I picked up a new hobby since I left Saint Barnabas. It is nothing wild actually, believe it or not. I started growing sunflower seeds. I am at Holy Family Parish in Stow and there is a nice little courtyard between the rectory and the church. It is just a fenced in area and I thought that would be a nice place to plant my sunflower seeds. So, I planted them. It took all day. I planted about 200 seeds and went to bed that night and woke up the next morning, and there was nothing there. I woke up the next morning, and there was nothing there. About three weeks later, and they are still not sprouting yet. I am starting to think that maybe something is wrong. Maybe they are not getting enough sun. I do not know what it is. I put some plant food on the soil. A couple of days went by and then, all of a sudden, I saw green things sprouting up one by one. They are going all over, and I thought they were finally growing.

My pastor looked at me one day and said, “You realize they are not sunflowers, right?” I said, “What do you mean?” He said, “They are weeds.” I said, “All of them?” He said, “Yes, go look at them.” So, I went out and looked at them, and it turned out that they were not sprouts at all. They were weeds. I said, “What happened?” He said, “We have squirrels here. Did I not tell you that?” The squirrels and the chipmunks ate every single seed. Two hundred seeds. They ate every single one, but I am bound and determined, right? This time I decide to completely re-till the garden. I am going to get rid of all the weeds, fresh soil and sunflower seeds again. I am going to deter the squirrels and chipmunks. A couple of weeks later, I see sprouts. It is amazing. But, as the gospel says, the next thing you know, you see weeds. There are weeds mixed in with the sprouts, but here is what I have learned about sunflower seeds. If you just let them go, they always outgrow the weeds. They are taller, right? So they outgrow the weeds and, before you know it, the sunflowers will blossom. I have no doubt that they are going to blossom this time.

I think of that as I hear the gospel. This whole horrible feeling that we probably all get when we hear this phrase “the kingdom of heaven may be likened to a man who sowed good seed in his field. While everyone was asleep his enemy came and sowed weeds all through the wheat, and then went off.” What Jesus is revealing to us is this is the reality that we live in. Jesus sowed good seed in the soil and, guess what, you are the good seed. Good seed is sown in the soil, but then something else happened. The enemy came and sowed bad seed.

We have this reality for all of us in the faith dimension, regardless of faith or not, we are growing together with weeds, with evil. Jesus says something very interesting in the parable. He says to them, “Shall we not go and rip out the seeds?” Kind of like the disciples, “Shall we not call hell and thunder upon these men?” Jesus says, “No, let them grow together until the harvest time.” Is that not weird? You would think Jesus would say, “Yes, let us get rid of sin because it would make it a lot easier for everybody.” Instead, he says, “No, let them grow together.” We are good seed, but inside each one of us, the devil has planted weeds, sin. So, while we are growing here in this life and, ultimately eternal life, we have this really bad problem. We have these weeds and this sin that is growing in the midst of our goodness of our wheat.

Every one of us struggles with this, right?  We all struggle with sin and that is not something we get rid of on this side of eternity. So, what is the good news? The good news is that Jesus is in control. He is the farmer, the harvester, and he is telling us to wait. We should wait until the end. Just as the sunflowers outgrew the weeds and will not become a problem for me, the goodness and the virtue in you is far more powerful than sin or the weeds. As Jesus allows us to grow in the midst of our struggles and in the midst of our sin and in the midst of our temptations, we will outgrow the weeds. Then when the harvest time comes, he will separate us.

I think it is important as we look at ourselves, as we look at each other, as we look at our country (there are weeds in our country, there are weeds in our world) it is so important that we look at ourselves first with gentleness and patience knowing that we cannot rip out the weeds physically ourselves. We need God to do that. The same is true for the people in front of us. Everybody is fighting this battle of the weeds, and the wheat growing within them. Try to be patient with us, but also with each other and the world. Sometimes we get frustrated, “God, why do you not have this world fixed yet?” It is not going to be fixed until the end. He is allowing sin and the wheat to grow together but, in the end, the wheat will show.

I want you to think of yourself, first of all. Is there any weed in your hearts? Any evil or sin in your hearts? Realize that is going to be worked out. Jesus will work that out at the end of time. Is there anything you are bothered by other people? People you know or by the world or by our country? Have great faith, too, that will be worked out. Ultimately, like my sunflower seeds, the wheat will grow taller that the weeds, and good will win out in the end. We come here with great faith and great hope as God continues to plant good seeds in us. We will be like the wheat, and we will be gathered together with Our Lord one day in heaven.