Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!


Ave Maria!
Twenty-fifth Sunday after Pentecost—6 November AD 2016


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

    If you are using a hand missal, you may have had some difficulty deciding which Mass would be celebrated this morning.  You may have encountered a little chart that directed you to Sunday much earlier in the year—but the chart itself may have been confusing.[1]  So let me explain what is happening here.

    There can be as few as two Sundays after Epiphany and as many as six.  This corresponds to Easter being as early as possible or as late as possible.  If Easter is early the Sundays after Epiphany must end early so that Septuagesima and Lent can start on time—conversely, if Easter comes late there are more Sundays after Epiphany in order for Lent to start later.  What the Church does is to take the “unused” Masses after Epiphany and move them to the end of the year, giving us as many as twenty-eight Sundays after Pentecost.

    To be precise, the Church takes the Collects, Epistle, and Gospel from the “unused” Masses after Epiphany.  The Psalm Chants (Introit, Gradual Psalm, Offertory Psalm, and Communion Hymn are taken from the Twenty-third Sunday after Pentecost and used in all the Masses after that.  And the Mass that is labeled “Twenty-fourth Sunday after Pentecost” is always celebrated on the Last Sunday after Pentecost, no matter how many there are—probably because the Gospel deal with the end of time.



Mass of the 5th Sunday after Epiphany—celebrated after Pentecost 2016

“But who are the weeds among the wheat?”

    I have mentioned to you that God works His “major miracles” but rarely.  Today's Gospel bears that out.  Just like the householder who found weeds growing in the midst of his wheat, God does not immediately intervene among His people when some of them stray from His ways.  The evil aren't mysteriously transported somewhere else and they don't just die off because of their wickedness;  rarely does God send natural disaster to punish the wicked together with the good.  God waits until the appropriate time to separate the good from the bad.

    That gives us some time to ponder our own fate—something we ought to do quite regularly—we usually call it “an examination of conscience”—because unlike the weeds and the wheat, we are capable of change.  Over time, good people may become bad, and bad people may become good.  Therefore, an important part of our spiritual life is ask ourselves over and over whether we are the “weeds” or the “wheat”?

    But who are the weeds among the wheat?

    Well, to begin with, today's Epistle gives a pretty good description of who the weeds are not.   St. Paul is describing the good wheat.  God's chosen ones are “holy and beloved,” merciful, kind, humble, meek, patient, forgiving, and filled with charity, “the bond of perfection.” [2]  They are wise in the knowledge of Christ, and everything they do is in the name of Jesus for the glory of God.  If we are careful to follow this model of Saint Paul, there is not too much else that a Catholic has to worry about.

    But who are the weeds among the wheat?

    Above all, they seem to be those who lack Charity and Faith.[3]  Those lacking Charity are called “schismatics,” a word very much akin to the word “scissors,” for they take delight in seeing the Church and secular society cut in pieces and torn by dissention.  Sometimes they play one faction against another for the sake of personal gain, but often they just enjoy bickering or watching a fight.  Often they possess a “siege mentality,” striking blindly around them lest they be struck first by some undefined “enemy,” and not feeling very comfortable with life unless there is a fight going on.  These are the folks that break up families and congregations and communities, simply because they lack the basic charity to see unity as a good thing.

    Perhaps a special case worth mentioning are the scandal mongers and the gossip mongers;  those who go around eager to point out the supposed faults of others for all to see and to hate;  the modern day Pharisees who want to find fault even where there is no fault, demonstrating a false and misplaced zeal for the law of God while excluding the love of God.  Often they are hypocrites; pointing the finger and ready to judge everyone else, while refusing to apply the same standards to themselves.  “The leaven of the Pharisees is hypocrisy.” [4]  Our Lord tells us that “it would have been better for such people if they had not been born; better to have a millstone hung around their necks and drowned in the depths of the sea.”[5]

    But who are the weeds among the wheat?

    The weeds are also those who have no Faith, or, perhaps worse, those who once had the Catholic Faith but have now lost it, and particularly those who are not honest enough to admit that they are no longer Catholics.  For these last, just like the scandal mongers, seek to justify themselves by ensnaring others with their own errors.  The heretic somehow feels that his loss of belief will go undetected if he can persuade others to disbelieve with him.  His loss of morality, he feels, will be unnoticed if he can get others sin as well.

    The special case in the modern world is the heretic who wants to go unnoticed by eliminating all belief;  reducing everything that is true, and even a lot that is false, to a bland system of “good feelings” that he tries to pass off as “human dignity.”  The heresy of the modern order is one without God or gods, for gods and religions demand concepts like “right and wrong” in place of "good feelings."  It is one without families and congregations and nations, for such divisions are said to keep mankind from “evolving into a higher being.”  Better to get everyone worshipping something inanimate like “mother earth,” or the “cosmos,” or something abstract like “humanity.”

    Yet, suffice it to say that a heresy or a loss of belief need not be “world class” to be wicked.  Any denial of what God has revealed to be true is like a cancer, liable to branch out and affect the whole organism—or like the weeds, to choke out the wheat.

    But who are the weeds among the wheat?

    The answer, really, is to concentrate on being and becoming the wheat, and to worry less about the weeds.  Oh, we still need to know who the weeds are, but mostly to avoid becoming like them.  For the most part, we do much better if we concern ourselves with the state of our own soul, and strive to nourish the Faith and Charity given to us by Almighty God.  For, in the end, at the appropriate time, it matters only that we are among the wheat;  for God will say to his reapers: “Gather up the weeds first, and bind them in bundles to burn; then gather the wheat into my barn.”[6]    Strive to be among the wheat, and not among the weeds!



[2]   Epistle: Colossians iii: 12-17

[3]   Cf, St. Augustine, Liber Unus Quæst. XVII in Matthew xi.  Lessons 7, 8, 9 at Matins.

[6]   Gospel:  Matthew xiii: 24-30

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