Gospel Meditation

16th Sunday in Ordinary Time
“The weeds are the children of the evil one, and the enemy who sows them is the devil.” This is not a pretty picture. Jesus shares a parable in today’s Gospel that reminds us of a truth we would rather forget: evil is real, and the devil is at work. The bountiful harvest of our faith is something that Satan wants to destroy. And he has a host of diabolical tactics to help him carry out his wicked plans. But there is one strategy in particular that we must be on guard against.

As the French poet Charles Baudelaire put it, “The devil’s finest trick is to persuade you that he does not exist.” Sneaky as it may be, this approach is effective! And, unfortunately, the attitude of our modern era is very conducive to buying the lie. Too often we dismiss the idea of the invisible spiritual reality of angels and demons. It doesn’t seem “scientific” enough for us because it can’t be seen or “proven.” But neither can our faith! We believe in a host of invisible realities starting with God himself. We should not be fooled into thinking that the devil is a make-believe cartoon character with red horns and a pitchfork on his shoulder. Alas, no. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us, “Scripture witnesses to the disastrous influence of the one Jesus calls ‘a murderer from the beginning’” (CCC 394) and, as we read in the Bible, “Indeed, the Son of God was revealed to destroy the works of the Devil” (1 Jn 3:8). This is not pretend, and so it must be taken seriously. But so too, the reality of Satan must be situated within the broader context of God’s supreme power. The devil “cannot prevent the building up of God’s reign” (CCC 395). The influence of evil can never defeat the power of our faith, unless we let it do so.
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