16th Sunday of Year A
Theme of the week: Let us repent to our ever merciful God; let the Holy Spirit convey our repentance from the very depth of our hearts.
The First Reading describes God as just (verse 13), righteous (verse 16), lenient (verse 16), mild (verse 18); and always ready to forgive (verse 19). In other words, we have a God who is ever merciful. Right until our final moment on earth, God is yet to pass His final judgement on us. And until that time, we have the opportunity to repent our sins and be redeemed. Such is our God – lenient and merciful.
In the Gospel, Jesus tells the parable of the wheat and the darnel. The world, signified by the field, is populated with righteous (wheat) and sinful people (darnel) living alongside each other. The wheat plant and the darnel plant looks very similar to each other, until the time comes when the wheat plant bears its grain. This is the reason why the master in the story objected to the slave’s suggestion of uprooting the darnel. In the context of the message of the First Reading, we know that until our judgement day, what looks like darnel may in fact turn into wheat. The parable of the woman mixing yeast with flour carries the same message. In the Bible, yeast is often used to signify sins (see for example Mt 16:6 and 1 Cor 5:6-7). In the parable, the woman mixes yeast (sinful ones) with flour (the righteous ones) into a single dough, just as righteous and sinful people living side by side on earth.
These Scripture passages remind us that God alone is the judge – not us. We should always leave judgement to God; for even for a great sinner, there is always a chance that with God’s grace, the person may repent and be redeemed – the darnel turning into wheat. The world is filled with righteous and evil people, living side by side. Rather than judging, we should direct our effort towards the conversion of hearts, through our examples and our prayers. Our God is ever prepared to grant redemption to the greatest of sinners. Let us take heed from God and extend our compassion and forgiveness to all. Through reflecting on this great act of God’s mercy, let us also acknowledge that even for the very righteous, salvation is not something one can earn for himself or herself. Rather, it is a free gift from God, earned for us through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross.
Extending the message of the First Reading and the Gospel, the Second Reading teaches us how to pray. The Second Reading teaches us that to pray, we need not be eloquent in speech. If we are not good with words, all we need to do is to pray from the heart. When we cannot think of the right words, we can simply let the Spirit that lives in us speak on our behalf. And this extends to all forms of prayer, be it adoration, thanksgiving, petition or in fact the prayers of repentance.
Let us acknowledge and repent our sins before it is too late. Let the Holy Spirit convey our repentance from the depth of our hearts. Shalom.