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Pius Parsch on Epiphany 5 – Matthew 13:24-30

by pastorjuhl ~ February 1st, 2011

FTR: I have never preached this text and I’m on my ninth cycle of using the One-Year series. It’s been that long since we’ve had a long Epiphany season.

I wish I could post multiple pages of Parsch. Most everything he writes on this text is very good. Here’s a sample.

Today [Jesus] manifests Himself as the wise and patient Judge, who permits both the good and bad seed to grow and ripen. He does not choose to intervene, for He is patiently reserving His final and finest “epiphany” for the end of time when all will be called to His throne for judgment.

The Gospel…shows another Christian community, one marred by human weaknesses and sins, grave scandals, lukewarmness, indifference, petty jealousies. Which makes our hearts heavy. But Jesus’ words help us understand the enigma of evil in the Church. From the two readings (Col. 3 and Matt. 13) it is easy to deduce a program for the week. Personally, and in my relations with others, I will try to reproduce the ideal; if evil crosses my path, I will not be scandalized; I will seek to imitate God’s patience toward it.

The Gospel, moreover, provides revealing insights into the mysterious and often inexplicable character of God’s kingdom as it continues to grow through the centuries. There is, for instance, the mystery of the abiding presence of evil in the Church. Evil is the devil’s sowing. Evil is permitted; indeed, in God’s providential plan it must thrive and ripen. On earth both good and evil enjoy freedom of action and both serve a purpose. Evil is designed to chasten the good, to prove their strength and steadfastness; it is God’s rod of correction upon the virtuous. Strictly speaking, it can cause no harm to God’s kingdom. This reassurance should be a consolation, especially in days like the present, when we meet so much evil in the world.

The parable of the weeds throws light on the tragedy of evil in the Church. Evil is the devil’s planting. God allows it to thrive and reach full maturity, unhindered. In this life both the good and the bad are granted complete freedom of operation. Yes, evil has its place in the divine plan. As noted earlier, it serves to chasten the good and test their steadfastness. It is God’s rod of correction, and should contribute to the growth of virtue in the good. It cannot cause the kingdom of heaven any real harm. It will not, however, go unpunished; no, the wages of evil is eternal ruin and punishment. Be patient, therefore with evildoers. Do not begrudge them their short-lived, earthly happiness. Above all, do not hate them; rather they are to be pitied. Thus does this parable contribute to a solution to that greatest enigma, the presence of evil in God’s kingdom.

We must follow our Lord’s example. We must see the good in men, overlooking their faults and weaknesses. Above all, we must not constantly threaten them with punishment and hell. “They know not what they do.” Most of the time they really do not know. Besides, what good results from wailing over wickedness and sinfulness of the world today? Or what benefit is it to fulminate excommunications against opponents? Such conduct only widens the breach. Try seeing the good in sinners.

[Liturgical piety] starts with God, not with man. It knows that we are weak and fault-ridden creatures; but it remembers that God nevertheless chose and called us, giving us His grace. Our essential task is to open our hearts wide to the influx of divine life. Like all life, this life should grow; so it must be nourished. And where there is life, there is joy, and movement, and health and well-being; and there is constructive work and activity. Liturgical piety is concerned with “the things that are above.”

Still, it does not take sin lightly. For sin is sickness; it s a threat to God’s stay within us. To ignore sickness would be to invite death; therefore one must seek remedies. But God certainly does not want us to resemble  hypochondriacs, never able to get our mind away from real or imaginary ailments. Small wonder that the disposition of such people becomes sour and pessimistic. Life should be enjoyed; life in God, I mean. Nourish that life with the Bread of Heaven; let it blossom and bear fruit in an array of virtuous acts. Such, briefly, is the objective of liturgical piety.

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