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Homily of Bishop William Crean – 19th July 2020

16th Sunday A
19th July 2020
St. Colman’s Cathedral, Cobh

“A parable for the ages”

My friends,

Sometime early in the ‘lockdown’ Christy Moore was interviewed and asked how he was coping – quick as a flash he replied he was waiting for the next crop of weeds to come up!

Waiting patiently many people find really difficult.  The temptation is to go for some short sharp reaction which frequently makes things worse not better.  Vengeance and revenge are often the result of an impetuous response to many situations in life.  Be it something said or done it so often leaves a legacy of hurt that is so hard to heal and repair later.

God in his mercy is truly one who waits with infinite patience and there are so many wonderful ways in which it is shown to us every day, if we are alert to its signs in life.

To-day’s scripture readings each in their different ways offer us an insight into that merciful patience.  The parable of the wheat and the darnel (weeds) has a lot to teach us about waiting patiently.  We know the story – after the wheat was sown someone in the secrecy of darkness sowed weeds among the crop.  The servants wanted to whip out the weeds straight away but the owner told them to hold off until harvest time – that was the time to deal with them.

This is a parable for the ages.  It captures so well so much of life’s experience of the combination of goodness and evil co-existing side by side in life.

And in that regard, we can begin with ourselves as we observe the great capacity for goodness in our minds and hearts along with the sheer bad mindedness and bitterness that can sometimes take hold of us.  In humility, we often ponder “There, but for the grace of God, go I”.

When we look at the wider experience of society – something similar is evident.  These recent months of the Covid experience has shown the enormous generosity of so many carers in this time peril – while on the other hand we see in the words of the parable “the hand of the enemy” using spin and manipulation to their own end and purpose.

None of us can be in any doubt about the great ongoing battle we face in global terms.  Things have changed utterly and only bit by bit will it come home to impact on every area of our lives – employment, family, education, mental health and indeed our spiritual lives too.  While we hope and pray for all those in leadership in this crisis time, we ourselves need to continually sow seeds of hope into the dark soil that these days may bring.  In this context the advice of St. Paul to the Romans on the nature of prayer is encouraging.

“The Spirit comes to help us in our weakness.  For when we cannot choose
words in order to pray properly, the Spirit himself expresses our plea in a
way that could never be put into words, and God who knows everything in
our hearts knows perfectly well what he means, and that the pleas of the
saints expressed by the spirit are according to the mind of God”.

In the acclamation before the Gospel you will find a prayer I keep close to my heart and which I find is a constant source of inspiration.

“May the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ enlighten the eyes of our minds
so that we can see what hope his call holds for us”.

My friends, the great enemy is despair we need to choke the weeds of darkness in our hearts and in our midst.

The parable of the wheat and the weeds is a parable for the ages.

While we rejoice and cherish all that is good, true, whole and of beauty we must not be naïve and foolish about the evil and darkness among us.

   “O Lord you are good and forgiving
     Full of love to all who call
     Give heed O Lord to my prayer
    And attend to the sound of my voice”.
       Ps. 85:5-6

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