Rocks, Weeds, and the Enemy
September 18, 2021 (readings)
- Saturday of the Twenty-Fourth Week in Ordinary Time
- Cathy Stamper
When a large crowd gathered, with people from one town after another journeying to Jesus, he spoke in a parable. “A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path and was trampled, and the birds of the sky ate it up. Some seed fell on rocky ground, and when it grew, it withered for lack of moisture. Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew with it and choked it. And some seed fell on good soil, and when it grew, it produced fruit a hundredfold.” After saying this, he called out, “Whoever has ears to hear ought to hear. “Then his disciples asked him what the meaning of this parable might be. He answered, “Knowledge of the mysteries of the Kingdom of God has been granted to you; but to the rest, they are made known through parables so that they may look but not see, and hear but not understand. This is the meaning of the parable. The seed is the word of God. Those on the path are the ones who have heard, but the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts that they may not believe and be saved. Those on rocky ground are the ones who, when they hear, receive the word with joy, but they have no root; they believe only for a time and fall away in time of temptation. As for the seed that fell among thorns, they are the ones who have heard, but as they go along,
they are choked by the anxieties and riches and pleasures of life, and they fail to produce mature fruit. But as for the seed that fell on rich soil, they are the ones who, when they have heard the word, embrace it with a generous and good heart, and bear fruit through perseverance.”
Opening Prayer: Jesus, as I reflect on these words, please cleanse me of the thorns, weeds, and rocks in my life. May your words take root in me and bloom. I desire to be a person who, having heard your word, does “embrace it with a generous and good heart, and bear fruit through perseverance.”
Our Enemy: Jesus is quite clear in this parable: The devil is real, and he is the enemy of our souls. Satan delights in distracting our hearts away from the words of the Gospel. He knows our weaknesses and uses them against us. In the Netflix series The Good Place, the demons use the characteristics and personalities of each person against them; Strategically, they torment each soul in a specific and personal way. When we pray to St. Michael the Archangel to “defend us in battle” and ask God to “cast into hell Satan and all the evil spirits who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls,” we are not speaking in hyperbole. The threat is real; the battle is constant. Our enemy is wily and loves to mess with our minds, hearts, and souls to distract us and lure us away from our Savior. “The battle against the devil, which is the principal task of St. Michael the Archangel, is still being fought today because the devil is still alive and active in the world” (St. John Paul II, 1987).
Rocks and Weeds: Anyone who has done any gardening knows how quickly the weeds can take over. A few days of neglect can result in weeds edging out the plants. Here Jesus warns us that the “rocks and weeds” (distractions and sins) can quickly overtake the garden of our souls and leave the seeds sown by Christ choking and fighting for sun, water, and air. Many of the “rocks” are good things–our work, our friends, our hobbies, our families, exercise, chores–but we need to make sure that they do not overtake the greatest thing of all—our relationship with Our Lord, nurtured in the sacraments and his word. For a Catholic Christian, this means making sure that our first priority is this relationship with Christ, followed by the duties and joys of our vocation in life.
Rich Soil: How does the farmer prepare the soil? He tills it and takes out the weeds, old roots, and rocks. He adds fertilizer. How do we prepare our souls to nurture the words of Christ? By availing ourselves of the sacraments, reading Scripture, and surrounding ourselves with friends who love God—all of these things work mightily to keep our souls fertile and allow the word to take root. And, every single day we take the time to turn to the Lord in prayer, sit with him in silence, and allow him to do till and sow in our souls.
Conversing with Christ: Jesus, you are the master gardener. Please come into my soul and root out anything that is choking out your words. Guard me against my enemy, protect me from my own weaknesses.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will pray the prayer to St. Michael the Archangel:
St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray. And do thou, Prince of the Heavenly Hosts, by the power of God cast into hell Satan and all the evil spirits who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls.
For Further Reflection: First Things First by Stephen Covey.
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