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Peggy Stanton’s Notes on the Wheat and Tares

Matt. 13: 24-43… THE WHEAT AND THE WEEDS

Paragraph 827… Christ, holy, innocent, and undefiled, knew nothing of sin, but came only to expiate the sins of the people. The Church, however, clasping sinners to her bosom, at once holy and always in need of purification, follows constantly the path of penance and renewal. All members of the Church, including her ministers, must acknowledge that they are sinners. In everyone, all the weeds of sin will still be mixed with the good wheat of the Gospel until the end of time. Hence the Church gathers sinners, already caught up in Christ’s salvation, but still on the way to holiness:


The Catechism then quotes Pope Paul VI in which he says,


The Church is therefore Holy, though having sinners in her midst, because she herself has no other life but the life of Grace. If they live her life, her members  are sanctified; if they move away from her life, they fall into sins and disorders that prevent the radiation of her sanctity. This is why she suffers and does  penance for those offenses, of which she has the power to free her children through the blood of Christ and the gift of the Holy Spirit.”


Professor John Bergsma….from his book, “The Word of the Lord”.


In Matthew 13, we have Jesus telling 7 parables about the Kingdom of heaven and Professor Bergsma says they are important to ponder because they reveal the nature of the Church.


The parables of the kingdom help us to understand that the kingdom is truly present in the Church despite appearances to the contrary.


One of the reasons we may disbelieve that the Church is the manifestation of the kingdom of heaven is the presence of hypocrites and other willful sinners within the visible Church. In the parable of the weeds and the wheat, Jesus addresses and explains why God permits this to be the case. God permits sinners within the Church to allow


them the opportunity of repentance. Were he to execute judgment in this age, some destined for repentance would be judged prematurely. The Church Fathers typically understood this parable as counseling against too quickly and rashly condemning the imperfect believer:


Saint Jerome counsels believers to leave room for repentance.

….we are warned that we should not hastily  cut off a brother, since one day  one who is today corrupted with an erroneous dogma, may grow wiser  tomorrow, and begin to defend the truth; wherefore it is added, Lest in gathering together the tares, ye root out the wheat also.”


Bergsma argues that Jesus tells us this parable in order that we not be scandalized or surprised that there be evildoers in the Church, his visible body. It is still the kingdom of God. Jesus also makes it very clear that He will deal with unrepentant evildoers on the day of Judgment.


Bergsma makes a very sobering point for each of us to consider and remember. “ We should also keep in mind that, although in this life, we may complain about God‘s tolerance of “weeds” in the church, at the final judgment we may find that we ourselves were “weeds” for whose conversion to wheat, the Son of Man was patiently waiting! So often we are completely blind to our own sins and hypocrisy, but we see clearly that of others. Which is what Jesus means when he tells us to remove the “beam” from our own eye before taking the “speck” out of the eye of our brother.


On the other hand, Christ’s compassion and patience with the sinner does not mitigate the warnings in this parable concerning the Final Judgment. Professor Bergsma cautions us, not to become complacent with modern day theological ruminations that “all dogs and people go to heaven….Jesus’ actual teaching contradicts this….his warnings about hell fire are firm and straightforward. The key is that Jesus is the Judge….not us.


Father Mitch Pacwa has published an entire book entitled “WHEAT AND TARES”


He writes that Jesus was well aware that human beings were fallen sinners. He scolded the Apostles many times about their failings, pointing out their sin, so they might repent and enter the Kingdom of God. Amazingly, those sinners, the apostles, are the actual source of the stories about their faults, which of course, argues to the authenticity of the Gospels.


Father Mitch largely focuses his book on the “weeds” so recently visible in our own Church and how they should viewed in the light of the Gospel.


He writes of the recent scandals: “No one ought to be so surprised that they lose faith in Christ or his Church. Jesus was well aware of the varying qualities of human beings, so he knew that the kingdom of God and his Church would have saints and sinners alike. He will be the final arbiter who judges the distinctions between good and evil; wisdom, and folly in each and every heart.…


“…. wisdom equally should induce us to expect that some members of the Church and its leadership are going to be wicked. In the face of that inevitability, each of us must choose to do the right, righteous and good that God desires for us. Failure due to weakness can be corrected. The choice to be self-centered and seek one’s own gratification, pride, ambition and advancement at the expense of obeying God‘s commandments and laws, and of respecting the inherent dignity of every other person will lead to condemnation in hell.”

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