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Thriving Amidst the Weeds

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“The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis.” ~ Dante Alighieri

“Despair is the damp of hell, as joy is the serenity of heaven.” ~ John Donne

“There is no dignity in wickedness, whether in purple or rags; and hell is a democracy of devils, where all are equals.” ~ Herman Melville

“Love can consign us to hell or to paradise, but it always takes us somewhere.” ~ Paulo Coelho

“Go to heaven for the climate, hell for the company.” ~ Mark Twain

If the literary greats quoted above haven’t convinced you, today’s Gospel (Matthew 13:36-43), wherein Jesus sheds further light on the parable of the weeds in the field, certainly makes it unmistakably clear:

There exists both a heaven and a hell.

This point, seemingly very obvious to many, has taken on a certain air of ambiguity amongst those who cling to moral relativism or even the notion that “a kind and loving God would never ‘send’ anyone to hell.’”

This of course plays to the distinct advantage of Satan. After all, how does one win a battle in which he or she does not even acknowledge - much less fear, respect or counter - the enemy?

As Jesus goes on to explain, the field in this parable represents the world and all those who dwell in it: the good, the bad and everyone in between. As Bishop Barron points out “This sort of coming together of good and evil is to be expected. The Church will always be a place of saints and sinners, and the sinners will often look like saints. The enemy of the Church, who never rests, ensures it.”

But Jesus specifically tells his followers that we are the “good” seed, thus implying that we his faithful beloved, by virtue of our Baptism and the subsequent gifts of the Holy Spirit, possess that which we need in order to thrive and prosper, to bear the fruit of the spirit that Jesus speaks of (Matthew 12:33). We are, in a word, - Jesus’ word to be precise - “good.”

Saint Peter Chrysologus, Bishop and Doctor of our Church whose surname appropriately enough means “golden worded,” once said that we must “let Christ be our helmet, let the cross on our forehead be our unfailing protection.“ He goes on to say “our breastplate should be the knowledge of God that he himself has given us. Keep burning continually the sweet smelling incense of prayer. Take up the sword of the Spirit. Let your heart be an altar. Then, with full confidence in God, present your body for sacrifice.”

Saint Peter Chrysologus knew very well what God desires of us; faith, self-surrender and the offering of one’s free will. It is these virtues that will allow us to thrive and flourish in the weed-infested secular garden that permeates the battered landscape of our world today.

“It was not you who chose me, says the Lord, but I who chose you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last” ~ John 15:16

Comments

nickrao on July 27, 2021:

This bible verse is chilling by the clarity concerning the process of the judgement. Christ showed us how to suceed joining God for eternity. Your analysis is on point.

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