This Sunday is the 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time. The readings this weekend address the common questions people ask, such as: Why is there is evil in society? Why does God allow evil to grow? What happens on the day of judgement? The readings answer some of the questions, and also remind us who God is, a very patient and compassionate God. He is hopeful that the so-called “weeds” among us will be converted, and that we should not be in a hurry to make judgments or eliminate, but rather, be patient and hopeful.
The Book of Wisdom presents God as a merciful and patient God, rather than the strict, angry and judgmental God presented in other parts of the Old Testament. The reading tells us that God exercises leniency and clemency: “But though You are master of might, You judge with clemency, and with much lenience You govern us.” The emphasis on God’s forbearance underlies this reading. The God shown in this reading is so powerful and wise that He needs not be vengeful or quick to punish. This God can afford to let His enemies live, for they can never prevail, and, given time, might repent.
The second reading reminds us of how helpless we are on our own, but shows us how the Spirit of God nevertheless empowers us. The Spirit prays within us and enables us to pray in accordance with the Father’s will. Paul tells us that when things are not going well, when we do not even know how to pray, when our weakness in whatever form is overcoming us, the Spirit moves in and takes over. St. Paul fully understands the power and centrality of the Holy Spirit in the lives of Christians. The real message of this reading is that we should be patient with ourselves, because even at our worst moments the Holy Spirit is there guiding us, acting in us, bringing us along, though we may not recognize His actions.
In the Gospel reading, we have three powerful parables, all of which illustrate the meaning and dimensions of the kingdom of God. For example, the parable of the wheat and the weeds is an agricultural parable with an allegoric interpretation. In this parable, Jesus presents a wise and patient God who allows good and evil to coexist in the world, so that the evil ones may come to conversion before their time ends and God must punish them. “Let the wheat and the weeds grow together till the harvest time.” God does not condemn, but gives all sinners ample time to repent and change their lives.
God knows that there is evil in the world, but He sees that evil has no excuse when the grace of God is available to those who seek it. Through the parable of the wheat and the weeds, Jesus calls us to be
patient with those who fail to do good and do not live a Christian life. The parable tries to teach the need for tolerance, patience, and the acceptance of God’s judgment, which we all will have to experience one day. The good will be rewarded and the evil will likewise be punished. The parable also encourages us when we discover sin and weakness within ourselves and challenges us to open ourselves to God’s mercy and goodness which is a free gift to all.
We need to practice the virtue of patience. First of all, we need to be patient with ourselves, identify the weeds in us and ask God’s grace to be a better person. Then, we must be patient with others — those who annoy us by the way they drive their cars, the way they do things, those whose opinions differ from ours, those who make too much noise and disturb us and those who make our spiritual progress more difficult by their setting a bad example and counter-witnessing. We need to practice patience, remembering that, in the end, it is God who controls.
The readings also remind us that we must avoid judging others, no one is perfect, God alone. Therefore, judgment is exclusively the function of God, who is all holy. Evil is not God’s making; when He created the world, He saw everything as good. As Paul teaches us, evil came into the world because of disobedience and a desire to become like God. However, we know that God is merciful, that He allows evil to coexist in order that what is good may grow and we may learn from it. He permits evil to exist because He can turn it into good. He has faith in us, His creation. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, God can change even the ugliest thorn into a blossom of Faith.