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The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II Sunday in the Sixteenth Week of Ordinary Time, Cycle A, 22 July 2023 Wisdom 12:13, 16-19 ><}}}*> Romans 8:26-27 ><}}}*> Matthew 13:24-30
Start with Why is Simon Sinek’s bestselling book written more than a decade ago about the need to focus on asking first “why” before making any choice and decision in life. I have found it very enlightening and useful even in matters of spirituality and prayers.
This is seen in our readings too this Sunday as we continue to listen to our Lord’s teachings using parables until next week. In all occasions of his teachings, his disciples asked him always “Why do you speak to them in parables?” (Mt. 13:10).
As we have explained many times before, parables are simple stories we usually take for granted that reveal to us profound truths about life and our very selves, most especially of God and his kingdom which Jesus had come to proclaim.
The key to unlocking the beauty and lessons within parables is having that spirit of openness and sincerity of heart, especially in asking why which may often take different forms.
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. The slaves of the householder came to him and said, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where have the weeds come from?’”
It is the question we ask most often, why is there evil at all if God our Creator is good? It is most difficult, even scandalizing when evil happens to us despite our efforts to be better and holy.
Today’s parable of the weeds among the wheat answers those many whys we have in life. It is a beautiful continuation of last Sunday’s parable of the sower that offers us Christians with many insights and challenges for the deepening of our faith and commitment to our mission.
First is our sense of sinfulness. It is one of the most serious problem Christianity, even the whole humanity is facing today. More and more people are losing that sense of sinfulness with so many becoming complacent in their faith and morals, always having reasons and alibis, worst, even justifications in committing sins. Or just about everything!
Today’s parable reminds us to always ask like the slaves, “Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where have the weeds come from?”
Why all the evil in the world today?
How sad that many people have grown cynical with evil, simply accepting its existence in the world as a given reality, to be accepted wholly as if we can do nothing about it. Some even go to the extent of thinking the devil does not exist at all with evil simply existing like weeds?!
Here we find the importance of prayer life when we get to examine our conscience daily, asking why all the evils are happening. From there, we learn humility by examining too how we may have contributed in the commission of evil. Most of all, it makes us aware of that tricky “sins of omission”, of how we might have failed by omitting in doing what is good that have contributed to the spread of evil and sin. It is always easy to look outside blaming others, pointing at others for all the evil happening without seeing our own sins.
Second is the danger of neglect and complacency among us disciples of Christ. See the genius of Jesus as a storyteller when he mentioned that the planting of the bad seed or weeds happened while the Master was asleep, “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.”
In the New Testament, sleep is a metaphor for neglect. Jesus cautions us his disciples that if we are not vigilant and discerning of what we allow to influence us, bad seeds can get planted in our lives, families and relationships, even in the Church and in our ministry!
In some translations, the word used for the weeds is darnel, a kind of weed that looks like the wheat to show how evil works itself into our lives by masking itself to look something as good and harmless for a moment. “Wala namang masama” is our usual excuse until later when that evil is unmasked and revealed, its devastating impact had already wreak havoc on us because we have complacently tolerated its growth for some time.
Remember the saying, the devil is in the details. Likewise, keep in mind that the devil does not merely want us to sin but to eventually destroy our lives! “Be sober and vigilant. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Pt. 5:8).
Third is Christ’s call for us to be patient but firm in dealing with evil and sin. We live in an imperfect world. There will always be evil and sin like this growing trend called liberalism and wokism that stress everyone’s rights without any regard at all with personal responsibility and accountability. These liberals and wokes who have infiltrated the media and government, maybe even the Church, want the natural order of things be changed like gender and marriage. For them, everything is relative. To each his own like praying the Our Father in a drag version.
We have to be patient with them and fight them squarely with more reason and charity, to never stoop down to their level that only shows their weaknesses within.
The author of the Book of Wisdom tells us today how God in his power and might chose to be patient and moderate with us sinners precisely because he is strong; the exercise of strength like being noisy, the flexing of muscles with large gatherings actually indicate weakness.
That is why St. Paul in the second reading reminds us of our own weaknesses too in this time of hope and waiting for Christ’s Second Coming while in the midst of all these evils happening. Hence, our need to pray for the Holy Spirit to enable us to carry out our mission in this world marred by sin.
Here we find again the primacy of prayer life. Not just the recitation of prayers. What St. Paul envisions in our short reading today is the kind of prayer wherein God’s own Spirit is the one interceding for us according to God’s will. Teaching people to pray effectively is one of the most challenging of all pastoral duties because we priests and bishops must first be the ones deep into prayer. When we live in the Spirit, we would always be faithfully in prayer.
Sorry to mention here again our disappointment to our bishops in failing to reflect more on the reasons of upholding the rule that only the priest extends his hands in praying the Our Father. It is fidelity to the liturgy to prevent us from being misled by plain emotions that is already happening like in those “charismatic” Mass and gatherings with emphasis on health and wealth (gagaling, gagaling…siksik, liglig at umaapaw) interspersed with clapping of hands.
Jesus assures us in this parable there will be a time for separation, judgment, and punishment but it is not ours to carry out those actions in the present. Let us continue probing our hearts in prayer. Always start by asking why, not with what we think we know. Many times, as the parables of Jesus tell us, the kingdom of God is found in the simplest things in life like a simple word or a sentence we tend to interpret with our many assumptions. Amen. Have a blessed week ahead everyone!