How to keep the enemy from sowing bad seed in our soul.

Posted by James Hahn on

I fondly remember working on my grandparent's farm growing up.  We lived in town where it was

My grandfather's cattle barn (no longer used).
only a 5 minute walk to church, school, the movie theater, the grocery store, or the pool.  I loved going out to the "farm" as it is still known today even though my grandparents have long since passed.  The 300 plus acres were a boy's dream land.  Rolling wooded hills divided by steady, cool streams provided endless hours of distraction, entertainment, and learning.

My grandfather was a plumber-pipe-fitter by trade but farmed the property and raised beef cattle as a hobby.  During the summer we would spend hot afternoons bailing and stacking square bales of hay to put away for the cows during winter.  My hay bailing jobs ranged from kicking bales into line for my uncles to driving the tractor when I was about 13 and then "graduating" to the role of tossing those heavy, nutrient rich bales up onto the wagon to be stacked and then again into the barn.

During many summers my grandfather would ask me to help him harvest wheat.  This was my favorite farm "work".  He would let me drive his old beat-up pick-up truck to the wheat field which was a joy in itself.  He would make the rounds with his combine and when the hopper was full, he'd pull up close to the truck.  My job was to stand in the truck and using the auger, empty the hopper into 50 lb feed sacks.  Once this job was finished he would go back to harvesting and I would sit in the shade munching on wheat kernels until the hopper was full again.

Wild Onion Seed Heads
Like any farm work though, harvesting wheat wasn't always sitting in the shade listening to the steady hum of the tractor while munching wheat.  Often, before harvesting, he would have me join him early in the day to walk the wheat field.  My job, alongside him, was to walk the field and search for wild onions.  Once located, we would pull off the seed head and toss it out of the field or into a bag.  The seeds of the wild onion are very similar in size and shape to that of the wheat kernel.  Too many wild onion seeds in the wheat makes the wheat worthless.  So, nearly every summer before harvesting time, we would walk the field searching for and destroying this plant that could ruin my grandfather's wheat harvest and cost him a good deal of money.  I suppose cheap labor made the numbers work...

In today's Gospel Jesus talks of an enemy sowing seed in a field.  This enemy, seemingly mentioned in passing, isn't just trying to cause problems.  He is trying to utterly destroy the farmer.  This act of sowing bad seed was a criminal offense because it could ruin a man and his family.  In fact, in Jesus' day it wasn't unheard of to have sentries placed around the field to keep this sort of sabotage from happening.  The seed that was often used was cockle, also known as tares or darnel.  While it grows it looks just like wheat or barley.  Even when the head of grain forms it looks just like the other plants.  However, it's seeds are poisonous and cause severe stomach problems.

So how can we defend the field of our soul from this enemy sowing his nasty, foul seeds?  The readings today gives us plenty of answers...

Image by Ellen Gould Harmon White
1) "While everyone was asleep his enemy came and sowed weeds all through the wheat, and then went off." - This sabotage would not have taken place had the servants been
awake and vigilant.  We too must remain awake and vigilant.  In my own life I know that it is when I neglect my prayer life, partake in too many vices, and excuse too many of my own "little" sins that I "fall asleep on my watch" and the enemy is able to plant the foul seeds that begin to grow.

2) "The slaves of the householder came to him and said, 'Master, did you not sow good seed in your field?  Where have the weeds come from?'" - Here, in an effort to excuse their lack of vigilance, the workers try to blame the Master implying he just didn't get good seed.  Often, my first instinct, when things go wrong in my life, is to blame God.  I say things like, "why did you make me this way - full of lust, greed, anger, etc.  It's your fault, you made me!  If you are truly God..."

3) "We will do everything that the Lord has told us...All that the Lord has said, we will heed and do." (First Reading from Exodus) - The surest way to protect our souls is to, "do everything that the Lords has told us."  This isn't easy.  It takes vigilance (see 1), it's takes ownership (see 2), and it takes staying close to the Lord through prayer, reading Scripture, and partaking in the Sacraments.

With grace we can do this throughout our lives.  The saints point to this fact.  Let's all strive to be gathered by the Lord at harvest time into his barn.  There you and I can spend eternity sitting in the back of a beat-up old pick-up truck munching on wheat kernels in the shade.

"The Lord's field is fertile and the seed he sows of good quality.  Therefore when weeds appear in this world of ours, never doubt that they spring up because of a lack of correspondence on the part of men, Christians especially, who have fallen asleep and have left the field open to the enemy.  Don't complain, for there's no point; examine your behavior, instead." - St. Josemaria Escriva, The Forge #464

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