Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary - Homilies


16th Sunday of Ordinary Time
Fr. Jonathan L. Reardon
July 20th, 2014
Year A

It took patience, tears, and prayers to get St. Monica through the ordeal of coping with a faithless son. She knew that the youth – who would one day become St. Augustine – had unique talents that he was thoughtlessly squandering. At the same time she knew that she could not abandon him. As such, the prayers and the tears continued. Her patience was rewarded. She lived to see Augustine embrace the faith but would not see his rise to become Bishop of Hippo. In the eulogy St. Augustine wrote for her after her death, Augustine reveals the depths of his love for his mother and praises her forbearance. He wrote in his Confessions that: “she showed herself a peacemaker between any differing and discordant souls.” She puts into practice the very meaning of the parable we hear in the Gospel today of the weeds and the wheat.

Jesus describes a real agricultural scenario where Roman laws forbade the sabotaging of crops by planting weeds – or darnel – among good crops. Darnel is a poisonous plant whose roots would intertwine with the roots of the wheat. Therefore it would have been difficult to remove the weeds without damaging the wheat. This is precisely why the household tells his servants to wait. The darnel could possibly destroy the good crop. On a positive note, however, it could also be used for fuel, for burning.

St. Isidore of Pelusium, a 5th century monk from Alexandria and venerated in the Eastern Orthodox Church, offers a very interesting meaning of this parable. The weeds represent sinners. They are not to be pulled up and burned so as to offer time to allow them to repent. Thus, the parable encourages patience with the presence of wickedness in the world. It shows how God is Himself patient with sinners, allowing time for repentance and conversion. At the same time, instructing us on how to deal with those who are wicked.

Patience is the key, even with regard to the other parables mentioned in the Gospel. As St. Augustine once wrote: “A man's patience it is whereby he bears evil with an equal mind” (De Patientia ii). In other words without being disturbed by sorrow. For patience has as its end the true good. In the case of the parable, God deals patiently with sinners so as to allow them time for repentance. St. Monica dealt patiently with her son in order to allow time for him to come to faith and be baptized. She dealt patiently with the infidelity of her husband who was also baptized. She dealt patiently with her mother-in-law, who was prejudiced against her by the gossip of servants.

In the case of our growth in faith, we may start with very little, with a faith that seems rather insignificant – like a mustard seed – peppered with many sins and vices but if we are patient and give it time to grow, nourishing our faith with the proper food – confession and Holy Communion – then can we blossom and be fruitful. Now, this does not mean that we can go and live however we feel like and wait until the very last minute to repent and confess because God is patient and He gives me time. No, the key to patience lies in the example of St. Monica – prayer, tears, suffering. For we have all heard the phrase: “patience is a virtue.” Yet, it is not a virtue without prayer. It is not a virtue without God’s grace because as a virtue, patience must have God as its final goal. In other words, we endure the evils of the world, we endure our feeble faith, with salvation in mind for both ourselves and for others. This is what makes patience a virtue. For as St. Augustine says: “The virtue of the soul that is called patience, is so great a gift of God, that we even preach the patience of Him who bestows it upon us” (De Patientia, i).

I hear so often from people: “Father, I need more patience.” If we put in the time of prayer, tears, and suffering, if we endure with loving hearts the faults and shortcomings of others, if we give to our faith the nourishment it needs to grow, if we seek the true good in all the difficult situations that require patience, then will that great gift of God come upon us – the virtue of patience – that we will begin to take on an attitude that is more God-like, more saintly and thus take on a spirit of meekness which is patience and virtuous.




Fr. Jon Reardon

Rev. Jonathan L. Reardon is a priest for the diocese of Springfield in Massachusetts.
He serves at Sacred Heart Parish in Pittsfield, MA.

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