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Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time

Ex. 33:7-11; 34:5-9 & Mt. 13:36-43

Some people have read the Bible and come to the conclusion that the God of the Old Testament is a God of judgement, always ready to pounce on you if you do not toe the line. But the God of the New Testament is a God of compassion and mercy, so ready to forgive. The implication is that somehow God changed His mind about dealing with people, that He decided to change from being a God of wrath to being a God of mercy. This could not be further from the truth.

There could scarcely be a more beautiful description of God than the one in today's Old Testament reading, "Lord, Lord, a God of tenderness and compassion, slow to anger, rich in kindness and faithfulness.”

ln complete accord with this is the responsorial psalm. There is one word in that psalm which needs explanation. The word in Hebrew which is translated as 'fear' does not denote anxiety or trepidation. Rather it refers to a spirit of humble reverence, filled with awe, very much like the attitude of a little child who believes that his or her parents can do anything. Individuals who 'fears the Lord' acknowledges their total dependence upon God Who is both all-powerful and all loving. Without hesitation we can proclaim in the words of the psalm, "As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him."

There is but one God and He is a God of love, rich in mercy and full of compassion. A God who can describe Himself to us in the words of the prophet Jeremiah, "I have loved you with an everlasting love."

In the Gospel the disciples asked Jesus to explain to them the parable about the bad seed that was sown into the field of good seed. This parable tells us that God is watching us. The difference between good and evil is not lost for God knows the struggles we have to live godly lives in this world that is often so impregnated with evil. He assures us that He sees the good that is done and will give recompense for it. We should strive to live each day, knowing that we are seen by God, to try consistently to sow goodness in our lives.

When sometimes it seems as if evil can triumph in the world, we need to recognize that God has the last say over evil. He mysteriously allows evil to exist so that good can become purified. There will be a moment when evil will be judged and will no longer have power over our lives. If we sew goodness in our life and live in God's grace, He will free us from the domain of evil forever. Let us build up our confidence in the coming of His kingdom, using the struggle against evil as a way to show the sincerity of our love.

The assurance of Christ that there will be final judgement gives Christians joy in living their lives. We know our efforts are not in vain. We realise that this life is the short opportunity the Father gives us to do good and prepare for our great destiny with Him. When we are tempted to be discouraged in the fight, we must remember that the struggles will soon be over, and God will more than recompense us for the sacrifices we have made in following His will and promoting goodness in the world.

Lord Jesus, help us to renew our trust in the triumph of Your holiness, in our lives. When we feel the pull of evil in our hearts, let us remember that this life is short and that our struggle is precious in Your eyes. Help us to focus our heart, our mind and our soul on the happiness You are preparing for us.

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