Friday, 18 July 2014

16th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Year A

Wisdom 12:13.16-19; Romans 8:26-27; Matthew 13:24-43

The parables Jesus told are rich in meaning. For some they are too rich; annoyingly so. Why can’t he just speak plainly? Why these stories? Why can’t he just say what he means? I don’t have time to sit and puzzle these things out.

The parables of Jesus are doors into mystery. Jesus places these doors in full view of the crowds, no one is excluded. A man of good will is always ready to open and enter  ... a man of ill will has better things to do.

Parables are human stories about divine things. They take human things like seeds and fields and wheat and darnel and harvests and fire and barns and use them in such a way that they begin to tell us the secrets of God.

A man sowed seed in his field ... . The sower is God. The field is the field of creation with all the oceans and fish, wildlife and plants, sun, moon, stars and Adam and Eve:  and indeed it was very good (Gn 1:31).

But, along came the enemy, a serpent called Satan. He hated God. All his ambition was to destroy the plan of God because it promised a happiness he had forfeited. So he tempted Adam and Eve to step over the line God had forbidden them to cross.

Adam and Eve were, in a sense, asleep, and fell for it. They disobeyed God.

God’s enemy had succeeded in planting darnel in the field of God’s good creation. The seed was called suffering, and how Satan rejoiced at God’s words: Accursed be the soil because of you. With suffering shall you get your food from it every day of your life. It shall yield you brambles and thistles, and you shall eat wild plants. With sweat on your brow shall you eat your bread ... (Gn 3:17-19).

A man sowed seed in his field ... . The field here is the soul; the souls of Adam and of his wife Eve, and consequently, the souls of all humanity. The seed was light, peace, harmony, joy, innocence,  life. It was a good seed and very beautiful; its harvest would be eternal life ... and indeed it was very good (Gn 1:31).

Satan, the enemy of God, sneered with satisfaction when he saw that his seed was planted not only in the soil of the earth but also in the very souls of his victims. They were plunged into utter darkness; they were now enemies of God, fit only for hell.

Adam and Eve realised this: they realised that they were naked.

They hid from each other, they hid from God, and for their sin they blamed everyone except themselves. To the darnel of suffering was added the evil of death: For dust you are and to dust you shall return.

Who is there among us in this church who has not recognised the evil seed growing in their heart? How old were you when you first noticed it? Look at any child in the sandpit at the kindergarten. See the aggression, the selfishness, the little egos hard at work there. These children are yet innocent, oblivious of the darnel, but let those among us who believe themselves to be without sin, who believe they have conquered the passions, take great care not to be deceived.

A man sowed seed in his field ... . The field can also be seen as mankind as a whole. If the Master of the field in his wisdom allows the ‘subjects of the kingdom’ and the ‘subjects of the evil one’ to grow side by side it is because he knows there will come a time of separation, a moment of judgment.

The Son of Man will send his angels and they will gather out of his kingdom all things that provoke offences and all who do evil, and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth. Then the virtuous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Listen, anyone who has ears!

Are we ready for this moment? The happy ending to the story is entirely in our hands.

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