Eleanor Rabnett’s Reflection for the 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time

The Book of Wisdom reminds us that God is in the process of making all things whole. I recall how last weekend Fr. Robert spoke of how God is gentle, full of love and forgiveness. I am reminded of the potter who continues to spin the wheel, so that the emerging form comes from within the clay itself – with the potter’s hands being there simply to allow form to come into being.”

Paul’s Letter to the Romans speaks to me of our own weaknesses, and how often we might not know how to pray.  When that happens the prayers that we are trying to offer are also offered for us by the Holy Spirit. Bishop Blaise Cupich of Chicago in a 2020 homily stated: “the power of the Spirit is to take what is there and build on it… to bring us together as one body – interdependent on one another, one family.”  Community…

Today’s Gospel continues with the likening of us and our lives to seeds that are sown. The fact is that we are not always planted in fertile soil and even when we are the reality of life does not always mean that our lives are perfect…

Barclay writes that this Gospel “teaches us that there is always a hostile power in the world, seeking and waiting to destroy the good seed and just how difficult it is to distinguish between those who are in the kingdom and those who are not. He adds that “it teaches us not to be so quick with our judgements – that the only person with the right to judge is God.”

Jesus begins by saying “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone…” and he tells the story of how after the farmer sowed good seeds in good soil that an enemy came along and sowed weeds to grow in the midst of the wheat. But he cautioned those who wanted to go out into the field to pull out the weeds, lest they also pull up and destroy some of the plants from the good seeds.

True story – for the first almost 30 years of my life I was one of the weeds growing in the midst of good seeds– I was not seen as a good seed, but rather the enemy who planted the bad seeds in the middle the farmers field. In life I was not content with breaking as many rules and laws as I could, I worked hard to try and destroy the good in others much like the weeds in the Gospel that entangled the wheat and often tried to strangle the life out of it. There were some who abandoned me but there was one particular judge who seemed to have somehow figured out that if I could get off the drugs and alcohol and the life style that goes along with it, in his words: “You might – you might just be able by some miracle to change my life…” That divine spark hidden deep within me, was protected until God deemed me ready to be transformed with new life. And new life did begin to grow, to show small signs of life and eventually bear fruit. Imagine if God had allowed someone to yank out my roots and to then throw me into the fire of death. I have shared this not to brag about how bad I was, but rather how great and good our God is – when pulling the weeds, God caught sight of me, forgave and transformed me rather than throwing me into the fire. A curious mixture of the good and the bad, the human and the divine.

The other thing that I remember Fr. Robert spoke of was how life is not always just black or white, but that in fact there is lot of grayness. I cannot help but think of the upcoming Synod, in which the Pope has called people from different missions and ways of looking at what is needed in the Church – those who some of us agree with alongside of those we prefer to dislike and perhaps actively try to silence. There are some who want to return to a way of the past, a way that worked for them; while there are others who want to move forward, carving out new practices and ways of being – and perhaps including a bit of everything. The hope is that they will come together in, with and through the Holy Spirit. White and black meet in the middle to form a new type of grey – without walls and laws that confine and exclude. It is in this grey zone that we will all find ourselves enlarging the space of our tents and our hearts. This will create a space where diversity and her gifts will be honoured, and allowed to enrich all. New life rising from within and giving new light.

Rene Fumoleau, a missionary priest with the Dene People in Northern Canada once asked the Elders to name what they considered was the worst sin of all. Their answer: “The worst sin people can make is to lock their door.” Do we keep our doors locked in order to keep out the stranger from entering? When we open our doors are there spoken or unspoken conditions to be met before entering?

My greatest hope for us is that we will throw open our doors, wide, to each other and to the rest of the world to wander in, find a space to sit and be – exactly as the Creator intended. Then we allow God to judge who comes from the good seed and the bad.

We are all the seeds planted by the Lord. We might just be surprised at who we find being harvested along side of us.

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