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Saturday – Sixteenth week – OT1
Readings: Exo 24:3-8; Mt 13:24-30.
1/ First Reading: RSV Exodus 24:3 Moses came and told the people all the words of the LORD and all the ordinances; and all the people answered with one voice, and said, “All the words which the LORD has spoken we will do.” 4 And Moses wrote all the words of the LORD. And he rose early in the morning, and built an altar at the foot of the mountain, and twelve pillars, according to the twelve tribes of Israel. 5 And he sent young men of the people of Israel, who offered burnt offerings and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen to the LORD. 6 And Moses took half of the blood and put it in basins, and half of the blood he threw against the altar. 7 Then he took the book of the covenant, and read it in the hearing of the people; and they said, “All that the LORD has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient.” 8 And Moses took the blood and threw it upon the people, and said, “Behold the blood of the covenant which the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words.”
2/ Gospel: RSV Matthew 13:24 Another parable he put before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field; 25 but while men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. 26 So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. 27 And the servants of the householder came and said to him, `Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then has it weeds?’ 28 He said to them, `An enemy has done this.’ The servants said to him, `Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ 29 But he said, `No; lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.'”
I. THEME: “All the words which the Lord has spoken we will do.”
Our life is compared as a battlefield between the good and the evil; there are both virtues and sins in us. This concept can be found in the scrolls discovered in the caves at the Dead Sea. For example, in the Law of the Community scroll, there is a paragraph which has these words, “God let the sons of light fight with the sons of darkness as long as they live in this world. When the Last Day comes, the sons of light shall remain forever while the sons of darkness shall be destroyed forever.” Therefore, as long as God let people live in this world; they must try to practice virtues and to destroy sins in them.
Today readings want to emphasize the dangers of sins and God’s patience in waiting for people to change. In the first reading, God gave the Israelites a second chance to repent after they seriously broke their relationship with Him by molding a golden calf to worship. They recognized their serious sin and promised with Moses, “All the words which the Lord has spoken we will do.” In the Gospel, Jesus cited a parable to highlight God’s patience in educating people. God’s enemies shall sow all kinds of weeds in people’s soul; but the faithful must be wise to recognize and to root them out, don’t let them to suffocate the truth and to destroy the good in their soul.
1/ Reading I: “The Israelites recognized their sins and promised to keep all God’s teaching.”
1.1/ God gave the Israelites second chance: The first time, when Moses came up to Mt. Sinai to converse and to receive the Ten Commandments from God; the Israelites demanded Aaron to mold for them a golden calf, and they bowed down to worship it as the god who liberated them from their slavery for the Egyptians. God saw all their wicked sins and told Moses to come down the mountain and to witness for himself the Israelites’ betrayal. Moses came down and when he saw people bowing down and worshipping the golden calf, “Moses’ anger burned hot, and he threw the tables out of his hands and broke them at the foot of the mountain. And he took the calf which they had made, and burnt it with fire, and ground it to powder, and scattered it upon the water, and made the people of Israel drink it” (Ex 32:19-20).
If God didn’t give the Israelites many opportunities to repent, they died in the deserts; but He received Moses’ intercession and forgave people’s sins. Moses obeyed God’s to produce two other tablets and went up to the mountain again to meet God. After that, Moses came down and reported to the Israelites all God’s word and the Law. All the people answered with one voice, “All the words which the Lord has spoken we will do.”
1.2/ Moses ratified the Old Covenant which God made with people: Moses “rose early in the morning, and built an altar at the foot of the mountain, and twelve pillars, according to the twelve tribes of Israel. And he sent young men of the people of Israel, who offered burnt offerings and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen to the Lord. And Moses took half of the blood and put it in basins, and half of the blood he threw against the altar. Then he took the book of the covenant, and read it in the hearing of the people; and they said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient.” And Moses took the blood and threw it upon the people, and said, “Behold the blood of the covenant which the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.””
Sometimes people must pass through the bad experience to learn a lesson as in the case of the Israelites; but it is better for them to recognize God and Moses’ love for them. Both of them worried about the Israelites’ future by giving the Ten Commandments for the Israelites; these are the most important laws to safeguard their relationship with God and others. Without the Ten Commandments, the Israelites will surely violate again and be destroyed.
2/ Gospel: Let them grow together until harvest.
2.1/ The parable of the weeds: In this parable, Jesus wanted to teach his disciples that God always sows good things in people; but God’s enemy which is the devil waits for opportunities (sleepy, tired and not prepared) to sow evil things in them. Many impatient people wanted to immediately pull out the weeds; but Jesus told them to wait until the harvest, because if they do now, they will pull out both wheats and weeds.
The difficulty for commentators is Jesus’ explanation. He explained that the field is the world, the wheat is the children of light, the weeds is the children of the devil. This is correct in the Last Day when everything is clear and determinate; but it can’t explain why people must wait until the harvest when they already know that the weeds shall be weeds for ever, they can’t become wheat.
A more reasonable explanation might be explained as follows: A parable never can be applied to all things; it can be applied only to one main thing. The main thing here is the waiting time for wheat to be diferrent with weeds, not the danger of weeds. In life, people must always face good and evil as long as they live in the world. The good and evil can’t determine good or bad people until the Last Day. In that Day, God shall let us know who are the good and bad persons. While waiting for that Day to come, we try to do good and to avoid evil. No one can proudly say that he is good because he doesn’t know when the evil shall come. If someone falls to evil, he shouldn’t be discouraged but to repent and to hope in God’s mercy. We shouldn’t condemn someone is the weed when we see his evil deed.
2.2/ God has patience to wait for people to change: It needs time to have a good result. In order for a seed to be wheat, it needs three months; for a tree to bear fruits, it needs three years; for a man to be successful, it needs twenty-five years; to be a “man,” it needs one hundred years or his whole life. During the waiting time, people need to be patient. The enemy of man is his impatience; they know: “Haste is of the devil; haste makes waste; more haste, less speed; marry in haste repent at leisure.” Today people seem have no patience to wait; whatever they do they want the immediate result. The impatience leads people to failure and suffering.
However, patience has a limit. All things have their own time; if it is over its time, a tree shall be cut out to yield its place to other tree. A vine without grapes shall be cut out and thrown into fire.
God’s justice shall be shown on the Last Day. When the harvest comes, the weeds shall be cut off and thrown into fire; the wheat shall be harvested and stored in barns. When these things happen, no one can blame God is unjust or has no mercy because everyone has opportunities to do good and to avoid evil.
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– We need to study Scripture to know what God wants from us. Understanding of Scripture shall help us to recognize all the weeds of our life before we can root them out.
– Many people repented and returned because God is so merciful with their sins. He doesn’t want sinners to die; but He wants them to repent and to live.
– We must be patient with ourselves and others in the process to become better. We should not condemn anyone when their time doesn’t end yet. This is our hope: when there is time, there is a chance to repent.