16TH SUNDAY HOMILY IN THE ORDINARY TIME – YEAR A
HOMILY Theme: WHEN MEN WERE ASLEEP…
By: Fr. Johnbosco Obika
Homily for Sunday.
Recall that last Sunday we discussed the parable of the sower which can also be called the parable of the land. Recall that some seeds fell on the highway, some on rocky land, some on the thorny land, and some made it to the good soil. Today the parable of the wheat and the weed tells us what happened to the seed that made it to the good soil when the sower left the farmland. Jesus dropped three parables in the gospel viz: The parable of the wheat and the weed, the parable of mustard and the parable of the leaven. Among the three parables only the parable of the wheat has problem because of the presence of the weed. The mustard has no issue growing up, the leaven doesn’t have obstacles in rising. So we concentrate on the parable of the wheat because of problem and questions it raises.
The presence of evil in the world has foundation in reality. The parable of the wheat and the weed answers some important questions facing every age concerning the existence of evil. Among the questions are:
1. If all God created was good (Gen. 1:31—God saw all that he had made, and it was very good), how did evil enter the world?
2. Why does good and evil exist side by side in the world?
3. Why is it very difficult sometimes to distinguish evil from good?
4. Will there ever be an end of evil?
5. Can evil be prevented?
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Permit me to take up the message of today from the question no. 5 because it is the mother of other questions posed by the problem of evil; if the enemy was prevented from sowing the bad seed in the first place other questions wouldn’t arise. I rephrase the question thus: what can we do to prevent evil seeds from being sown? There are two Igbo sayings I wish to use to introduce the discussion. 1. “Mgbochi órìa ka ogwugwo ya” (Prevention is better than cure!) 2. “Árúrúàlà gbaa afo ya buru omenala” (Evil becomes a tradition after existing for a long time).
The gospel narrative tells us that the sower sowed a good seed, left the farm, at night while men were asleep the enemy came and sowed the bad seed. It means that the reason why weeds were sown by the enemy is because people who were supposed to watch over the farmland were asleep. So, it means some people are responsible for watching over the land. In Ezekiel 3:17, God said to Ezekiel: “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel”. By extension, we are watchmen over the land that the Lord has planted good seeds. Today, there is evil in every corner of the world because many righteous ones are asleep when they should be watching over the field.
Sleeping is a common human experience but it is also a symbol of laziness, lukewarmness and apathy. A watchman who always sleeps is grossly irresponsible. The three apostles nearly missed the glory of the transfigured Jesus on the mountain because they were asleep. The idea of sleeping is beyond the physical. There are many ways children of God are asleep today:
1. By being too busy and preoccupied
2. By being too indifferent (Lukewarmness) especially to things pertaining to morals, faith and persecution of believers. Jesus warns against this in Rev. 3:16.
3. By being unaware of the happenings around them.
4. By going way too deep in pleasure. Remember Samson was destroyed because he was asleep in pleasure. The apostle Peter denied the Lord as he was warning himself beside the fire in the midst of cold.
5. By grooving in sin (spiritual slumber).
Still sleeping? When we fall asleep in these ways,
the devil enters the field, evil makes inroad and mixes with good. At a point when it will be very hard to tell the difference between good and evil, it stifles the growth of the good. The field can be the soul, the family, the academic system, the church, the marriage, the vocation, etc. In the family, when parents are too busy with business, they have no time to control what the children are watching and do, giving the enemy the unchallenged entrance to come in and sow the weed. Today, the home movies are not homely again, the social media has given rise to anti social children. More, proliferation of churches in Nigeria has given birth to proliferation of false prophets and consequently more and more false prophecies are dished out on daily basis. Seeds of discord are scattered everywhere as a result. The Nigerian academic system has encouraged immorality among our young ones.
Be vigilant and alert! The devil is on the prowl like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour (1st Peter 5:8). For how long shall we be asleep? Until our faith is wiped out by current evil trends and creeds? “Awake, you who are sleeping, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall shine on you” (Eph. 5:14).
What shall we do? 1. Be vigilant in prayer (Luke 18:1) 2. Be strong in faith (1Peter 5:9) 3. Speak out against evil and condemn it 4. Strive to be good.
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