The Church and the Darnel

CP&S: This post, from Dom Hugh at Douai Abbey I found both thrilling and chilling. I hope our readers will gain as much insight from todays Gospel as I have.


by Father Hugh Somerville-Knapman.O.S.B.


When one gets a little down in the dumps about the state of the Church today’s gospel (well one part of this long and crowded gospel reading) is both consoling and perturbing. To really apprehend the full significance of this parable we must pay attention from the very first phrase:

The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. While everybody was asleep his enemy came, sowed darnel all among the wheat, and made off. When the new wheat sprouted and ripened, the darnel appeared as well. The owner’s servants went to him and said, “Sir, was it not good seed that you sowed in your field? If so, where does the darnel come from?” “Some enemy has done this” he answered. And the servants said, “Do you want us to go and weed it out?” But he said, “No, because when you weed out the darnel you might pull up the wheat with it. Let them both grow till the harvest; and at harvest time I shall say to the reapers: First collect the darnel and tie it in bundles to be burnt, then gather the wheat into my barn.” (Matt 24:30)

Note the Lord is talking not about the world, that it is full of good people and bad, but the “kingdom of heaven”. Surely, one might reasonably ask, there can be no evil ones in heaven, no weeds among the wheat in the paradisal pastures?

But our Lord did say also that “the kingdom of God is among you” (Luke 17:21). For the Church is the embryo of the eschaton, of the Kingdom, viewed from within the context of time and space, that is, seen from within material creation. In heavenly terms, in the context of eternity, the Kingdom is already perfect, the battle won, the Lord reigning at the right hand of the Father. But in the context of creation the Kingdom, embodied in the Church, is still emerging, awaiting the Lord of eternity to sweep away our temporality and establish once for all his people in eternity.

So, for now, there must be weeds among the wheat. That is the consolation. The weeds are part of God’s plan. He allows them to endure, to prosper even, for our sake. Even when they seem liable to overrun the pasture, starving the wheat of light and food, the Lord allows them to continue as to uproot them now would endanger the wheat, expose it to collateral damage beyond its ability to cope. We might complain that the weeds of the Church are already causing grievous collateral damage to the faithful, causing the ruin of souls and disturbing the peace of the Church. Yet our Lord is telling us that, seen from God’s perspective, the damage is less than if he were to intervene before the time.

What is that time? The eschaton, the end of all things, the advent of eternity in place of time and space. Why does the Lord wait for it? St Paul articulates the answer:

Lest you be wise in your own sight, I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. (Rom 11:25)

The Lord waits, seen from our perspective of time and space (for in eternity it is already accomplished), because the Church has not yet finished growing. Its numbers are not yet complete, its sufferings not fully ripe. St Gregory Palamas, from whom we heard at our Matins this morning, implicitly warns us against an “us and them” approach to the Church. For the mission of Christ was to make them into us. In other words, the Lord is leaving time for repentance, for the weeds can yet become wheat. Consider what Palamas teaches (emphasis added):

The tares (weeds/darnel), as the Lord tells us, are the sons of the evil one. Due to the fact that their deeds resemble his, they bear his mark and are always his offspring and adopted children. Harvest time is when this world ends, because although the process of harvesting started long ago and is active today through death, it will be fully completed then…

So, “He shall send forth his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity” (Matt. 13:41), meaning heretics and those who do not give up sinful actions through repentance – for all sin is iniquity. When the angels have collected them, “they shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth” (Matt. 13:42). Do you see, brethren, what a truly terrifying and dreadful harvest and separation this is? We were right to say that the angels were the reapers of this harvest, and that they had to do more than the Apostles. When the Lord’s servants, God’s angels, saw the tares in the field, that is to say, godless and evil people living alongside the good, and sharing in the life of Christ’s Church, they said to the Lord, “Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up?” (Matt. 13:28), in other words, Shall we remove them from the earth through death? The Lord, however, replied, “Nay, lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them” (Matt. 13:29)…

If they had collected the tares, given the fact that they would have separated out the evil from the just even if they had cut them down together through death, how could wheat, good people, have been uprooted too? Many impious and sinful people, living alongside those who are godly and righteous, eventually change by means of repentance, learn to be pious and virtuous, and become wheat instead of tares. So if they were carried off by the angels before they repented, wheat would be uprooted when the tares were gathered. Again, many evil people have children or grandchildren with good tendencies. That is why He Who knows all things before they come to pass did not allow the weeds to be pulled out before their time.
(Homily 27:7-9)

The full number of the Kingdom includes many who, from the perspective of time and space seem to be weeds in the pastureland but whom God knows, from eternity, will “turn aside from evil and do good”, who will repent, who will become wheat. What distinguishes wheat from weed in this spiritual sense is not some genetic essence but fruit. Darnel becomes wheat when it too brings forth grain that can be ground into the Body of Christ. That is why we pray for the Church—popes, bishops, clergy, all the faithful: that the weeds among us may become wheat. And let’s be honest: that we may be found at the time of harvest to be wheat not weed, that we might be truly conformed to the Body of Christ.

So at this time of confusion, rampant from top to bottom, we can find some solace that this is all planned for by the Lord, for the sake of the Kingdom, that the salvation won by Christ may more fully suffuse the Church, that the gospel of repentance might have time to sink in and “batter our hearts”.

But with the solace comes the discomfiting, as weeds with wheat. Pray as we might, as we must, we will never be free from weeds in the pasturelands of the Kingdom until the time for eternity comes. There will never truly be peace for the Church or an end to her sufferings until Christ ushers in eternity. But even that can be a solace. For, after all, perhaps this morning found us to be weed not wheat. For now. There is time to repent, to effect the only identity change possible in God’s eyes, from weed to wheat:

Run while you have the light of life, lest the darkness of death overtake you. (John 12:35)

This is mercy— that we have time to repent.

And the days of this life are lengthened and a truce granted us for this very reason, that we may amend our evil ways. As the Apostle says, “Do you not know that God’s patience is inviting you to repent” (Rom. 2:4)? For the merciful Lord tells us, “I desire not the death of the sinner, but that the sinner should be converted and live” (Ez 33:11).
(Rule of St Benedict, Prologue)


About Gertrude

Sáncte Míchael Archángele, defénde nos in proélio, cóntra nequítiam et insídias diáboli ésto præsídium.
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27 Responses to The Church and the Darnel

  1. Mary Salmond says:

    Well said! There’s Hope and mercy!!


  2. toadspittle says:

    “So at this time of confusion, rampant from top to bottom, we can find some solace that this is all planned for by the Lord. “
    A good idea, then, to quit moaning and keening and clutching our heads while emitting tiny squeaks that only bats can hear.
    …And sit back and wait.


  3. johnhenrycn says:

    “…sit back and wait.”

    A passive cargo cult concept like that is contrary to Our Lord’s teachings.


  4. Toadspittle.. Your cynicism is transparent and hilarious. Your fondness to heckle and jeckle is both stimulating, and pokey. Your wit and intelligence might be better served, and less self-serving, if you stopped the shallow parsing and injected your real feelings into the conversations. Who knows, you might turn from a lump of coal into a jewel, and we can all benefit from your true wisdom. While we might think one thing of your input, you can be sure God is taking notes.


  5. Maureen Avila says:

    Unfortunately, heretical preachers love “weeds and wheat” Sundays…. it is so easy to misinterpret it as an excuse for laxity in discipline of the clergy regarding their teaching and behavior, and to encourage the faithful to be silent about it.


  6. toadspittle says:

    “Your wit and intelligence might be better served, and less self-serving, if you stopped the shallow parsing and injected your real feelings into the conversations. “
    One of tne issues on here, Neville – is the pervasive idea that only one particular variety of Catholic, (which faction comprises a comparative handful among the billions of assorted believers on Earth) is capable of entertaining “real feelings,” and alone is privy to The Truth.
    I doubt that.

    So, “God is taking notes, ” is He?
    Pointless, as He knows everything already, and how it will all turn out.
    Or so I’m told. ( or is that Calvinism?)


  7. Toadspittle.. my comments stand, but, I’m getting to like you. Do you know the story of the three iron bars?


  8. toadspittle says:

    No, Neville, but I suspect I very soon will.
    (Hope it’s not rhyming slang.)


  9. kathleen says:

    God, in His transcendence, does indeed know everything. He is outside of time. But you don’t, nor can you know where you may find yourself after a lifetime of ‘mocking’ God!

    You/we live within this inescapable mystery of time. With each new day you/we are gifted with, you/we must “continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling” – (Philippians 2:12).

    Don’t waste this precious time of your pilgrimage on Earth.


  10. Toadspittle .. see, you do have a sense of humour, and no, I’m the worst rhymer in the world. I mention the 3 rods of iron as to your reference of devout people, and it reminded me of Jesus specifically referring to, and telling Vassula Ryden the following.. “orthodox! catholics! protestants! you all belong to Me! You are all One in My eyes! Vassula, design three lines; unite those lines; to unite you must all bend. You must be all willing to bend by softening; I understood. He gave me a clear and simple vision of 3 iron rods; they were upright, close to each other. He said: “How could their heads meet, unless they all bend?” But if there’s a glitch in the road, and humility is put on the back-burner, Jesus further says: ‘My remnant, fear not; if they mock you, they will be mocking Me, if they deny you, they will be denying Me, all that they do to you, they will be doing to Me”. My friend, if we don’t bend and have an open heart, instead of hiding behind a mocking mask, Jesus WILL deal with our cynicism. believe it when it is said that, He IS listening and IS storing these things up.


  11. Mary Salmond says:

    Neville, you’re on to the Toadster! Is is amusement to us all.


  12. toadspittle says:

    “My friend, if we don’t bend and have an open heart…”
    Good luck trying to get some of this lot to “bend” Neville.
    Bend from what? “Traditional Dogma?” Right.

    “orthodox! catholics! protestants! you all belong to Me! You are all One in My eyes!

    Quite right, Nev. God’s strangley omitted to mention Hindus, Mslims, Christian Scientists, and Athheists, but that’s what I keep trying to get across here.
    God must be all-inclusive, or else there is no logic. And an illogical God is an unthinkable. one. Nice that you see it that way, too.

    And also nice that you don’t think “iron bars,” is rhyming slang for “cars.”
    Because they are “jam jars.” There. Cleared that one up.

    Never heard of Vassula Ryden. Wll look her up right now.


  13. GC says:

    Neville might soon realise, as we have, that all you Toad needs to do, to save all those digital electronic carbons from extinction, is to hold up one or more signs, with the numbers 1 to 4 or 5, one number on each sign, every time Toad makes a contribution here. Just the number, not any words. We could then just refer to our key to see which of Toad’s your endlessly merely repeated comments the number or numbers refer to.


  14. toadspittle says:

    Oh, dear, Nev.
    I hope you havent sent Vassula too much cash already.
    Your days on CP&S are “numbered, ” I will prophesy. We don’t care for con-artists like her.
    (Aparently remarkably well-preserved for 75, though. A miracle, perhaps?)

    Never mind what GC says. I can’t understand it either. Pip, pip!


  15. toadspittle says:

    On the other hand, what do I know?
    Vassula may be perfectly sincere and genuine. so I will withdraw my earlier allegation unreservedly. Can’t be too careful can we?


  16. johnhenrycn says:

    I had to Wiki that Vassula Ryden chick too. I’m beginning to wonder about Neville Whitely. He wouldn’t happen to be related to a disbarred lawyer in Dublin?


  17. toadspittle says:

    Oh, for God’s sake, JH, Nev’s got nothing to do with Keyhole.
    You know that.
    I got an early whiff of Nev when he spoke in favourable fashion of “Medjugorje” – of which I am even more sceptical than I am of “normal” Marian apparitions.
    But, I will admit I’m not terribly excited about the prospect of a libel suit from the apparently litigious divorcee and her doubtless well-funded commercial outfit, however dim that might appear in reality (You will know better than I.).
    So, in my capacity as a devout coward – and without the backing of a legal department of my own – I will back off smartly and cringingly on that one.
    Vassula – you go, girl!
    Give them hell! Or whatever.


  18. johnhenrycn says:

    Discretion is the better part of valour, Toad, I agree; but take heart from the lawsuit of Whistler v. Ruskin (c. 1870s) in which Whistler sued Ruskin for £1,000 when the latter called one of his works – (of his mother it may have been, I forget) – a case of throwing a pot of paint at a canvas. Whistler won his suit, but the jury only awarded him a farthing in damages. Still, poor old Ruskin must have paid a pretty penny to his barrister.


  19. Toadstool… see, you do have wit, even though sarcasm is the lowest form of it. In defense of Vassula Ryden, and the many apparitions of Our Lady, you are out of date about her status with Mother Church. Vassula has the Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur; she is both legitimate and no different than any other servant of God, who does His will. And as for Our Lady, I’ll let her answer for Herself when you get to meet Her. When will you put your obvious intelligence, and humour, to better use in defense of true Catholic teaching, not a poor imitation of it? We need people like you who shows courage. I’m diametrically opposed to your mockery, but without it, we don’t get the chance to stand up for our beliefs. Will you stand up and be counted? Time is running out.


  20. Toadstool… thanks for the reminder. I didn’t mention about Hindus, Muslims, Christian Scientists, etc, because it’s not an issue. The Bible clearly states that “God has many rooms in his house”. If you were a true catholic, you would have known that. You would also have known that reference to the three iron bars relates to the three largest religions on the planet, which has the greatest opportunity for true ecumenism. As for others, they will be judged on their true love and devotion, based on their knowledge, access and opportunity to the truth. Atheists are the enemies of God. They don’t believe in Him. Isn’t that what atheism stands for? It’s a no-brainer. God is NOT all-inclusive in the sense that you mean it. No, that’s modernistic, leftist nonsense, the banner for anti-God liberalism – the enemy of Christ. God’s “inclusiveness” extends to the WANTING of all his children, without exception, to obey his commandments, not spout the jingoism, so popular as a tool to infiltrate and push satanic agenda’s. I hope that clears that one up.


  21. johnhenrycn says:

    No, not a disbarred Dubliner. I see that now. Possibly Roger / Robert / Rogbert whose favorite word was “salvific”? No, not him or she either. Hmm…well perhaps that donkey loving ex-Anglican public school teacher who relocated to the dusty Iberian outback about 5 years ago. Gareth something…


  22. toadspittle says:

    Why can’t Nev just be himself, JH? What’s wrong with that? Why must he be one of your old punch-bags?
    (By the way, the Whistler’ painting in the Ruskin case was, “Nocturne in Black and Gold: The Falling Rocket,” And Whistler neve never painted anything called “Whistler’s Mother,” that work’s title was “Arrangement in Grey and Black: No. 1”)

    “Atheists are the enemies of God. They don’t believe in Him. “
    In which case, they can’t be His enemies – can they. Nev?
    Are you the enemy of, say, the god Appollo, Batman – or Santa Claus? I doubt it.

    “Will you stand up and be counted? Time is running out.”
    Time is always running out. That’s how it works.
    “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards “( Kierkegaard)

    And I am standing up and being counted – when it comes to organised religions, you can count on counting me out. Too little, too much-conflicted, evidence.
    And too much self-assurance in their individual superiority over each other. Causes trouble.


  23. Toadstool. You have so much to offer. Why take the side of satan? Come and join the truth. Don’t be afraid of it. Don’t hide behind infantile “play-on-words”, they only re-enforce your fear and disrespect. God loves you, I like you and I use the words of Christ, when He said, “Don’t cast pearls before swine”. I’d rather not dis-connect from your intelligence, but charity and Gods’ advice recommends it. You don’t want to be a tool of satan on this site, do you? Surely, you must understand that you will be judged on those words? Words to wile the time away with.


  24. toadspittle says:

    Don’t cast pearls before swine”.
    Good gracious , Nev – Where did you get the idea I think you – or anyone on CP&S, are “swine.”?
    “Surely, you must understand that you will be judged on those words?”
    My words are as honest as yours. Believe it, or not.


  25. Toadstool.. the problem is, I do believe you. And that’s your problem. With that I’ll wish you all the best and will pray for you.


  26. The Raven says:

    I am intrigued: the last statement on Vassula Rydén that I am aware of was the 2007 CDF declaration that the 1995 statement was still in force. Has this been lifted? The Greeks condemned her for heresy as recently as 2011.


  27. Raven. You are correct. The CDF declaration remains in force. The Nihil Obstat and Impimatur were granted by Bishops…see On the TLIG website you can also read Appendix B, which contains all (5 specific) of the questions asked by the CDF as well as her answers. Also, see.. Since 1989, I’ve been a devotee of the TLIG messages, and supporter of Vassula. By nature, I am conservative and do very careful research; I have found nothing contrary to Gods’ teachings. Keep in mind that Sister Faustina was also condemned by the CDF, but they erred. And look what happened to her. And yes, the Greeks aren’t very pleased with her. That doesn’t mean Vassula isn’t performing a divine mission though, above Church politics.


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