WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE? 16TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR A ON JULY 23, 2023 (R. 1: Wisdom 12: 13, 16- 19; Psalm 86:5- 6, 9- 10, 15- 16; R. 2: Romans 8: 26- 27; Gospel: Matthew 13: 24- 43) FR EMMANUEL INEDU OCHIGBO

I recently read a story from Chris Stefanick, Founder and President of Real Life Catholic. The story is about a Catholic Priest, who was going through a long period of sorrow and hopelessness. He began as a priest who loved his calling. He was very prayerful, and joyfully brought many people to God. After many years of doing so well as a priest, be began to lose interest in the priesthood. It got to a point where it seemed as if he began to hate the priesthood. The ministry that once brought him joy began to bring him sorrow. 

The priest decided to go for a walk on one cold winter morning. This elderly priest, who resided nearby a military base, was lost in his own thoughts and was trying to pray in frustration while he walked. Unknown to him, he found himself inside a military base. Then came a stern voice, “Hey! So who are you? What are you doing here, exactly?” The voice came from a United States Marine Corps Military Policeman. The priest who was still confused grumbled, “What?” The Military Police said sharply, “I said: Who are you and what are you doing here?” The priest then said in a calm voice, “How much do they pay you, sir?” The Military Police questioned him, “What does that have to do with you?” The priest replied, ““Because I will pay you [the same amount] if you will just ask me those same two questions every morning. Who are you? And what are you doing here?”

My dearly beloved in Christ, as human beings, we sometimes forget our identity and our mission; we sometime face sadness, depression, dissatisfaction, discouragement, disappointment, and lose focus. We require a daily reminder of who we truly are—God’s cherished daughters and sons—and why we are here—to participate in the blessed life of God.

In the first parable in today’s gospel passage, Jesus talked about the man who sowed good seed, but an enemy came and sowed weeds in the same field. To avoid destroying the wheat, the man left both the wheat and the weeds to grow until the harvest time when the wheat would be harvested and the weeds burnt by fire. This parable like the ones before and the ones after, is about the Kingdom of heaven. In the context of this parable, I ask you as I ask myself: Who are you and what are you doing here? In your family, in your school, in your places of work, in your neighborhood, and in your Church, who are you, and what are you doing there? Are you there as a good seed or as a weed? What is your contributions wherever you find yourself, do you plant good seeds or do you plant weeds?

In the parable, the enemy came at night, but the owner of the field knew it was the enemy’s handiwork. There is nothing we do that escapes the knowledge of God. Even when we seem to prosper after planting weeds, it is not because God does not know, he is giving us the opportunity to repent before the time of harvest. May the receiving of the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, cleanse us from all tendencies of being a weed or planting weeds in God’s Kingdom so that at the time of harvest, we may enjoy the reward of the children of God, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Ochigbo

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