The first reading tells us God is “lenient to all,”
the Almighty judges with clemency.
The Gospel shows us the field of the world,
sown with good seed, and bad,
and one day, God’s angels will come
and cast all the weeds into the fiery furnace.
The two pictures seem to be in conflict:
Happy-happy God, vs. the Fire-and-brimstone God.
There has to be justice in God:
When we have suffered
because of the sins of someone else;
we lost a job, we lost our good name,
we’ve been abused, or a child loses innocence:
Oh, then we ache for justice;
We aren’t satisfied for God to be lenient.
There has to be a reckoning.
On the other hand,
You and I usually don’t feel good talking about sin;
Or, when someone else talks about sin,
And it cuts too close to home!
People ask: does the Church still teach
Some things are mortal sin?
Do you Catholics really believe
some things can send you to hell?
It’s funny: some of us hate to talk about this;
Some of us can’t seem to talk about anything else.
But do you notice, how different
different people’s ideas are
about what “the worst sin” is?
Is it about sex; is it about neglecting the poor?
Abuse of power, by parents, business, or clergy?
Is it what we fail to do?
Is it when we fail to believe?
Is it what we say; or our bad example?
Is it violence, with hands or with words?
Did I leave any out? Sure I did!
But you know something—that list I just gave?
At some point or another,
the Lord referred to each of these—and more—
as sins that can send us to hell!
God say’s he’s just; God says he’s lenient.
We want both, don’t we?
It’s no use pretending there’s no tension.
Let me say it this way:
It doesn’t mean much to talk about God’s mercy,
if we don’t take sin seriously—
Because what’s he being merciful about?
Same way, we can’t demand justice,
And then soft-pedal sin:
Because where do you think the INjustice comes from?
God says he’s soft; God says he’s hard.
Good wheat, and bad weeds,
both get their due.
How do we solve it?
Here's how God solves it…
God can do something you and I can’t do:
God can turn weeds into wheat!
God can turn sinners into saints;
God can take away sin, and lift the burden,
He can cleanse the heart,
He can wipe the slate clean.
You say, “well, that’s the mercy, sure—
But where’s the justice?”
See the Cross? There’s the Justice!
When you and I contemplate how precious his Blood is,
was enough to pay for every sin
there ever will be, or ever was!
Not only the mercy of God,
But also the justice of God,
Takes what is awful, and horrible:
And he doesn’t just pay for it,
He transforms it.
The Cross: it’s awful, it’s horrible.
But he transforms it:
He chose it; and he didn’t stay dead;
He rose from the dead—he lives!
The “Last Word” isn’t suffering and death;
It’s life and power in the Holy Spirit!
His Cross pays for our sins;
And his Spirit can transform our cross, our ugliness,
Into something beautiful as well!
And that’s why
the Cross is something awful-made-beautiful;
That’s how our awful stuff can also be made beautiful;
That’s how weeds get turned into wheat;
That’s how God’s justice and mercy meet.