Faith: A Mighty God
Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
The first reading says that God’s might is the basis for divine justice. We might take this to mean that God uses mighty power to punish sinners, in the legal sense of justice. But the reading also talks about God’s lenience and clemency. So maybe God’s power is so great that punishment is not necessary. Sinners can be forgiven. After all, we usually punish those we fear will hurt us again. But God is too powerful to be injured by our sins. God can afford to wait for us to repent. That is the point of the parable of the wheat and the weeds.
We are used to expecting swift justice. We like TV shows in which the bad guy is caught and convicted in an hour. The idea of God giving sinners until the end of time to repent is almost un-American—at least, until we realize that we are sinners, too. “But my sins are so minor.” Even the smallest sin says that we know better than God what is right. Yet God is still willing to wait for all of us to repent.
On the other hand, we hear people who say they don’t deserve to be forgiven. True, but no one could ever deserve forgiveness. That is the wonder of God’s love, that God’s Son came to die for sinners, even before we sinned. As we experience that forgiveness, we learn the depth of God’s love for us. Hopefully, we also learn to share that love with others.
Of course, that means that we also share forgiveness with others. If God waits till “the end of the age” before burning the weeds, shouldn’t we be willing to forgive those who hurt us? The Church encourages us to celebrate the sacrament of reconciliation often. Many people today wait till they have a lot of sins, or at least one whopper, to confess. But the more often we go, the more we are reminded of God’s love and forgiveness. Those reminders can help us to be more willing to show mercy ourselves. Let us ask God for the courage to seek forgiveness and the strength to forgive.