The Gleaners, Jean-François Millet, painted 1857
Readings (New American Bible, used in the Philippines and USA)
Gospel, Matthew 13:24-43 (Jerusalem Bible, used in Australia, England and Wales, Ireland, Scotland)
Jesus put a parable before the crowds, '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."'
He put another parable before them, 'The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed which a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the biggest shrub of all and becomes a tree so that the birds of the air come and shelter in its branches.'
He told them another parable, 'The kingdom of heaven is like the yeast a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour till it was leavened all through'.
In all this Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables; indeed, he would never speak to them except in parables. This was to fulfil the prophecy:
I will speak to you in parables and expound things hidden since the foundation of the world.
Then, leaving the crowds, he went to the house; and his disciples came to him and said, 'Explain the parable about the darnel in the field to us'. He said in reply, 'The sower of the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world; the good seed is the subjects of the kingdom; the darnel, the subjects of the evil one; the enemy who sowed them, the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; the reapers are the angels. Well then, just as the darnel is gathered up and burnt in the fire, so it will be at the end of time. The Son of Man will send his angels and they will gather out of his kingdom all things that provoke offences and all who do evil, and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth. Then the virtuous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Listen, anyone who has ears.
Soiscéal, Matha 13:24-43 (Gaeilge, Irish)
San am sin chuir Íosa parabal eile os a gcomhair: “Is iad dála ríocht na bhflaitheas,” ar seisean, “mar a bhí ag an duine a chuir síol maith ina ghort. Ach fad a bhí an saol ina chodladh, bhí namhaid dó a tháinig ag scaipeadh cogail anuas ar an arbhar, agus d’imigh. Tháinig an t-arbhar aníos ina gheamhar, agus ansin ina dhias agus an uair sin chonacthas an cogal freisin. Tháinig a chuid sclábhaí go dtí an fear tí agus dúirt siad leis: ‘A mháistir, an síol a chuir tú i do ghort, nach síol maith a bhí ann? Agus cad a thug an cogal ann más ea?’ Dúirt sé leo: ‘Namhaid éigin a rinne an méid sin.’ ‘Agus ar mhaith leat,’ deir na sclábhaí leis, ‘go rachaimis á bhailiú chun a chéile?’ ‘Ná déanaigí,’ ar seisean, ‘ar eagla, nuair a bheadh sibh ag bailiú an chogail, go sracfadh sibh an t-arbhar aníos san am céanna. Fágtar le hais a chéile ag fás iad araon go dtí an fómhar, agus nuair a bheidh an fómhar á dhéanamh déarfaidh mé leis na buanaithe: Bailígí an cogal chun a chéile ar dtús, agus déanaigí punanna de chun a dhóite. Ach cruinnígí an t-arbhar isteach i mo scioból.’”
Chuir sé parabal eile os a gcomhair: “Is cosúil ríocht na bhflaitheas,” ar seisean, “le gráinne de shíol mustaird a thóg duine agus a chuir sé ina ghort. Is é an gráinnín síl is lú ar bith é, ach nuair a bhíonn sé fásta, bíonn sé ar an gceann is mó de na glasraí agus déantar crann de, a bhféadann éanlaith an aeir dul ar foscadh ina chraobhacha.”
D’inis sé parabal eile dóibh: “Is cosúil ríocht na bhflaitheas le gabháil a thóg bean agus a d’fholaigh sí i dtrí pheic plúir nó go raibh sé gabháilte ar fad.”
Labhair Íosa na nithe sin uile i bparabail leis na sluaite: ní dhéanadh sé caint ar bith leo gan pharabal, agus sin mar a comhlíonadh a ndúradh tríd an bhfáidh:
“Labhróidh mé i bparabail, nochtfaidh mé nithe ba rún ó thúsú an domhain.”
D’fhág sé na sluaite an uair sin agus chuaigh sé isteach sa teach. Tháinig a dheisceabail chuige agus dúirt siad: “Mínigh dúinn an parabal úd an chogail sa ghort.” D’fhreagair sé iad á rá: “An té a chuireann an síol maith, sin é Mac an Duine. Is é an domhan an gort. An síol maith muintir na ríochta. Dream an oilc an cogal, agus is é an diabhal an namhaid a scaipeann é. Is é deireadh an tsaoil an fómhar agus is iad na haingil na buanaithe. Amhail mar a bhailítear an cogal chun é dhó sa tine, sin mar a bheidh i ndeireadh an tsaoil. Cuirfidh Mac an Duine a aingil amach agus baileoidh siad gach ábhar scannail as a ríocht agus na daoine a thaobhaíonn an t-olc, agus teilgfidh siad san fhoirnéis tine iad. Is ann a bheidh gol agus díoscán fiacla. Beidh na fíréin an uair sin ag lonradh ar nós na gréine i ríocht a nAthar. An té a bhfuil cluasa air, éisteadh sé!”
Kyrie eleison from the Missa de Angelis
Jesus tells three parables, all to do with hidden growth. The first is the only one that speaks of the growth of something undesirable, side by side with what the farmer has planted.
The other day I came across a quotation from on an excellent blog, Remembering Fr William Doyle SJ. It reads: Avoid haste and want of control of bodily movements. The interior man, no matter how burdened with work or pressed for time, is never in a hurry. He is swift and expeditious in all he does, but never rushes; and by a jealous watchfulness over odd moments, “gathering up the fragments” of a full day “that none of them may be lost,” he finds time for all things. He knows that the Almighty is never in a hurry; that the great works of God in nature as in the soul are done silently and calmly, and that there is much wisdom in the old monastic saying, “The man who rushes will never run to perfection.”
Father Willie Doyle SJ (1873-1917) - he was born two months and a day after St Thérèse of Lisieux -
died during the Great War (1914-1918) in the trenches in Flanders, Belgium, where he was a chaplain in the British Army. He was living there in a real hell, a hell he was very much aware of. But he was constantly grateful for God's goodness shown especially in his mercy towards the many soldiers wounded and dying in the war. He heard the confessions of countless soldiers and anointed them on the battlefield. He was well aware of their sinfulness but also of their bravery, existing side by side in each just as the wheat and the darnel existed side by side. Father Willie himself went to confession only 15 minutes before he was blown to pieces by a German shell.
I first learned about Father Willie from Sister Stanislaus, the Irish Sister of Charity who was principal of the boys' kindergarten I attended in Dublin from 1947 to 1951. She often spoke to us about this brave priest, his sense of humour, his asceticism, his bravery. In my first year in St Columban's seminary more than a decade later I learned more about his from our director, Fr Ronan McGrath, the eldest of three brothers who became Columbans, all products of a Jesuit school where Father Willie had taught for a while, Belvedere College in the heart of Dublin.
I came across his name from time to time over the years, sometimes mocking references to his ascetic practices. Recently I came across Remembering Fr William Doyle SJ, which features something from Father Willie's writings most days, a labour of love by the blogger. As a result, I have begun to pray to him each day especially for Irish people close to me who seem to have lost the faith.
As I write, the Catholics of Ireland are reeling once again as a government report on the abuse of children by priests has been published, This one, the Cloyne Report, deals with allegations of abuse reported between 1996 and 2009 in the Diocese of Cloyne. The homepage of the website of the diocese has links to the report and to various statements made by officials in the diocese.
Even Catholics who have been faithful, prayerful and loyal are having their faith tested. The old cliché of a few rotten apples at the bottom of the barrel rings hollow for many now. The parable of the weeds growing alongside the wheat is much more accurate it seems.
Enormous harm has been done to the many individuals violated as minors by priests. The bishops as a body have lost nearly all of their authority. The Church in Ireland now is hardly capable of carrying out its mission of preaching the Gospel.
Yet we need to take Jesus at his word. God is more aware than we are of the good and evil that co-exist in every person, in every society. We as individuals can get discouraged at our own sinfulness. Jesus is telling us that God wants only the best. God wants to harvest every piece of wheat, not to destroy what is good by destroying too soon what is bad.
Ireland is a country that has sent many missionaries to every continent, a country where the Catholic faith was strong as recently as only a few decades ago. Now it is a country in deep crisis, in terms of the faith and in its economic life, a country where a priest needs a police clearance to visit a Catholic school. May I, as an Irish missionary, ask your prayers for the people of my country, especially those who have been victims of priests, and the bishops and priests themselves. Perhaps you can pray:
Prayer for Priests by Father Doyle
O my God, pour out in abundance Thy spirit of sacrifice upon Thy priests. It is both their glory and their duty to become victims, to be burnt up for souls, to live without ordinary joys, to be often the objects of distrust, injustice, and persecution.
The words they say every day at the altar, "This is my Body, this is my Blood," grant them to apply to themselves: "I am no longer myself, I am Jesus, Jesus crucified. I am, like the bread and wine, a substance no longer itself, but by consecration another."
O my God, I burn with desire for the sanctification of Thy priests. I wish all the priestly hands which touch Thee were hands whose touch is gentle and pleasing to Thee, that all the mouths uttering such sublime words at the altar should never descend to speaking trivialities.
Let priests in all their person stay at the level of their lofty functions, let every man find them simple and great, like the Holy Eucharist, accessible to all yet above the rest of men. O my God, grant them to carry with them from the Mass of today, a thirst for the Mass of tomorrow, and grant them, ladened themselves with gifts, to share these abundantly with their fellow men. Amen.