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A GOOD LIFE CANNOT BUY HEAVEN FOR US

Father Francis's picture
Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Jer. 7:1-11 & Mt. 13:24-30

Jeremiah condemned the superstition of his time. Some of the people believed that simply because they possessed the temple in Jerusalem, God would favour them. Their triple invocation of 'the temple of the Lord,' was the indication of their superstition. It was as if they were saying, 'With the Temple in our midst, what more need be done?' Jeremiah's response was that there was more to be done - and that was to live an upright life.

We Catholics have not always been immune from superstition. In many places after Vatican II there has been a lessening of reliance on certain practices which were mistakenly supposed to guarantee Heaven or at least a quick release from Purgatory. Why would anyone think that these could be a substitute for the failure to live a good moral life! Perhaps what we need these days is not so much a warning against superstition but a proper understanding of our relationship with God.

We should never think that the purpose of a good life is to buy, or merit, Heaven because God grants His grace freely. There is no way in which we can offer anything to God which would be the proper price for His gifts. The reason we should live good lives in accord with God's will is simply that this is what He has asked of us and it is the right way for children of a loving Father to act. A deliberately evil life is our way of excluding ourselves from the family. God does not reject us; it is we who reject Him.

Baptism is God´s most beautiful and magnificent gift to us – it is not something that we deserve. We were born with original sin and yet, out of His infinite goodness and mercy, He has chosen to nourish our barren field and offered it the Kingdom of Heaven. Through the life-giving waters of the sacrament of Baptism, He has taken our field that used to be wasteland and desert, and made it flourish. He has sown wheat in our field so that it may yield an abundant harvest.

Through Baptism the Lord has grafted us into His family. There are times when we forget that Heaven is the goal of our lives. We are weak, and because of our weakness, at times we plant our field with weeds. It is true that Baptism washes away original sin but it leaves behind certain temporal consequences of sin, such as suffering, illness and death, and such frailties inherent in life which are evident as weaknesses of character. It also leaves us prone to evil, which Tradition calls concupiscence: this ‘is left for us to wrestle with evil, but it cannot harm those who do not consent but manfully resist it by the grace of Jesus Christ.’ (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1264).

When we sin we plant weeds in our field where there should be only wheat. But the Lord has given us the graces of Holy Communion and the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and time to let the good grain grow. He knows that all is not lost. Even though we have offended Him because of our sins, and have not conquered our tendency to sin, we still experience His love, and His mercy if we ask for it. He has not given up on us although it seems we may have often given up on ourselves. He has given us the gift of time for us to weed our field and the spiritual means to increase the good wheat that is within it, so that the harvest we bear may be fruitful and rich.

Lord Jesus, we thank You for the gift of Your mercy and for giving us the time to eradicate the weeds, our sins. Thank You for being patient with us, for loving us Your children, and for encouraging us to continue to grow as we should.

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