Sunday, July 19, 2020

Jesus wants no weeds, only the best of wheat (Sunday homily)

Our daily choices are how we sow either good or bad seed,
so that either the field of our soul is full of virtue, 
or it is crowded with the weeds of vice and sin.

I was reading a book by Father Basil Maturin, 
an Irish priest from a century ago, who talks about this parable. 
It was he who saw the field as our own lives. 

Father Maturin asked, “How often, as we look into our souls, 
and wonder at the evil we find there, do we not ask ourselves” 
where do these weeds come from? 
Where do laziness, wrath, lust and greed, 
and the trials that go with them, come from? 

And the answer is, “An enemy has done this.”

Now, to be clear: the devil certainly does not “make me” do it.
The enemy makes suggestions, often very seductive and appealing ones, 
but the choice is mine. 

So the point is, you and I cannot be too careful about what evil 
we allow the enemy to sow in our lives. 

There’s a famous saying, attributed to many people:
“Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action, reap a habit; 
Sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny.”

It doesn’t take much time given to the Internet, 
going to dark places, to allow a foul habit to take deep root. 

There are folks who think this isn’t any big deal. 
Let me tell you: there is a growing number of people 
who are finding it difficult to have a healthy relationship 
with the opposite sex because of pornography. 
It is poisoning marriages, even before they begin,
And it is contributing to marital breakups. 

So it’s vital to guard our eyes from what is degrading; 
our ears from gossip and toxic words of anger and hate;
our heart from envy; our stomach from gluttony.

Of course, a lot of us can say, too late! 
These weeds are already in my life! 
We are frustrated to face these same weeds, 
week after week throughout our lives. 
Why doesn’t the Lord simply tear them out, when we beg him to do so?

Sometimes it happens: we have a moment of conversion 
and we receive the grace to completely overcome that bad habit; 
the weeds are, indeed, ripped out. 
But do you know what often happens next?
Someone who received a great gift of deliverance slowly slides back.

As much as we hate it, for virtue to grow in our lives, 
we’re better off if it comes hard rather than easy;
just as it takes hard, physical labor to build our lungs and muscles.

At the conference I attended last week, 
in one of the talks the priest said, 
it is in our darkest and lowest places where we so quickly meet Jesus.
That is where we experience him most powerfully.
There’s no place for pride when we’re flat on our face.

So, when you find it discouraging to go to confession, again, and again,
with the same sin – realize, that is exactly the medicine you need. 
It is the enemy who says, you can’t fight the weeds, 
just let them grow. 

There’s something the Gospel doesn’t say, yet we know it’s true:
Jesus has the power to turn weeds into wheat.
I know this is true because I’ve seen it in my own life,
And there are people in this parish who will say the same.

At this and every Mass, Jesus takes wheat – that is, bread – 
and turns it into himself.
What happened once on the Cross, for us, 
Jesus extends through time, through the Mass.
Every day, we bring new bread and wine, and through the priest,
Jesus himself says, “This is my Body.”

Yet there’s another wheat, another bread, 
Jesus wants above all to take in hand and say, “This is my Body.”
Do you know what that wheat is?

You and me! All of us are called to belong to his Mystical Body.
But no weeds – only the best of wheat, 
which he himself purifies and gathers and prepares. 
That’s what it means to be a Catholic;
Daily we turn our lives over to him. Patiently we return to confession. 
Jesus makes of us the best of wheat, to become part of Him.

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