DID YOU NOT SOW GOOD SEED IN YOUR FIELD? WHERE DID THE WEEDS COME FROM? Jesus treats of a very important issue in today's Gospel. The existence of disorderly, disobedient and even immoral persons alongside of fervent and faithful followers in the Church he founded. Obviously, this question arose in the time of the apostles who were troubled by discovering persons in the Church who did not live according to the Gospel, and whose life proved to be a source of trouble to the community they lived in. This same difficult situation arises in the Church at every period, sometimes with greater acuteness. When such persons lose their first fervor and yield to the weakness of the flesh and fall in with the ways of the world, it causes considerable concern to the pastor or, in the case of a monastery, to the abbot.
For just as the farmer tills the whole of his field, so also the good shepherd must have care for the welfare of all his flock. He must consider the needs of the young and tender ones who may be infected by the bad example and evil ways of those disobedient members they live so closely to. History gives us many instances when such disorder spread through the Church and whole communities fell away. This occurs especially at times when the society in which the community lives is being influenced by new values and ways of thinking that spread widely and rapidly and whose success with many gives the impression of moral validity. Because many others are greedy, greed seems acceptable; when many others live in sexual immorality, then the individual more readily excuses himself from living chastely. One finds examples of such vices taking hold and corrupting not only the young and inexperienced but even, in some cases, even those who were entrusted with responsible positions in the Church.
But the farmer and householder must provide not only for the young and tender plants for all his sown field. He must not interfere with the growth of the good seed in those who hear the word and keep it. To pull out all the weeds immediately might damage the sown wheat near to it. Those who fall into such evil ways, are like weeds. Jesus here teaches us they are not to be immediately uprooted and cast out. Rather, our Lord has confidence in the inherent force for good that is found in the seed he has sowed. It may yet yield an abundant harvest.
We know from other passages in the New Testament that it is also the duty of the good shepherd to seek what has gone astray. Time and the care of the skilled workman in the Lord=s field may yet save the wheat from serious damage. God is patient and merciful and desires not the death of the sinner but that he should be converted and live. He bestows his gifts on the just and the unjust alike. He gives His grace that the unjust might become just and be gathered with the good grain into the Father's barns at the harvest time.
These various teachings of our Lord are intended to be an admonition to all of us. If any one among us has fallen into the ways of pride and disobedience even to the point of criticising and publicly arguing with his superior, or in the case of a family, with his parents or spouse, let him reconsider his evil ways and seek 'ercy. He will find it when he truly seeks. The same holds true of all kinds of immorality and worldliness. In today's Gospel Jesus tells us that those who are found to contaminate his field will be separated from the good wheat and cast out to be burned. Let no one remain in his evil ways and risk such an end. God will not be mocked by those who refuse to take these words to heart and be converted that they might yield a good harvest at the proper time. He gives time and opportunity for a true change of heart. Even those who have remained faithful are called by his words to grow into a mature plant in his field so as to yield a more abundant harvest by living in greater fidelity of love.
At this Eucharist which we are so privileged to share in, the Lord of theharvest comes into our very hearts to be our strengthening food and nourish his very own life within us. May each of us received him with the sincere faith and trust of children, and find in this heavenly food the source of renewal and the seed of eternal life. To this he calls each of us by his word and his sacrament.
Abbot John Eudes Bamberger
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