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UNDESERVED MERCY - July 20, 2014

God has awesome qualities. God is almighty, compassionate, all-holy, kind, loving, merciful, omniscient, unchanging, eternal, infinite, etc.

But among the qualities of God there is one that many people find confusing and incomprehensible at times. That quality is seen in this Sunday’s Gospel. (Matthew 13:24-30)

There Jesus tells a parable about a man who sows good seed in his field. However in the dead of night, an enemy comes and scatters bad seed throughout that newly planted field.

When the seeds begin to sprout, both wheat and weeds appear. The master’s workers immediately want to rid the field of the weeds. To the workers that seems the logical thing to do. Get rid of the weeds as soon as possible.

However, the master tells his servants to do nothing. The master decides to permit all the plants to grow until the harvest. Only then will the weeds be separated from the wheat and burnt. Until then both weeds and wheat are to remain undisturbed in the field.

That parable teaches us how God deals with “weeds.” God shows mercy, a mercy overflowing with forbearance.

The mercy of God is a quality that we can readily understand when it is directed to those who are trying to live the life of the Gospel.

However, many of us find it hard to understand why God would show mercy to “weeds.” Why would God show mercy and forbearance to people who knowingly diminish the holiness of the Church, who are sources of scandal, and who do evil?

Those who break the vows of their marriage and destroy families; those who let drugs, alcohol, pornography, or gambling take over their lives; those who abuse others physically, sexually or mentally; those who neglect and hurt the children in their care; those who embezzle and steal in order to enrich themselves; those who destroy the reputation of others; those who narcissistically worship themselves and use others for their own ends, those who are notorious sinners – all such “weeds” should be pulled out at once. But God lets them remain. In his kingdom God shows mercy to wheat and weeds alike. Only at the final harvest, does God do the separating and judging.

We may find such divine mercy and forbearance unwarranted and incomprehensible. Like the servants in the parable, we would rather the weeds be dealt with now. And we would be more than willing to point out the weeds that need pulling!

However, in reigning over his kingdom, God is like the master of the parable. When it comes to dealing with the good and the bad, with the wheat and the weeds, God says, “Let them grow together until harvest.” Such mercy is beyond our human understanding.

© 2014 Rev. Thomas B. Iwanowski