The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe, Week XVI-A, 23 July 2017
Wisdom 12:13,16-19//Romans 8:26-27//Matthew 13:24-43
There is no doubt among us believers of God’s power and might, of His immense love and goodness, of His wisdom and knowledge of everything. But when we observe how things are going on in the world – whether in the past or in the present – including those in our own lives, we wonder how could God allow evil things to happen? Why do evil people prosper and those who strive to be just and fair suffer? We firmly believe that God is just but how come many crimes go unpunished? Our readings this Sunday try to reflect on the presence of evil in the world that have baffled believers and unbelievers of God alike for the longest time.
Jesus proposed another parable to the crowds, saying: “The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a man who sowed good seed in his field. While everyone was asleep his enemy came and sowed weeds all through the wheat, and then went off. When the crop grew and bore fruit, the weeds appeared as well. The slaves of the householder came to him and said, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where have the weeds come from?’ He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’ His slaves said to him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’ He replied, ‘No, if you pull up the weeds you might uproot the wheat along with them. Let them grow together until harvest; then at harvest time I will say to the harvesters, ‘First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning; but gather the wheat into my barn.’”(Mt.13:24-30)
Last Monday I facilitated the retreat of our parish catechists. Before we formally started our “vacation with the Lord” that evening, I prayed at the beautiful “gardens-with-views” of Mt. St. Paul Retreat Center at La Trinidad, a few kilometers from Baguio City. I sat on one of the benches under some pine trees in front of our retreat house and spoke to God: “Lord, I am tired. Pagod na po ako. Wala na po ako makitang maganda at maayos sa buhay ko. Cleanse me, Lord. Refresh me, Lord.” Then, total silence as I appreciated nature around me. I walked to the other end of the garden at the grotto area where many moss and ferns and other little colorful flowers growing on rock edges and fissures caught my attention. They reminded me of today’s parable of weeds among the wheat, of God’s great love and concern for us allowing life to thrive and bloom in difficult situations like hard surfaces barely reached by sunlight. Today’s parable and those moss and ferns that have caught my attention at Mt. St. Paul speak so well of the evils and darkness that often blur our vision and directions in life, even our faith in God.
Last Sunday we have learned that parables are simple stories with rich meanings that also reveal the mystery of the very person of Jesus Christ and the Father. Note that beginning this Sunday, Jesus would introduce His parables by declaring “the kingdom of heaven is like” to introduce us to the mystery of His person and of the Father. Hence, the need to pray and listen as God speaks to us as He is – not as we want Him to be so that we can properly respond to His call and invitation to us. From the wheat field to the mustard seed and the yeast, we realize God’s immense powers that imply we have no rights at all before Him for He can do whatever He chooses to do with us like “allowing” but never causing evil in this world. Experience taught us that this limitless power of God is also the very standard of what is good because whatever God does is always right: “if you pull up the weeds you might uproot the wheat along with them.”(Mt.13: 29) If God lets weeds to grow among the wheat, we can also be sure that all the more God would ensure the wheat to be fruitful! Such is the power of God we must always hope and rely on. He always has the final say in everything though at the start things seem to be on the distaff side like with the mustard seed which is “the smallest of all the seeds, yet when full-grown is the largest of plants that becomes a large bush where birds come and dwell in its branches.”(Mt.13:31-32)
Hiddenness is one of God’s most amazing mysteries as a Person, always hidden in minute and ordinary things of life. Most of all, He has always been unseen as the scriptures tell us from the Old Testament to the New. St. John Evangelist says in his prologue to his gospel account that “no one has ever seen God”(Jn.1:18) but later elaborates in one of his letters that “No one has ever seen God. Yet, if we love one another, God remains in us, and his love is brought to perfection in us.” (1Jn. 4:12) When we truly listen and accept God’s word by cultivating it like a mustard seed, we make Him present everywhere like “the yeast that a woman took and mixed with three measures of wheat flour until the whole batch was leavened.”(Mt.13:33) If you have time after the Mass today, try watching “Kita Kita” (“I See You”) starring Empoy (Tonyo) and Alessandra de Rossi (Lea). It is a very funny love story like a parable with a lot of hidden meanings. I love that part when they were having lunch in a glass pyramid building in a park when Tonyo told Lea that in love, “Di mo naman sya kailangan makita, mararamdaman mo naman.” But my most favorite is when Tonyo wrote Lea telling her, “Ang labo mo talaga. Noong nakakakita ko hindi mo ako nakita. Ngayong bulag ka saka mo ako nakita.” Oooops! Spoiler alert. Is it not that is also how we are with God in relating with Him?
When we are going through severe tests and trials from evil people, we never ask to see God because we are sure He is at our side, guiding us to make it through darkness. And every time we hurdle difficulties and sufferings caused by evil men and women, that is also when we mature in Christ as better persons. Evil people are weaklings, always hiding in various forms of brute force to assert themselves like weeds. Any virtue like patience and perseverance are difficult to practice because these require determination and will, real strength found inside a person not from the outside that bullies and braggadocios lack. This is what the author of the Book of Wisdom is telling us in the first reading, of how God never explodes in anger unlike us human because He is strong from the inside: “For your might is the source of justice; your mastery over all things makes you lenient to all. And you taught your people, by these deeds, that those who are just must be kind; and you gave your children good ground for hope that you would permit repentance for their sins.”(Wis.12:16,19)
May we trust in the “Holy Spirit who comes to the aid of our weakness” (Rom.8:26) whenever we feel like questioning God for His apparent inaction against evil or, worst, when we are tempted to resort to evil against evil. Keep your head up high looking to God, never stoop down to the level of weeds. A blessed week ahead!
Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Parokya ni San Juan Apostol at Ebanghelista
Gov. F. Halili Ave., Bagbaguin,
Sta. Maria, Bulacan
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