SIXTEENTH SUNDAY A: HOMILY BY FR. MATTHIAS LUSEMBO
THEME: LET US NOURISH THE GOOD SEED (word of God) SOWN IN EACH OF US!
Objective: That the word of God may grow in us and turn us into saints
Last Sunday, Jesus taught us that the word of God achieves its purpose and He invited all of us to become good soil for the word of God. Now Jesus is requesting each one of us to nourish the word of God sown in us. In the Gospel we have just heard (Mt 13:24-43), Jesus continues to sow the word of God.
Much as Jesus sows the word of God in us for our salvation, the devil, who is the enemy of Jesus, is planting in us the message of damnation (weeds). When Jesus sows good conduct according to God’s commandments, the devil sows misconduct. Where God plants love, Satan plants hatred; where God establishes peace, the Devil brings violence. And the two seeds are sown in the same human being. Hence, destruction of a person is destruction of both the bad and the good in him/her.
But why is Satan planting weeds in us? Devil-worshipers claim that God and Satan created the world together, but God wants to monopolize it. So, the Devil opposes whatever God says or does.
Much as God would like to take people to heaven, the Devil is struggling to pull them into hell.
But why doesn’t the almighty God simply eliminate the satanic weeds and the devil and solve the problem for good, as the Messiah was expected to do? Oh No! God would be contradicting himself. He gave us freedom. He does not want to force anybody into heaven. It is the individual human being who has to make a fundamental option, either for God or for the devil, either to go to heaven or to hell.
In other words, the individual person, who now acts as the soil for the two seeds, the good seed and the bad seed, is expected to use his or her freedom to enable either the good seed or the bad one to grow.
Nevertheless, God does not want anybody to perish (Jn 3:17). Hence, God is patient with people, allowing them time to choose and nourish the seed which they want to grow in them, either the saintly seed or the devilish one.
God gives us time to see whether we become saintly or devilish. At each one’s religious infancy it is not easy to tell whether the individual will become more saintly or more devilish. Therefore, it is necessary to give time. This is the reason why Jesus gave this parable.
Unlike many human beings, God is patient with us. That is why the book of Wisdom, written by a Jewish wise man living by then at Alexandria, in Egypt, Africa, says of God: “But though you are master of might, you judge with clemency, and with much lenience you govern us.” (Wisdom 12: 18). The Author of the book of Wisdom wrote this in answer to the Jews in Diaspora, who were complaining against God, that he was letting sinful pagans prosper.
Many humans want immediate punishments for wrong doers. That is why the disciples James and John wanted fire to come down and consume the Samaritans who had not allowed Jesus and his disciples to pass through their land. Jesus, instead, chose to give them time to repent. (Lk 9:54f).
If God had killed Saul, his persecutor, before he became Apostle Paul, what a miss the Church would have had! The same could be said of St. Augustine, because at first he was more devilish than saintly.
The word of God sown to introduce God’s Kingdom in us, is as small as a mustard seed. It needs to grow. It is like yeast; it needs time and heat to make the kingdom enlarge in us.
During the process of growth, there is competition between good and evil, or between God’s influence and that of Satan. One who wants to become a saint, that is to say, to develop the Kingdom of God introduced in him or her must fight off the devilish temptations and let God be his/her King. Sometimes one will be victorious. At other times one will be overcome by the devil. But one who is really determined to become a saint will not give up.
One will go for the sacrament of reconciliation whenever one is defeated by the devil, and receive Holy Communion regularly, thereby receiving the sanctifying grace. One will read the bible and pray daily to God and get actual grace in order to be strong enough to defeat the devil. If one continues in this direction as we are doing in this Holy Eucharist, one will be identified by God’s harvesters as wheat; that is to say as a saint, and hence fit for heaven.
This implies that the Kingdom of God sown in this individual has grown like a mustard seed. The individual has successfully struggled to obey his/her heavenly King.
As St. Paul has said (in Rom 8:26-27), the Holy Spirit is making the seed of holiness sown in us at baptism grow and leaven us like yeast. Christ is here in this Eucharist to nourish the good seed in us with His word and body to turn us into saints. In any case, let us always nourish the good seed sown in us and be patient with others who are still fighting the devil.