Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Yes, we live in a word in which evil exists.  There are weeds among the wheat.  The Evil One has sowed the weeds among the wheat to do damage to the wheat crop that God has planted.

The Evil One cannot attack the Father directly.  But, when the Son becomes a vulnerable human being, the Evil One takes full advantage of the opportunity.  He sows hatred among people that ultimately leads to Christ’ crucifixion. 

He also wants to destroy God’s beloved by keeping them from their eternal reward.  He sows division and confusion among God’s people.  All in an attempt at destruction of what God has done and what God has planned.

It is tempting to focus on purging evil from this world ourselves.  But God’s judgement is not ours to make.  Purgation of all evil from all around us is not for us to do except on specific command from God.  God shows great prudence and patience in waiting for the harvest. 

The zeal for removing the weeds in the parable is analogous to our own zeal for justice in this world.  But this zeal can be problematic sometimes.  We are prone to collateral damage.

Perhaps the best example is our use of the death penalty, particularly here in Florida.  The Church teaching has grown from permitting it under certain circumstance to basically saying that those circumstances do not exist.  Pope Francis called it “Inadmissible.”  If we can step back from our possible disagreement with the term that he used, we should be able to see some basic problems with the death penalty here in Florida.

One is that it runs contrary to our fundamental belief in the dignity of human life and its value from conception to a natural death.  All life has dignity.  That dignity does not go away because one is no longer able to function as before due to age or illness.  That dignity must also be respected even one has committed a horrific crime.

In this country, we are capable of incarcerating prisoners without them being a great threat to the rest of society.  In practice, the death penalty is used disproportionately against the poor and minorities.  Whether one can afford adequate legal representation is a major factor.  Not to mention that false convictions cannot be corrected after execution.  And the death penalty also overlooks redemptive and rehabilitative aspects of punishment. 

It is perhaps this last point that most parallels the story of the weeds and the wheat.  Our response to a horrific crime should be justice that allows for the conversion of the perpetrator.  The patience and prudence that God shows in this parable is what we need to mirror in our world.  Because, when it comes to human beings, weeds can transform into wheat if given the time to do so.