Growing Up with the Weeds

Homily for Tuesday of the 17th Week in Ordinary Time

The words were hear from the Prophet Jeremiah today are written in God’s voice and are followed by a response from those to whom it is addressed. Jeremiah has reported to God that the people of Israel have gone astray because men claiming to be prophets have misled them. He seems to be telling God that the people should be pitied rather than punished, that God should punish the men who have claimed to be false prophets.

The poem we hear today has become part of the morning psalter in the Roman breviary as part of Friday Morning Prayer in the third week of the psalter. In it, the people begin to realize their folly and pray for God’s forgiveness. Every Friday is a day on which we remember with sorrow the death of Jesus on the cross, sorrow for the sins that have made his death necessary for our salvation.

The Gospel for today includes an explanation of a parable that we heard on Saturday of last week, the parable of the weeds and the wheat. The land owner decrees that his servants should allow the weeds to grow along with the wheat. The original Greek for this passage includes a detail that is not evident in the English translation; namely, the name of this particular weed – darnel. The danger inherent in letting it grow with the wheat is that it looks very much like wheat but is poisonous. If some if it were to get mixed in with the wheat at harvest time, it could have disastrous consequences.

When we place these two readings side by side, it becomes very evident that God is warning us to be careful as we make our way through the world. Others will try to mislead us away from God’s providential care. The seeds of doubt that they sow are the weeds that can overwhelm one who is not constantly vigilant. Sin and evil have a way of working their way into our lives if we are not constantly fortified by the grace we need to defeat it in our lives. That grace comes to us through prayer, through the sacraments, and especially through our daily reception of the Eucharist.

Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator


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