Fifth Sunday after Epiphany
The kingdom of heaven is likened to a man that sowed good seed in his filed. But… his enemy came and oversowed cockle among the wheat (Mt. 13.24-25).
God has sown the good seed generously in His field, the world; He has sown grace and love, and the desire for total oblation, the ideals of an apostolic, religious, and saintly life. But in the midst of all this good, the enemy comes to evil. Why does God permit this? To sift His servants as we sift grain, to test them (cf., our post “The Great Tribulation”).
Sometimes we are scandalized, seeing evil working its way even into the best places (cf., our post “A Perilous ‘Catholic’ Voyage”), seeing that even among God’s friends, among those who should be a source of edification to others, there are some who speak and behave unworthily. Then we are filled with zeal, like the servants in the parable of today’s Gospel. We want to remedy this evil and root up the cockle. Wilt Thou that we go and gather it up? But God answers, No, lest perhaps gathering up the cockle, you root up the wheat also together with it. The cockle is spared, not because it is good, but to save the wheat. In the same way God spares the wicked and does not destroy them, for the sake of the elect. When God asks us to endure with patience certain situations, as inevitable as they are deplorable, He asks for one of the greatest exercises of charity, compassion, and mercy. He does not tell us to fraternize with evil doers and to make a religious league with the false creeds – as Vatican II “ecumenism” would have it (cf., our post “The Great Tribulation”) – of which Satan, the father of lies, is the author, but He tells us to to endure it with the longanimity with which He Himself endured it. Was there not a traitor among the Apostles? Yet Jesus wanted him among His intimates – and with how much love He treated Him! Indeed one of the greatest opportunities for the practice of charity is offered us by those who by their evil conduct give us so many occasions for forgiving them, for returning good for evil, and for suffering injustice for the love of God. Moreover, we should consider that, whereas cockle cannot be changed into wheat, it is always possible for the wicked to be converted and become good. Were not Magdalen, the good thief, and Peter, who had denied Jesus, converted? This is one of the strongest motives to incite us to do good to all. When our charity is perfect, we are able to live among the wicked without being harsh or contentious, without being influenced by them, but rather doing them good.