COUNTERING THE ENEMY’S DEVICES Reflection for the 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)   Rev. Fr. Bonnie Nkem Anusiem Ph.D.

In the book, “The Art of War,” Sun Tzu says: If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained, you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.

There is nothing as powerful as knowing the enemy and the devices of attack. Such knowledge would help you to be well-equipped and battle ready. Ignorance is the cause of many defeats! As Paul would say, we should not be ignorant of the devices of the enemy so that he will not take advantage of us. (2 Cor. 2:11), In the Gospel Reading of this 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A), our Lord Jesus Christ gives three kingdom parables. Again, he decided to explain one of them, the wheat and weeds parable, to his disciples when they were alone. We shall focus on this parable in our reflection.

The Wheat and Weed Encounter

In the parable, our Lord likened the Kingdom of God to a man who sowed good seeds (wheat) in his field.

But while everyone was asleep, his enemy showed up, sowed weeds among the wheat, and fled. The wheat grew and bore fruits. the weeds also grew, but there were no fruits on the weeds. At this point, the servants of the householder noticed the strange development and reported to the master, who immediately discerned that it was the work of an enemy.

When the servant offered to uproot the intruding weeds, the master asked them to wait until harvest because they might uproot the wheat. But at harvesttime, the harvesters would separate the weeds from the wheat and burn them.

Explaining the parable, our Lord indicated that the one who sowed the seed is the Son of Man (himself), the field is the world, the good seed represents the kingdom’s children, while the weeds are the children of the evil one. Furthermore, he said the devil is the enemy who sowed the weeds. Finally, the harvest is the end of the age, while the harvesters are the angels.  

Contending the Devices of the Enemy

Within the Kingdom parable of the wheat and the weed is a great lesson that every attentive Christian should learn; a deeper understanding of the parable would help us survive the onslaught of the enemy against us.

We shall look closely at the enemy’s devices, but we should know that he would always use something close to us to fight us, so the weapons are not strange; they are mostly familiar things and circumstances.

Sleep: The passage mentioned that the enemy appeared while people were asleep. Notice that our Lord did not say it was at night, so we must understand “sleep” here from a broader perspective.

Physical sleep is the body’s natural response to the state of inactivity. People sleep mostly when the brain signals tiredness or weakness to the body. In summary, sleep temporarily paralyzes the body.

There is another sense of sleep beyond the body: spiritual slumber. Unlike physical sleep, spiritual slumber is the paralysis of the spirit. St. Peter condemned this kind of sleep when he said: “Be sober and be watchful. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Pet.5:8).

A question we should ask is, “Which people were asleep?” Of course, those servants discovered the foul play later. Those who were asleep refer to all of us parents, teachers, religious ministers, leaders, and indeed, all who are responsible for caring for others.

Today we have parents who sleep while their children are besieged by the evil one with innumerable destructive agendas in the name of contemporary lifestyles. We have religious ministers and leaders who are sleeping on the bed of compromise while the devil sows the seeds of lukewarmness and dispassion in the members.

Imitation: One thing the devil does so well is to imitate the divine prototypes with the goal of deception and confusion. Notice that the weed had the similitude of the wheat in appearance, making it impossible for the servants to notice the difference due to the deception and confusion.

Many people fall prey to the devil because he comes with something that looks or sounds like it is from God.  St. Paul would say that he disguises himself like an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14). Even our Lord Jesus warned that some would come claiming to be the Christ and deceive many (Matt. 24:5).

The imitation syndrome has, unfortunately, affected authentic Christian practices. Many innocent Christians are deceived into believing and accepting lies as truth because of what appears as the true Gospel.

We need to know that not everything that comes in the name of Jesus Christ comes from him. The apostle John warned that we should not believe every spirit but test the spirits to see whether they are coming from God because there are many false prophets in the world (1 John 4:1).

Moving Forward: Be Attentive and Ask for Help

The goal of distraction is to limit or take away one’s attention. Distraction is a dangerous weapon of the evil one, and the target is the mind. When your mind is not there, you are not there.

For victory over the devices of the enemy who comes to sow the weed in the wheat field of our lives, we must be intentional and committed; in other words, we must be attentive.

To be attentive means to pay attention to what God tells us about ourselves and the enemy in the scriptures. Personal and purposeful reading of the scriptures daily is highly recommended. St. Paul said that all scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16).

Finally, we need help with our human weakness that drives us to sleep or fall prey to the deceptions of the evil one. In the Second Reading (Romans 8:26-27), St. Paul encouraged us to access this help from the Holy Spirit, who helps us in our weakness interceding for us according to God’s Holy Will.

Fr. Bonnie.  

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