Homily – July 17

Let both grow together until the harvest. This is the wise and patient advice of the farmer in response to his enthusiastic slaves who were so eager to root out the weeds they’d discover among the wheat. As you know there are all kinds of different opinions as to how our church should be. The so-called liberals see themselves as wheat and the conservatives the weeds, and vice versa. And enthusiasts on both sides want to rid the church of those they see as weeds. We all need to hear the sound advice of today’s gospel, ‘let both grow together until the harvest.’ Hopefully we as church are done with the days of burning people at the stake for being faithful to their conscience. We must recognize that in our long history we’ve had our own Ayatollahs, Popes and Bishops who, probably out of fear, would not let both grow together until the harvest.

Let them both grow together until the harvest. Since its earliest days, the Church has preferred to tolerate different levels of commitment and holiness. An inclusive Church that is kind and lenient toward its own members and toward everyone else should be an inspiration to a divided world that has a tendency to judge harshly, to be quick to anger, and to uproot weeds even at the cost of damaging good plants. We miss the wisdom of the teaching, ‘let both grow together’ when we are quick to judge the goodness, the holiness and the worthiness of those we disagree with, those we judge to be lacking in faith or morals.

A number of years ago I saw a picture of a dishevelled boy and the caption read, ‘Be patient, God’s not finished with me yet.’ Like the church each one of us has our share of wheat and weeds. We struggle with the reality,” The good that we would, that we do not and the evil that we would not do, that we do.” Wheat and weeds. The sins we commit don’t really agree with our real, God-given selves. Our sins are bad, just like the weeds growing in the garden. But if we are honest with ourselves we know they are only a part of who we are, we know we are meant for better things. Our sins of prejudice, racism, self-indulgence, our lack of concern for those who have less, our need to have more, all these don’t really agree with our real, God given selves. In our heart of hearts we know we are called to be better men and women, more loving, more caring, and more generous than we are right now. You and I think we have to be sinless in order to be loved. If not, we will be punished instead of forgiven. God will get us. But thankfully God does not rip out the weeds in other people or in us. Mixed with all the weeds of our lives there is also handsome, healthy wheat that God loves very much. We are good people, good wheat. But good people can do selfish and sinful things, our weeds.

May the advice and wisdom of Jesus take root in each or us as we face the wheat and weeds of ourselves and of the church, ‘let both grow together until the harvest’ and with God’s grace may we foster our wheat and rid ourselves of our weeds. Remember God is not finished with any of us.