The first Reading, (Wis 12:13, 16-19), emphasised both the might of God and his leniency in judgement. Although God is not accountable to anyone, yet in showing mercy and compassion to us when we go astray, he has taught us to be merciful to our fellow human beings, and he assures us that forgiveness awaits all those who are truly repentant in heart.
Prophet Ezekiel had already proclaimed that the Lord does not take pleasure in the death of the sinner, he prefers that he renounces his sins and starts living a righteous life, (Ez 18:23). However, the mercy of God must not be taken for granted, we should not be involved in malicious actions just because the Lord’s mercy awaits us, we must not forget that the Lord is equally a just God.
This brings us to the Gospel of today, (Mt 13:24-43), in which Jesus narrated three parables that reflect the nature of the Kingdom of God. The parables of the wheat and darnel, the mustard seed, and the yeast. My homily shall zero in on the parable of the wheat and darnel.
Darnel is a poisonous weed that sprouts and grows like wheat. It is exceedingly difficult to distinguish darnel from wheat in the early stages of growth. By the time the wheat is distinguished from the darnel, their roots would be already interlocked, thus causing harm to the wheat should one try to uproot the darnel.
As per the story, a farmer sowed good wheat seed on his farm, however, at night fall, the enemy went and sowed the darnel alongside the good wheat seed. Both the wheat seed and the darnel sprouted and began to grow. The farmer’s servants who were skilled in wheat farming spotted the darnel among the wheat and brought it to the attention of the farmer. They asked for permission to uproot the darnel but their master cautioned them to wait until the harvest, lest in uprooting the darnel they also uproot the wheat. However, at harvest time, the darnel would be uprooted and cast in the furnace, while the wheat will be gathered into the barn.
Jesus made us to understand that the good seed represents goodness in the world and the darnel represents evil. The fact that the farmer allowed the darnel to remain until the harvest time, underscored the magnanimity of God who gives the sinner ample opportunity to repent. At times one may wonder why some people, who are the devil incarnate because of the heinous crimes they have committed like raping children and adults, killing people to usurp their wealth, swindling vulnerable people, are still ‘galivanting’ in the world. At times it appears as if they are having a better life than those who have been making an effort to live an honest life.
The Gospel brought to our attention that there is goodness and evil in the world, and that evil is in constant opposition to the good. Evil may have apparent success, but ultimately, goodness will triumph over evil. Jesus died on the cross which might seem that evil triumphed, but he rose from the dead as a clear manifestation that though evil and the devil would continue to fight the Kingdom of God, God in Christ would have the ultimate success, for at the name of Christ every knee shall bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is the Lord to the glory of God the Father, (Ph 2:10-11).
The second Reading underscored the importance of prayer in our lives as we battle with evil forces. St Paul reminds us that, “… our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms’’, (Eph 6:12). Hence, the Spirit comes to our aid in prayer, transforming our bewilderment, cries, and lamentations into a pleasing incense before God.
Fr Chinua Okeke CSSp