of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Salford

Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

There is no room in a good field for weeds and rubbish: so in the Kingdom of Heaven, there is no room for ‘all things that provoke offences, and all who do evil’. They must be got rid of, for the sake of the good wheat, for the sake of the good subjects of the kingdom. But this weeding out will not take place until  harvest time - in case one piece of good wheat is destroyed with the weeds. This shows the mercy of God: everyone has chance after chance to prove that they are wheat, not darnel; there are no quick judgements in the kingdom of heaven, and things are never as black and white as we think. Only at the end of time will evil stand out clearly, so that it can be disposed of, and only the Son of Man can judge.

Notes for Readers

First Reading: Wisdom 12:13. 16-19.
God is the only just and perfect judge: but his perfect judging is mild and lenient. This is a great and mature prayer of trust in God: not a vengeful and arbitrary deity, but a God whose strength is love. When you proclaim this, there must be a quiet confidence in your voice: this is not a shout from the rooftops, but the cry of a heart that is aware of the way in which we human beings can wander from the path, until we are called back gently by a God who is ‘good and forgiving’. With the voice, you can express many thoughts: reading about ‘strength’ and ‘sovereign power’ demands a different tone from reading about ‘lenience’ and ‘mildness’. While proclaiming this reading gently, make sure that it still has some movement and variety.
Second Reading: Romans 8:26-27.
Two simple verses of Paul’s letter, but containing so much! One of the problems we often face in our lives as Christians is an inability to pray: we know what we want to say, but somehow we cannot express that thought in any way. Many of the congregation you stand before will know this feeling. Today, you are offering an answer to that problem, so read with the conviction that what you are saying is useful and relevant. It is all about surrender to the Spirit who expresses our pleas. The content of this reading is so simple and comforting that it should present no problems to the reader, as long as you are aware of the wonderful nature of the gift that is being offered in this reading, and allow that gift to be perceived and taken by the listening assembly.

From the Catechism

CCC 543-550
The Kingdom of God

CCC 309-314
God’s goodness and the scandal of evil

CCC 825, 827
Weeds and seed of Gospel in everyone and in the Church

CCC 1425-1429
Need for ongoing conversion

CCC 2630
Prayer of petition voiced profoundly by the Holy Spirit

CCC 309 - 313
If God the Father almighty, the Creator of the ordered and good world, cares for all his creatures, why does evil exist? To this question, as pressing as it is unavoidable and as painful as it is mysterious, no quick answer will suffice. Only Christian faith as a whole constitutes the answer to this question: the goodness of creation, the drama of sin and the patient love of God who comes to meet man by his covenants, the redemptive Incarnation of his Son, his gift of the Spirit, his gathering of the Church, the power of the sacraments and his call to a blessed life to which free creatures are invited to consent in advance, but from which, by a terrible mystery, they can also turn away in advance. There is not a single aspect of the Christian message that is not in part an answer to the question of evil.
But why did God not create a world so perfect that no evil could exist in it? With infinite power God could always create something better. But with infinite wisdom and goodness God freely willed to create a world "in a state of journeying" towards its ultimate perfection. In God's plan this process of becoming involves the appearance of certain beings and the disappearance of others, the existence of the more perfect alongside the less perfect, both constructive and destructive forces of nature. With physical good there exists also physical evil as long as creation has not reached perfection.
Angels and men, as intelligent and free creatures, have to journey toward their ultimate destinies by their free choice and preferential love. They can therefore go astray. Indeed, they have sinned. Thus has moral evil, incommensurably more harmful than physical evil, entered the world. God is in no way, directly or indirectly, the cause of moral evil. He permits it, however, because he respects the freedom of his creatures and, mysteriously, knows how to derive good from it: For almighty God. . ., because he is supremely good, would never allow any evil whatsoever to exist in his works if he were not so all-powerful and good as to cause good to emerge from evil itself.
In time we can discover that God in his almighty providence can bring a good from the consequences of an evil, even a moral evil, caused by his creatures: "It was not you", said Joseph to his brothers, "who sent me here, but God. . . You meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive." From the greatest moral evil ever committed - the rejection and murder of God's only Son, caused by the sins of all men - God, by his grace that "abounded all the more", brought the greatest of goods: the glorification of Christ and our redemption. But for all that, evil never becomes a good.

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