7-31-18 Tues. wk.17 – Ordinary Time. (II)
Jeremiah 14: 14 – 22
Gospel of Matthew 13: 36 – 43
Jesus dismissed the crowds, and 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. The Gospel of the Lord.
Homily: Fr. Mike Murphy The Mind of Christ
Today’s Gospel begins with a curious sentence by the Evangelist Matthew. He writes: “†Jesus dismissed the crowds and went into the house”. (Matt. 13:36) Why is it important if He went into a house? Obviously, there is something more to this than just describing what †Jesus did next that day. There is more than just †Jesus concluding His teaching at the end of the day and then going into the house to eat and rest.
The return of †Jesus to the house – marks a break with the crowds. ‘The crowds represent ‘unbelieving Israel’, those who did not have faith in †Jesus. So now, †Jesus turns His attention to those who do believe – His disciples – and He begins to instruct them privately – explaining the meaning of the parables so they can better grasp the coming of the Kingdom. And the rest of the teaching discourse in Matthew’s Gospel, Chapter 13 – is addressed to them alone – He has put aside the crowd because they are not listening. That’s why Matthew describes ‘†Jesus walking into the house.
The parable of “The Weeds in The Field” is a clear teaching about those who encounter †Jesus. Some will believe – they are the wheat. Some will not believe – they are the weeds. But this was nothing new, because throughout Salvation History there were those who accepted the Word of God and they lived it faithfully. Then there were those who did not accept the Word of God.
Look at our first reading today from the prophet Jeremiah: He weeps over an unbelieving Israel, ‘over the great destruction’ (Jer.14:17) that awaited the people because they would not trust God. Because of their lack of faith – they would be conquered by the Babylonians and sent away into exile. They could not accept God’s promise to protect them; they chose to do what they wanted to do. In this case – it was to trust in treaties with foreign governments rather than trusting in the Lord – and that was their downfall.
God would not force them to listen to His Word. He left them to their own devices. We find this throughout the Old Testament. However – after 70 years – God would bring them back to Jerusalem. He would give them another chance. Why? Because God always remains faithful to His Covenant. He is merciful and compassionate. Then, the Word of God took on flesh and walked among His people. Again, most people refused to accept Him. And finally – the non-believers – would have †Jesus crucified. But ever-faithful to His Covenant, †Jesus would give His life for all of us – believer and non-believer alike – because God is always faithful. When the Word of God took on flesh and walked among us, as I said, many refused to believe. So – when “†Jesus walked into the house,” it symbolized what had occurred in the Old Testament – God, leaving the people to chart their own course rather than being obedient to His Word. That history was now – again repeating itself in †Jesus’ time as the Jewish people rejected Him.
But now – it’s our time. What about us in the 21st century? This Gospel story is playing out again. We just don’t learn. Many people show little or no concern for others. They live their lives, closed-off from the suffering of others. They turn-in on themselves without concern for those who are in need; they are deaf to God’s Word in our time as well.
Ours has been the most generous country in the world; but look around – it is now full of angry Americans. Many people are critical and condemning of anyone who does not believe as they believe. They are critical if others live a different lifestyle than they think is appropriate. They condemn those who vote for someone different than they voted for. Do we let people into our country or do we build a wall to keep them out? Everyone believes their side has the right answer to all of these questions, but as a country, we have lost the virtue of forgiveness and compassion for one another. In the past we have been known as the most forgiving of all peoples – but look at our country now. All we do is condemn people for previous mistakes that they made. There is so much anger. We have lost that sense of compassion and forgiveness. We are not being faithful to God’s Word – who has called us to be merciful and compassionate.
In the 16th century – in his Spiritual Exercises – St. Ignatius developed ‘The Meditation on The Two Standards”. Do we stand behind the standard of Christ – as part of His people – one of His disciples – or – do we stand behind the standard of Satan – one of his minions? Ignatius taught that we must discern God’s will in all things. It doesn’t matter whether something is old or new; whether it is liberal or conservative, whether it’s progressive or traditional, Democrat or Republican – none of that matters. All that matters is: ‘Where is the mind of Christ?’ That’s what matters. ‘Where is the mind of Christ?’ – this is what St. Paul taught in the divinely revealed Scriptures. What would †Jesus do? What would †Jesus say to this person? True believers will pray and discern. Seeking the mind of Christ; they will be docile to God’s Word even if it differs from their point of view. That’s the great gift that Ignatius left for the Church.
“The Parable of the Weeds Among the Wheat” – also teaches us about God’s patience. He doesn’t just pull up the weeds during the growing season because some wheat that is not fully formed and tends to look like weeds. The Lord is patient with us. He will wait until the final judgment to do the sifting – but be sure of this – there will be a final sifting. He’s told us that. But in the meantime – the Lord is ready to forgive and be compassionate with us for all the silly things we do – the stupid things we do – the sinful things we do. He patiently awaits us to embrace our call to holiness.
Now is the time to sit at the feet of †Jesus in the “house” – away from the non-believing crowds. Stop listening to all the vitriol. Now is the time to pray – to listen to the Lord – to discern. What is God’s will for me at this moment? Where is the mind of †Jesus? He came not to condemn the world but to give His life for it.
In the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.