July 23, 2023
Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Jesus proposed another parable to the crowds, saying: “The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a man who sowed good seed in his field. While everyone was asleep his enemy came and sowed weeds all through the wheat, and then went off. When the crop grew and bore fruit, the weeds appeared as well.” Matthew 13:24–26
This parable would have made much sense to the people of Jesus’ time. It was common practice for an enemy to get revenge upon another by sowing a weed named “cockle” in with the wheat. As the cockle began to grow, it looked much like wheat until the grain was formed. And if it were mixed with the wheat and eaten, it would cause severe nausea. Due to this, it was also common practice for farmers with enemies to have servants stand watch over their fields after they were planted. Therefore, this parable reveals that the servants who were to keep watch failed in their duty.
In explaining this parable, Jesus says, “He who sows 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. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels” (Matthew 13:37–39). One common tactic of the evil one is to subtly mix his lies with the truth. He knows that if he were to propose some grave and obvious lie that many would reject it outright. Therefore, he attempts to create division and confusion by slowly and slightly suggesting his errors in such a way that they are more easily believed. Therefore, “the children of the evil one” can be understood as those in this world who are under the influence of the devil, as well as the legions of demons who attempt to sow confusion in our lives and within the Church.
One helpful way to prayerfully ponder this parable is to see yourself as one of those servants who is entrusted with the task of guarding the field. Since the field is the world, we all have a duty to keep the lies of the evil one from flourishing. To do that, we certainly must confront the most serious errors we encounter. For example, the dignity of the unborn child must be protected and the diabolical practice of abortion must cease. Additionally, we must work to protect the Church, our communities, friends and families from not only the grave errors of our times but also those most subtle ones. For example, within the Church, conflicts and confusions often arise. These divisions are part of the subtle lies sown by the evil one.
We must also see our own souls as the fertile soil. Certainly God’s Word has been planted, but oftentimes we allow ourselves to believe subtle errors. This leads to internal conflict, sin and confusion. Thus, we must regularly guard our souls from these lies by relying upon the authentic teachings of our Church and the teachings of the saints.
Reflect, today, upon your sacred duty to be vigilant and constantly on the lookout for the seed of error sown within our world, the Church and your own soul. Vigilance is key. The evil one is always on the prowl. If we are to learn one of the central messages of this parable, then we must learn to guard and protect all that God has revealed and hold firmly to the Truth alone.
Glorious Word of God, You have sown Your seed of truth in our world, within Your Church and in my life. May I always listen to Your Word and respond to it wholeheartedly. Please also reveal to me the many lies of the evil one so that I can reject them with all my heart. Jesus, I trust in You.