November 13, 2012
This past Sunday in the 1962 Roman Missal the Gospel reading was Mt. 13: 24-30, the parable of the man who sowed good seed in his field. While he and his servants were asleep, in the dead of night his enemy sneaked in and sowed cockle among the wheat. This was a really evil thing to do because you can’t tell wheat and cockle apart until the heads form. The wheat and cockle’s roots intertwine which is why the master told his servants not to pull it out but harvest the cockle first when the time came, bind it into bundles and burn it. That would destroy all the cockle seeds and prevent the spread of the weed.
While studying this passage with the help of The Parables of Christ, one of my Lectio Divina resources, I learned something interesting about cockle. It’s Latin name is lolium temulentus. Temulentus = drunk. This weed carries a fungus that makes consumers dizzy and puts them in a narcotic stupor. Eat enough of it and it kills.
Jesus explained the parable he had taught to the crowd privately to the apostles. The sower is He, the Son of Man (the Messiah, Dan. 7: 27) and the field is the world. God can only do good, so the good seed represents the children of God – those who hear His word and keep it. Good seeds are everywhere in the world. Lucifer, sneaky and guileful, sowed bad seed – his followers who carry his poison into the world. Bad seeds are also everywhere in the world. We can’t get away from them.
The harvest time is the end of the world and the reapers are the angels who will first gather up the followers of Satan and throw them into hell. Then the faithful servants of God will be gathered up by the angels to heaven.
Considering that 50% of Catholics in this election voted against the teaching of the Church and elected Obama and other pro-death politicians, this Gospel reading came at the perfect time. We must not be discouraged because this world and the Church will always have people who don’t fear God and do evil. As sinners, of course we all do evil, but here I am looking at the parable with the idea that those in mortal sin and propagating Satan’s agenda are the bad seed. Of necessity life is this way because we are not in heaven and heaven can’t be made on earth.
God gave us all free will and so He suffers evil in the world. He doesn’t go back on His creation. As members of the Mystical Body of Christ, we must suffer that evil, too. The plus side is that we sinners have time for conversion, and if we suffer in our witness to Christ, we become holier and much less attached to our own will. Then there’s also the verse in Sirach 36:4 to consider:
As you have used us to show them your holiness, so now use them to show us your glory.
If we work with God on conforming ourselves to His will, He uses us to show those against Him His holiness and perhaps inspire them to conversion. God also shows us through those committed to evil His justice and glory. That happens through the natural consequences of sin and the chastisements He visits on the world, which will grow increasingly severe in answer to the increasing rebellion against Him.
The tares among us can’t make us dizzy, drunk, and dead with their false teaching as long as we are girded with the sword of the Spirit. And they, although they may be able to force their will upon us politically, will never have our hearts. That’s what’s most important.
Sometimes we have the erroneous idea that since God is in charge everything should be smooth sailing and sunny and we should suffer no pain. But clearly, by leaving the tares amongst us, He means for us to survive in grace and grow strong in charity by confronting the evils around us. That’s what it means to be in the Church Militant.
Tangentially, if we can’t stand conflict and face evil head on, we are bound to betray Christ. Then the cockle will have choked us out.
Father Fonck writes towards the end of his commentary on the parable:
The true Church must exist uninterruptedly to all time until the end of the world, just as the corn [used interchangeably with “wheat” by some commentators] remains in the field until harvest time. She can never deviate in her teaching from the truth, because, otherwise, being conquered by evil, she would cease to be the true Church.
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This post linked to Saints and Scripture Sunday.
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