HOMILY FOR THE 16TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME (YEAR A)
Rev. Fr. Boniface Nkem Anusiem Ph.D.
The word “fake” is not strange to a lot of people. We know about fake news which has become a lucrative business for some mischief makers. The word fake denotes the flip or negative side of genuine reality. Put in another way, anything fake is a counterfeit or an imitation of authentic reality. There are as many fake things as there are genuine ones. For instance, there are fake people with fake lives; in fact, some people are so fake that the only real thing about them is their shadows when they come closer to light.
One of the primary functions of any fake thing is to try as much as possible to mirror the original. The end is to make an unsuspecting person to go for them instead of the original. We see this happening in the area of commerce where people are persuaded to buy fake products bearing the labels of the genuine ones.
We started this reflection with talks about fake things because our focus would be on the first of the chains of parables in the Gospel Reading (Matthew 13:24-43) which talks about the weeds that appeared among cultivated wheat in a Master’s farm. Noticing the weeds, the servants reported the situation to the Master and a request to uproot the weeds. The Master knew that it was act of the enemy but asked the servants to allow the weeds and wheat to flourish till the harvest time.
While Everyone Slept the Enemy Came
Notice that the event that brought about the presence of the weeds among the wheat happened while everyone was asleep. While everyone slept, the enemy, interpreted as the devil, was awake. While people were enjoying the sleep of the night, the enemy comes to do the havoc. The question we could ask is, “who is everyone?” The answer is in the question. Everyone refers to all of us. We need to be vigilant because the enemy is continually going around looking for a victim, as St. Peter tells us (1 Pet. 5:8).
The sleep itself is more than the physical relaxation we know. It is a spiritual slumber. Often, we get so comfortable with life that we snore away with inattention and become vulnerable to the enemy. St. Paul’s letter to the Romans (13:11) says that the night is over, and it is time to wake from sleep.
The Bad Seeds (Unfriendly Friends)
We understand here that the enemy comes to the farmland with some strategic plans. The first approach is to pretend to be familiar and friendly with the original wheat seeds. This reminds us of the opening description of the counterfeits and fakes in the world who try to copy the genuine realities.
The bad seeds come as the imitations of the original seeds. Notice that the weeds try to copy the wheat even by the sound of their names, “weeds and wheat.” Here we understand that the strategy of the enemy is to pretend to be friendly while working underneath with a destructive agenda.
Furthermore, the enemy intends to make the weeds compete with the wheat for nourishment and to make them starve and even perish before the harvest time. Thankfully, the Master understands the enemy’s plan and thus allowed both the weeds and wheat to flourish for the time until harvest.
The Harvest Time (Separation Time)
The Book of Genesis (8:22) tells us that while the earth remains seedtime and harvest time shall not cease. The Master allowed the weeds to flourish with the wheat until the harvest time. The harvest time, as the parable narrates, is metaphorical. For every action, there is a consequence, and this relates to sowing and harvesting.
The harvest time is the time of reckoning and review. During the harvest time, there would be a final separation of the fakes from the genuine. At the harvest time, all the pretentious antics and dispositions of the enemy will fall, and the truth would shine forth. At the harvest time, the workers of iniquity will be exposed and separated from the genuine people.
Moving Forward: Overcoming for Good Harvest
In the Parable of the Sower of last Sunday, the seed referred to the word of God. In the Parable of this Sunday, the seed referred to people; in fact, two categories of people, the good and the bad seeds. God made this distinction after the Fall of Adam and Eve when God said that there would be enmity between the seed of the serpent and the seed of the woman (Genesis 3:15).
There would be a need for us to be awake to overcome the destructive plan of the enemy. Remember that the enemy struck while people were sleeping. It is deplorable that in our day and age, most people who should be awake to their responsibilities are sleeping away. We now have sleeping parents, teachers, mentors, leaders, and even priests and church ministers.
Most things are falling out of their rightful places in our world today because someone who should be awake is sleeping. Let us remember that the first quality of a faithful servant is vigilance as our Lord Jesus Christ mentioned in the Gospel of Luke (12:37).
Being awake to responsibility should come with prayers. We understand that the enemy is the devil, and that means the weapon of our warfare should not be carnal but should have divine powers to uproot the strongholds and arguments of the evil one (2 Cor. 10:4-5).
Apart from the devil, there are two other enemies we should overcome before the harvest, and they are human enemies who come as friends. We should be careful how we keep the doors of our lives open to people who might have hideous plans like the weeds. The enemies in this category often come as friends. The scriptures call them wolves in sheep clothing (Matt.7:15).
The last enemy would be ourselves. We become enemies unto ourselves from the type of decisions and choices we make. Some of the good seeds may have died because they decided to give up striving in the face of the challenges of the weeds.
As we march into a new week, let us deeply resolve to stand firm in faith as good seeds knowing that God’s unfailing love will reach out to us and keep us till the harvest time. God bless you.