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Homily for the sixteenth Sunday, year A.

21 Jul 2017, by Rev. Fr. Joel Okojie OSA in Sermons

Today, when I listen to the news or go through social media, I wonder what this world would have been like if men were God. We hear all kinds of stories and see all kinds of disturbing videos on the internet, videos of jungle justice. A group of people setting a fellow human being ablaze simply because he stole a simple mobile phone or some foodstuff. We have become so quick to demand instant judgment and condemnation, not minding our own weaknesses, not minding we too will stand before God’s judgment seat.

In our gospel passage this morning, Jesus is not only telling us about his disgust for jungle justice but also reminds us of the judgment day and the need to struggle in our littleness against every form of sin to attain great heights in the spirit by his power. That is the reason St. Paul reminds us in the second reading that we need the Holy Spirit, That the Spirit comes to help us in our weakness.

Jesus taught the crowds in parables; he said to the people that the kingdom of heaven might be compared to the man who sowed good seed in his field like every other good farmer to expect a good harvest. But at night, an enemy sowed weed or darnel or tares among the wheat. As the wheat grows, the weed presence was noticed by the servant of the landowner. He reported the case to his master and asked if he could immediately pull them off, but the master said no; leave the wheat and the weed to grow together; at harvest, they will be separated and the weed burnt. The maters’ response may have shocked the servant; he may have wondered while one would tolerate weed in his farm. The servant wanted to pull them off immediately, he wanted instant judgment and condemnation, but the master says no; give them time.

This parable would be significant to the Palestinian audience, at least, of Jesus’s time on earth as a man. The Palestinian farmers were very familiar with a kind of weed they called bearded darnel or Tares, a kind of weed that is so similar to the wheat that they are almost impossible to distinguish at the early stage. Their difference becomes considerably visible only when they begin to grow. Still, their roots are already intertwined with that of the wheat, making it almost impossible to separate them without pulling off the wheat along with it. So, the master said to the servant, hold on, they will be separated on the last day.

Jesus’ parables are so rich, full of meanings. In the parable of the wheat and weed, Jesus condemns the jungle justice that is becoming very common among our people, taking laws into our hands. Some people expect God to carry out jungle justice; they wonder if God still exists. They wonder because they feel the world and even the Church is filled with evil people, people to be uprooted. They wonder why some persons should be allowed to remain in the Church or receive the Holy Communion. Others wonder why some were ordained priests and many other hasty judgments and condemnations we hand down. In this parable of the wheat and weed, Jesus tells us not to be too hasty in our judgments and reminds us of a message that is no longer fashionable in our generation, a message that seems to have been forgotten and no longer appeal to many Christians; the message of divine judgment, hell, and heaven. Many people no longer think of heaven and hell; we have been limited to the here and now. Christianity’s whole idea has been reduced to mere miracles, and prosperity gospel has taken center stage. Living a righteous life is no longer considered a virtue in our society, but we must be reminded that hell is real as well as heaven.

There are hostile powers in the world that could slow down our efforts to make heaven just as the weed can truncate the wheat growth. Ours is not to bring down hasty judgment on these evil elements but to identify them like servants who identified the weed among the wheat and go to the master who can judge, condemn and burn the weed with everlasting fire. Like the wheat, we must live with the weed. We are in the world, but we must not be of the world. In our struggle with the weed in our lives, we must learn to always run to the master, who is the judge.

Still talking about heaven, Jesus compared the kingdom of heaven with mustard seed and the yeast a woman took and mixed in with flour till it was leavened all through. The mustard seed is tiny, but it becomes the biggest shrub when it is planted and grows. Same with the yeast, it makes the flour rise. And Jesus says, that is how the kingdom of God is like; it begins with little faith, the faith of the baptismal font that becomes like a river. Nobody enters the kingdom of God by been judgemental; it is not about power, wealth, or intelligence. It is about extraordinarily living the ordinary simple life with faith in Christ; we begin little that grows into the biggest shrub of all. Just as the yeast makes the flour leavened, so also is our humble and simple faith in Christ.

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