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Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

July 13, 2020

Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

July 19, 2020

Deacon Anthony J. Cincotta

Assistant Director for Retreat Ministry


Have you ever formed a poor opinion of someone and discover later that you were wrong?  Have you ever judged someone badly and discovered later that your judgement was incorrect?  Anytime we judge others we need to be aware that we may not have the full picture and so may not be fair in that negative judgement.  I know, easy to say yet difficult to do.

The “weeds” that some enemy sowed among the wheat in the parable taught by Jesus today looked very much like the wheat in their early growth so that it was virtually impossible to decide properly which the good wheat was and which the weeds were.  When you think about it we can say that we are blessed that God has the bigger picture and not our “puny judgements.”  God is much more merciful and patient than we are.  Praise God for that!    

One person who appeared to be “weeds” in many ways but became wheat was John Mary Vianney born in Dardilly near Lyons in 1786.  He became the most famous pastor and parish priest in France and later became the Cure’ of Ars.   Vianney was actually called a “dunce” by his teachers and had a great deal of difficulty in learning Latin.  In 1812 he went to a preparatory seminary and was at the bottom of his class of 200.  He was such a poor student that he actually failed French – and he was a Frenchman!  But through prayer and fortitude he was ordained a priest in 1815.  While in the town of Ars reports of his holiness spread and people came from the surrounding parishes to hear him and have their confession heard by him.  Ultimately people from all over France and finally Europe came to Ars for the same reasons.  We know this “dunce” as Saint John Vianney, patron of priests and pastors.  Weeds?  I don’t think so!

We heard in our Gospel narrative the Master’s slaves, referring to the weeds, said to him, “Do you want us to go and pull them up?”  The response was and emphatic, “No, if you pull up the weeds you might uproot the wheat along with them.” 

What does this mean?  It’s simple really.  Jesus asks us not to play God and judge people but to allow judgment to God alone.  God is much more merciful and patient than we can ever be.

The question we must ask ourselves then is what we are doing to remove the weeds from our life.  When we are sick we go to our doctor who prescribes a course of treatment.  When we have “weeds” in our life we need a spiritual prescription.  How does this sound?

  • Make time for prayer every day.
  • Read Sacred Scripture, especially with your family members.
  • If possible, attend Mass on Sunday and even weekdays (keeping in mind COVID-19 cautions and restrictions) and receive the Eucharist as often as possible.
  • Receive the sacrament of Reconciliation more than once per year. In this sacrament we receive not just forgiveness for our sins but the grace to live a Christ-like life.
  • Love your neighbor as yourself.
  • Make time for prayer every day (sorry, this one is worth stressing a second time.)

Sisters and brothers, we can use the many clichés that can relate to today’s Gospel such as; “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” or “Don’t judge someone until you have walked a mile in their shoes.”  But listen to what Saint Francis de Sales, Bishop and Doctor of the Church said:

“From rash judgments proceed mistrust, contempt for others, pride, and self-sufficiency, and numberless destructive results, among which is a veritable pest of society.  He who unjustly takes away his neighbors good name is guilty of sin; since no man can enter into heaven cumbered with stolen goods, and of all worldly possessions the most precious is a good name.”

So we can conclude that malicious “weed-sowing” tells us then about the Kingdom of God.  The image Jesus uses is a common everyday example of planting, harvesting, and sorting the good fruit or harvest from the bad.  Weeds can spoil and even kill a good harvest if they are not separated and destroyed at the proper time.  Uprooting them too early can destroy the good plants in the process.  Just as nature teaches us patience, so God’s patience teaches us to guard the Word He has planted in our hearts and to beware of the destructive force of sin and evil which can destroy it. 

God’s Word brings life, but Satan seeks to destroy the good seed which has been planted in the hearts of those who have heard God’s Holy Word.  What we say or think can be incredibly destructive to others.  When we outwardly speak of the poor opinion we have of someone is like the firing of a gun.  Just like we cannot take back the bullet that has been fired we can’t take back the offending words coming from our mouths or pens. 

God’s judgement is not hast, but it does come.  In the end, God will reward each according to what they have sown and reaped in this life.  On that day God will separate the evil from the good.  We must let God’s Word take deep root in our hearts.  Then, believe it or not, the other person’s shoes we are suggested to walk in just might fit after all.

Question of the Day:  Weeds or wheat – which will it be? 

Prayer:  God, grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, and the Wisdom to know the difference.  Amen.  (Serenity Prayer.)

Please continue to pray for the victims of the Coronavirus and for all who are affected by this unprecedented pandemic as well as for peace in our country and in our world. 


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