Reflections 23rd July 2017

A Reflection for the Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Mt: 13:24-43 (  )  

Recently, in São Paulo City, Brazil I was waiting to meet someone. Our agreed meeting point was a major pedestrian viaduct which stretches for more than 290 metres over 8 lanes of road, 2 metro tracks and 4 railway tracks.  Think 4 football pitches the size of Croke Park, all in line.  At each end is a huge shopping centre.  Thousands of people criss-cross this walkway all day, going their own way, in a hurry, with their individual objective, searching…   

I sat, and, as I waited, I pondered: “Where is God in all this? Is God somehow within each and every one of these persons, or are some to be considered valuable “wheat” and others to be seen as useless, even dangerous “weeds”?  And what am I, a missionary from Ireland, supposed to be doing here?   What’s my personal “mission vision”?  

After 44 years here, I’m still processing my answer to that question!

Certainly, I am not going to get up on a soap-box to try to convert the passing crowds, a temptation for followers of Jesus in every age. We whip ourselves into a “weeding frenzy”, certain that we know the difference between weeds and wheat, and that we know how to deal with the weeds!   Even today, some zealous preachers do try that in Brazil.

Jesus' parable makes it clear that any attempt to root out the weeds will only do more damage to the crop.  He makes it clear that we simply cannot be certain who is "in" or who is "out."   In fact, God's judgment about these matters will take many by surprise.   Thank God it is not up to us! 

Jesus is the sower of good seed. He is in control.  We can leave the weeding to the angels, and get on with the mission Jesus has given us -- proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom of God.   How we do this requires that we use our common sense to face up to the challenges that are before us.  We do not live in the past.  The Spirit of God moves us to new heights of understanding, to new types of witness, to new dimensions of life needed in the here and now. The static dies under the impulse of the Spirit of a creating God. The Spirit of God is a wild thing, breathing where it will, moving as it pleases, settling on women and men alike.   All of us who are searching as we criss-cross the viaducts of life, can be helped discover that this Spirit of God is within us.

For me, it is a valid missionary goal – “Sit with, not preach to”.

Seán Doyle C.S.Sp.  From Co. Clare, Fr. Seán has missioned in Brazil since 1973.