A personal example is a serious matter.
It’s Saturday morning. We get in the car. Ahead of us is almost a hundred kilometers of road through mountains and valleys. We go in search of the forsaken who live without faith. How will they receive us? Will they recognize us? It has been decades since they have gone far from the faithful. How do they live? They live across the street from each other. Just four steps from the door. The man still has a wife. The children have long since left home. We knock, but no one answers. Behind the door, we hear a faint slam. We open the door. There is silence. We open the other. It’s a bedroom. Two beds, a picture on the wall that says: When you go across the water, I’ll be with you. We go in. In the kitchen stands the crouched, skeletal figure of a woman. Her back is turned, she can’t see us, she can’t hear us, she doesn’t answer our greeting. I touch her shoulder, she turns around. Her eyes are wide open, and she has a single question:
– What do you want here?
– We are looking for you.
– I don’t know you, – she answers.
– But I know you from the photograph.
She is very old in body and spirit. There is pain and moaning. There is only groaning and despair. All trust in God has spilled out of her mind like grain from a leaky sack. The two think only of which of them will die first. We wanted to weep over such a wealth of misery. We go away sad with one prayer, “Lord, do not let us be separated from you.” (Source, Living Words 1/1987, p. 4).
All week we have been listening to the parable of the sower. Although he sowed everywhere and in abundance, not everything took hold and produced the same harvest. It often turns out as it did with those we have just imagined. They were full of energy, full of faith, full of love, but also full of hope. They didn’t care about religion and allowed it to be trampled by their own disinterest. Perhaps their faith had been snatched from them by others. Perhaps. The parable of the tares is like a continuation of this week’s Gospel.
The great field sown with good wheat is the Church of Christ. From the beginning, it has been a Church of sinners and saints. Into the sea of paganism, the disciples of Christ sowed the Word of God. It sprouted and grew, but it did not destroy the tares. On the contrary, the tares constantly threaten to choke out the good sowing. Therefore, in the days when Christianity had power, zealous men arose who determined to destroy the tares, but the result was not the best. The field was damaged.
That’s why Jesus wisely says: “Wait! God is the Lord of time.”
The kingdom of God is something entirely different from a wheat field. Jesus is talking about patience and the great goodness of God toward people. Always a new and fresh chance, an opportunity. And that’s why we had a better look within ourselves, each one of us. For that flax, that field of good wheat is also every human soul. Although we are delighted and quick to see the tares in the other, we want to be honest with ourselves and look at the field of our own soul. How many good words and well-meaning advice have we heard, how many warnings and admonitions have been addressed to us. And this means that not only the purest, best wheat grows in the field of our own soul. It also means that man can improve himself. He has the opportunity to remove the tares from his soul himself and replace them with good ears. That is why Jesus recommends patience. He allows everyone time. Our time is our whole life. When the harvest comes, the final end will come, and there will be nothing that can be fixed or changed. There will only be sorting into God’s barn or the fire.
If we feel our soul is a good role, our fellow men should feel it too. We should be good reading for the other so that he may safely govern himself. If we feel that we are good wheat in the Church on God’s significant role, then we should also feel our duty to be encouraged by others, perhaps those nearest to us, to be full and have good ears.
Years ago many girls chose a religious life. Many of them are sincere about their vocation, even though today they live outside the convents. One of them has an old grandfather who, he claimed, because of the scandal of some priest, had not been to confession or church since his marriage. Neither old age nor illness has drawn him to God. He always justified his conscience to the aforementioned priest. But this grandfather also had another image – his niece, who visited him now and then. And so, slowly but surely, the grandfather changed, and in the end, he had only one condition. “I will put myself in order, but not with my home priest, for I am ashamed.” When he was called by the priest he had first seen, his first words were probably these, “I was not intimidated by anyone, but provoked by the life of my niece. Why shouldn’t I also belong to the Lord God when she – young and educated – belongs to Him.”
Here is beautifully shown the patience of God, who gives man each new day as a unique chance and opportunity to be good wheat on the significant role of the Church.
Let us try to apply this Gospel, not to the other, but to ourselves, for though we do not want to be selfish, that we want salvation only for ourselves, yet we should care first for our own salvation, and then, surely by our example, by our life, we shall also help others who may be waiting for our example and help.
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