Fr Rodney Kissinger, S.J

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“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. When the crop grew and bore fruit, the weeds appeared as well. The slaves of the householder came to him and said, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where have the weeds come from?’ He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’ His slaves said to him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’ He replied, ‘No, if you pull up the weeds you might uproot the wheat along with them. Let them grow together until the harvest; then at harvest time I will say to the harvesters, “First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning; but gather the wheat into my barn.” (Matt. 13: 24-30)

The parable teaches us that the Kingdom of God is a mixed bag. Reality is a mixed bag of good and evil. Each one of us is a mixed bag. There is within each of us the law of the body warring against the law of the mind. “The good we will we do not and the evil we will not that we do.” The Church is not a showcase for saints, but a refuge for sinners. Jesus came not for the just but for the sinners. Catholic means universal. A fact which is evident at Sunday Mass in a large city where there are young and old, learned and simple, rich and poor, white and black, easterners and westerners, saints and sinners.

The workers wanted to pull up the weeds. How relevant for us today. There are those in the Kingdom who want to pull up the weeds, burn them at the stake and make them tow the line or get out. But the wise householder says, “Let them both grow till the harvest.”

It is hard to discern the wheat from the weeds. Their root systems are so entwined it is virtually impossible to uproot one without uprooting the other. It is hard to discern the saint from the sinner. We judge by appearances. Our judgment is superficial. We cannot read the mind and the heart. We do not have all of the data.

“There but for the grace of God go I.” If I had been put in the same circumstances of the one I am judging, I may be much worse. And if he had been given all the gifts and graces I have been given he would be greater than I. Our friends judge us to be better than we are and our enemies judge us to be worse than we are.

Even if we knew all of the data we are not the judge. Only God knows the real me. The judgment belongs to God alone. As Jeremiah tells us, “More tortuous than all else is the human heart, beyond remedy; who can understand it? I, the Lord, alone probe the mind and test the heart, to reward everyone according to his ways, according to the merits of his deeds.” (Jer.17:9-10) This is also the teaching of Matt. 25: 31-46; Acts 10:40-43; the Apostles Creed and the Nicene Creed.

“Let them both grow till the harvest.” God is patient and merciful. He wants everyone to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. There is always the possibility of conversion. If Simon Peter had been uprooted when he denied three times that he even knew Jesus there would be no St. Peter. If Saul had been uprooted while he was on his way to Damascus to persecute the Christians there would be no St. Paul. If Thomas had been uprooted when he refused to believe that Jesus was risen from the dead there would be no St. Thomas. The good thief on the cross would never had heard, “This day you will be with me in paradise.” What about St. Augustine, St. Francis, St. Ignatius? What about us? If we had been uprooted when we were sinners this room would be empty.

The Christian is a realist. He sees with the eyes of faith as well as with the eyes of the body. With the eyes of the body he sees in the world senseless wars, terrorist’s bombings, famine, political corruption, corporate scandal, murder, suicide, environmental pollution and possible nuclear disaster. In ourselves we see a civil war, the law of the body warring against the law of the mind. We see that we are a bundle of contradictions, a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. “The good we will we do not and the evil we will not that we do.” We are proud as angels and act like jackasses. And we see much of the same in others.

Radically different is the vision of faith. With the eyes of faith we see a world full of beauty, truth and goodness. We see how God loves and cares for the least of his creatures and especially those who are made in his own image. We see that nothing happens in this world by chance. Whatever happens is either positively willed by God or at least permitted by God. And to those who love him all of these things, even the evil, work together for good. With the eyes of faith we see the beauty, truth and goodness in ourselves and others. We see that each person is unique, unrepeatable, and indispensable, gifted and graced. And that God loves each one unconditionally.

Of course, you will never get that impression from the news media. What is newsworthy is the unusual, the scandalous, the revolutionary, the crime, the evil. Common, ordinary natural goodness and virtue is not newsworthy. You’ll never make the news because you are a law abiding citizen and practicing Christian. But if you go berserk and commit a crime you will make the national news in big headlines.

To be a realist we must read two things every day, the daily newspaper and the Bible. And never read one without the other. One gives the bad news and the other the Good News. Without both we are living in a dream world.

“Let them both grow till the harvest.”
And at the harvest there will be many, many surprises.



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