The Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary
July 19, 2020 Cycle A
by Rev. Jose Maria Cortes, F.S.C.E., Chaplain
Saint John Paul II National Shrine
Sunday Reading Meditations
With the parable of the weeds among the wheat, Jesus explains the origin of evil. God does not want evil. It was the enemy, the Devil, who sowed this seed. He did it while everyone was asleep, when vigilance was lax. The Devil does his best work when we are not fully conscious.
The field where the two types of seeds are sown can refer either to the world or ourselves. There is evil both around and inside ourselves.
When the enemy’s deed is discovered, the servants want to pull up the weeds immediately. However, the Master tells them to wait. God gives us time to repent for our sins. Life is given to us so that we may convert from bad seeds into good seeds. Judgment will come later.
The weeds were probably darnel, a slightly poisonous plant that looks like wheat when it is small but can be distinguished and separated from wheat when it matures. The difference between the seeds sown by God and by the Devil is that the former is fruitful while the latter is unfruitful, or worse, toxic. The Devil cannot create anything fruitful. More precisely, he is not capable of creating anything but can only destroy what God creates.
The good seed symbolizes love and self-giving. The good seed is the cross. Jesus gave himself on the cross as an act of love for the Father and for us. He is the seed that died and produced abundant fruit: “… unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (Jn 12:24).
On the contrary, the bad seed is the diabolic affirmation of oneself, egocentrism.
The two seeds only seem similar. However, there is a radical difference between them.
In the field of the world, it seems that the logic of evil prevails over the logic of love. Wheat appears to be an insignificant minority. The powers of this world appear to be winning. The cross seems insignificant. With the parable of the mustard seed, Jesus tells us that appearances are deceiving. Like the mustard seed, the good seed sown by God is imbued with immense power, waiting to be expressed. The seed of the Devil will end in ashes.
The powerful of this world are temporary. In the time of Jesus, the Roman Empire was the greatest power that had ever existed on the face of the earth. Thousands of Christians were killed because they were viewed as threats. The Roman Empire fell many centuries ago, while the Church continues to accomplish its mission today.
The cross may appear to be powerless. However, Jesus tells us that it is like yeast. A little yeast works through a whole batch of dough, invisibly but transformatively. The good seed in the world is destined to leaven everything. In general, the good seed does not show up in the news. However, it is at work in secret, transforming everything in a hidden way.
We are weak. So many times in our lives, it seems that the bad seed has spread its roots in our hearts. We are weak but the good seed is not. We are weak but the Holy Spirit does not leave us alone. The second reading tells us that the Spirit comes to aid us in our weakness. He intercedes for us and gives us the strength to fight the battle on the field. He enables us to reject evil and choose good.
Let us pray for the gift of the Holy Spirit. May the Spirit of God descend upon us. May he give us the capacity to choose what is right. May the Spirit of God allow the good seed to spread roots in our hearts and produce abundant fruits for the glory of God, for the good of the world and for our own good. Amen.