All Saints Sunday
The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed. .. but while he was asleep, his enemy came and sowed weeds
Matthew 13: 24 - 26.
Today we celebrate joyfully and recall all the saints, all the souls who braved the influence of thee world all the souls down the ages who devoted themselves to our heavenly Father through the bountiful merits of Jesus Christ and the enriching grace of the Holy Spirit. The Body and Bride of our Saviour wishes to bring to our attention the immediate fruit of rightful living made possible by cooperation in grace with the Holy Spirit leads to only one resolution and conclusion: holiness, sainthood and citizenship in heaven for all time.
In the epistle narrative today, St. Paul provides a description in vividly rich language of what holiness and sanctity consist in. So, if we listened carefully we are challenged by the variety of activity in the world that is productive of our birthday purpose: unity and identity with the Holy Trinity and a rightful place in paradise. Being a positive directive, we are in need of contrast and St. Matthew provides it in another place.
Only the first evangelist alone records the Parable of the Weeds. It deals with the problem of the seed of divine grace growing or not growing according to the soil in which it is sown. It speaks of good seed growing among weeds, metaphorically describing a Christian living in a pluralistic society. All of us in this nation live in complex, heterogeneous communities, composed of people from many different backgrounds and persuasions and varied influences.
Christ established his Church on earth just last Sunday we recall in celebration. Yet our god allows Satan and his cohorts to sow seeds of individualism, wickedness and seduction. Why such a condition should exist is as mysterious as the existence of pain and suffering. Our Lord warns us not only of the presence of evil seed, but that we must contend and struggle with it. Both good and bad seed are permitted to grow together in tandem until the great separation on the day of judgment when I will say to reapers, gather up the weeds first and bind them in bundles to burn; but gather the wheat into my barn Matthew 13: 30. This separation will be complete and final.
Jesus often called himself Son of Man Matthew 8: 20. This is a messianic description derived from the Old Covenant prophecy of
Daniel (8: 13). Which our Lord applied to himself more that fifty times in the gospel narratives. This title was well understood by the Jews since it designated the promised Messiah. He is the sower of good seed. This good seed represents the children of the messianic kingdom, the Church, the Body of Christ, who have the true word of God and are regenerated by it, and are identified with it. The harvest represents the general judgment at the end of the world, or as so many would like to describe it, the day of doom!
The Son of Man sowed the good seed of salvation by his grace and in the teaching of the gospel which remains with us in the life of his Bride, our blessed Church. In doing so, He admonished us that good and evil exist not only in the world, but even in the holy sanctuary of the Church. The bad seed that exists in the Church is not due to any failure in God's operation. It is there simply because Satan is allowed to operate anywhere and everywhere, sowing his seeds of evil. It is also in the Church because we who are baptized have the freedom of doing good or evil, and so many times we prefer evil, even in this holy atmosphere. St. Peter wrote, For your adversary, the devil, as a roaring lion, goes about seeking someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith 1 Peter 5: 8, 9.
Satan and his fellow devils operate secretly, stealthily, sneakily. He operates when man is aware and "when man is asleep" signifying that evils germinate in the church through the negligence of its leaders, the bishops, priests and deacons , and that the faithful fall into sin through lack of their vigilance so many times. The devil uses his diabolical cunning as the situation demands. No one, regardless how elevated he may see himself to be, is immune from the devil's attack.
In the parable, the householder commands that both wheat and weeds be allowed to grow until the harvest when it will be easier to conduct a separation. Our Lord used this metaphor and comparison and elucidation in teaching us our God likewise deals with mankind. If a weed problem will be addressed, we can be certain a human problem will not be overlooked. There is no separation between good and evil in this life except by the person who chooses and remains true, perseveres to the working of grace in his soul. Evil exists intermingled with the holy and the elect. Often it not only exists, but is more prosperous and successful. The irreligious earthly achievers live a prosperous life filled with engrossing activity and excitement. While the faithful believer in Jesus Christ never seems to advance beyond earning his daily sustenance, even so, good and evil must exist side by side, and no discrimination is made until judgment day. God's merciful and patient forbearance is a mystery.
This parable also gives a clear indication of the existence of hell, as well as a forcible description of the glory of the elect in paradise. For to everyone who has shall be given and he shall have abundance; but from him who does not have, even that which he seems to have shall be taken away. But as for the unprofitable servant, cast him forth in the darkness outside, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth Matthew 25: 29, 30.
Be informed of what the possibilities are is not as important on this day as the confident advice issued by St. John Chrysostom to potential saints: Do not be concerned about the existence of hell if you daily live a life of virtue that ends in heaven."