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Weeds among the Wheat

Submitted by on Saturday, 23 July 2011No Comment


Today’s Readings

Exodus 24:3-8 is an account of the validation of the Covenant. The Ten Words by which the Israelites will be measuring their fidelity has been given and now the acceptance of it in a public ceremony is carried out through Moses. The Covenant at Sinai is validated in a blood ceremony where Moses sprinkles the people with the blood of sacrificial bulls. Moses proclaims to them that the blood is "the blood of the covenant that the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words of his." Israel expresses its acceptance of the terms of the Covenant by saying "We will heed and do all that the Lord has told us." The Golden Calf incident in Exodus 32 will show that Israel will not be faithful to these words.

The responsorial psalm is taken from Psalm 50, a public examination of conscience in the form of a "rib" discourse. It is used here as our response to the first reading because we know that Israel was not always true to its side of the Covenant. And the Church — the new Israel — realizes that in her sins and failings she is worse than the old Israel because of the better Covenant and Mediator that she has. But she also knows that she can approach the altar of mercy with confidence because of her High Priest.

The spirit of the responsorial psalm is carried over to the Gospel reading. While still on pilgrimage, the Church — the seed and initial historical realization of the Kingdom — will be a mixture of saints and sinners. Only on the Day of Judgment will the Church become truly holy, devoid of the darnel in her midst. The zizzania ("the bearded darnel"), that looked like wheat at the beginning of its growth finally will reveal its true color at the time of harvest. It remains looking like grass, while the wheat will turn golden and laden with grain. On the Day of Judgment, the darnel will be taken out and thrown to where there will be "wailing and gnashing of teeth."

John Chrysostom also speaks of the mixture of wheat and darnel in terms of one’s virtues "being mixed" with the Devil’s weeds. Augustine once wrote that even pride can lurk in our good works. Sin can be behind every good intention and virtue. Unflagging service to the Church can hide a worldly ambition (e.g. to be known so as to gather more votes during the next barangay elections). A humble exterior may be nothing more than a disguise for vainglory. John Chrysostom says that if we sleep, like the disciples did at Gethsemane, then the Devil will come sow his seeds of destruction. And so the Christian should be vigilant. This "vigilance" is mentioned in the Catechism of the Catholic Church as "interiority" — the wakefulness of conscience.

Exodus 24:3-8
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3So Moses came and told the people all the words of the Lord, and all the judgments: and all the people answered with one voice: We will do all the words of the Lord, which he hath spoken.
4And Moses wrote all the words of the Lord: and rising in the morning he built an altar at the foot of the mount, and twelve titles according to the twelve tribes of Israel.
5And he sent young men of the children of Israel, and they offered holocausts, and sacrificed pacific victims of calves to the Lord.
6Then Moses took half of the blood, and put it into bowls: and the rest he poured upon the altar.
7And taking the book of the covenant, he read it in the hearing of the people: and they said: All things that the Lord hath spoken we will do, we will be obedient.
8And he took the blood and sprinkled it upon the people, and he said: This is the blood of the covenant which the Lord hath made with you concerning all these words.

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