Gardening sense Chris Collins
The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, and they will throw them into the furnace of fire.’
Jesus’ parable of the darnel makes perfect gardening sense. There is a stage when it is unwise to attempt to weed, for the safety of the plants you are seeking to encourage. Best leave things as they are, and then at harvest separate weed from plant.
‘All causes of sin and all evildoers’ will be gathered and burnt, says Jesus. Have not we all got more than a few causes of sin within us? Is it not true that we all are a mixture of good and evil, and if so, will it not be the bad in us that will be sorted out and disposed of?
Saving our whole selves
Just as God allows the good person and the evil person to continue to live side by side, God also allows the good and the evil within us to survive, because he hopes that before the end all may be saved. The question then becomes: how can we save our whole selves; what can we do to make sure that nothing of our lives is sifted out for destruction at the end of time? No longer are we smugly looking at those who do not come to church, but we have our attention focused on the less salubrious parts of our own lives.
The answer to our question ‘how can we save ourselves?’ is, of course, we can’t.
That is the truth of our human condition that we are so weakened by that darker side of our natures that the whole can never by our own power be pleasing to God. But God wills that we are all saved, and that we are saved whole.
The words of our liturgy give us the answer. Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world – not some of the sins, but potentially all of the sins. In offering himself in perfect loving and dutiful sacrifice on the Cross, he has achieved for all humanity the remission of our sins. The Eucharist is a commemoration of that truth and it brings the effect of that claim of remission of sins into our own time, into our own lives. By celebrating the Eucharist, by lifting Christ in the Blessed Sacrament to the Father, God is reminded, as it were, of Jesus’ perfect once and for all sacrifice for sins.
Addressing causes of sin
To be present at the Mass is not only a duty for Christians, but it is to our salvation that we can allow the sacrifice of Jesus to be pleaded again and again before God the Father. This cannot be stressed too much. However, because familiarity often breeds if not contempt then indifference, might I suggest a way that could help us live out this parable?
Think of those causes of sin that if left to grow on their own will eventually be torn out of our beings and burnt and destroyed. We should be using the power of this sacrament to present to God just those weaknesses and sinfulnesses which are our potential downfall. Let the sacrifice of Christ be applied to those areas of our lives – bring one particular concern each week.
Let’s not understate the effect of this sacrament to make us whole.