16th Sunday in Ordinary Time July 17, 2011
Gospel: Mt 13:24-43
TOPIC: DEALING WITH EVIL IN THE WORLD
Message # 332: “My Heart is Bleeding ”
1. The Marian Message
a) The Blessed Mother laments the spread of evil in the world. Her heart bleeds with sorrow, seeing the whole world heading towards destruction while the whole of humanity is in a “state of unawareness, of indifference and of complete incredulity” (letter e). Despite her calls to repentance and conversion, people have ignored these, and are therefore going to undergo “the greatest chastisement” “greater than that of the flood. Fire will fall from heaven and a great part of humanity will be destroyed” (letter f).
b) More specifically, the Blessed Mother’s heart bleeds for the Church, which Jesus founded. In the first place, it is “wounded with the pernicious plague of infidelity and apostasy” (letter g). There is pervasive lack of faith and apostasy is spreading everywhere. “Many bishops, priests, religious and faithful no longer believe and have already lost the true faith in Jesus and in His Gospel. For this reason, the Church must be purified with persecution and with blood.”
c) Secondly, the Church is in “disunity, division, strife and antagonism” (letter h). Atheism and masonry have entered the Church. “Satan has succeeded in entering and operating at the very summit of the Church” by means of ecclesiastical masonry. “These are the times, foretold by me, when cardinals will be set against cardinals, bishops against bishops, priests against priests.”
d) She also grieves the loss of the sense of sin among the faithful. Sin is no longer seen as evil. Rather, “it is sought out, it is consciously willed and it is no longer confessed” (letter i). As a mother, she cries inconsolably seeing her children so obstinate and calloused of heart (letter j). Her final words are distressing: “My heart is bleeding because I see your roads even now smeared with blood, while you live in an obstinate unconsciousness of that which awaits you” (letter l).
2. Background Information
a) The kind of weeds mentioned in the parable is that which is found in Palestine. It has an appearance similar to the wheat. The only time it can be recognized is at the time of harvest when its appearance becomes different from the wheat. Hence, the wise thing to do for the farmer is to wait until harvest time before he pulls out the weeds.
b) There was a famous school of thought named Manichaeism. It tried to give an answer to the problem of evil. If God is good, He cannot be the source of evil in the world. It came to the point of proposing the existence of two Gods: if there is a God of good, there must also be a God of evil. This is categorically rejected by the Church. There is only one God. And He is the God of goodness. There is no other God.
c) Who, then, is the cause of evil? There are three causes of evil: the devil, the world and man. The devil is Satan, the enemy of God. The devil is also God’s creature that rebelled against God because of pride. So Lucifer (angel of light) became Satan (adversary). His main preoccupation is to lead people to sin and eternal damnation by temptations and deceptions. In the Bible, he is the ancient serpent who tempted Adam and Eve to commit sin by disobeying God’s explicit command not to eat the fruit from the tree of knowledge.
The world is God’s creation. But it is full of many temptations and distractions. It is where the devil and his cohorts operate. They use worldly allurements to tempt and mislead people. Money is the most potent instrument that the devil uses all the time. That is why Jesus warned us: “You cannot serve both God and money.” And St. Paul exhorts us: “You are in the world, but you are not of the world. You are citizens of heaven.”
Man is also the cause of evil. This happens when man abuses his freedom. Freedom is not the power to do anything we want. Rather it is the power to do good. When we commit sin, we abuse our freedom; we are not anymore free, but slaves of sin. When we sin, we become the cause of evil.
d) Concept of Evil – it is the absence of something, which ought to be present. It is privation. For instance, a hole on the roof is evil since it is the absence of something, which should be there. A man who has only nine fingers is also evil; he should have ten fingers. God created the world with a perfect plan. Everything is complete and should be in proper place. Evil happens when something is missing or comes not in accord with the plan of God.
e) Kinds of Evil – there are three (3) kinds of evil: natural, physical and moral. Natural evil is what takes place in nature: earthquakes, typhoons, floods, famine, etc. These are not God’s will. These calamities, which are called natural evil, happen because the world is not perfect. It has its limitations and defects. In the process of correcting itself, natural evil occurs. Examples: earthquake is the result of the movement of the earth’s crust; and typhoons are caused by the movement of warm air from high pressure area to the low pressure area.
Physical Evil is the defect in the physical body. It could be inborn, by heredity, by accident, or by abuse of the body. Sickness and physical deformities are physical evils.
Moral evil is sin. When man voluntarily violates God’s commandments, he commits sin (by commission or omission). Moral evil can also be the cause of natural evil. Example: due to man’s greed, he abuses the environment. So it results in floods, pollution, and climate change. Moral evil can also be the cause of physical evil. There are many kinds of illness which are caused by man’s disregard for God’s commandments: vices lead to lung cancer, liver disease and heart problems; vehicular accidents which kill and maim people are usually caused by drunken or drug addicted drivers; mutilation is a grave sin, such as cutting one’s finger, or sex change operations by homosexuals, and unnecessary plastic surgery which tampers with the natural physical form. Wars are man-made calamities, which kill and maim people. All these result in physical evil, and they are caused by man’s moral evil or sin.
f) Sin is Moral Evil. It is the worst kind of evil. It is man’s voluntary decision to disobey God and violate His commandments. It is the cause of so much evil and misery in the world. That is why Jesus came to call sinners to conversion. God has given man the great gift of freedom. This is what puts us over and above the animals and the whole of creation. And God will not tamper with our freedom; otherwise, if He violates our freedom, He is not God. So He just watches in horror when man abuses his freedom. It results in more misery and self-inflicted injury. God just waits for man’s conversion. He cannot be the cause of evil. Instead, in His boundless love and mercy, He continues to produce goodness out of the evil that happens in the word. As the classic saying goes, “God can write straight with crooked lines.”
3. The Sunday Gospel
a) The Parable of the Wheat and the Weeds is the answer of Jesus to the question: Why does God allow evil in the world? In other words, if God is so good, why does He allow innocent people to suffer in the hands of evil men? The issue here is not anymore about natural evil and physical evil. Rather, it is about moral evil or sin.
b) “An enemy has done this.” The moral evil that happens in the world is not God’s doing. The devil has his cohorts: people who do evil against others. They are the real causes of evil. It is therefore wrong to blame God for the evil in the world. He can never be its cause. However, He allows evil to happen.
c) God has reasons for allowing evil in the world. First: for the sake of the evildoers. They are also human beings created by God. There is goodness imprinted in their innermost beings inasmuch as they come from God. It is possible that they have been deceived and misled by the devil into committing heinous acts against others. But there is still chance for conversion while they are still alive. We can never limit God’s ability to grant graces of conversion even for the worst evildoer. The best example of this is the repentant thief crucified beside Jesus on Calvary. God wants the salvation of all people. The grace of conversion can come even at the last breath of a dying person. The only time when there is no more chance of conversion is when the evildoer dies unrepentant. When a person dies, he can have no more conversion.
Second: for the sake of the victims of evil. We are appalled and even angered at the plight of the victims of evil: innocent people, children, and helpless individuals. At times we doubt the goodness of God for allowing such horrible things to happen to them. But the fact is, this experience is giving them two important and helpful lessons. First, it is an opportunity for them to confirm their commitment to God’s commands and their trust in God’s power and mercy. When evil things happen to a good person, it is a trial for him, and a challenge to prove his goodness and loyalty to God despite everything. It is an opportunity for him to be deeper and stronger in his resolve to follow Jesus who even prayed for His persecutors on the cross. It is a chance for him to prove that his faith is genuine and not superficial. When he overcomes the onslaught of evil, he emerges a better follower of Christ. Second, the evil that happens to a good person is an opportunity to exercise virtues and give Christian witness. Humility, patience, self-control, forgiveness, generosity and love of enemies are some of the virtues that can be learned and exercised. At the same time, we edify others through the exercise of these virtues.
Third: for the sake of God. We have no right to judge and condemn the evildoers, for we are sinners ourselves. In the ultimate analysis, what is left for us is to defend and protect ourselves from evil and to patiently wait for the hand of God. He knows what is best for both the evildoer and the victim. Again, this is an opportunity for God to show His mercy and almighty power. And finally, as shown to us in the parable of the Wheat and the Weeds, God alone has the right to judge people and this is on Judgment Day. This is the time when the weeds are separated from the wheat in order to be thrown to the eternal fire.
d) The parable of the Wheat and the Weeds reminds us also that Hell is not just a medieval invention, but is real. In the Gospels, Jesus taught about its existence. At the judgment, the wheat (good people) will be gathered into the barn (heaven), while the weeds (evil people) will be thrown into unquenchable fire (hell). To teach about hell is not to scare people, but is an act of charity. When you know that a person is moving towards a cliff, and you warn him of the danger, it is not to scare him, but to warn him so that he may not perish. It is an act of charity. Similarly, we have to tell people about the reality of hell, so that they may be led to conversion and live as faithful followers of Christ. In that way, they will be able to avoid eternal damnation, and attain salvation.
e) Hell is not really a place of torment and punishment. Rather, it is a state of being separated from God. The Catechism of the catholic Church states: “To die in mortal sin without repenting and accepting God’s merciful love means remaining separated from him for ever by our own free choice.” (#1033). Hell is defined as the “state of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed.” The key word here is “self-exclusion”. God does not push us down to hell. Rather, it is the sinner who voluntarily rejects God and His teachings. And so he excludes himself from union with God. Being away from God is the primary cause of his eternal suffering. That is Hell. On the other hand, heaven is perfect union with God. When we are fully united with God, we will have the fullness of true and lasting happiness. And that is heaven. St. Paul mentions those who cannot enter heaven: fornicators (that is, sex before marriage), adulterers, practicing homosexuals, drunkards and robbers (I Cor 6:10). This is because grave sins such as these cut us off from our relationship with God; we exclude ourselves from communion with God.
Say together the Act of Contrition.