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A Good and Forgiving God

Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A (23/07/2023)

(Wisdom 12:13, 16-19; Psalm 86:5-6, 9-10, 15-16; Romans 8:26-27; Matthew 13:24-43)

Fr. Samuel Odeh

Let both grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, ‘Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn’”(Matthew 13:30 RSV-CE).

God is merciful and forgiving to all sinners who turn to him.  God is loving, patient and kind even to those who are unjust, wicked and unrepentant.  He makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust (Matthew 5:45).  For us humans on the other hand, our patience is severely tested by injustices, wrongs and hurts done to us or to others.  Why does God seem to allow bad people get away with doing bad things?  We are disappointed when corruption, bias, laziness and errors in judgement and evidence gathering by our courts and law enforcement officials fail us.  How may one who believes in God respond appropriately when they are dishonored, disrespected, and when promises to them are not kept?  What are they to think, feel or do when they are cheated or when lies have been told against them?  It is completely normal in this case for any human, any believer, to be angry, to feel injured or even lonely and abandoned.

The best way a believer can begin to respond is by confronting the truth about who God is and his invitation to us to be like him also.  The psalmist does this beautifully in our readings today: “Lord, you are good and forgiving”.  When our impatience and frustrations with wrongs finally acknowledge that “There is God,” we experience consolation and peace through the realization that God tolerated our own wrongs and injuries to him, to others and even to our own very selves.  God showed us mercy also when we sinned, and accepting this brings us to embrace him and to overcome the pains of injustices: there go I, but for the grace of God.

Our reading from the book of Wisdom encourages us to imitate the patience of God in waiting and watching for his time of mercy; we are to hold on to our faith and trust in God whenever we suffer injustices and other bad things from others.  People in such pain are so overwhelmed by emotions that they can no longer express themselves even in prayer to God.  In our second reading today St Paul tells his audience in Rome that the Holy Spirit the Christian received from Christ Jesus comes to the aid of such persons and prays in them and on their behalves in a manner too powerful for words (Romans 8:26).  In today’s gospel reading Jesus offers us words of caution and consolation.  We are warned not to judge and destroy the “weeds” before time so as to avoid doing damage to the “wheat”.  Final judgement, God’s day of reckoning, will surely come upon those who willfully choose evil and do not repent, but God’s delay is his mercy as an opportunity to wrongdoers to repent (2Peter 3:9).  We are to be patient with ourselves also, with the “weeds” and “wheat” in our persons and allow God to attend to the garden within us in his good time and manner.  In the last two parables of today’s gospel reading, that of the yeast and the mustard seed, Jesus offers us hope and consolation in the ability and power of God to make use of even the smallest beginnings of the Kingdom of Heaven to produce a superabundance of goodness in us.  May the good work God has begun in us be brought to completion in the day of Christ Jesus.

“O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, lead all souls to heaven, especially those most in need of your mercy” (Fatima Prayer).

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