Saturday, July 16, 2011

Mercy for both sinners and saints

We might immediately judge the parable today as a lesson in bad gardening. After all, we were always taught that pulling out weeds is a good gardening habit. Weed, so we were told, compete with the good plants for the nutrients of the soil. And so weeding them out would eliminate competition and would maximize the use of the soil.

Perhaps that was in the mind of the slaves who suggested to the Master: “Do you want us to go and pull them out?” It must have surprised them that the Master decided to keep both the wheat and the weeds till harvest time when the segregation will take place: “First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning but gather the wheat into my barn.”

Let us remember that the parable is not a lesson on gardening. Rather it is the Lord’s explanation on the co-existence of good and evil people: “He who sows good seeds is the Son of Man, the field is the world, the good seed the children of the kingdom. The weeds are the children of the evil one, the enemy who sows them is the devil.” When confronted by the reality of evil people who make the lives of the just miserable, we always ask: “Why does the Lord allow them to thrive? Why does he not simply eradicate them from the face of the earth?” The answer is given by the Book of Wisdom: “There is no god besides you who have the care of all…though you are master of might, you judge with clemency, and with lenience you govern us…And you taught your people by these deeds, that those who are just might be kind, and you gave your children good ground for hope that you would permit repentance for their sins.”

Why does God allow evil men to thrive? It is because he is merciful. He does not want the sinner to die but rather to repent and live! In fact, the Lord does not only patiently wait for the evil man’s conversion. He does not simply wait and ask: “Kailan kaya mauuntog sa katotohanan ang taong ito?” No, the Lord aggressively acts. He produces opportunities for conversion. And he makes repentance accessible. To St. Faustina, the Lord Jesus said: “Write, speak of my mercy. Tell souls where they are to look for solace; that is in the Tribunal of Mercy (confession). There the greatest miracles take place and are incessantly repeated. To avail oneself of this miracle, it is not necessary to go on a great pilgrimage or to carry out some external ceremony. It suffices to come with faith to the feet of my representative and to reveal to him one’s misery, and the miracle of Divine Mercy will be fully demonstrated. Were a soul like a decaying corpse so that from a human standpoint, there would be no hope of restoration and everything would be lost, it is not so for God. The miracle of Divine Mercy restores the soul in full. How miserable are those who do not take advantage of this miracle of God’s mercy! They will call out in vain but it will be too late.” (Diary 1448)

But you may protest that God’s mercy spoils the evil men. What about the just? Should he not take care first of those who strive to be faithful to him? To St. Faustina, the Lord said: “Both the sinner and the righteous have need of my mercy. Conversion, as well as perseverance, is a grace of my mercy.” (Diary 1577) “Let souls who are striving for perfection particularly adore my mercy, because the abundance of graces which I grant to them flows from my mercy. I desire that those souls distinguish themselves by boundless trust in my mercy. I myself will attend to the sanctification of such souls. I will provide them with everything they will need to attain sanctity. The graces of my mercy are drawn by means of one vessel only, and that is trust. The more a soul trusts, the more it will receive. Souls that trust boundlessly are a great comfort to me, because I pour all the treasures of my graces into them. I rejoice that they ask for much, because it is my desire to give much, very much. On the other hand, I am sad when souls ask for little when they narrow their hearts.” (Diary 1578.) as St. Paul wrote to the Romans: “The Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness.”

When the Master chose to let the wheat and the weeds grow together, his choice was on account of his mercy. On account of his mercy, he prolongs his patience towards evil men in the hope that his grace will bring them to repentance and to salvation. On account of his mercy, he fortifies the just with his graces so that they may be sanctifies and by their perseverance they may win their lives.

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