Hi everyone… here’s my homily for the SIXTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME- July 23, 2017. The readings for today can be found at: Thanks as always for reading; sharing this on your social media feeds and your feedback and comments… Have a great week! God Bless- Fr Jim

In college, I took a class called the Philosophy of God. One of the most interesting debates we had in that class was over Why do people decide not have any religious affiliation? Probably not very surprising – the major reason that those who fell into that group cited was: they felt people who go to Church are just like everybody else (actually, the way they put it – “people who go to Church are as lousy as everyone else”) They said Christians were hypocrites, they knew “church goers” who were liars, gossips, cheats, etc. just like everywhere else in society.

The second reason wasn’t too surprising either – They argued “If there’s a good God, why does he allow so much evil to exist in the world?” People seem upset, (justifiably by the way) that things are not perfect. They are upset just like the servants in the Gospel today –why are there weeds among the wheat? Why isn’t the harvest going to turn out right? Why would the work of the good master fail?

There’s something to the argument… I think most of us are intimidated by these weeds. We wonder why they are there… We start to perhaps doubt the “sower” as we focus solely on the bad things in the world, in our worlds that have the potential to discourage, distract and upset us… We focus just on the weeds – their existence – their presence among us and forget the beautiful garden – the flowers that are blooming alongside the weeds.

Sorry to disappoint you – I don’t have the answer as to why God allows the devil to cast his evil into the garden (anymore than I can answer why I ever allow it to enter into my own life in when I commit sins) All Jesus promises us is that the Lord will take care of it in His time.

That, unfortunately, requires patience (something I’m not a great fan or practitioner of myself). We are challenged not to dwell, not to be discouraged, not to give more attention to the weeds or more importantly to the Evil in the world.

We are called to recognize the evil, we are called to resist it and to pray that God will take care of it in His time.

In the meantime, we are simply called to do Good instead of Evil –
to bless instead of curse,
to praise instead of criticize, to forgive instead of resent
to love instead of hate.

The reality is that doesn’t make us feel too good, does it? We still are frustrated by those weeds in the field. But the more we reflect on it, the more relieved we should be about that… Thankful that God waits a while – that he tells his servants to hold back – that he allows the harvest to grow. Because truth be told – sometimes I’m the weed. There are times things I have done (or failed to do) that didn’t help the Lord’s harvest, didn’t glorify him, didn’t build up his garden.

And yet he gives me – he gives you – he gives us time to come back to him. He allows the evil to exist so that what is good might grow – not in the fields – but in the hearts and souls of each and everyone of us. God created us in his divine image and even though we sometimes act like weeds, we still have the potential within to turn good.

Think about it what a blessing that for us as Catholics, we are one good confession away from removing the weeds in our garden. To take time to do a true examination of conscience – to see the temptations I’ve succumbed to; the commandments I’ve ignored; the forgiveness I’ve withheld -and to ask for and receive forgiveness for my sins and turn things around.

Because what has always been a comfort to me… Is that recognizing how that was the case for the first ones who heard Jesus utter this parable… That even among Jesus’ first followers, men and women that today we call Saints this was a great truth. St. Peter – how many times did that guy screw up? How often did the one Jesus call “the rock” on which he would build the Church – turn out not just to be a weed but a thorn in Jesus’ side? Yet Peter would keep going through the difficult, painful process of recognizing his faults, recognizing his sins, trusting in Jesus love and asking (and receiving) His forgiveness.

For each of us, we can’t hide our heads in the sand and pretend the presence of evil in the world or in our lives isn’t there. But we always, always, always have to come back to the truth that God’s Love is stronger and even more real, even more present in our lives. So we’re not to despair over the weeds in our lives or the lives of others around us – and how ugly and destructive they are. Rather, we are to call on the Holy Spirit who is challenging us to yank those weeds out of our own lives – and to recognize what a beautiful world God has given us – what beautiful creatures he has made us.