16th Sunday in Ordinary Time
'Do you want us to go and pull them up?' He replied, 'No, if you pull up the weeds you might uproot the wheat along with them.' Matthew 13:24-43)
Honestly, Jesus disturbed me in this Sunday's gospel reading. I understand the question by the slave to the Harvest Master. However, the feeling is real. I want to pull out the weeds in the pulpit. Especially, after hearing rhetoric from several priests and bishops who overlooked the US Bishops document, "Open Wide our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love - Pastoral Letter Against Racism."
Did you hear what the Indiana priest, Father Theodore Rothrock, said? In June 2020, he called Black Lives Matter participants, "maggots and parasites." He recently apologized, but the hurt is real. Fr. Richard Gennaro Cipolla recently wrote in an article titled, "To My Black Brothers and Sisters," the following words, "Beware of those who topple statues and deface buildings in the name of Black Lives Matter." I am sorry about the statues tumbling, ah, forget that thought. I say take down statues but not by force or by violent actions. Taking down any figure that reminds Black Lives of the wounds of racist attitudes that perpetuate in this country is necessary. Removal of those statues can help many Black Lives begin the healing of slavery's generational trauma and scars that exist in many Black Lives.
Furthermore, Fr. Aidan McAleenan, a priest of the Diocese of Oakland, California, "called Bishop Michael Barber, a liar and a racist." Fr. Aidan was calling for Bishop Barber to show more support for Black Lives Matter. Fr. McAleenan felt that Bishop Barber was "overly sensitive to the concerns of their white parishioners." This prevailing attitude towards sensitive white people from our Church is real, as many white people avoid talking about racism, believing that racism ended in this country. Two years ago, the US Bishops said, "We [US Bishops] commit to preach with regularity homilies directed to the issue of racism and its impact on our homes, families, and neighborhoods, particularly on certain feast days and national holidays. We direct our priests and deacons to do the same." Regrettably, one must ask, "How can you preach about racism and Black Lives if you don't care?" St. Paul said, "If I speak in human and angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal" (1 Cor. 13:1).
On the other hand, thank God for Bishop Mark J. Seitz, from El Paso, Texas. Bishop Seitz was the first Bishop that led other priests to publicly take the knee in symbolic recognition of racial injustice and police brutality in America. There is also, Bishop Anthony Taylor in Little Rock, Arkansas, who commented on Black Lives Matter. Bishop Taylor stated, "All lives matter, of course, but as a society, we don't act that way — and that's the point. There are injustices embedded in the way our society is structured to which we are often blind." In Washington, Auxiliary Bishops Roy E. Campbell and Mario E. Dorsonville attended a Black Lives Matter event. They prayed to God while reading African Americans' names. Violent acts of racial injustice aborted many Black Lives dating back to the inception of Slavery, Lynching, Jim Crow Laws, KKK, and more. We need more prayers and outward signs of love.
Fr. Cornelius Pastor of St. Luke Parish organized prayer event in Washington D.C
Okay, Jesus, I get it. Thank you for calling me to check myself. You are my source and my strength when troubled. Although I see weeds to pull, I will damage the wheat. Jesus said, "Let them grow together until harvest; then at harvest time I will say to the harvesters, 'First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning; but gather the wheat into my barn.'" Here Jesus is teaching that God, the Harvest Master, knows what is best. We do have some good Bishops and priests, while at the same time some bad ones too. Letting the weeds and wheat grow together is truly wise. When harvest time comes, the Harvest Master, God, knows best because I will mess it up. His discernment is more excellent than mine; God is Divine.
St. Paul, in his letter to the Philippians, said, "in pretense or truth," he will rejoice for the Gospel's proclamation. Regardless of how many weeds grow in the pulpit, you cannot prevent God's grace from flowing from his Word. "So shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; It shall not return to me empty, but shall do what pleases me, achieving the end for which I sent it" (Is. 55:11). Besides, it is never too late for our Bishops and priests to experience conversion. The US Bishops said, "We must never limit our understanding of God's power to bring about the conversion of even those whose hearts appear completely frozen by the sin of racism. Our communities must never cease to invite and encourage them in love to abandon these sinful thoughts and destructive ways." St. Paul changed his heart. Won't God do it?
Author: Evangelist Michael Howard
US Bishop's letter: Open Wide our Hearts
Insider.com: Bishops Setiz praying for Black Lives Matter
Washington Post.com: Auxiliary Bishops Roy E. Campbell and Mario E. Dorsonville attended a Black Lives Matter event
CNN: Priest Suspended
DOLR.org: Bishop Taylor remarks on Black Lives Matter
NCR: Fr. Aidan McAleenan comments towards Oakland Bishop Barber
The Catholic Thing: "To My Black Brothers and Sisters."