When I was a brand new Catholic, I used to be shocked by the number of people who call themselves "Christian" or "Catholic Christian" yet live and think in an unChristian manner. Not only do they cling to their own sin, but they celebrate the sins of others and try to get Catholics to support things that are strictly forbidden by the Bible, Tradition, and the deposit of the faith. If you don't agree that their sin is O.K., they can really slap you around. The parable of the tares and the wheat give me insight into why these weeds are allowed to grow up in our church.
"Jesus presented another parable to them, saying, "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went away. But when the wheat sprouted and bore grain, then the tares became evident also. The slaves of the landowner came and said to him, 'Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares? And he said to them, 'An enemy has done this!' The slaves said to him, 'Do you want us, then, to go and gather them up? But he said, 'no; for while you are gathering up the tares, you may uproot the wheat with them. Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, "first gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn." Matthew 13:24-30
In the next versus, Jesus explains that He is the one that sows the good seed that produces the children of the kingdom. The tares are the children of Satan. He sends the angels to reap at the time of harvest, which is the end of the world. At that time, when the wheat is strong and mature, it is harvested. The angels bind up the children of Satan and throw them into the fire. All things that offend God, everyone who does iniquity, will be cast into the furnace of fire where they will wail and gnash their teeth. The righteous, however, will "shine forth" in the kingdom of their Father.
The promises of Jesus bear no resemblance to the unicorns, candy and rainbows faith that so many people believe in these days. They think they can contradict the scriptures and do anything they like, willfully perform all manner of sin of which they have no intention to repent, and they will go to heaven to live with our Heavenly Father in eternity. Not.
While it is one of the spiritual works of mercy for me to counsel my Christian brothers and sisters when they fall off the path, I sometimes also have to recognize that many have chosen to stray and will not be pulled back. They let me know with vigorous verbal slaps, slander, threats and all manner of shenanigans that they're not going to stay on "the straight and narrow." They've chosen another way. Just as the Father has given us all free will, I have to respect the free will of the Catholic who decides that he knows better than 2,000 years of Catholic tradition, the Bible, the fathers and mothers of the church, the saints, the Popes and all the Bishops down through the ages.
Once I have given my counsel and it is met with violent protest, I have to stand back. I can't go in after them and drag them back from the hole they've dug for themselves. But I do wait on the path and pray for them, ready to welcome them back with open arms, should they come to their senses. The parable of the prodigal son tells me that Jesus will be merciful to any repentant sinner, even until the last minute. There is hope for everyone, and I find great joy in that.
The parable of the tares among the wheat is a cautionary tale that puts the fear of God in me. I sometimes say to myself, "what if I only think that I am one of the wheat stalks, when I'm really just another tare?" I don't want to end up in that bonfire on judgment day. It keeps me on my toes.
I'll pray for you, as I hope you'll pray for me.
Silver Rose Parnell
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