The parable in today’s Gospel is about a farmer who sowed good seed into his field. In the darkness of night, an enemy sowed “weeds among the wheat.” (Sowing weeds was a favorite method of revenge. – Darnel is a poisonous weed that in its first stage of growth resembles wheat.
The weed is harmful to the wheat, its roots trying to starve the wheat from its source. When the new wheat sprouted and ripened, the weeds appeared as well. It was almost impossible to distinguish one from the other, and the roots of the two became intertwined, so the farmer had two options. He could burn the entire field or let both the weeds and the wheat grow together until harvest when the wheat could be separated from the weeds.
In the parable, the farmer decided to let both the weeds and the wheat grow together until the harvest when the wheat could be placed into barns and the weeds burned. This parable illustrates a most serious problem going back to the time of Judas – false and divisive teachers.
Not too long after Pentecost, the false teachers began to preach and lead others away from the Apostles and the Church. No century in the Church (including our own) has been free of them. Some false teachers are outside the Church trying to lure us away from the Church. Other false teachers are within the Church – either watering down the teaching of the Church as it came from the time of Jesus or teaching a doctrine contrary to the teaching of Jesus.
Unfortunately, some of those are teachers in positions of Authority. Others are we ourselves when we pick and choose what we will believe about teachings of the church – the Eucharist, the Sacrament of Penance, the Sacrifice of the Mass, our obligation to attend Mass, various moral issues and the other teachings of the Church.
Last Sunday, Jesus’ parable dealt with sadness over those who could not accept the teaching of Jesus. This week, the situation is intensified by people teaching false doctrines in the name of Jesus. Every age has had its share of false teachers and the weeds they sow. At times in the history of the Church, over half of the baptized have been led into heresy and false teachings of the so – called reformers like Arius, Luther, Calvin and in our own time Archbishop LaFaver.
Between the rocky ground, the hungry birds, the scorching sun, the thorns, the enemies planting weeds, it would seem that the outlook for the Church in Matthew’s time – or any other time for that matter – is rather bleak. We look at the present problems in the Church – the lack of vocations, church closings, disregard for the teaching authority of the Bishops & the Pope the corona virus and we get discouraged. These are the weeds that have been sown by the enemy in the darkness of night.
Today, Jesus gives us another parable. He says: “the Church is like a mustard seed and yeast”. Both start out very small, but grow to enormous size. The message of Jesus’ parable was an encouragement to the early Church, when its progress seemed slow or was hampered by persecution. From these small seeds will arise the great success of the Kingdom of God and of God’s Word.
In his Letter to the Romans, St. Paul warns us: “I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, do not conform to this world.” He tells us that we are the wheat in the midst of the weeds. He reminds us that the growth of the Church and the power preserving it without error through the line of successors from Peter to Pope Francis, is the Holy Spirit: so we do not lose faith.
The Church is like wheat planted in a field. It is in the ground and growing. In the meantime, good and evil co-exist side-by-side in the world, just as the weeds and the wheat co-exist side-by-side in a wheat field. We must be the wheat in the midst of the weeds so that at the time of the harvest – we will be brought into everlasting life rather than thrown into everlasting fire.
In this age of the Church, we must long to be fertile soil – able to withstand the weeds of false teaching and watered – dowd doctrine that infest the Church from time – to – time. We must ask the Holy Spirit for holiness and renewal – a spirit of repentance and conversion.
May each of us resolve to be renewed in our Faith, and be more committed and more determined to live it!