Monday – Seventeenth Week – OT2
Reading 1 (Jer 7:1-11):
The following message came to Jeremiah from the LORD:
Stand at the gate of the house of the LORD,
and there proclaim this message:
Hear the word of the LORD, all you of Judah
who enter these gates to worship the LORD!
Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel:
Reform your ways and your deeds,
so that I may remain with you in this place.
Put not your trust in the deceitful words:
“This is the temple of the LORD!
The temple of the LORD! The temple of the LORD!”
Only if you thoroughly reform your ways and your deeds;
if each of you deals justly with his neighbor;
if you no longer oppress the resident alien,
the orphan, and the widow;
if you no longer shed innocent blood in this place,
or follow strange gods to your own harm,
will I remain with you in this place,
in the land I gave your fathers long ago and forever.
But here you are, putting your trust in deceitful words to your own loss!
Are you to steal and murder, commit adultery and perjury,
burn incense to Baal,
go after strange gods that you know not,
and yet come to stand before me
in this house which bears my name, and say:
“We are safe; we can commit all these abominations again?”
Has this house which bears my name
become in your eyes a den of thieves?
I too see what is being done, says the LORD.
Gospel (Mt 13:24-30):
Jesus proposed a parable to the crowds.
“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.'”
Fr. Anthony Dinh Minh Tien, O.P.
I. THEME: God is patient with human beings.
The life of a human being is compared as a battlefield between good and evil, he must try to do good and to avoid evil. This conception can be found in the Dead Sea Writings. In the Rule of the Community (1QS), these words were written: “God let the children of light fight with the children of darkness as long as they live in this world. When the Last Day comes, the children of light shall remain for ever; while the children of darkness shall be destroyed for ever. Therefore, as long as God let people live in the world, they must try to acquire virtues and to destroy all sins.”
Today readings want to highlight the dangers of sins and God’s patience in waiting for people to change. In the first reading, the prophet Jeremiah was sent by God to point out the Israelites’ wrong belief. They thought that if they come to the temple and offer good sacrifices, everything shall be fine even they are living an immoral and unjust life. In the Gospel, Jesus said a parable to show God’s patience in correcting people. God’s enemies shall sow weeds which are evil thoughts and deeds in human mind; but the faithful must try to recognize and to eliminate them, don’t let them suffocate the truth and destroy good things in them.
1/ Reading I: How to remain in the Promise Land?
1.1/ According to the Israelites’ imagination: Some of them were misled and believed that God shall never destroy the Jerusalem temple because it is God’s throne where He dwells. In today passage, the words “the temple of the Lord” are repeated three times to tell the Israelites that the Jerusalem temple isn’t a guarantee for God to stay with them. If they don’t change their life, God shall let their enemies destroy the Jerusalem temple and the people shall be on exile. The first temple which was built by king Solomon was destroyed by the Babylonians in 587 B.C.; and the second temple, which was built by Nehemiah and Ezra, was destroyed by the Romans in 70 A.D.
Jeremiah pointed out the Israelites’ falsity when they used the temple to hide their immoral and unjust life. Many people thought that they can continue to steal, to rob, to kill, to commit adultery, to bear false witness, to burn incense to Baal, to go after strange gods that they know not; and then come to the temple to pray, to offer sacrifices, and God shall forgive their sins and they shall be safe! The prophet said if God let them act as such and continue to protect them, then He let them converse the temple as a den of thieves!
1.2/ According to God’s truth: If they want God to remain in the temple and to continue to protect them, they must truly reform their ways and deeds. The prophet Jeremiah listed out two main things which the Israelites must do:
(1) They must act in justice, “if each of you deals justly with his neighbor; if you no longer oppress the resident alien, the orphan, and the widow; if you no longer shed innocent blood in this place.”
(2) They can’t chase after foreign gods and forget about God: If you don’t “follow strange gods to your own harm, will I remain with you in this place, in the land which I gave your fathers long ago and forever.” God is faithful to His promises with the ancestors; He shall bless them and let them live in the Promise Land for ever.
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 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 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:
– What shall happen to us if God let His angel to pull out weed after our’s one evil thought or deed? Many people repented when they saw God is so merciful to their sins. God doesn’t want a sinner to die, but to repent and to live.
– We need to be patient with ourselves and others in the progress to be good. Don’t condemn anyone when their time don’t come yet. This is out hope: if there is time, there is an opportunity to repent.