Torch provides a new Catholic homily each week written specially for this web site by Dominican friars, and read by followers worldwide. Read more.

Not Choosing is not an Option

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Sixteenth Sunday of the Year (A). Fr Dominic Ryan preaches on the existential decision required by Christ's agricultural parables. Read more

The Welcome Guest

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (C)  |  Fr David Sanders tells us to be sure to take time to listen to our guests, especially the Divine Guest in whose company we eat at every Mass. Read more

Holding to the Centre

Wednesday, July 18, 2018
Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)  |  Rev. Br Toby Lees ponders the divisions manifest in the world today, and asks if the centre can still hold. Read more

Who is the kingdom of heaven?

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Sixteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time (A)  |  Fr Benjamin Earl explains why the right question isn't what is the kingdom of heaven but who it is. Read more

At the Feet of Jesus

Monday, July 11, 2016

Sixteenth Sunday of the Year. fr Dermot Morrin shows us how Mary understands the true meaning of hospitality. Read more

The Empty Desert?

Wednesday, July 15, 2015
Sixteenth Sunday of the Year. fr Fergus Kerr reflects on the significance of the desert lanscape in Scripture.  Read more

On not being Solomon

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Sixteenth Sunday of the Year. fr Gregory Murphy explains how God's judgement is inseparable from His mercy. Read more

Welcoming and Being Welcomed

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Sixteenth Sunday of the Year. Fr Anthony Axe helps us to see how hospitality is vital the the spreading of the Gospel. Read more

United in Christ

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Sixteenth Sunday of the Year. Fr Martin Ganeri shows how the fulfilment of our human desire for unity is brought about through Jesus Christ. Read more

What To Do About The Weeds

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Sixteenth Sunday of the Year. Fr Isidore Clarke warns us against premature judgement.

What should we do about the weeds? That's a problem facing every farmer and gardener -- a problem that Jesus uses in one of today's Gospel parables. We're told about the darnel growing in the midst of the crop sown by the farmer. Through this parable Jesus confronts a problem which besets the Kingdom of God in every age, including today's.

Weeds have a habit of growing amidst any seed we've sown, no matter how well we've prepared the soil. They seem to be more robust than our plants; perversely, the weeds choke their growth. They are an unwanted, destructive nuisance.

These agricultural parables are all variations on the theme of the sowing of the Word of God. Applying this to the Church here on earth it's only too obvious that it's a mixture of good and bad people. We know only too well that serious sinners can do great harm to good people, especially the young. Their behaviour can be a scandal, leading some to want nothing more to do with religion. While books, the media and information technology produce so much that is innocent and wholesome, they also purvey much that is unsavoury and damaging.

Our present parable about the weeds raises the question as to how the Church should deal with these threats to the Good News taking root and growing. Some would be like the impetuous servants in the parable. They would weed out the destructive sinner. Then, they hope, the Kingdom here on earth would consist only of good, holy people, with no room for sinner. Naturally they would include themselves among this elite band of Christ's faithful followers!

But in this parable that's not Christ's approach. Like the wise farmer, he realises that in pulling up the weeds he could do more harm than good. The same happens when people try to suppress unsavoury and harmful ideas. Banning a book or film will only give it unwanted publicity and increase its number of viewers.

Obviously there are exceptions -- some material is so harmful that it must be suppressed, in order to protect the most vulnerable. But in general, when freedom of speech is denied then dictators flourish. Such a ruthless reaction can be counter-productive. It can destroy the very thing we want to preserve -the freedom to sow and cultivate the Word of God.

So, like the wise farmer, Jesus urges patience -- a theme common to several of these parables about cultivation. Jesus takes up the two time-perspectives of the farmer. The first is that of sowing and growing; the second that of harvesting, judgement and sorting.

We are living in the first era of the Kingdom. In this we must be prepared for a mixture of good and bad people, saints and sinners. Like the farmer, we can be mistaken in distinguishing the one from the other. Our judgement is not sound enough to be certain. In an impetuous zeal for a purge we may uproot the good with the bad, or even instead of the bad. That would be a serious injustice.

So Jesus urges a patience which Peter's 2nd Letter develops. He sees God's delay in passing judgement and sorting out the good from the bad as a sign of his loving mercy. 'The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance.' He wants to give the sinner the grace and time to repent and become a saint, the noxious weed to become a fruitful plant. Unfortunately that doesn't happen in farming!

In the meantime Paul urges us to wait till the second and final era of harvest time. Then the Lord of the Harvest will pass the final judgement. He alone is qualified to distinguish with certainty the good from the bad: 'Therefore do not pronounce judgement before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive commendation from God.'

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