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16th Sunday

Once I was visiting a terminally ill person and the family members were telling me how good the sick person was. In the end, they could not help but lament and compare the sick with their neighbors. Why does she need to suffer this when there are so many more evil people around who deserve this kind of suffering? Why does God not strike them instead with this painful torture?

How many times we have been tempted to say the same things and think the same thoughts when we are faced with life’s trials. Do we not believe that we do not deserve to suffer because we are better than others? Do we not find reasons why others, who are far worse in conduct and lifestyle, must receive their share of problems? Why me, Lord? Give this pain to them!

The Gospel leads us to reflect on this human tendency by presenting to us the mind of God. Jesus tells the parable of the wheat and the weeds growing together in the field. Since they are indistinguishable when newly sprouting, the master decides to allow both to survive. He overrules the suggestion of the tenant farmer to uproot the weeds. It was an easier solution but God has a better idea.

The Lord clearly wants to instruct us on how the mind of God His Father works. God does not discriminate against anyone in his heart. God plays no favorites among his children, good or bad. As Father, all his children are equal before his eyes.

I’m sure good parents can identify easily with this God on this point. Even the delinquent child needs love and care. Rare are the parents who think of disowning an erring child. Most parents will find in their heart only compassion and concern for the welfare of all their children.

This is what God is telling us today. He is revealing to us his heart, his non-judgmental heart. Our God gives second chances, and remains open to the possibility of conversion and change in people, good or bad, on whom he lavishes his love. Does it work? We would not have the greatest saints today if God did not love them and give them the chance to realize how much better it is to return to his embrace.

There will still be judgment, there will be punishment, yes, if the sinner refuses all of God’s attempts to entice him to repentance and conversion. But God reserves that decision for last. His starting point is love.

The next time you are tempted to compare yourself with others, pray that you may resist the urge to do so. In God’s eyes, we are all equal. The next time you are tempted to feel superior to others, remember how God regards each one with the same fatherly love and concern. Let us strive to have the non-judgmental heart of God.