Jul. 19, 2020

SIXTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME, 2020

WHERE HAVE THE WEEDS COME FROM?

Readings: 1st- Wis. 12:13, 16-19; 2nd- Rom. 8:26-28; Gospel- 13:24-43

This question fits perfectly into our world today, “where have the weeds come from?” Where have all the negativity, malice, hatred, and wickedness come from? The servants in the parable are surprised and have to ask. They are convinced that the weeds aren’t planted by the master, not by his servants either. They inquire with enthusiasm, “Master, did you not sow good seed in your field?” The sight of the weeds is indeed a shock mostly because of its creepy appearance. The master responds to them, “An enemy has done this.” An enemy sows the bad seeds, the weeds. An enemy does his work in secret because what he sows are bad seeds. An enemy operates in the darkness just as Christ warned his disciples earlier, “The thief comes only to steal, and kill and destroy” (Jn. 10:10).

Jesus uses parables to communicate the messages of God’s kingdom in today’s gospels. God’s kingdom is planted among believers and is intended to accommodate everyone. At the same time, Jesus educates his listeners on the diabolical and clandestine operations of the devil. Some atheistic teachings promote the opinion that God is responsible for evil because he created the world. Such viewpoints maintain that if God is not able to eradicate evil, then it means that he is not supreme and that the notion of omnipotence ascribed to him is false. Otherwise, they hold that since God is responsible for the world, it means that evil is part of creation. The parable of the wheat and the darnel/weeds in today’s gospel helps to answer this negative perspective. 

The Catholic Church teaches that God created everything and saw that it was good. The Catechism reminds us, “Because creation comes forth from God’s goodness, it shares in that goodness” (CCC 299). The seed of goodness reveals God’s nature. Christ explains in the parable, “He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man, the field is the world, the good seed the children of the kingdom. The weeds are the children of the evil one and the enemy who sows them is the devil” (Matt. 13:38-40). 

In that parable, Christ addresses the following concerns about the life of humanity, “Where do we come from?” Where are we going?” “What is our origin?” “What is our end?” Where does everything that exists come from and where is it going?” (CCC 282). Our beginning and our end are closely connected because they relate to the meaning, focus, and orientation of our lives. The seeds planted by God exhibit goodness while the seeds of the devil produce evil. God plants love, joy, cheerfulness, humor, contentment, kindness, patience, humility, mercy, forgiveness, and justice. The devil plants hatred, depression, sorrow, misery, unhappiness, anger, frustration, agitation, selfishness, fear, pride, disdain, cruelty, and injustice.

The surprise that evil seeds came through the backdoor infuriated the servants who opted to pull them out immediately. The master won’t permit such action, rather would want to give all seeds equal opportunity to grow. The master would be glad if bad seeds turn to good and live. The master would be happy that bad seeds use the nourishment from good seeds to transform into goodness. The master would be joyful that good seeds make a positive impact on bad seeds and help them become good. The master would want bad seeds to be saved. That’s why he responds, “Let them grow together until the harvest.”

St Augustine wrote a book called City of God where he used the image of two cities to explain the difference between the Church and the world. Two kinds of people or two loves described the two cities.  Self-love, and all the vices that go with it, formed the earthly city. Love of God, and all the virtues that go with it, formed the heavenly one. It's easy to see which city the Church should belong to. If you value God over yourself, you belong to the City of God. If you love yourself before you love God, then you belong to the City of Man. He further fleshed out this idea by describing a busy city street where we pass people every day, similar to what New York City would look like during rush hour. Perhaps the image of a busy train station might also describe it, with people hurriedly coming and going constantly. All-day long, we interact with and pass by people who belong either to the city of earth or the city of heaven. Or those who will go to heaven and those who will go to hell. Heaven and hell are a reality that awaits humanity at the end of time. It’s this image that the parable of the wheat and the weeds convey. The children of God and the children of the evil one move along together in their daily, busy lives. God is not eliminating anyone but is aware of each person’s deeds. He gives the children of evil opportunities to change and embrace goodness, embrace the City of God.  

We must choose to live in the City of God here on earth and that requires uprooting the weeds in our souls. What seeds are planted in your soul? Who planted them? How do you weed them out? Prayer and the sacraments can help a lot. The second reading tells us that the Holy Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness and intercedes for us. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you uproot the weeds. Jesus said clearly, “An enemy has done this.” The enemy has sown the seeds and he who has ears ought to hear. The enemy destroys silently and secretly. Be careful, the enemy in the parable didn’t sow large bushes or trees but seeds. The devil is crafty and plants little seeds that grow over time. Those seeds attack and destroy our marriages, our families, our vocations, and relationships. If we don’t pull out the weeds from our souls, they eventually manifest in our family, then in the society at large as we are seeing today. Prayer to the Holy Spirit will help us to root them out before they take a stronghold.  

Are you still wondering where evils come from? The answer brings consolation and that’s the truth. Although evil keeps growing, it is doomed to be eternally destroyed if it doesn’t change. But the kingdom of God, the kingdom of light remains forever as Christ concludes, “Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father” (Matt. 13:43). God wants us to be good seeds. Plant the wheat in your soul. Be the wheat in your family. Be the wheat for the world.