The weed sower
16th Sunday in OT-A
Jack’s family has changed after that Sunday last year when his father, a 43 year-old hard working man, unexpectedly called for a family meeting. Family meeting was not of their habit at all because each person would go off with their own business after dinner. But that day, his father seemed to be in deep thought about something; and so during lunch, he said:
“I’d like that we get together tonight for a time of prayer and sharing.”
Everyone was surprised and wondered what was going on. But seeing the seriousness on his face and out of their respect for him, they said: “OK!”
He then gave them each a church bulletin of that Sunday which had the parable of the weeds in the field from the Gospel of Matthew (13: 24-30), and he proposed a question for their reflection: “What should we do with the weed sower?”
Jack was 16 years old then. After his confirmation, he stopped reading the Bible. He only went to Mass on Sundays because of his parents. So he would listen to whatever the Church read for him there, but without much attention. An hour at church would seem like a century. That is why he was surprised when his father asked the family to get together for prayer and sharing. Jack was also upset because there was a Tivi program he liked that evening. But he accepted his father’s request without saying anything since he thought that he should sacrifice something for his parents as a humble response to their many sacrifices for him.
That afternoon, for the first time, Jack spent two hours reading and reflecting on his father’s question: “What should we do with the weed sower?” He wondered why his father asked such a question.
After dinner, his mother led the usual evening prayer. Then his father asked Jack’s younger sister Julia who was 7 years old to read for them the Gospel passage. Then he invited Jack to share his thought first. Jack was like… “Huh, why me first?” But he cleared his throat and tried to come up with something to say.
“Well, hmm, you know, I think this is a…good message to reflect on.” He cleared his throat again.
Everyone was listening, nodding their heads, saying: “Ah hah, how so?”
That means he had to continue what he had begun.
“Well, you know, I believe God is good and God only sows the good seeds in this world. Hmm…”
“Daddy,” Julia interrupted him, “I don’t like the devil. He is so mean to sow the weeds.” Usually Jack would tell her not to interrupt when someone was speaking because it was not polite; but in this case, he was glad that she interrupted him. Indeed, she saved him from embarrassment.
His mother joined in: “I was surprised when you asked us to do this. But Honey, thank you for this opportunity. I thought about your question and I realized lots of things.”
“Yes, thank you Hon! During Mass this morning, when I listened to this passage, I realized that the root of many problems that we have had in our family may lie in the fact that we did not pay enough attention to the weed sower, the devil.” His father replied.
“Oh yeah,” Jack suddenly seemed to be excited, “I observed that the weed sower was very cunning. He chose to sow the weeds when everyone was asleep.”
“Yes,” his little sister jumped in excitedly, “and, and also the weed sower went off after that. He disappeared so no one would know he did that.”
“Yes, my children, that’s the way the devil often does,” said the father, “ he chooses to attack us when we are asleep, that means when we are not alert, and he tries to hide his face so we will fall victim to misunderstanding. Do you get it?”
“Not yet, daddy.” Julia replied cutely.
“OK, let’s take an example. When we get into a quarrel, we become negatively emotional and lose our calm and alert easily. When we are negative, we are like being asleep. That is a good moment for the devil to sow weeds among us and attack our harmony and peace.”
“OK, I got that,” Jack said, “but what did you mean when you said ‘the devil tries to hide his face so we will fall victim to misunderstanding’?”
His father answered: “The purpose of the devil is to sow disharmony by tempting us to attack one another. If we realize his presence, we will destroy his plan. That’s why he tries to hide his face so our eyes will only see the person in front of us. When we are in negative emotions, we will easily misunderstand each other to be the wrong or the guilty. We are tempted to hate each other and turn the arrow to shoot at each another without paying attention to the devil hiding behind us.”
“Yes,” his mother joined in, “If we look back and examine carefully our life together, we will realize that there were many times we attacked each other for nothing. We foolishly abandoned our harmony and peace just to feed our ego with fake victory. At times I was totally wrong when I tried to prove that I was right.”
“Jack, I’m sorry for yelling at you yesterday. I was wrong.” Julia said.
Jack embraced her, saying: “I’m sorry too for spanking you. Does it still hurt?”
“Just a little!” Julia replied quickly and then turned to her father, asking: “So what should we do with the weed sower, Daddy?”
“How do you think?” Her father asked.
“I think we have to pay more attention to his hidden presence to avoid his tricks. We have to stay calm in all situations.” Jack said.
“We need to ask the Lord to help us be calm and wise, especially when we are emotional.” His mother continued.
“But when I get emotional, it’s hard for me to remember the Lord.” Jack complained.
“Yes, that’s what the devil wants,” his father said, “our emotion is like a boat in the sea. The devil tries to stir the water violently to destroy its balance.”
“I have an idea,” Julia raised her voice, “if we have a habit of praying, it will be easier for us to remember the Lord at that moment and ask him for help, right Mommy?”
“Oh I’m so proud of you, darling!” The mother gave her a hug. And everyone clapped their hands. Julia then gave each of them a lovely smile and a big five.
Joseph Viet, O.Carm.