There is a story about a priest who was upset with the man who lived across the street from the church. The man was a Catholic, but he never went to church.
As the priest entered and left the church each morning, he saw the man outside cutting his grass, weeding, or sprinkling his flowers. But the man never walked a couple of hundred feet across the street to attend mass. Every so often the priest gave the man a special invitation, but the best he ever got in return was a smile or a wave of the hand.
Finally, for whatever reason, the man told the priest that he would be coming to church the following Sunday. So the priest spent a lot of extra time working on his homily to make sure the man would be deeply touched so that he would come back every Sunday from then on.
A week after the man’s church visit the priest saw him sprinkling his grass. He went over and asked him what he thought about the mass.
“Well, Father, I’ll say this about your Sunday sermon…It kept me awake most of the night.”
The priest was thrilled and he beamed as he said, “I’m glad my words so inspired you to come to church now on a regular basis.”
“Oh, it wasn’t that, Father,” said the man.“When I take a nap in the daytime, I can’t sleep at all at night!”
This story reminds me of Jesus’ Parable in today’s Gospel (Matt 13: 24-43). How can the owner of the field sleep at night when his enemy is coming and sowing weeds in his wheat fields?
Sowing weeds in another’s fields has many meanings, I’m sure. For me personally, sowing weeds means saying unkind things about another person when they are not around. Someone will say to me that a particular woman is a lovely person and a neat lady, but I’ll sow some weeds and say, “Yes, but she’s not home much and she doesn’t spend much time with her family.”
Or I’ll hear a remark about someone doing a terrific job with a project and I’ll sow some weeds and say, “Yes, they did a terrific job, but they left a lot of loose ends and some people aren’t thrilled with picking up the pieces.”
When I go to a wake, I ask the family questions about the deceased person for my homily the next day. I get information about their life, their job, hobbies and personality. Several times a year the family will remark…”Dad (or Mom) never, ever said an unkind word about anyone.” As I drive home after the wake, the only thing I can think about are the weeds that I sow about other people and what people will say about me at my wake someday.
This time of year, you and I enjoy eating watermelon. A watermelon comes from a tiny seed. Do you have any idea how many times a seed has to multiply itself to become a full-grown watermelon? 200,000 times!! When planted and nurtured a tiny watermelon seed will form a white rind, a delicious red heart and hundreds of other seeds, each capable of growing 200,000 times as well.
It’s a lot like the tiny mustard seed Jesus tells us about. Just imagine what you and I can do with the tiny Communion host that we receive. Imagine the love of Jesus growing 200,000 times inside of us. We’d be able to reach out to so many, many people who can use the love of Jesus today in their lives.
Love is the only thing in the whole world, that the more of it you give away, the more of it you wind up having for yourself.
What are some of the weeds that you sow about others in conversations? Do you think about it afterwards and resolve to not do it anymore?