Browsing Homilies

Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Wis 12:13, 16-19 | Ps 86 | Rom 8:26-27 | Mt 13:24-43

In the early 1920s, in Kansas City, Missouri, a young man struggled to make ends meet. He felt he had great talent as an artist, especially as a cartoonist. He submitted various drawings to magazines and newspapers, but he was always rejected. Believing he had skill, however, he persevered. He managed to secure a job illustrating the weekly parish bulletin at a local church. It wasn’t much of a job, but it allowed him to rent a flat with a friend and earn a living. He kept at his dream, drawing all kinds of figures and personalities. One day, while he was at his desk drawing, a little mouse scurried across the floor in his flat. The little mouse gave that young man an idea. He drew a caricature of that mouse and originally called it “Mortimer.” His wife would later name the mouse “Mickey,” and the famous Walt Disney was on his way to greatness.

Disney’s patience and perseverance eventually brought him fame and fortune. In a similar way, our readings today describe how we must be patient and live with adversity, with the utter confidence that God’s justice will prevail and his goodness, triumphant.

The parable of the weeds among the wheat provides much food for thought for our Christian journey. We learn that we must take the good with the bad that arises in life. The farmer tells his servants not to pull the weeds, for if they do, then the life they do have might be lost as well. We can be at odds with this, and it can make it difficult to connect with the idea of a loving and compassionate God. However, we must be able to see that the hurdles and challenges of life are what many times strengthen us and, in the process, teaches us how to live in our sometimes-difficult world. Pain and suffering, obstacles and hurdles, and challenges and difficulties are all part of the human condition. These are the weeds of our existence, the circumstances of a fallen world; and Jesus tells us that if these weeds are removed, we might die, for we won’t be able to grow as we should.

We live in a very challenging world, and I suspect all of us would be more than happy if a few of the weeds in our lives were removed. Our Lord’s message doesn’t mean that we should seek difficulty, nor is his message ever that suffering is something we should strive for. Rather, he’s saying that if we persevere and allow the variations of life to occur, we will be stronger and, in the end, find the life we desire.

Today (yesterday), July 22 is (was) the feast day, the Memorial of St. Mary Magdalene. Given this weekend’s parable, we should reflect on her attitude and the great love she felt for Christ: for though the disciples had left the tomb, she remained. She was still seeking the One she had not found, and while she sought, she wept, longing for the One whom she thought had been taken away, his body stolen. And so it happened that the woman who stayed behind to seek Christ was the only one to see him. For perseverance is essential to any good deed, as the voice of truth tells us: Whoever perseveres to the end will be saved. At first, she sought but she did not find. It was only when she persevered that it happened she encountered the One whom she was looking for (Office of Readings).

Walt Disney was forced to persevere in his early life. He met much opposition and was rejected by many. Nonetheless, possessing great self-confidence and a desire to succeed, he was able to gain recognition and, in the end, create an industry that has delighted people of all ages around the world for close to 75 years. Whether we use his modern-day example, or that of Mary Magdalene, apostle to the Apostles, may none of us shrink from adversity, but that we persevere, among the weeds, and not necessarily for our own good, but for the greater glory, honor, and praise of God, our loving Father.


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