The Gospel according to Matthew (13:36-43)
Jesus dismissed the crowds and went into the house.
His disciples approached him and said,
“Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.”
He said in reply, “He who sows good seed is the Son of Man,
the field is the world, the good seed the children of the Kingdom.
The weeds are the children of the Evil One,
and the enemy who sows them is the Devil.
The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.
Just as weeds are collected and burned up with fire,
so will it be at the end of the age.
The Son of Man will send his angels,
and they will collect out of his Kingdom
all who cause others to sin and all evildoers.
They will throw them into the fiery furnace,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.
Then the righteous will shine like the sun
in the Kingdom of their Father.
Whoever has ears ought to hear.”
Opening Prayer: Lord, please help me to be open to what You want to say to the deepest part of my heart. Let me long to be a “good and faithful servant”, and to share Your love today. Amen.
Today’s Gospel helps to answer the question about why there is so much evil in the world and why doesn’t God just *do* something about it? Is it fair that those who do evil seem to get away with it? In Jesus’ explanation of the parable of the sower we see that the answer to that last question is “no, they don’t get away with it.” It can be hard for us to understand for sure, because we only see the present.
Jesus points out that it is “at the end of the age” when those who did evil will receive what they deserve. Why is it that God delays His judgment? The short answer is that He delays it because He wants to give those who do evil every chance to turn away from their evil ways and recognize and love God in how they live. It can definitely take a long time for that to happen, depending on the stubbornness of the person in question. Feel free to think of the family member you know who is the hardest to convince that he or she is wrong (when he or she truly is wrong), and you have an idea. God, who is love, wants nothing less than for all of His children to be with Him forever in heaven.
But, each of us has free will and can choose to do what we want, and we can choose to act in an unloving manner. God’s promise is that He will never abandon us, even when we do not choose His way. But, He won’t grab us by the arm or shoulder and turn us to the right direction. We have the choice, and God will allow us to live with whatever comes from that choice of direction.
One other point as well. You’ll notice that Jesus further calls out those who “cause others to sin” as well. It’s not bad enough that we do evil on our own. No, the greater fault is with someone who draws one of God’s children away. Our prayer should always be that each of us is *never* counted in that number. Our prayer should be that we be ones to draw others closer to God, not take them away. We do that by the way in which we live our lives and in how we face whatever it is that comes our way.
God doesn’t promise that the way will be smooth and without difficulty. He doesn’t promise that we will have all the answers for the challenges we face. He *does* promise that He will walk with us every step of the way. He *does* promise that He will bless us when we do our best to extend blessing and love to those whom we meet and those with whom we live. Extending blessing and love is a very clear way that leads us toward God, and to the place where we can be those who “shine like the sun in the Kingdom of our Father.”
May we see today as an opportunity to shine a little bit of light into the darkness, and to help others find that light as well.
Closing Prayer: Lord, may I keep my eyes fixed on You, and know that You can use me as Your instrument of love and peace, right here in my own home or neighborhood. May You place me where I can serve You best today, and may I have Your peace and grace to walk the path with You. Amen.
Action for the Day: Pray for someone who is in need. Find some small act of kindness to do today, and go and do it, whether the recipient knows about it or not!