16th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Sunday, July 23, 2017

Father Jim Valk's picture

Father Jim Valk

July 18, 2017

Harry had been an usher at the parish for a long time. Gert had been coming to this parish for many years and every Sunday Harry would greet her with a welcoming hug.  One day Gert gave Harry some bad news.  She had been diagnosed with cancer and the prognosis was not good. “Be there for me” she asked Harry.  Harry continued to greet her with the same hospitality he had all through the years. When Gert passed away she was welcomed with the same hospitality into her new home.

To follow Christ is to imitate Him as he is the Good Shepherd. This means that first of all we care. We care about the well being of our world; we care about the poor; we care about those being torn apart in violence; we care about our families; we care about our communities; we care about those who are hurting; we care about our parishes. We see our lives to be for God and in service of one another. 

Life is mixture of good and evil. We are imperfect people living in an imperfect world. There’s much in our nation that is both good and bad. If we’re honest, we see that there is both good and bad in us individually and collectively. Without you noticing it, day-by-day we classify people around us into two types: the wheat which are the good people and the weed which are the bad people. The wheat people are those who regard us with respect and treat us with dignity and a feeling of worth. The weed people are those who regard us with little or no value and are contemptuous to us. We want these people to get out of our way. Fortunately people in our lives choose to recognize the good traits along with the bad traits in us like the darnel mixed in with the good wheat. If we hadn’t been allowed to mix freely with others we might no longer be open and generous; if we weren’t allowed to make mistakes, we would never take risks; if we did not feel free to ask foolish questions we would never learn.  We need to recognize that instead of writing off people because of their selfishness, insincerity and their arrogance that they too were a good seed that had been sowed and that the evil in them are only weeds that some enemy sowed while others were asleep.

There are no “quick-fix” and easy solutions. Patience and forbearance are necessary, and to have patience and forbearance one must have faith. This is what Jesus is calling us to have – faith in His heavenly Father’s plan, faith in His heavenly Father’s ultimate ways of dealing with us and with our world. We have to believe in God’s goodness and believe in His love for all that is good in our world. Reliance on God and acceptance of His ways is the only way we can overcome evil both in our world and in our lives. By showing genuine patience it greets all, is kind to all, speaks to all and serves all. By showing compassion we overcome the evil in the world. Do not eliminate the weed people. If we look deeper, the “field” can be interpreted as the human heart. In reality, the human heart is totally good and totally evil. It is sown also with wheat and weed with varying proportions.  Even the blackest heart is not totally black. God gives to the least the seedling of every opportunity for sprouting and becoming a beautiful ear of grain. God is so patient in waiting for them to grow. How often does something or someone try our patience? Patience is the virtue that we all need today. The problem is, we want instant results, instant solutions to the problems. Maybe this is the reason why we have instant coffee, instant milk, instant noodles. What are our reasons why we want those weed people to be uprooted in the field? Can we do what Christ has commanded to us as His followers to be patient and have compassion with those we consider as weed people?

Yes, it is a strange world we live in. But at the same time it is a beautiful world filled with wonderful… even heroic people. The great miracle is that goodness and love have survived evil’s onslaught.

What is the vision in which you live?

From the Church Bulletin:

“Dear God, so far today I’ve done all right.

I haven’t gossiped. I haven’t lost my temper.

I haven’t been greedy, or grumpy, nasty or selfish.

In fact, I haven’t done anything wrong at all.

I’m really pleased about all that. But God,

In just a few minutes I’ll be getting out of bed,

And from then on, I’ll be needing lots of help. Amen”