Sunday, July 17, 2011

Weeds and Wheat

Homily from the 16th Sunday of Ordinary Time - Year A

How many of you use a lawn care service?  Do you remember the good old days before lawn care service and how you used to get rid of dandelions?  You had to use a dandelion fork.  You spend hours and hours of backbreaking work uprooting dandelions one by one and you'd wind up with a yard full of holes.

Now, however, lawn care specialists will tell you that the best way to get rid of dandelions and other weeds is not by uprooting them, but rather by growing thicker, fuller grass.  The grass itself will choke the weeds out.

In Jesus' parable today, he warns against pulling up the weeds because it will pull the wheat up with it.  The specific weed Jesus is talking about is a weed called "darnel."  It grows right next to wheat and looks nearly identical to it, so much so that farmers call it "false wheat."  And as this false wheat begins to grow, it wraps its roots around the real wheat.  So, just as Jesus warns, pulling up the false wheat will uproot the real wheat as well.  There's no choice, therefore, but to let them grow side by side until the harvest time.

It's a good strategy for our lives, our families, our community as well.  This Church is a field where Saints and sinners grow side by side.  All of us, myself included, is a person in which Saintliness and sinfulness are both present.

Perhaps Jesus suggests letting the weeds and wheat grow side by side so that the weeds have time to repent; while, at the same time, cultivating the grass in us, the virtue in us, so that the dandelions in us, the vice in us, eventually gets weeded out.

Some of the greatest Saints were the worst sinners.  Just look at the men Jesus himself hand-picked: Matthew was a lying, cheating, stealing tax collector, Peter denied knowing Jesus three times, Paul persecuted the Church trying to destroy it.  However, their personal encounter with Christ and their continued relationship with Jesus purified them.

Our encounter with Jesus purifies us.  And our encounter with those who follow Jesus closely purifies us as well.  Thick, full grass chokes out the dandelions.

Last night I was invited to a parishoner's house where they and five other couples celebrated their vocation of marriage.  They came to the 5 o'clock Mass on Saturday to receive a blessing by Monsignor John.  Then they gathered together in one of their homes for dinner.  They watched snippets of their wedding videos and ate wedding cake.  At the end of the dinner, these husbands and wives toasted each other and spoke lovingly and candidly about their marraige bond.  And one of the grooms said to his bride, "When we work together, we become wheat.  When we don't work so well together, we become like weeds."

We exhibit powerful influence on each other for good and for bad.  So please pray about who and what you are surrounding yourself with.  Is the "who" and the "what" your surrounding yourself with "false wheat" that, on the outside, appears to be genuine, but deep down is choking the life out of you?  Or is the "who" and the "what" you surround yoruself with "true wheat" that helps chokes out your "weediness" and grow stronger?

Are you and your boyfriend or girlfriend mutually choking the life out of each other by entering into a heavy physical relationship?  Or, are you helping each other prepare well for marriage by being good stewards today of someone who, in all likelihood, will be someone else's spouse tomorrow?

By the way, dating, true dating, is discernment for marriage.  It is the so very important time in your life when you discern if you are called to marriage or not.  And dating is also stewardship.  Stewardship, as you know, is when you are entrusted to take care of a gift for a period of time.  When you are dating, you are stewards of someone else's future spouse!  Ask yourself if you are truly taking care of someone else's future spouse in a worthy manner.

Are you and your friends mutually choking the life out of each other by drinking underage which is a huge gateway to bigger trouble?  Are you a positive or negative example for your younger brothers and sisters to follow?  Are you honoring your father and mother or showing them dishonor?  Are you helping your friends grow in self-control, self-discipline and self-possession?

Be a lawn care service for one another.  Be "true wheat" for one another.  Become Saints with one another.

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