Again the refrain from today’s Responsorial Psalm, quoted above, expresses a central theme of today’s scripture readings. Goodness and mercy are so characteristic of our God. God’s mercy and goodness are manifested on almost every page of the scriptures, in both the Old and the New Testament. This is why our notion of God is so unique. When you think of what you know or have heard about the gods and goddesses of primitive and pagan religions, even Greek and Roman mythology, they are often arbitrary, jealous, contentious, self-centered beings. Human beings tend to get caught in the crossfire. Human relationships with those divinities tend to be characterized by fear and appeasement. By contrast the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob revealed himself as a merciful God who loves his chosen people as a Father or a Shepherd or even as a Husband. Today’s First Reading tells us why this is so marvelous: our God is the only God. All other divinities and their mythologies are figments of human imagination. Our God does not have to answer to anyone else. He is not good and forgiving because he has to answer to someone more powerful; he is good and forgiving because that is his nature. “God is love.” (1 John 4:8) In fact God’s mercy is the source and standard of justice. (Cf. First Reading)
It's interesting that last Sunday’s “Parable of the Sower” is followed by another parable about sowing seeds. In last Sunday’s parable the seed was God’s word and the different types of soil were the different ways God’s word was received by those who heard it. In this week’s parable the good seed is “the children of the kingdom.” So it takes last Sunday’s parable to the next step: the seed of God’s word has taken root in rich soil and is now producing fruit for God’s kingdom. Even though there are in the world those who are trying to undermine God’s kingdom—the weeds—God permits them to grow together. This is another example of God’s mercy toward sinners. Maybe, with God’s grace, they will bear good fruit after all. We have to wait for God’s judgment to find that out.
Now, having been created in the image and likeness of a good and merciful God (cf. Genesis 1:26) we are called to love, to be good and merciful to one another. “Be merciful just as your Father is merciful.” (Luke 6:36) Today’s gospel parable admonishes us to leave judging up to God. Let’s hope we are the wheat, producing good fruit; but sometimes we may be the weeds. If we help one another to grow in grace, patiently as God is patient with us, then his kingdom will come. The two additional parables of the mustard seed and the yeast in the dough remind us that we only have to do a little for God’s kingdom to come: God brings the increase.
Don’t forget to head out to Tilden this Sunday morning for St. Peter’s Shin-Dig Charcoal Chicken Carryout. Although the full Shin-Dig is not being held this year, the famous charcoal chicken is available for carryout from 10:00 AM until 2:00 PM. At least this year we don’t have to worry about the weather!
Pray the rosary again this week for our country, for people affected by the corona virus and all who care for them, and for all affected by anger and violence. Pray for good weather for the growing season and, as always, pray for peace.
May God bless his people with peace.