Matthew 13:24-43
God is Patient and Merciful, but He Wants Change by Rev. Jack Peterson
Reprinted with permission of "The Arlington Catholic Herald"

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Matthew wrote to show that Christ was the
Messiah and fulfilled the Jewish prophecies.

He proposed another parable to them.  "The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a man who sowed good seed in his field.  While everyone was asleep his enemy came and sowed weeds all through the wheat, and then went off.  When the crop grew and bore fruit, the weeds appeared as well.  The slaves of the householder came to him and said, Master, did you not sow good seed in your field?  Where have the weeds come from?'  He answered, 'An enemy has done this.'  His slaves said to him, 'Do you want us to go and pull them up?'  He replied, 'No, if you pull up the weeds you might uproot the wheat along with them.  Let them grow together until harvest; then at harvest time I will say to the harvesters, "first collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning; but gather the wheat into my barn."'"

He proposed another parable to them.  "The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that a person took and sowed in a field.  It is the smallest of all the seeds, yet when full-grown it is the largest of plants.  It becomes a large bush, and the 'birds of the sky come and dwell in its branches.'"

He spoke to them another parable.  "The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed with three measures of wheat flour until the whole batch was leavened."  All these things Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables.  He spoke to them only in parables, to fulfill what had been said through the prophet:  "I will open my mouth in parables, I will announce what has lain hidden from the foundation of the world."

Then, dismissing the crowds, he 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."

ďGod bears with imperfect beings even when they resist His goodness.  We ought to imitate this merciful patience and endurance.  It is only imperfection that complains of what is imperfect.  The more perfect we are, the more gentle and quiet we become toward the defects of other people.Ē  Bishop Francois de Fenelon, the archbishop of Camray, penned these words in the 18th century, but they speak just as loudly to us today.

If Godís approach to us, His children, was determined simply by His justice, we would be in a hopeless situation.  When I think of the number of times that I have gone to confession, stated my sins and sincerely pledged to never commit them again, I am brought to my knees as I ponder Godís patience with me.  God has every right to be perfectly upset with me, to treat me as an ungrateful, hard-hearted, spoiled brat.  He has blessed me in countless ways, and I have rebelled in so many ways.  In Godís justice, I should be nothing but dried up bones, but in His love, I am the recipient of abundant patience and mercy.

The Old Testament book of Wisdom captures this particular dimension of the goodness of God.  ďThere is no God besides you . . . your mastery over all things makes you lenient to all . . . But though you are master of might, you judge with clemency, and with much lenience you govern us . . . you gave your children good ground for hope that you would permit repentance for their sins.Ē (Wis 12:13, 16-19)

The Gospel for this week also proclaims the patience of Our Heavenly Father.  Jesus tells a parable about a farm owner (who represents God) who sows good seed into his field.  At night, his enemy comes and sows weeds all through the wheat.  When the crop begins to grow, the workers ask the owner if they should pull up the weeds.  The farm owner responds, ďNo, if you pull up the weeds you might uproot the wheat along with them.  Let them grow together until harvest.Ē

God knows very well about the presence of evil in our world.  He decides to let the good and the bad seed co-exist while constantly nourishing the good seed with an abundance of grace.  He lets the sun and the rain fall on the good seed and the bad in order to let the good seed grow, become strong, and bear much fruit.  Godís patience is directed at our salvation.  He does everything that He can, without intruding on our freedom, to nurture us so that we can become mature in faith and produce an abundant harvest for our Master.

Our response to Godís amazing patience and mercy should be a heightened desire to change our lives and live completely for Christ.  We should be overwhelmed by Godís merciful love and radically commit ourselves to seek His will in every aspect of our lives.  We should be willing to stand tall among the weeds in our world and produce an abundant harvest of virtue, prayer and charitable deeds.

It is true that God must satisfy the demands of justice.  That is why He sent his only-begotten Son who died and rose for us.  Christ became our justice.  Now, God, in His great mercy, constantly invites us back to Him after we wander.  He is remarkably patient.  May we be His grateful children who recognize the marvels of His love, humbly repent of our sins, and respond to the gift of the Holy Spirit by living radically for the King with every fiber of our being, and cultivating a harvest of justice, peace and prayer in our world.

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