instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Monday, July 21, 2008

More weeds

The homilist I heard yesterday mentioned that the "weeds" of the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares look a lot like wheat -- a point also made by St. John Chrysostom:
For indeed this also is a part of the devil's craft, by the side of the truth always to bring in error, painting thereon many resemblances, so as easily to cheat the deceivable. Therefore He calls it not any other seed, but tares; which in appearance are somewhat like wheat.
And the NAB:
Weeds: darnel, a poisonous weed that in its first stage of growth resembles wheat.

If I'd heard that before, I'd forgotten it. But it certainly does raise the stakes of the parable. The enemy isn't just being a nuisance, as he'd have been if he'd sown dandelions. He's being downright dangerous. The owner of the field could have been ruined, either by trying to pull the weeds too soon (and possibly pulling up too much wheat) or by allowing the poisonous plants to be gathered along with the good plants.

Extending this early similarity between good and evil from the world down into our hearts gives another reason God may be slower than we like in bringing us to perfection: we may not be as good as we think we are at telling the difference between what will bear good fruit in our lives and what will bear evil.