Remove the weeds from your life instead of judging the weeds in others

Homily for the Sixteenth Sunday of Year A

by Fr. Tommy Lane

Did you ever form a poor opinion of someone and discover later that you were wrong? Did you ever judge someone badly and discover later that your judgment was incorrect? Anytime we judge others we need to be aware that we may not have the full picture and so we may not be fair in our judgments of others. The weeds or darnel that some enemy sowed among the wheat in the parable taught by Jesus looked very like the wheat in their early growth so that it was really impossible to decide properly which was the wheat and which the weed. Aren’t we blessed that God has the bigger picture and not our puny judgments! God is much more merciful and patient than we are.

One person who appeared to be darnel in many ways but became wheat was John Mary Vianney born in Dardilly near Lyons in 1786. He is the most famous Pastor or Parish Priest in France since he later became the Curé of Ars. He was the dunce of his class in school and found it very difficult to learn Latin. In 1812 he went to the preparatory seminary at Verrières and was the bottom of the class of 200 due to his poor Latin. Hoping for a better result they examined him again in French but he was still the bottom of the class. His theology studies went so badly at the seminary at Lyons that he was asked to leave the seminary after five months. After that he was taught theology privately and in French by M. Bailey, the priest at Ecully and was ordained in 1815. Three years later he was appointed to Ars. Reports of his holiness spread and people came from the surrounding parishes to hear him. By 1855 there was a daily service of two horse buses between Lyons and Ars, and two other buses met the Paris train at Villefranche. The railway station in Lyons even had a special ticket office for people going to Ars, so many were the pilgrims. So the one who appeared to be darnel turned out to be the finest wheat and was later so sought after by the faithful that even special public transport and ticket offices had to be laid on.

Sometimes people ask me about Jesus’ teaching, “Stop judging, that you may not be judged.” (Matt 7:1) If we are tempted to judge others negatively I would suggest two things:

  1. Firstly think of the love of God for others. Even if we cannot see the love of God in others right now, can you see Jesus crucified in them?

  2. If we do find ourselves succumbing to forming negative opinions of others we should not allow those negative opinions to interfere in how we treat others. In this parable today Jesus advised not to pull up the weeds before the harvest i.e. not to let our opinions interfere with how we treat others.

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.’ (Matt 13:28-29)

In this parable Jesus asks us not to play God and judge people but to allow judgment to God. God is much more merciful and patient than we are.

It would be better for us to concentrate on removing the darnel from our lives than judging others because of their darnel. Jesus’ teaching elsewhere helps us,

Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove that splinter from your eye,’ while the wooden beam is in your eye? (Matt 7:3-4)

What are you doing to remove the darnel from your life? Living a spiritual life is the best way to remove the darnel from our lives. One very powerful example is the worldwide Cenacolo Communities founded by Sr. Elvira, originally in Italy, to help addicts overcome drug addiction through work and prayer but these communities have now spread throughout the world. Addicts may spend up to three years in the community and experience a deep spiritual renewal in the community also. A number of religious vocations have come out of these communities. These communities are a wonderful testimony to the power of prayer to heal and remove darnel from our lives.

(Here I give an example of a 'weed' relevant for a particular time and place.)

What are you doing to remove the darnel from your life? When you are ill you go to your doctor who gives you a prescription. When you have darnel in your life you need a spiritual prescription. The spiritual prescription I give is:

  • pray as much as possible every day.

  • read the Bible every day. If you are new to reading the Bible regularly begin with the Gospels, perhaps Luke or John.

  • If at all possible go to daily Mass.

  • Receive the sacrament of Reconciliation frequently. In this sacrament we receive not just forgiveness for our sins but grace to live the Christian life.

In this parable today Jesus advised not to pull up the weeds before the harvest i.e. not to let our opinions interfere with how we treat others. If we are tempted to judge others negatively I would suggest two things:

  1. Firstly think of the love of God for others. Even if we cannot see the love of God in others right now, can you see Jesus crucified in them?

  2. If we do find ourselves succumbing to forming negative opinions of others we should not allow those negative opinions to interfere in how we treat others.

It would be better for us to concentrate on removing the weeds from our lives than judging others. What are you doing to remove the darnel from your life? The spiritual prescription I give is:

  • pray as much as possible every day.

  • read the Bible every day. If you are new to reading the Bible regularly begin with the Gospels, perhaps Luke or John.

  • If at all possible go to daily Mass.

  • Receive the sacrament of Reconciliation frequently.

Copyright © Fr. Tommy Lane 2008

This homily was delivered in a parish in the Archdiocese of Atlanta.

More homilies for the Sixteenth Sunday Year A

Related Homilies: Second Reading, Rom 8:26 Spirit helping us pray Pentecost

Stories: Weeds among the Wheat, God’s Infinite Mercy (a dialogue)