Gospel Reflection for the 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time

A Patient God (from my book ‘A Shepherd’s Voice’, 2007)

Jesus shares three parables in today‘s gospel: the weeds among the wheat, the mustard seed and the yeast. All parables speak of the Kingdom of God. The parable of the weeds among the wheat tells us that when the harvest time for God‘s Kingdom comes, the good will be separated from the bad. The parable of the mustard seed and the yeast describes God‘s heavenly kingdom as one that develops remarkably from small beginnings, open to all who wish to experience eternal bliss. Among the three parables, the parable of the weeds among the wheat merits further reflection as we note how the disciples asked Jesus to expound more on the meaning of this parable.

Jesus explained that the wheat symbolizes the children of the God‘s kingdom, subjects of the good; and the weeds symbolize the children of Satan, subjects of the Evil one (Matthew 13:36-39). One significant lesson of the parable of the weeds among the wheat is the phenomenon of the existence of good and evil in us and in this world. When we examine ourselves, we cannot deny the fact that there is a good side and a bad side in us. We have good as well as bad attitudes and behaviors. There are also good and bad people. We witness those who exemplify good works and those who display evil actions. Given these observations, there is an impulsive tendency to immediately eradicate what is evil for the good to remain altogether by itself. The servants in the parable manifested this when they asked the owner: “Do you want us to go and weed it out?” (Matthew 13:28)

Once, a person approached me and felt very bad about his spiritual growth. He felt that he has not matured as a Christian because he confesses the same sin over and over again. He wanted to totally remove what was bad in him. However, he felt that his efforts were fruitless. I joked a bit and told him that if he were successful in being totally good, then perhaps, I would put two candles before him and likened him to a statue of a saint that I would pray to for intercession. Even the saints have their weaknesses and limitations. Saints are sinners, too, who accepted their struggle to be good and holy. I think the secret to sanctity is the realization that we are loved sinners. This reveals a valuable truth about God—that He is a patient God, willing to journey with us in our desire to grow and mature as Christians in our efforts to conquer our faults and failures.

When asked if immediate weeding out was an option for the produce to be purely wheat, the owner told his servants: “No, because when you weed out the darnel, you might pull out the wheat with it. Let them both grow till the harvest; and at harvest time I shall say to the reapers: First collect the darnel and tie it in bundles to be burnt; then gather the wheat into my barn.” (Matthew 13:29-30) Figuratively, this response indicates that God is so patient with us that He gives us a second chance to change and to be transformed unto Him. He hopes that we will we be part of the wheat gathered into His barn, experiencing the reward of His heavenly kingdom.

Several years ago, there was a hostage crisis in a parish church. A man with a grenade in his hand held a priest and threatened to kill him if his demands were not met. There was tension among the authorities in charge of rescuing the priest held hostage, with regards to deciding on whether or not to immediately attack and kill the abductor. But one consideration that delayed their decision was the big possibility that the priest might be killed in the process. By patiently studying different angles and ploys to resolve the crisis, the authorities were able to convince the abductor to surrender with no ensuing casualties. The authorities not only rescued the hostage, but also saved the abductor from death. All were given a second chance at life. In a similar vein, God wants to save all of us. His patience gives us second chances to change and receive eternal life.

Are we patient with ourselves? Are we patient with others?

Share this insight for the #16thsundayinordinarytime

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