Today’s reflection given at St. Eugene’s Catholic Church on the Memorial of Sts. Joachim and Anne and on the day of Fr. Jacques Hamel’s murder:
Today’s Gospel fits perfectly for today, not necessarily because it is the Feast Day of Sts. Joachim and Anne, the parents of Mary, the Theotokos, but because of its significance in today’s current events.
This Gospel is Jesus’ explanation of the Parable of the Weeds. The Parable of the Weeds occurred just a few verses earlier in Mt. 13:24-30. Jesus is surrounded by a huge crowd and he teaches them about the Kingdom of Heaven using parables. As a Sooner, my favorite among these is the Parable of the Sower, but what the Lord gives us in the Parable of the Weeds is just as rich. Jesus teaches the people that when the fruit of the earth, the good wheat, is mature, it will be harvested, but only after the weeds are gathered and burned. The imagery is quite rich, but the disciples desired further explanation after the crowds were dismissed. They didn’t fully understand, and they desired more. The Lord goes into detail with them, explaining each character or setting and equating it to reality. The sower is the Lord, the enemy who sowed weeds is Satan, the wheat is the faithful (hopefully us…), the weeds are those who do evil, the harvesters are the Angels of God, and the furnace is Hell.
Anyone who has ever worked in a garden can relate to this Gospel very well. The Weeds can very easily take over. Just as weeds can take over a garden or field, so can evil in our lives. We can see that in the world today. Thanks to relativism, our world struggles to even discern between right and wrong. With obvious problems, such as murder, the consensus of people is still that murder is not right in any circumstance. However, the lines begin to become blurred past that. Things that were immoral just a decade or just a century ago are somehow morally acceptable now. Relativism has captivated our culture and is slowly taking it over, just like weeds in a fruitful garden.
This morning I was able to visit St. Ann’s and to visit some of our parishioners there. I was also able to see some of the priests that live there. As I was talking to Fr. Marvin Leven, he looked back on his life as a priest and told me “I would have done things differently if I had known what I know now” (paraphrase). We learn from our experiences that the Lord has given us. Each experience is an invitation to growth and a deepening of the theological virtues of faith, hope, and love, even the difficult experiences. However, the Lord will not force us to grow. He allows us to choose what we do. Satan wants our relationship with the Lord to degenerate. He wants the weeds to cut us off.
Today in France, Fr. Jacques Hamel, an 84-year-old priest who has served the people of God since he was ordained in 1958, was killed at the altar as he was saying Mass. Evil has no limits. Maybe it’s disguised in something that is good. Other times, it is obvious. We continue to hear story upon story of evil occurring in our world. It thinks that it can choke out the good. Yet, the priest Tertullian says “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church” (Apologeticus, ch. 50). It’s not too late to take back our field. It’s not too late to turn our trust back to God and to further His kingdom in this fallen world. We can look to the saints and martyrs as examples of how to live our lives for Christ. We can ask them to help us, to help convert our hearts and our world. We can be the Light of the World to a world of darkness. All we must do is trust, believe, and live our lives as Christ asks us to.
Fr. Jacques Hamel, Pray for Us.
Sts. Joachim and Anne, Pray for Us.
Our Lady, Queen of Martyrs, Pray for Us.