23rd July – 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)

Today’s gospel is the parable of the wheat and the darnel (below). Here is my homily.

Joachim AnneWhen I was young, my paternal grandparents lived with us. It is fair to say that they were my best friends while growing up. One can have an entirely different relationship with grandparents – as opposed to parents – because they are not involved with keeping law and order.

As we reflect on the many positive memories we have of our grandparents, it is good to remember that we also have a pair of spiritual grandparents, saints Joachim and Anne, the parents of Our Lady. This comes from our baptism when we were adopted into God’s family. There we received Jesus as our spiritual brother, his mother Mary as our spiritual mother, and also her parents as our spiritual grandparents.

In today’s world grandparents have a vital role in handing on the faith to younger children. This is especially the case when the parents have given up the faith and no longer practice. The only chance that the children will ever know the Christian life is if the grandparents step in and do whatever they can to pray with them and bring them to church. In the newsletter there are details of a nine day novena to St Joachim and Anne that I would like to commend to all grandparents present. It begins this coming Wed, the feastday of our spiritual grandparents. [The details from the parish newsletter is given below.]

To return to my own grandparents, whenever one of us children did any mischief, granny would read us the riot act and tell us that the devil had gone into us. At the time we thought it was a lot of fun. I had an image of the devil as a little man in a red suit with a pitch fork and long tail. Many modern people have a similar cartoon image of what the devil is. However the bottom line conclusion of this view is that the devil isn’t real, like leprechauns and crocks of gold at the end of rainbows aren’t real.

On the contrary whenever Jesus speaks about the devil, he speaks about him as a person or an individual that really exists. One such example is today’s gospel.

The Son of Man sows the good seed of God’s Word in the world. At night time the devil comes and sows among it a poisonous weed called darnel. What we are left with is an enduring conflict throughout history between the forces of good and evil, the kingdoms of Light and Darkness. If the devil didn’t really exist, there wouldn’t be such a powerful presence of evil and darkness around us. Just think of the enormous evil present in World Wars I and II, the current Syrian War, the all pervasive drug culture that generates an ocean of misery for so many people. Indeed we are reminded to the presence and power of evil every time we tune into the daily news.

If the devil has convinced so many that he doesn’t exist, this has only increased his power in the world. We can’t really defend ourselves against an invisible enemy, much less one that we think isn’t real.

If you can remember back to last Easter, Jesus in the parable of the Good Shepherd told us his mission and that of his enemy, the devil. Jesus mission is “I came that they may have life and have it to the full.” The devil’s mission is to “steal, kill and destroy.” We can see that at work today in the attack against the sacredness of human life, especially the right to life of the unborn child.

Should we be worried about the devil? Well, we know that Jesus has won the victory over sin and death by dying for us on the Cross and by his Resurrection. Thus has he opened the gates of heaven and made eternal life accessible to us. All we have to do is to stay close to our Saviour Shepherd throughout our life. We do this by faithfulness to daily prayer through which we grow in friendship with the One who loves us so much. We stay close to Jesus by faithfulness to the Ten Commandments. These gifts of God tell us how to do good and avoid evil. Thirdly we avail of weekly Holy Communion and regular confession which are channels of God’s grace in our life.

In summary: Grandparents have a vital role in handing on the Faith to the next generation. Secondly, Jesus teaches us that the devil is a real person whose evil designs we need to recognise and defend ourselves against.

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Catholic Grandparents Association has as its motto “To help grandparents pass on the faith and to keep prayer at the heart of family life.” They suggest a 9 day novena to Ss Joachim & Anne (parents of Our Lady) which can begin on their feast day, Wed July 26. It involves this prayer followed by one Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be.

Lord Jesus, you were born of the Virgin Mary, the daughter of Saints Joachim and Anne. Look with love on grandparents the world over. Protect them! They are a source of enrichment for families, for the Church and for all of society. Support them! As they grow older, may they continue to be for their families strong pillars of Gospel faith, guardian of noble domestic ideals, living treasuries of sound religious traditions. Make them teachers of wisdom and courage, that they may pass on to future generations the fruits of their mature human and spiritual experience. Lord Jesus, help families and society to value the presence and roles of grandparents. May they never be ignored or excluded, but always encounter respect and love. Help them to live serenely and to feel welcomed in all the years of life which you give them. Mary, Mother of all the living, keep grandparents constantly in your care, accompany them on their earthly pilgrimage, and by your prayers, grant that all families may one day be reunited in our heavenly homeland, where you await all humanity for the great embrace of live without end. Amen! (Pope Benedict XVI)

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Gospel                              Mt 13:24-30
Let them both grow till the harvest.

Jesus put a parable before the crowds, ‘The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. While everybody was asleep his enemy came, sowed darnel all among the wheat, and made off. When the new wheat sprouted and ripened, the darnel appeared as well. The owner’s servants went to him and said, “Sir, was it not good seed that you sowed in your field? If so, where does the darnel come from?” “Some enemy has done this” he answered. And the servants said, “Do you want us to go and weed it out?” But he said, “No, because when you weed out the darnel you might pull up the wheat with it. Let them both grow till the harvest; and at harvest time I shall say to the reapers: First collect the darnel and tie it in bundles to be burnt, then gather the wheat into my barn.”‘

 

 

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