Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!

Ave Maria!

Fifth Sunday after Epiphany--9 February AD 2014


Ordinary of the Mass
Mass Text - Latin
Mass Text - English

“While men were asleep, the enemy came,
and sowed weeds among the wheat.”[1]

    Today's Gospel teaches us something about God's governance of the world.  Very often, when we hear about someone who is particularly evil, we ask the question: “Why does God allow such a person to continue working his evil—why doesn't God send a lightning bolt and strike him down? —teaching a lesson for all to see?  Or, maybe a tornado, or the plague?” Well, clearly, things like lightning bolts, tornados, and plagues are rather messy, and a lot of innocent people might be hurt.  So God often prefers to be like the man who waited until harvest time to separate the weeds from the wheat.  On judgment day there will be plenty of opportunity to accord the wicked the punishment they so richly deserve, while rewarding the good.

    But, if we are responsible stewards of God's world, we might give some thought to preventing evil from taking hold in our society.  The assault on the man's wheat field took place “while men were asleep.”. Everyone needs to sleep, and very few have the ability to post a guard during the night, but perhaps there are some thing we can do to be truly awake, and on our guard against the evils of the world.

    In the bedtime prayer of the Church we hear every evening the words of Saint Peter, “Brethren, be sober, be watchful, because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, goes about seeking whom he may devour.”  [2] Peter is primarily warning us to be on guard against evil in ourselves.  Obviously we can do no evil while we are asleep, but there is a great deal we can do to avoid evil when we are awake.  Everyone should be aware of the concept of avoiding the occasions of sin.

    The occasions of sin are like nouns.  They are persons, places, or things that motivate us to sin.  They are not exactly the same for each of us, but a few of them seem to be common to most people.  All of us know at least one person with whom we should not associate or perhaps someone who induces us to lust, or to larceny, or violence, or reckless gambling, or some other evil.  Certainly, that person is one to be avoided.  We can also think of places that we might need to avoid--bars, dance halls, casinos, and racetracks might be on some people's list but not on others.  Everyone has to formulate his own personal list.  Likewise things, for some things may have a sinful attraction for some, but not for others.

    It is harder to avoid the occasions of sin if they are associated with something we find necessary. Probably, the workplace is the most common necessary occasion of sin.   Most people have to work to keep food on the table and a roof over their heads.  But let me make it clear that it is never right to take a job doing something that is intrinsically immoral—no one has the moral right to be a pimp, a hit-man, or a bank robber!  But, suppose someone with whom you must work regularly tries to tempt you to evil, or perhaps some thing with which you must work tempts you.  Well, perhaps you can ask to be reassigned away from that person—perhaps you can cook the food rather than pour the drinks.  Perhaps it will require severe discipline on your part, and surely it will require more prayer and frequent reception of Confession and Holy Communion.  If the problem is severe, you might consider looking for a new job.

    Much of the evil in the world is caused by other people, over whom you have much less control than you have over yourself.  But here again, we must not be asleep when the enemy comes.  This may include simple things like locking our doors, having outside lights, and having the appropriate means of self-defense.  There are places and streets and neighborhoods where it is unwise to go.

    But a lot of the evil in the world must be avoided by not being asleep in the intellectual sense.  Citizens should be aware of their rights.  Rights come from God, so there shouldn't be much difference from one society to another—from one legitimate government to another.  In the case of Americans, it is not enough that you read the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution once, in the fifth grade.  In addition, it is necessary to know where your elected officials stand on the enforcement of your rights.  It is not enough to assume that they know what is right and will pursue it.  It is very worthwhile to check their voting records every so often.[3]  Do not be misled by false claims of compassion.  Be vocal with those who would work evil.

    Be vocal as well with those who do evil in the name of the Church, every bit as much as with those who do evil in the state.  Know your Catholic Faith, and be awake to what leaders in the Church are doing and saying.  Churchmen should not be promoting contraception, abortion, socialism, and “gay” marriage—but some of them do.  Holy Mass should never be a circus—but sometimes it is (if it is the Mass at all).  Generally, such evils require people willing to participate in them or money to fund them—Catholics should be vocal by refusing both their participation and financial support of evil.  Remember that no one on earth can require you to do something evil or jeopardize your eternal salvation.  Again, be alert to false claims of compassion--no amount of “dialogue” can make immorality moral or make falsity true.

    Be vigilant in all things—for “While men are asleep, the enemy comes, and sows weeds among the wheat.”


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