Saturday, February 08, 2014
Fr. Wells' Bulletin Inserts
The Gospel reading which we hear on this fifth Sunday after the Epiphany (or in most years, on the 25th Sunday after Trinity) is one of two or three parable using the symbols of the sower, the good seed, the obstacles to its progress, and the certainty of a good harvest. Another “seed/sower” parable we will soon read on Sexagesima Sunday. You may find it on page 121 in your Prayer Book.
In the parable before us today, we see a picture of the church as a mixed multitude (usually more mixed than multitudinous) of “wheat and tares.” The sower (who is Christ) has sown good seed, but an enemy (who is the devil) has tried to spoil the crop by sowing bad seed which sprouts into weeds.
From its very inception, the Church, as the people of God, who profess faith in Jesus Christ, has been a mixture of the faithful and faithless, the weak and the strong, the zealous and the indifferent, those who persevere and those who fall away, those whose presence is a blessing to the Body and those who mostly make trouble. It was ever thus, from the time of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5) and Euodia and Syntyche (Phil. 4:2). The Church has always been full of imperfect people. This is why the Church was created in the first place, to be a refugium peccatorum, a place where sinners are welcome
But ultimately, a separation of wheat and tares, a division of the true and false members of the Church is bound to come. The Prayer Book selection sadly does not include our Lord’s explication of his own parable, wherein He said, “Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the close of the age. The Son of man will send his angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom, all causes of sin and all evil-doers… there men will weep and gnash their teeth (Matt 13:42)." We should note how frequently our Lord spoke of eternal damnation in very graphic terms.
Even with this dire and dreadful certainty, the chief message of this parable is that our business as servants of the householder is to wait patiently until the harvest, when the angels will be sent to make the separation finally and for ever.
But in the meantime, it is not for us to take matters into our own hands. We do not yet know who are the wheat and who are the tares, and we are under a commandment not to make any preliminary assessments. It is only for us to make sure that we are not weeds spoiling the crop, praying that we may be good seed, bringing forth a good harvest. LKW