ears, He referred to all who had been instructed by him. He wanted all the hearers of His Word, regardless of their gender, age, ethnicity, language, or status, to listen, to pay careful heed to His Word and act accordingly.

Friends, how do you respond to the presence of evil in the world? Do you blame God for all the bad and evil that happens around you as though He was causing them? Do you sometimes wonder where God is when bad things happen? Do you sometimes question why God allows evil to grow and thrive? Do you get frustrated and angry at the wicked people in your midst?

The parable of the wheat and the weeds teaches us that in God's kingdom, which Jesus has started on earth, there are and will always be a mixture of good and bad people. Because while Jesus is sowing and growing true and faithful followers of his, the devil is planting false and unfaithful people to disrupt his work. However, the Lord will allow both groups of people to live together until the Day of Judgement when He will send his angels to gather all those who oppose God, promote sin, and do evil, and then sentence them to eternal punishment, but gather the righteous and reward them with eternal life. In the meantime, the Lord Jesus wants us, the agents or proclaimers of his gospel message, not to be discouraged and, not to pursue the evildoers in an effort to destroy them. Instead, He urges us to help spread the Gospel of Jesus and advance the kingdom of God that is already established within us, and in our families and communities, just as a mustard seed or yeast does, by bearing witness to Christ in our words, actions and attitude; by living out our faith in Christ authentically, and by being patient, kind and compassionate even to those who do evil and hurt us, and leave the judgment part to God on Judgement day.

God, who knows the heart of people, something which we cannot always know, will deal with all people in His own Time in His Own Way. It is now up to us, hearers, to pay close attention to the warnings and admonitions of Jesus in today's gospel, and then walk accordingly, as He leads us.

Today and everyday let this prayer be your prayer:

Lord, Make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me bring love. Where there is injury, pardon. Where there is doubt, faith. Where there is despair, hope. Where there is darkness, light. Where there is sadness, joy. Where there is discord, harmony. Where there is error, truth. Where there is wrong, the spirit of forgiveness.

O Divine Master, Grant that I may not so much seek. To be consoled as to console. To be understood as to understand. To be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive. It is in pardoning that we are pardoned. It is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

(P) Amen.

God Bless You!

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