16th Sunday of Ordinary Time
(Ws 12:13, 16-19, Rom 8:26-27 Mt 13:24-43)
Jesus My Redeemer Praised be His Holy Name
Dear Brother and Sisters in Christ Jesus
An elderly lady looked worried as she celebrated her 90th birthday. Her daughter asked her, “Mom, it’s your birthday. But you don’t look happy. What seems to be worrying you?” The old lady replied, “It’s because I’m getting so old already. I’m the only one left behind. All my friends, I suppose, may now be in heaven. And I’m afraid they could be thinking I did not make it and have gone to the other side.”
Are we sometimes afraid that we might not make it to heaven? Nowadays, there are some people who, in their self-righteous complacency, presume that they will surely go to heaven; “God is love, and he will always understand me. So, I am sure he will welcome me into His kingdom, no matter what I do in my life on earth. So, I don’t need to go to regular confession or attend Sunday Mass. If God is love, how can he condemn sinners?”
It is true that we have to “hate sin but love the sinner” for, after all, we have to follow the example of our merciful God. It is true that we must not judge anybody, for we are all sinners. This is what the parable of the wheat and the weeds clearly points out. We have no right to pull out the weeds from the field, but instead wait for harvest time when the eternal judge will order His angels to separate the weeds from the wheat. It is true that the people who may be considered weeds can, at a later time become heart as well, through the grace of repentance and genuine conversion. It is true that in each one of us, there are weeds and wheat, and so we all need God’s mercy and kindness.
However, while we should not judge and condemn anybody, and must in fact be understanding, kind and loving to those considered as weeds, we have to proclaim the truth of the Gospel, no matter how unpleasant and painful it is to some people, in the Gospel this Sunday, Jesus makes it very clear that besides the hope and assurance of heaven, there is also the frightening of hell: “They will throw them into the fiery furnace where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth” (Mt 13:42). Definitely, this is a terrifying image.
The catechism of the Catholic Church clearly states that doctrine of hell: it is the “state of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed.. To die in mortal sin without repenting and accepting God’s merciful love means remaining separated from Him forever by our own free choice” the key word here is “self-exclusion.” The image of a God who mercilessly throws down an unrepentant sinner to hell is not accurate. Rather, the sinner, by his free choice, has rejected God, and thereby willfully excluded himself from the relationship and communion with God. Hell, therefore, is self-exclusion. It is the person’s free choice.
The parable of the wheat and the weeds is not meant to scare us and drive us into panic. Rather, it still is good news for all of us for several important reasons. First, it reminds us that it is God who will ultimately judge us in the end. Today’s first reading declares, “But though you are
master of mighty, you judge with clemency, and with much lenience you govern us (Wis 12:18). Second, it proclaims the truth of God’s universal love for all people, both the good and the bad, for he allows the wheat and the weeds to grow together until harvest and “he makes the sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust” (Mt 5:45). And third, it reveals God’s boundless mercy for us sinners, giving us all the time and opportunity to reform our lives and be saved.
In this Eucharistic celebration, May the loving God shower His mercy upon us and we may turn away our old ways and return to God. He will embrace us with His loving and compassionate heart and He may bless us abundantly. Amen
May God bless us all,