ORDINARY 16 (A)
First collect the weeds & tie them in bundles for burning; but gather the wheat into my barn. – Mt. 13: 30
In this parable of the wheat & the weeds, there is a tendency for us to think of ourselves as being on the side of the angels. After all, we’re on God’s side, aren’t we? Well, that depends largely on whether or not we are talking about the God Jesus reveals in the Gospels or a god of our own creation.
If idolatry was a problem in the Old Testament, in our Lord’s time it had grown even greater. It was no longer a golden calf, but a much more subtle thing. For instance, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus talked a great deal about the danger of money. It is not that money is evil in itself, but that it gets such a hold on us that we tend to use it in evil & idolatrous ways. We know it can buy so many things, even other people. Because of the apparent power of money we tend to fall down & worship it.
Another problem was the “religiosity” of the Jews. It is a strange thing that religious practices can become false, destructive gods. The Pharisees had turned Scripture into a God. There are well-meaning people who in a very subtle way turn the Bible into an idol. They were more concerned with the book itself than the living God who is revealed in the book.
I have only mentioned money & religiosity, but there are many others, of course. Just because I may not have touched on your false god doesn’t mean you are off free, because anything or person that we make the most important item in our existence can lead us down a dead-end street. All too often, it is not until we reach that dead-end that we realize our mistake, & it may be too late to undo what has been done. We discover to our chagrin that we were a weed in God’s garden & not wheat.
Down through the centuries comes the clear voice of Moses who challenged the people at Mount Sinai when the Covenant was being given: “Who is on the Lord’s side? Come & stand with me.” It’s a life or death decision, make no mistake. It is a life or death decision because there is only one Source of life, much less abundant life. Only one. When you try to find life & security & pleasure & peace in all of these other places life becomes empty; & we wonder why.
I’m reminded of the young man who appeared on the Journey Home Show on EWTN who related the turning point in his life. He had no religious upbringing & had indulged in all the excesses that young people are prone to: sex, booze, drugs, even crime. One night he was sitting on the edge of his bed prior to going out with the rowdy crowd he had been running with. Suddenly, he began to cry & said to himself, “If this is all there is to life, it isn’t worth living!” That was the beginning of his conversion not only to the Catholic faith but eventually the priesthood.
You see, we humans are incurably spiritual creatures for whom mere animality & materialism are indecent. This coming week let us keep the Parable of the Wheat & the Weeds in mind. Let it remind us that the answer to the question “Am I on God’s side?” will depend upon our answer to the prior question, “Who is my God?” AMEN!