First Reading: Ws 12:13. 16-19; Psalm: 86. R. v. 5a; Second Reading: Rm 8:26-27; Gospel: Mt 13:24-43
BY FR VALENTINE NNAMDI EGBUONU, MSP
On the evening of Wednesday the 19th of July 2023, precisely four days ago; a very loud bang unsettled the city of Johannesburg Central Business District. It was an explosion that opened the earth, lifting taxis and other vehicles into the air as terrified pedestrians scrambled for safety. Sadly, the unfortunate incident left one person dead and at least 48 others injured. So far, there is yet no accurate report as to the cause of this disaster which was suspected to be gas explosion. And for the time being, businesses and movements around the affected areas have been suspended for fear of a secondary explosion. This ugly incident that has left our dear country sad is one of the unexpected disruptors of life.
In life, there are certain events or things that suddenly interrupt our activity without notice. One of them is this recent incident. We feel sad that this has happened but are consoled that the effects are not overwhelmingly beyond our control. Nobody saw this coming. And it will be inconsequential to cast blames if certain things could be done to avert its recurrence. Certain disruptions are inevitably unavoidable in life. Some are man-made while some are attributable to natural causes. But disruptions are bound to happen; and unfortunately, mostly at a time we do not expect. Evil has become part of life. This was not the original plan of God but the work of the enemy. The gospel of today tells us that. But if certain evils could be controlled or avoided; it will be unacceptable to be complacent about them.
The parable of the wheat and the weed does not encourage complacency when certain unfortunate things happen to us unexpectedly. We need to consciously highlight this because often times we can be tempted to interpret this parable to mean that Jesus was encouraging that we accommodate evil passively. Evil is disruptive. It aims to stifle and destroy the progress of anything good. In the case of this parable, it aims to drain the nutrients and stunt the growth of the wheat. And as Jesus narrated, it was done by an enemy at the dark hours of the night. Passively accommodating evil therefore gives the enemy the chance to snuff out life from us. Jesus could not be saying this.
The decision of the householder to let the weed grow alongside the wheat until the time for harvest was a metaphor that Jesus used to point out that we would have to grapple with the disruption of evil in the world until the Judgment Day when this struggle will be removed. However, Jesus was not saying that we should do this in a passive manner. The servant in the parable wished to uproot the weed to separate it from the wheat but on the contrary his master decided that they must grow together. This does not mean that evil must be allowed to thrive. But what Jesus could be saying here is that we cannot completely remove the disruptive activities of evil in our world especially complex ones. However, this does not mean we cannot try to control them. So how then can we go about this? What is the alternative way out? It is by becoming counter-disruptors.
Not all evil and its disruptive effects are so complicated to handle. Although a farmer cannot completely obliterate the existence of weeds; but the farmer can temporarily control them through herbicides. Though it is complicated to totally eliminate sicknesses in our world; but through pharmaceutical sciences we have been able to cure, curtail, and prevent illnesses through medicine. Though we may not be able to change man’s evil intention to kill and destroy; but we can combat terrorism for the greater good of all. Death is a necessary evil; but certain deaths could be avoided at least for the time being. Natural disasters like earthquakes, tsunamis, tornadoes, wildfire and droughts may be difficult to predict and control; but certain measures could be put in place to mitigate their effects. The point is that there should be no comfort zone for the weeds in our world even though we cannot completely remove them.
Obviously, disruption is not always in the negative; it could also connote positivity and optimism depending on what is being disrupted. Jesus was and is a disruptor. The very reason he came to us in the form of man was to disrupt the proliferation of sin and to redeem us from eternal death. If sin, an evil seed that was sown by an enemy was something fine to live with, God would not bother to send his Son Jesus Christ to save us. Now, note that the salvation of the cross did not remove the existence of evil in the world. What Jesus offered us on the cross was the grace of sanctification to save our souls from eternal death. But we will all still have to grapple with the reality of sin in our world. However, the grace of salvation is sufficient for us to war against the evil of sin.
When we look around us, there are numerous weeds sown by the enemy that we need to attend to. We should be disruptors to injustices, lies, corruption, violence, rape, and other numerous evils in our world today. When we settle for injustice in a bid to advance peace, we bastardise and bereft the world of the true essence of peace. Because justice denied is peace deprived. To tell a lie today has become pleasantly exonerating because certain lies have been absolved from being a lie. We okay ‘white lies’ which we define to mean a lie told to avoid hurting someone but condemn ‘black lies’ which we see to mean a lie told to gain personal benefits or to deceive. What a just judge we have become to free ourselves from the guilt of sin. Lies are deceptive no matter the colouration we give to them. Once we start lying; we may never stop.
Lies are like parasites. They have a way of nibbling on our innocence until we become completely immune to the truth. Once we are accustomed to lying, we may not do anything right and just because a lot of sins are tied to lying. To steal, we would have to learn how to lie. To deceive and swindle requires that we know the tricks of lying. To cheat on our spouses we would have to be prepared to lie. To fulfil our selfish desires requires some lies. Corruption is always covered up and defended with lies. Even the crime of injustice is often backed up with lies to justify the act. And to cover up a lie, we would still have to tell some lies. Above all, the devil who sowed the evil seed in the parable of today is the father of lies. Maybe today we could pay attention to this destructive weed called lie before it suffocates every good in us.
The weeds in the midst of us could even be you and me or some other person around us. It could also be a habit, a conventional lifestyle or the obvious evils affecting our lives in the world today. We can easily spot them out since they are anything and everything opposed to good. We must not feel comfortable around them even when we cannot completely get rid of them. They are disruptors and should be treated as such. We can reflect today to see how much we are disturbed about these weeds and eager to wrestle them. Otherwise they may consume us and snuff out the good left in us.
PRAYER FOR THE DAY
Lord Jesus, we thank you for the good things of life and are sorry for our contributions in sowing some weeds in our world today. Please, give us the strength and courage to continually wrestle every evil until we reach the beatific vision of heaven. Amen.