First reading Wisdom 12:13,16-19

You will grant repentance after sin

There is no god, other than you, who cares for every thing,
to whom you might have to prove that you never judged unjustly.
Your justice has its source in strength,
your sovereignty over all makes you lenient to all.
You show your strength when your sovereign power is questioned
and you expose the insolence of those who know it;
but, disposing of such strength, you are mild in judgement,
you govern us with great lenience,
for you have only to will, and your power is there.
By acting thus you have taught a lesson to your people
how the virtuous man must be kindly to his fellow men,
and you have given your sons the good hope
that after sin you will grant repentance.
 

Responsorial Psalm 85(86):5-6,9-10,15-16

O Lord, you are good and forgiving.
 
O Lord, you are good and forgiving,
  full of love to all who call.
Give heed, O Lord, to my prayer
  and attend to the sound of my voice.
 
All the nations shall come to adore you
  and glorify your name, O Lord:
for you are great and do marvellous deeds,
  you who alone are God.
 
But you, God of mercy and compassion,
  slow to anger, O Lord,
abounding in love and truth,
  turn and take pity on me.
 

Second reading Romans 8:26-27

The Spirit himself expresses our plea in a way that could never be put into words

The Spirit comes to help us in our weakness. For when we cannot choose words in order to pray properly, the Spirit himself expresses our plea in a way that could never be put into words, and God who knows everything in our hearts knows perfectly well what he means, and that the pleas of the saints expressed by the Spirit are according to the mind of God.
 

Gospel Matthew 13:24-43

Let them both grow till the harvest

Jesus put another parable before the crowds: ‘The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. While everybody was asleep his enemy came, sowed darnel all among the wheat, and made off. When the new wheat sprouted and ripened, the darnel appeared as well. The owner’s servants went to him and said, “Sir, was it not good seed that you sowed in your field? If so, where does the darnel come from?” “Some enemy has done this” he answered. And the servants said, “Do you want us to go and weed it out?” But he said, “No, because when you weed out the darnel you might pull up the wheat with it. Let them both grow till the harvest; and at harvest time I shall say to the reapers: First collect the darnel and tie it in bundles to be burnt, then gather the wheat into my barn.”’
  He put another parable before them: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed which a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the biggest shrub of all and becomes a tree so that the birds of the air come and shelter in its branches.’
  He told them another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like the yeast a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour till it was leavened all through.’
  In all this Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables; indeed, he would never speak to them except in parables. This was to fulfil the prophecy:
 
I will speak to you in parables
and expound things hidden since the foundation of the world.
 
Then, leaving the crowds, he went to the house; and his disciples came to him and said, ‘Explain the parable about the darnel in the field to us.’ He said in reply, ‘The sower of the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world; the good seed is the subjects of the kingdom; the darnel, the subjects of the evil one; the enemy who sowed them, the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; the reapers are the angels. Well then, just as the darnel is gathered up and burnt in the fire, so it will be at the end of time. The Son of Man will send his angels and they will gather out of his kingdom all things that provoke offences and all who do evil, and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth. Then the virtuous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Listen, anyone who has ears!’
 
 

Reflection

The Gospel (Matthew 13:24-30) is a warning against being too cock-sure about our judgments. While we are reflective, and striving to be honest, we must remember that we are not very wise. It is best to leave absolute judgment to God, and to remember that God’s judgment is right because God’s judgment is that of one who loves.

We should never criticise others unless we love them, and self-criticism is most unwise unless we have a healthy respect for the self that God creates and loves. We may pull out some weeds from our own or other people’s lives, but what a tragedy it would be if the price of pulling out the weeds was to destroy our own or other people’s mysterious capacity to love!

The soil of our hearts is good, and the Sower is continually sowing good seed in the garden that is our life. Believe it, listen to God, and let the Spirit carry our spirit to God and so to others. The weeds will not be able to survive the fire of God’s purification of our hearts. Let God do the clearing; let God do the purifying.

Our focus is to be on willing God’s will and on doing the truth in love, no matter what. Then hell will hold no fear for us. If, however, we are tempted to be slack or to throw away the real values that sustain our lives in love, we have the teaching of hell to be a warning for us.

We find this teaching in the Catholic Catechism: ‘To die in mortal sin without repenting and accepting God’s merciful love means remaining separated from God for ever by our own free choice. This state of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed is called ‘hell’ (n.1033).

Jesus loved us enough to give us this warning. People who think they know better may sound compassionate, but they are seriously misguided. Only the truth will set us free, however hard it might sound.

Fr Michael Fallon msc