In everyone, the weeds of sin will be mixed with the good wheat of the gospel until the end of time. The Church gathers sinners already caught up in Christ’s salvation, but still on the way to holiness. (Catechism 827)
The parable of the wheat and the tares ends with shimmering drama: The bundled weeds burn; the sifted wheat fills the barn with the restful smell of harvest-time. In the end, Christ, the truly just Judge, will forever separate good from evil.
The parable also injects drama into our virtual, interweb gathering. Some of us, dear reader, are good guys, but some of us are bad.
We do not, however, wear jerseys to identify which team each of us is on. We can’t. Because all of us are on both teams.
Beautiful baptized Christians, raise your hands. Sinners, raise your hands.
This would seem an opportune moment to try and expostulate the doctrines of original sin, Christ’s satisfaction for sin, the effects of baptism, and the quest for holiness. Got a couple hours? Just kidding.
God made Adam and Eve and set them up well. Even though they were made out of nothingness and susceptible to evil and death, God filled them with divine life and made them immortal. They never would have died; they never would have experienced any evil—if they had not sinned.
And they sinned before they conceived their children. Therefore, when they did have children, the children were born in the precarious state into which their parents had fallen by sinning. Human nature itself has been handed down from one generation to the next like this; we all received our human nature like this.
Now, it is easy for us to lose sight of just how enormous the guilt of human sin is. If you play in the NBA, and you mutter a bad word at a referee, you can be fined the cash equivalent of a brand-new Mercedes-Benz. For offending a basketball referee.
What, then, is the penalty for offending God? The infinitely good and powerful? The Almighty?
Well, the penalty is: Infinity dollars. You offend the infinite, you owe an infinite debt.
Thankfully, God came to the earth and offered the payment—as a man. Christ the man offered God’s infinity to the Father. Behold: the fine for human sin is now paid in full.
God being God, He could have ended the world at that point. But such has not been His gracious will. Rather, having redeemed mankind, God has continued to move history forward by the birth of succeeding generations—born in the way we have always been born—but now ready to be adopted into the household of God by the blood of Christ. Holy Baptism effects this adoption, purifies the inmost soul, and equips us to go to heaven.
Again: God, being God, could receive us into heaven immediately upon our being baptized. But, again, His gracious will is otherwise. Instead, He wills to make us partners in our own salvation. He gives us time on earth to do battle with the lingering effects of the original sin we inherited at birth.
As baptized Christians, we are children of God. As children of Adam, we are craven sinners. Through our pilgrimage on earth, we struggle to be true to who we really are, namely saints. Nonetheless we experience strong desires to do things like plop down in front of the t.v. for hours scarfing down an entire bag of Doritos.
The residual effects of original sin afflict us relentlessly throughout life. But getting a realistic grip on the situation is half the battle.
Our souls are gardens in which good plants and weeds both grow. While the Lord reserves the right to judge the souls of men on the last day, this does not by any means prohibit the weeding out of my own interior garden now. To the contrary, that is precisely my job. Namely, to study myself honestly, praise God for the good I find and work to remove the bad.
The important thing to remember is that Baptism provides us with the indestructible foundation we need. The grace of Baptism is always available to us; all we have to do is confess our sins.
So, when I reach down into my soul to pull out a weed, I don’t have to worry about pulling out too much soil along with it. I don’t have to worry about ruining the seed-bed. The good lies much deeper than the bad. The weeds might seem like they go all the way down to bedrock. But they don’t.
First and foremost, I am a beloved child of God, one for whom He died on Calvary. He poured out His Precious Blood to pay the price for ALL my sins. I need not be afraid, then, to confront every aspect of the depraved son of Adam which I also am.
Where sin abounds—and it abounds in me—grace abounds all the more. Thanks be to God.