Homily Notes Sixteenth Sunday of the Year: A

Gospel: Matthew 13:24-43

Have you noticed this week how the days seem to be just that little bit lighter? Especially in the evenings?

Even the garden is beginning to wake up from winter!

There are lots of soft weeds, so called because they are easy to pull out. However, in the desire to have a tidy garden, one could easily overlook the tiny seedlings that are intertwined with all of these soft weeds – tomatoes, parsley, Anzac poppies, Forget-me-nots, and marigolds, to name a few. Besides a so-called weed is merely a plant considered by the gardener to be growing in the wrong place, out of his or her patch.

Jesus brings that sort of understanding to today’s gospel – the parable of the weeds and the wheat - the darnel, growing in the midst of the crop of wheat. Darnel is also called black wheat – it looks very similar to wheat and to rye grass and is neither entirely tame nor fully wild. It’s deceptive. Darnel had its various uses. In ancient Greece, for example, it was called the plant of frenzy, and baked into bread, or brewed into beer, because of its ability to give both bread and beer an extra little kick! (Its botanical name is Lolium temulentum, meaning intoxicating or tipsy!)

The point of the gospel is very simple: All faith communities – and families - are a mixture of good and bad; the cracked and the crooked; the broken and the good; and, like wheat and darnel growing up together, it can be very hard to tell the difference.

What a gospel for our Catechumens, Bev, Peter and Kirsty as we welcome you into our community we have to ‘fess up and let you know that this is not the perfect community! It is all of the above, and then some, but it is also what we do in the Body of Christ – it’s a place of inclusivity where all are welcome and where there is a common commitment to follow the Lord and to accompany each other on this journey of faith. Accompaniment with mercy is at the very heart of our community. You are all very welcome and your story will necessarily change our story just as the catechumens before you have done so in such depth.

In the desire for a perfect community we can all be over zealous in wanting to get rid of the so-called wrong types of people. Those with different personalities, spiritualities and mind-sets, for example. That desire is as old as the Church. Look at Saint Paul – a man driven to destroy the fledgling Christian communities until his radical change of heart. Similarly, Saint Peter, look at his story – Peter needed time to realise that the redemption gifted by the death and resurrection of Jesus belonged to all people and not just to his chosen race. That fact changed his leadership.

Jesus reaches out to people of all shades and temperaments, and, in doing so, gives people hope through his infinite patience and belief in us. Look, for example, at the number of times he links prayer with forgiveness. Growth in prayer is intimately linked with growth in forgiveness.

We all bring to adult life the wounds of our upbringing, and the wounds from our relationships, and because of that, even when we are motivated by the good, we cannot always risk causing harm to others, nor they to ourselves. Hence the need for great patience and gentleness with ourselves, and with others, especially in this time of the Coronavirus where so many of our community, family, and friends, have lost their confidence, and may have withdrawn.

Just as in the garden in these days of lengthening light there is a mixture of weeds and wheat so also in our church, our communities, our families, our relationships, and indeed, in our own hearts. If we are too harsh on the weeds in the garden we risk pulling out the regenerating plants and the new plants that can produce a rich harvest. Likewise in our own hearts and in the hearts of others…

So let us pray, as we welcome our Catechumens today, for that gift of gentleness in order not to extinguish the hope in others, or within our own hearts…

Michael McCabe
Our Lady of Kāpiti Parish
19 July 2020