Weeds Among the Wheat
We must be vigilant and help eradicate the weeds through a thorough understanding and compliance with the Word of God because the Almighty never jokes and if we think so, we'll choke!
Editor's Note: In his sermon for the 25th Sunday After Pentecost, taken from the Fifth Sunday After Epiphany, which Father Louis Campbell delivered to his parishioners yesterday, he cites the Gospel reading of Matthew 13: 24-30. Father points out how the cockles of sin squeeze and choke our spiritual life. The most suffocating rotting root being satan's tabernacle - the television and the obscene material emitting from this "black box of terror" that far exceeds anything imagined in the times of Sodom and Gomorrah. Mock and smirk all you want, he cautions the faithful, but damnation is no laughing matter and the more we forget that and cave to the wiles of the devil, the more the architect of hell plants more weeds to choke out everything around the few strands of wheat that remain in the remnant garden. We need to help eradicate the weeds through a strong sensus fidelium.
Many of Our Lord's hearers were ordinary folk-laborers, fishermen, housewives, shepherds, farmers. The Lord spoke to them using images that were familiar to them, as in the Gospel today about the weeds (cockle) among the wheat. Everybody knew that you just can't start pulling the weeds out of a field of wheat. They grow too close to the wheat and are entangled in its roots, so that in uprooting the weeds you endanger the wheat also. Unfortunately, the weeds steal sunlight and nourishment from the wheat, they invade its space and crowd it out, they strangle it and prevent it from ripening. They persecute the wheat.
Father Louis J. Campbell
The Lord wants to tell us that this is what happens to the good. They are persecuted by the wicked, who poison the minds of the innocent and lead them into sin. They destroy their faith through heresy disguised as truth, and sin disguised as entertainment.
The minds of many "pastors of souls" have already been corrupted, so that they can no longer safely guide their people. Through dialogue with the world the contemporary church has lost true judgment concerning good and evil, and has thrown the sheep to the wolves.
Many parents are no longer safe guides for their children. The prophet Ezechiel quotes a saying of his time, "The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the teeth of the children are set on edge" (Ez:18:2). Although Ezechiel says that each will be held responsible by God for his own sin, parents will have a lot to answer for on Judgment Day for what they allow their children.
An informal survey was conducted among a group of young girls from a supposedly Christian background about their favorite TV program. Most of them chose "Friends." This program, like many of its clones, is simply immorality disguised as entertainment. The "weeds" of the entertainment industry destroy the faith of the innocent by portraying fornication as funny, the gay lifestyle as hilarious, lewd and immodest behavior as normal. By watching programs like this, young people, like their parents before them, lose their ability to discern good from evil and are taught to love sin. They end up no longer Christian but pagan.
What happens is that the conscience becomes dulled. The sense of sin is lost. When sin becomes a laughing matter, it is no longer the horror that has caused all the sorrows of the world. One no longer remembers that Paradise was lost because of sin, and that "the wages of sin is death" (Rom.6:23), or that Jesus Christ shed His Precious Blood upon the Cross to save us from these very sins. How carelessly we add another thorn to His crown, or another blow of the lash to His torn flesh.
Along with the loss of the sense of sin is the loss of a sense of the sacred. Sacred things are even made an object of ridicule, and Jesus Himself is paraded before sinners to be mocked and spat upon as He was during His Passion. The Blessed Virgin Mary and the saints as well as the holy Catholic Church are also made objects of scorn and derision. To laugh at holy things is a further step down on the road to hell.
Abraham's nephew Lot and his family lived in Sodom, where they had a lot of nice, friendly neighbors. But the neighbors' minds had become totally corrupt, and they wanted to entice Lot's guests into sin. The only way to avoid being corrupted themselves was to leave the city. So God ordered Lot and his wife and two daughters to turn their backs on the city and its inhabitants, led by the two guests, who were really Angels sent by God to rescue them. Lot's two intended sons-in-law took the whole thing as a hilarious joke, and stayed behind in Sodom. Fire and brimstone rained down from the sky destroying the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah (Gn.23-29). The sulfurous ruins can be seen even to this day. Lot's wife, thinking she was safe once she had left the city, turned around to take one last look, and she was turned into a pillar of salt. The moral of the story is: God's judgment is no laughing matter; turn away from evil, and don't look back.
Jesus makes it very clear that decisive action is required where sin is concerned: "So if thy right eye is an occasion of sin to thee, pluck it out and cast it from thee; for it is better for thee that one of thy members should perish than that thy whole body should be thrown into hell. And if thy right hand is an occasion of sin to thee, cut it off and cast it from thee; for it is better for thee that one of thy members should be lost than that thy whole body should go into hell" (Mt.5:29,30).
The Lord's words are not to be taken in a literal sense, because self-mutilation is wrong, but the meaning is clear enough: occasions of sin must be avoided if one is to escape hell, and this means any person, place or thing that is likely to cause us to sin. The alcoholic must not take that first drink. Those addicted to pornography must not pass by that particular shop. Those involved in sinful relationships must break off the relationship immediately. TV and internet slaves must either learn to use the "off" button, or throw out the offending device.
I once heard a story about Mother Seton, Elizabeth Ann Seton, who died a saint in the year 1821, that she once had a vision of the future in which she saw a mysterious black box in every home in America. And the devil was coming out of that black box. She could not understand the vision at the time. But we can, can't we!
Don't be a "weed," an occasion of sin, but be an occasion of grace for other people who are trying, like yourself, to escape God's just judgment and enter eternal life. "Watch, then, praying at all times," says the Lord, "that you may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that are to be, and to stand before the Son of Man" (Lk.21:36).
"Beloved," says St. Peter, "I exhort you as strangers and pilgrims to abstain from carnal desires which war against the soul. Behave yourselves honorably among the pagans; that, whereas they slander you as evildoers, they may, through observing you, by reason of your good works glorify God in the day of visitation" (1Pet.11,12).
November 11, 2002
vol 13, no. 133
"Qui legit, intelligat" Father Louis Campbell's Sunday Sermons