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16th Sunday 23 July 2017

Reflection* by Aidan Troy [Aodhán O Troighthigh]
{Reflection only the view of the above}

The Passionist Novitiate’s purpose was described to those who entered as being ‘to weed out those postulants unsuitable and send them away.’ I presume other novitiates and seminaries had much the same purpose. History has proved how unsuccessful this turned out to be. Report after report on child and adult abuse, financial irregularities and other failures have left a sad legacy of a time when big numbers were entering religious congregations and seminaries.

‘To weed out’ is contrary to the mind of Christ. To assess vocational suitability and to help heal weaknesses and defects is totally laudable. In Our Lord’s time, the Pharisees (‘the separated ones’) wanted Him to separate the bad from the good. They took the high moral ground and looked down on those who did not, in their estimation, measure up.

Jesus wouldn’t go down that road. It’s not His way. He had all sorts of people around him – the learned and the ignorant; good living and those who were not; tax collectors and prostitutes. There must have been some people who wondered when He would weed out the unsuitable to set up a community of worthy, good people. I’m grateful to Our Lord that he doesn’t go in for weeding – I would be gone a long time ago.

In human life weeding out has a tragic history. Weeding out for concentration camps, ethnic cleansing, racism, sectarianism - all sought to identify society’s “weeds”.  It continues today and is visible in much of our society.

How tragic it is when greater power over nature leads to new and very sinister powers being used over nature. The unborn child can be judged to not match the standards of society and abortion becomes an acceptable ‘solution’. Then, at the other end of life, the old, the seriously sick are seen as burdensome. Euthanasia is seen as the ‘solution’. How terribly sad. Once ‘weeding out’ in any shape or form begins, there is no telling where it will end. Thank you, Lord, for being so clear that You alone are the One who decides the fate of people. God makes us and is the One who will settle our final destiny.

It saddens me to admit that I too engage in ‘weeding out’. Even if I don’t always speak it out loud, I slip into having people classified as ‘troublemakers’, ‘misfits’ or some misguided category. Imagine if Jesus had gone down this road – Peter would be gone as a leader after he denied His Master three times. Christ did not ‘weed out’ Judas. Would Judas survive in the church today?

It is only God who has ‘eyes’ to see into the depth of the soul of one of His children. He is gentle enough for this task. Imagine how wonderful life would be if I could trust God to do the ‘weeding out’. There are some things that only God can do. No wonder, we are counselled not to judge. While we accept judges in our civil courts, before the Divine Court the outcast, the sinner and the unlikely are all candidates for the Kingdom of Heaven. Thank God!



Saint Joseph's Catholic Church
50 Avenue Hoche
75008 Paris, France
33(0)1 42 27 28 56

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