Tuesday, July 30, 2013

“Forgiveness is our command. Judgment is not.”

This year, or this month, or, more likely, this very day, we have failed to practice ourselves the kind of behavior we expect from other people. - C. S. Lewis (The Case for Christianity)

Gospel Text: (MT 13:36-43)
Jesus dismissed the crowds and went into the house.
His disciples approached him and said,
“Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.”
He said in reply, “He who sows good seed is the Son of Man,
the field is the world, the good seed the children of the Kingdom.
The weeds are the children of the Evil One,
and the enemy who sows them is the Devil.
The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.
Just as weeds are collected and burned up with fire,
so will it be at the end of the age.
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.
They will throw them into the fiery furnace,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.
Then the righteous will shine like the sun
in the Kingdom of their Father.
Whoever has ears ought to hear.”

If you’ve seen Westerns, you know that it’s pretty easy to spot the bad guys. They’re the ones who talk nasty, do really mean things, and always wear black hats. You also know that they’re going to get in a gunfight with the good guys, and lose. Kind of predictable, right?

Unfortunately, we may have the tendency to view this parable in the same way. We know how the story ends, after all: the good get rewarded, and the bad get punished. And we may be fairly certain that we are the good guys. But maybe that’s the problem. Perhaps we are so busy focusing on ourselves that we don’t see the whole picture.

We only need to reflect on Jesus’ love to see that salvation is not an “us-versus-them” proposition. It’s for everyone! God wants all of us to spend eternity with him. And for that to happen, he wants us to share that mercy with everyone around us. Our job is not to separate the sheep from the goats; it’s to shine the light of Christ wherever we go.

It's also true that we never know whether those who seem to be weeds may, in the final analysis, turn out to be wheat. We need only to think of St. Paul who as Saul opposed the kingdom but after his conversion became one of that kingdom's greatest apostles of all time. We can also think of great St. Augustine, who when he was young fathered a child out of wedlock, cohabitated with his girlfriend, lived in a morally dissolute way, but then, after the prayers of his mother for so long, converted and became one of the greatest teachers of the faith. Even someone we know who is passionately living contrary to the kingdom may be given the grace of conversion and become one of the great saints.

So go ahead and scatter the seeds of the gospel in the “field”! God has placed you into situations that no one else is in; He has “sown” you in a field that is unique to you alone.

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