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The Weeds and the Wheat
July 23rd Readings Reflection: Saturday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time
In today’s Gospel, Jesus gives a parable comparing the Kingdom of Heaven to a sower. Enemies came during the night and planted weeds among the sower’s good wheat. Not wanting to harm or uproot the wheat along with the weeds, the sower allowed them to grow together until harvest time; then, the weeds were separated out and burned.
There are many theological concepts contained within this short parable. The sower is God. The good seed the He sowed is mankind; as the Book of Genesis says, “God saw all the things that [H]e had made, and they were very good” (Gen 1:31a DRB). The enemy who planted weeds among the wheat is Satan; the weeds are they whom the devil has turned away from God.
The Enemy’s “weeds” spread evil throughout the world, threatening to choke the good wheat. However, in His omnipotence, God sees that the risk of uprooting His wheat along with the weeds is too great, so He permits them to grow together. “[T]he gates of hell shall not prevail against [the Catholic Church]” (Mat 16:18b), a fact that is beautifully shown in this parable.
We the faithful, the wheat in the Eternal Sower’s field, are easily uprooted. Too often, we allow our human weakness get in the way of our faith and trust in God, which shakes our stalks and threatens to break us in the soil where we stand. We do not allow God’s grace to water our soil so that it becomes rich and fruitful, instead preferring to remain in dry, sandy soil where we feel safer. For this reason, God allows evil to exist in the world, rather than uproot the faithful with fragile faith along with it.
It can be difficult to see the logic in this; after all, we may reason, if there were no more evil in the world, it would be so much easier to follow Jesus and be faithful to His teachings. However, this fails to take into account God’s omnipotence and love for His children. In His infinite wisdom, He has seen that to uproot the weeds would endanger the wheat; none of us are wiser than God, so we must therefore pray for the humility to accept what He knows to be best, even though it may be hidden from our eyes.
Furthermore, as St. Augustine explained in his writings, the existence of evil helps us to better appreciate the good; without something evil with which to compare it, the good will not seem as perfect in our eyes. In the case of God, comparing Him with evil helps us to better understand what He is by seeing what He is not. For example, He is not deceitful; He does not hate. God brings good even out of evil; it is part of His plan for our existence, just like the wheat in today’s parable. If we allow the grace of God to work in our lives, the presence of evil will not disturb us, for we will have made our abode safely in His Most Sacred Heart.
Image credit: Photogir via Wikimedia Commons.