July 24, 2021
Saturday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Readings for Today
Jesus proposed a parable to the crowds. “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.” Matthew 13:24–25
This parable begins in a very good way. It states that good seed was sown. In other words, the pure Gospel was preached into good soil. This should be understood as any situation where the preacher is truly effective and where the Gospel reaches many ears and is planted in many hearts. This is worth rejoicing over. But this parable quickly points out that those responsible for guarding the good soil in which the Word of God was planted, failed in their duty to protect it. As a result, the “enemy came and sowed weeds all through the wheat.” In other words, the evil one also had sown his lies into the hearts of those who heard the Word of God, and those lies took root and began to grow.
This is a clear description of the world we live in today. First, it’s a description of the hearts of many Christians who have heard the Word of God and have responded, only to also struggle with doubts, confusions and lies sown by the evil one. But it is also a clear description of the world as a whole and even of the Church on earth. There are many divisions within societies and even within the Church. There are many competing voices. And among those whose hearts are good soil, it can be hard to distinguish between that which is from God and that which is a subtle deception from the evil one.
The weed referred to in this parable is called cockle. Cockle was a weed that, as it grew, looked much like wheat. It was very difficult to distinguish from wheat until the grain began to appear. But when the grain did begin to appear, it was clearly distinguishable. And if the cockle were to accidentally be ground in with the wheat, it would cause nausea when eaten.
The parable is quite clear. The lies that the evil one sows in the hearts of the faithful, those with fertile hearts, are very subtle, especially at first. It is easy for those subtle lies to confuse us. The evil one rarely succeeds in misleading the faithful through grave and obvious errors. Therefore, he deceives with small errors. As a result, the error is often not understood until much later as the fruit is born. The result is division, confusion, conflict and the like. Conflict within our own souls, within our world and even within our Church.
What is the solution? Vigilance. We, as followers of Christ, must be exceptionally vigilant in regard to that which we allow our hearts to receive. Just because something sounds good at first doesn’t make it good. This is why we have the Scripture, the Magisterium of the Church and the teachings of the saints. We must constantly examine all that we allow into our hearts, our families, our world and our churches in the light of the pure and consistent teachings of our faith. And when we see divisions, this is a clear sign of some subtle error that has crept in. In the end, at the harvest time, when we all face Christ our Lord at our judgments, He will separate the good from the bad. But for our part, vigilance is essential so that only the pure seed of God’s Word is received by us and sown by us.
Reflect, today, on your own soul as fertile ground. What “seed” is sown there? What do you allow to penetrate your heart and take root? Are you vigilant, remaining attentive to the ways that the evil one tries to mislead you through subtle lies and errors? Ponder these questions honestly, and if you find conflict and confusion in your life, look more deeply at the source of these troubles. If there are lies that you have allowed into your own life, then turn them over to our Lord so that He can remove them at the proper time.
Most holy Word of God, You are the living Word who sows seed upon the fertile ground of our Hearts. You plant Yourself in the hearts of those who believe so that Your life can bear good fruit in the faithful. Please sow the seed of Your Word in my own heart, dear Lord, and protect me from the deceptions of the evil one. As You do, I pray that You bring forth an abundance of good fruit through me. Jesus, I trust in You.
Saint of the Day – Saint Sharbel Makhlūf, Priest, Hermit—Optional Memorial