July 17, 2011

Is it worth doing it?

16th Sunday of the Year
Matthew 13: 24 – 43

Our gospel for today is a continuation of last Sunday’s gospel, the parable of the sower. In this parable, we have learned that God always provides good seeds. And our main responsibility is to provide good soil so that the good seeds planted by God will have good harvest.

Unfortunately, to provide good soil for the good seeds are not enough. The story of the parable of the weeds warns us of an enemy. The enemy may come without our knowledge and throw weeds in the good soil we have provided for our family and community. These things are beyond our control and could greatly influence our children and destroy the good seeds that God had planted. These weeds are the enemy of the good seeds. They may come to us in the form of worldly values and temptations. Our experience tells us also that even us - parents, teachers, bishops, priests, religious and formators - are not immune from the corruption of the weeds. Our weaknesses, selfishness and sins sometimes stop us from doing what is noble and right. St.Paul even confirmed it, “I cannot understand myself, the things that I should do, and I am not doing. The things that I should not do, I am doing.”

To remove the bad weeds in ourselves is not as simple as deleting a virus from our laptop. Some of these weeds are deeply rooted in our hearts and culture and could influence our behavior and decision making. It would take a lot of self-retrospection and awareness before we can even see, accept and resolve to change ourselves for a better person. Formation is a lifetime process. Forming people takes a lot of time, effort and dedication. But if we care, we don’t mind the difficulty.

How do we sustain our effort to help people? Our gospel challenges us to do three things: 1) Be patient. 2) Keep your calm. 3) And never give up.

To form God fearing, responsible, and loving individuals is not an easy task. The influence of evil is deeply rooted in us. The three parables invite us to be more hopeful rather than hopeless in dealing with those seemingly difficult and problematic people in our lives. But is it worth doing it?

The next two parables - the mustard seed and the yeast - give us reasons why we should not give up in forming and guiding the “prodigal sons and daughters” in our lives. With good soil and personal care, a small mustard seed is capable of becoming a huge tree where birds can come and rest. When used correctly, a small amount of yeast could bring a large quantity of dough to rise. The two parables are invitations to be more positive and hopeful with others. We don’t want their talents and innate goodness to go to waste. Giving up is not an option. With our patience, understanding, and constant love, one day we shall reap a bountiful harvest from our labor.

One of my students from Xavier University ten year ago visited me last week. I was thrilled to know from him that most of my noisy, hard to discipline and problematic students in high school are doing great. Most of them hold key positions in the local government and multi-national companies. They are well loved by their families and peers. Out of sheer joy, I texted one of them and congratulate him. My former student responded, “Because good teachers like you, never gave up on us.”

Sometimes our role is just to plant, plant, and plant. We are just planters. Somebody after us will do the harvest.

That’s more than enough to console me. It’s worth doing it.

- Fr. Willy M. Samson,SJ
Zamboanga Catedral

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