Homily for July 26th, 2016: Matt. 13:36-43.
“The righteous will shine like the sun in the Kingdom of their Father,” Jesus tells us at the end of his explanation of his parable of the weeds among the wheat. That story directs our attention to the greatest difficulty for religious belief: the so-called “Problem of Evil.” How is it possible that, in a world created and ruled by a good and loving God, there is so much evil, injustice, and suffering? The weeds sown among the wheat are, Jesus explains, “the children of the Evil One, and the enemy who sows them is the Devil.”
Why does God tolerate evil in the good world he has created? God’s words to Moses in our first reading give us a clue to the answer: because “the Lord is a merciful and gracious God, slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity, continuing his kindness for a thousand generations, and forgiving wickedness and crime and sin.” But not forever! Today’s gospel reading proclaims the good news that the power of evil is temporary. There will come a time when justice and goodness will triumph. “The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his Kingdom all who cause others to sin and all evildoers [and] throw them into the fiery furnace …”
When that happens, Jesus says, “the righteous will shine like the sun in the Kingdom of their Father.” We became citizens of that kingdom at baptism. This life, with all its trials and suffering, and ending with death, is a preparation for a life without end, without suffering; where the deepest desires of our hearts, never fully satisfied in this life, will find fulfillment beyond our imagining; where we shall experience not just joy but ecstasy, for we shall see God face to face.