Archive for July, 2008

God is Relevant

Sunday, July 20th, 2008

 

July 20, 2008

16th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Wis 12: 13, 16-19; Rom 8: 26-27; Mt 13: 24-43

Dc. Larry Brockman

God is irrelevant.  That’s what a Canadian social study concluded about that nation’s young people.  Because, although 84% of those surveyed said they believed in God, only 10% believed that God had “a great deal of influence on how they lived”.  Our society teaches that here as well.  It claims that everything can be explained by natural processes through science, and that those natural processes are not coordinated by “an intelligent source”- they are just random.  So people don’t really believe God works miracles- because they can all be explained through science.  And what follows from that is very subtle, but it is nevertheless certainly assumed.  Because if God doesn’t intervene in what happens in our world, then that implies that God doesn’t work in our lives either.  So, the chances are that lots of people today, even those who say they believe in God, don’t really think God has a great deal of influence on their lives. 

Do you?    Really, do you think God has a great deal of influence on your life?  Well, today’s parable of the wheat gives good insight into God’s attitude towards our lack of faith,  Because it deals with mercy- God’s infinite mercy.   

First, let me explain something about the parable.  The word used for “weed” in the parable is actually “Darnel”.  Darnel looks very much like wheat when it is young.  That makes Darnel difficult to deal with until it grows to a mature plant.  But Darnel’s fruit is poisonous as opposed to the nourishing properties of wheat.  That is what made the enemy’s deed so cunning and effective.  Scholars indicate that processing costs would have been 4 times normal to do what the landowner ordered his workers to do- to separately gather and process the good and the bad crops.  So, a normal landowner would not have been so calm.  He would have been very angry, and sent his people out to find the enemy and seek revenge. 

But, Jesus theme in this parable is Mercy.  Jesus tells us the meaning of the parable in his own words.  The enemy is the devil; the Darnel are those who follow the devil; the Son of God is the landowner; and the wheat represents the righteous ones.  Jesus says the landowner’s plan was to be patient- and wait until the harvest.  He didn’t seek revenge. 

Now, all of you out there probably think this parable is talking about “them”, not “us”.  After all, us’ns all gathered here are believers.  “Them” are the evil ones out there in the world, the people who are not here; the Canadians I mentioned, or people who are atheists or imprisoned felons- the bad people of the world.  Well, I don’t think so.  I think Jesus is talking to you and I,   Because there’s a little bit of Darnel in all of us.  We are all sinners.  And society has carefully sown a dangerous weed seed, one that grows up right along side of us.  It looks like a believer; it says it’s a believer; but when you come right down to it, it is not a believer.  Down deep many people all around us think God is remote, and irrelevant in their lives.  And that happens right here among us, it’s not just “them”- somewhere out there.   

But, Jesus is telling you and I that God will be patient.  God will wait until the harvest at the Last Judgment to determine who is righteous and who is not.  In other words, God will be merciful. 

I see at least three lessons to be learned from this parable.  First, God is giving us every chance to repent and bear good fruit.  We can be Darnel today, but wheat tomorrow.  And God is willing to give us every chance to follow him right up until the last moment.  Second, God knows that we will be exposed to those who are weeds.  Indeed, God will leave the weeds amongst us. 

Why would he do that?  Well, because He wants all of us, and He is patient enough to give all of us a chance to repent.  Even those who think he is remote and not active in their lives.  Yes, he even loves “them”.  And thirdly, God wants us to be patient with the Darnel.  We are all called to show the same kind of mercy to others, as the mercy we would want shown to us.  Recall the words from the first reading:  “You mastery over all things makes you lenient to all”, and “And you taught your people, by these deeds, that those who are just must be kind”.   Kindness leads to conversion.   And so, the evil in the world is left in place partly because God hopes we will do his will, and by our example of kindness and mercy, convert even the hardest of hearts.     

Rest assured  God does have a great deal of influence in your lives.  Again, as the Wisdom reading says so well:  “For you show your might when the perfection of your power is disbelieved”.  Despite cynics and skeptics, this might has been demonstrated over the years in the miracles of the saints.  Anyone familiar with Padre Pio or Mother Theresa knows and understands that.

How can you assure that God is active in your life?  You access God in your life by your faith in Him, which translates to trusting that He will be with you in your life; and by prayer.  Paul tells us in the second reading that God’s spirit will come to our aid in weakness to plead for us when we pray, and I Quote:  “Because he intercedes for the holy ones according to God’s will”.  Try that- and see how he intercedes for you.  He answers your prayers by showering you with gifts- a child, a job, a healing; and, like any good parent, by disciplining you- a forced change in your life; an apparent no; or a loss of some kind.  When you have a prayer relationship with Him, you will come to understand the “why” of these hard things in time.  When that happens, and it surely will, it is then that you will know, that:

God is relevant.