16th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A
Wisdom 12:13, 16-19
Psalm 86:5-6, 9-10, 15-16 (5a)
July 19, 2020
Jesus continues to speak in parables. The first one we heard today is about the weed that is sown among the good seed. An enemy has come and done this.
The master’s servants are surprised when the weed comes out. They ask where it has come from. The master tells them it was sown by “an enemy.”
Jesus explains the one “who sows good seed is the Son of Man,” while the enemy who sows the weed “is the devil.” Which seed sprouts within us?
The servants ask the master if they should pull the weeds. It would only seem natural. We get rid of weeds. But the master says to leave the weeds so as not to uproot the good seed.
Of course, this parable is not about literally pulling weeds. God has planted the seed of faith within us. The devil plants seeds of evil within us. Which do we allow to grow?
We need to avoid sin but we are not to cast out sinners. How do we expect them to repent if we don’t offer them God’s grace?
In the early church, there was a heresy known as Donatism. They tried to expel all sinners from the church. Who would be left? We are all in need of redemption.
Jesus says don’t pull the weeds out now. However, that doesn’t mean our sins don’t matter. It doesn’t mean that everyone gets into Heaven.
No, Jesus tells us there will be a judgment at the harvest. The weeds will be separated and burned in Hell while the good wheat is taken into his barn in Heaven.
There are consequences to our sins.
Lest we fear too much, let us recall the words in today’s psalm about the Lord. The Lord is “good and forgiving.” He is “slow to anger” and “merciful.” To receive his mercy and forgiveness we need to repent.
God, as the one who is all-knowing and all-powerful, doesn’t have to forgive us. As we read in Wisdom, his “might is the source of justice.” His “mastery over all” makes the Lord “lenient to all.” The Lord judges with clemency. Thus, the Lord gives us “good ground for hope” because He permits repentance.
Actually, the Lord doesn’t just “permit” repentance. He desires it. The Lord wants to welcome us back. He doesn’t have to. He wants to. So, Jesus comes to give his life for us so that our sins can be forgiven if we repent with a contrite heart.
Heaven is a big place. It is like the large bush in the Parable of the Mustard Seed where “the birds of the sky come and dwell in its branches.” There is room for everyone in Heaven. However, that doesn’t mean that everyone gets in for Jesus says, “The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all who cause others to sin and all evildoers.”
Today the temperature is going into the 90’s. I remember when I was starting in seminary, I worked at a Boy Scout summer camp as a chaplain. One day it was 104 degrees. I told some of the scouts I thought of it as a warning. One asked what I meant. I told him it was a warning about how hot it will be in Hell. One of the scouts responded, “oh, you mean like practice.” I said if he wanted to think of the 104 degrees as practice that was up to him. I preferred to think of it as a warning to do good, lest I spend eternity in Hell.
Where do you want to spend eternity?