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A Leaven In The World… Amid Weeds, Fruit That Will Last

April 23, 2018 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK

The lush and tender growth of early spring bursts forth new and green, full of promise. The signs of renewed life surrounding us in city and country romance us with nature’s seductive beauty.
The Creator’s handiwork is beautiful in every season. The unique appeal of spring, however, seems to lie in its beckoning lure to the coming attractions of fruit and flowers. Life must be sustained if it is to continue. Every human being desires deeply that which sustains the gift of life; the supernatural life of God is powerfully figured forth through nature’s “eternal return.”
T.S. Eliot described April as “the cruelest month” because it stirred “dull roots with Spring rain.” It might be more so for the fact that, along with everything that attracts us to spring’s spreading raiment over the dormant Earth, comes also the undesired. Among the plants, whose growth we attend for their blooms and food, also sprout the weeds.
The pernicious nature of weeds lies in their perennial reappearance uninvited into flowerbeds and vegetable gardens. No matter how often we pull them out, back they come. They spread in hidden ways, their seeds adapted to overcome the efforts of man. A more aggressive root system and quick growth ensure their survival often over the plants we bring in from elsewhere.
Anyone who has sought to tame the earth in order to produce life-sustaining or beautifying plants and vegetables has fought the battle against the native seeds that insinuate themselves, over and over again, where they have once been defeated. And if we abandon the struggle, the unwanted undergrowth, given enough time and neglect, will dominate the ground which we once tilled and over which we so devotedly labored.
We discover that it is a war, not a battle, to cultivate in nature what was not found there before we arrived with our own plans and desires. Only observation and vigilance will keep our plans in place and perhaps increase their scope.
The spiritual life, too, is a garden. The Lord Himself used the example of the farmer’s battle against the invasion of the interloper in his field which threatened his efforts to provide sustenance for the human table.
“The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’” (Matt. 1:27).
“An enemy has done this” was the Lord’s reply to this appearance of unwanted and invasive plants that threatened to choke out the wheat intended for making bread.
The agricultural metaphor for evil gave rise to the Lord’s teaching that it wasn’t anonymous or accidental, merely the impersonal powers of nature, but rather the agency of a person that was responsible for destroying the plans of the farmer: the “enemy.”
The Devil is a person and we battle against him in the struggle of the spiritual life. He is the enemy of the Lord’s plans begun for us, and frustrated, in the garden He cultivated many years ago. The tactics of the ancient adversary do not change from season to season in the life of the world.
Weeds beguile us often by disguising themselves, dressing up their destructive influence with flowers that temporarily attract and distract us from their pernicious goal. Our prolonged neglect can make the moment of reckoning more of a struggle. Their hidden roots, growing apace unseen, must be entirely removed when thorough examination finally reveals their presence, or they will remain, to appear again later.
“The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’”
“ ‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them’.”
Judgment finally belongs to the Creator — His omnipotence in making everything at the beginning out of nothing brings with it power to decide good and evil. The weeds we will always have among us. At the end of the world, in the final consummation when true identities are revealed, the One who judges justly will decide all fates, including our own.
Weeds are those plants which reject the will of the Gardener that man must “fill the earth and subdue it” by laboring for His purpose, in league as they are with the evil one.
If we are not to be condemned to the fate of the weeds, fit only to be burned, we must turn to the vine, in particular that of the grape, to learn how to grow in the promise to bear fruit according to the will of the Gardener.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).
The promise of every spring of our lives beckons still: “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit — fruit that will last — and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you” (Matt. 13:29).
The fruit of the vine sustains our lives because, in consuming the Blood of the Eucharist, we fulfill Christ’s command to “remain” in Him. The vine who is Christ sustains the life of the souls planted by the Lord in the Garden, which now is His Church, at worship in the Holy Mass.
Yes, weeds can be very beautiful and look very much like all the other flowers. They cannot sustain us as do other plants in the garden given by the Creator for that purpose: the vine with its flowers that adorn and which become the fruit which nourishes. To “remain” in Him is to cooperate as laborers in the plan of the Master Gardener, accepting the truth about our lives and Him only who truly sustains us.
Thus, the wood of the cross of Christ is now the tree of life. It gives nourishment to all the world, planted as it is by the obedience of the Son, the seed falling to the earth and dying which bears the fruit of salvation.
Anything that does not flow directly from the tree of life bearing the Son, the Vine planted firmly upon Calvary once and for all by holy obedience to the Father, is the work of an enemy. The Mass continues Calvary and gives the life flowing from its tree.
Weeds yet grow among the vines intended for wine and in the wheat fields meant for bread where the vineyard of the Lord, His Church, was planted.
“I am the True Vine, and you are the branches; He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit.” Alleluia.
Thank you for reading, and praised be the risen Lord Jesus Christ, now and forever.
@MCITLFrAphorism

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