8 Do not remember against us our former iniquities; let your compassion come speedily to meet us, for we are brought very low. 9 Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of your name; deliver us, and atone for our sins, for your name’s sake!
36 Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples came to him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.” 37 He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. 38 The field is the world, and the good seed is the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, 39 and the enemy who sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. 40 Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, 42 and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.
“They will collect out of his Kingdom all who cause others to sin” (Matthew 13:41)
The servants in this parable are eager to get rid of the weeds in their master’s field, but he counsels patience. Both the weeds and the wheat are growing, and it isn’t entirely clear how they will develop.
Although Jesus applies the parable to righteous and evil individuals, we can just as easily apply it to the good and evil tendencies sprouting in our own hearts. There are so many “gray areas” when it comes to our inner lives that it can be difficult to discern which seeds we should cultivate and which ones we should try to uproot. But in today’s Gospel reading, Jesus gives us an important clue: take a look at the way these words, actions, or thoughts affect the people around you.
Those of us who are parents can learn this by observing the effect we have on our children. Small children imitate even the way we walk, our facial expressions, or other habitual gestures. Have you ever had the experience of being horrified to hear a child use a swearword or a complaining tone that sounds eerily like yourself? It’s humbling, isn’t it? But it can also bring us up short and move us to make some changes in our lives.
The opposite of “causing others to sin,” of course, is helping them to grow in holiness. We want our children to learn kindness, honesty, and generosity from us, and we work hard to make that happen. Our children don’t always see it, but it’s there. It was probably similar for Joachim and Anne. Their prayerfulness, their humility, and their openness to the Spirit clearly affected Mary. How else could she have found the courage to give a whole-hearted yes to the angel’s invitation?
Think for a moment about people who have had that kind of positive effect on you – a parent, a teacher, a pastor, a friend, or a mentor. As a popular saying puts it, “I love you not only for what you are but for what I am when I am with you.”
Take the time today to express your gratitude to one of these people. And pray to be that kind of influence on other people.
Father, help me bear fruit that pleases you so that I can be a positive influence on the people around me. Amen.
O God, you have prepared for those who love you such good things as surpass our understanding: Pour into our hearts such love towards you, that we, loving you in all things and above all things, may obtain your promises, which exceed all that we can desire; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.