SFX Bulletin, 20 July 2014: We live in an “instant” culture. From instant foods like noodles, coffee, microwavables to technological “instants” like instant messaging and video streaming, we have become a people conditioned to instant gratification.
While there is much good to these instant conveniences, the downside is that we have become an impatient people. Impatience in prayer and scripture study can rob us of the peace and joy that God wants us to have in that time we are spending with Him. When we expect a short “turnaround time” from God as we do for everything else in our lives, we can be frustrated that God is not the genie we want Him to be.
In today’s gospel, Jesus tells three parables which show us God’s power – not manifested in the genie-style of instant gratification but in the loving fatherly manner of patient mercy and gentle encouragement. In the three parables, the “kingdom of heaven” is the “good seed”, the “mustard seed” and the “yeast”. While seemingly powerless and insignificant (the “good seed” is choked by the darnel weed; the portion of yeast and the mustard seed are miniscule), Jesus says God’s Kingdom will have the effect of transforming the whole world as yeast leavens flour; becoming shelter for all like a huge shrub from a grown mustard seed and bursting forth in shining glory as healthy, wholesome wheat that have overcome the weed (cf. Mt.13:32,33,43).
Eventually, the “darnel” weed representing “the subjects of the evil one” who try to fraught God’s plan of goodness for the world, will be thrown into the blazing furnace where there will be “weeping and grinding of teeth”.
The Church’s Magisterium, through the Catechism, explains to us that no one can be unaffected by the darnels or evils in life, not even those baptized, “All members of the Church, including her ministers, must acknowledge that they are sinners. In everyone, 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” (CCC 827).
However, the darnels can be rendered powerless if we remain steadfast on this “way to holiness” which is founded first and foremost on our baptism into the Church, the Body of Christ. Being aware that even our best efforts towards holiness have oftentimes been stained by spiritual pride or vanity, we should take comfort that it is because of the Church that God sees us as ever holy. Our holiness comes from humbly allowing ourselves to be clothed in Jesus’ perfect holiness. That is why despite the “sinners” we observe in our midst at Mass, the Church cannot be anything but perfectly holy, “The Church is 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 sin and disorders…” (Venerable Paul VI, Credo of the People of God n.19).
We participate most fully in this “life of grace” through Holy Communion with Jesus. Jesus, “the virtuous man”, teaches us to relate to God not as a genie of instant gratification but as Father and Creator, worthy of adoration because “there is no god, other than (God), who cares for everything”. Since He cares, everyone’s imperfections fade away because there is “the good hope that after sin (God) will grant repentance”.
God is good and generous and in baptism, “something small and hidden has been sown within us...(it) will develop and the fruit ripen” (Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, Angelus 2011). Knowing that God has already predestined us to be in heaven with Him should encourage us to co-operate by gratefully cultivating the seeds of virtue planted in us. Let us, therefore, resist the impatience we are conditioned to. Instead, may we patiently encourage each other along this churched “life of grace” and “way to holiness”, welcoming Jesus, “the virtuous man”, to walk in us.