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Caution: Putting a Sunday homily on the Website is tricky business. All the viewer has is a written text. A homily, on the other hand, is "an oral event". It may not have been said or heard the way it was written. In addition, a roughly ten-minute homily is part of a roughly one-hour worship event in which God and God's people communicate with each other by means of ritual, symbol, song, proclamation, prayer. Not everything in these homilies is original. As a homilist, I rely on and at times borrow from other homilists and writers who are not properly mentioned in this format. I am often indebted to them.

Father William Marrevee, s.c.j.

16th Sunday Ordinary Time A

If you have a garden, I’d suggest that you don’t follow the advice of today’s parable. Jesus, or God in whose name Jesus speaks, is not a very competent gardener.

So what do we do with a parable of this sort? Keep in mind this is a parable, a devise Jesus used to cultivate in us a taste for the Kingdom of God which usually has a twist we don’t except or which is out of the ordinary. “The Kingdom of heaven may be compared to ….”

It has lots to say about how we deal with our messy world, with our messy church, where there are lots of good things happening and where there is lots of ugliness and evil. What Jesus suggests here – or is it more than suggesting? – “Let them grow together until harvest” represents an awfully radical approach that I find is very difficult to take. The trouble with it is that it does not appear to be an isolated saying of Jesus. It is at the heart of Jesus’ teaching, much in line with what he says elsewhere: “Offer no resistance to one who is evil; when someone strikes you on your right cheek, turn the other…” (Mt. 5:39) Of course, we are pretty skillful in disarming a line like that with making fun of it instead of letting ourselves be really challenged by it.

With that sort of saying we have good reason to wonder: what does Jesus want? He is hard to stomach at times. Does he condone evil? Does he asks from us as his disciples that we condone and tolerate everything, that we just sit back and let it all happen? What do we do in the face of the ugly and barbaric things we have witnessed again this week, the bombings in London , and other events like it?

Am I correct in suggesting that Jesus sees no future in taking the axe to it, in rooting it out that way? That is really a dead-end street. Nothing new will ever happen that way. Do we have to be more radical by not staring at the ugly things but by throwing our weight behind everything that is good, that builds up, that enhances life? Don’t forget this is Kingdom of God language that Jesus speaks not just with words, but with actions. “The Kingdom of God may be compared to….” In other words, do things out of the ordinary.

It is for that Kingdom of God that we pray every time we say the Lord’s prayer. I cannot help but wonder at times what we pray for…

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