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Memorial of Saints Joachim and Anne, Parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Jesus dismissed the crowds and went into the house. His disciples approached him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.” He said in reply, “He who sows good seed is the Son of Man, the field is the world, the good seed the children of the Kingdom. The weeds are the children of the evil one, and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. Just as weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his Kingdom all who cause others to sin and all evildoers. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the Kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears ought to hear.”
Opening Prayer: Lord, bless me in these moments as I draw near to you. Give me courage to deeply ponder the eternal realities you present in these lines of Scripture.
- Privileged Access: Several times in Scripture, the disciples approached Jesus privately for explanations of his teaching. Here, they asked him to explain the meaning of the parable of wheat and weeds, which Jesus graciously did. How blessed they were to have Jesus all to themselves at times, to ask him lots of questions, to eat with him, to laugh with him, and sometimes cry with him. We, too, have privileged access to the Lord, most especially in the Eucharist, when we worship him in the Blessed Sacrament, and when we frequent the sacrament of Reconciliation. In fact, every time we lift our hearts in prayer, Jesus is present, whether we sense it or not. “He has bestowed on you, in the midst of your troubles, to take solace in him as often as you can. Lift up your heart to him during your meals and in company; the least little remembrance will always be the most pleasing to him. One need not cry out very loudly; he is nearer to us than we think” (Brother Lawrence).
- Weeds versus Wheat: We need not look too far to spot the weeds in our culture. They manifest themselves in atrocities like abortion, relativistic philosophies, distortions regarding human sexuality, and various media platforms that spew divisiveness and untruth. When we align ourselves with weeds, we become weeds ourselves. And Jesus tells us that weeds will one day be burned in a fiery furnace. However, because every soul is precious to the Lord, and he would have died for just one of us, weeds can become wheat in this time of mercy. Jesus promised to Sister Faustina, “All grace flows from mercy, and the last hour abounds with mercy for us. Let no one doubt concerning the goodness of God; even if a person’s sins were as dark as night, God’s mercy is stronger than our misery. One thing alone is necessary; that the sinner set ajar the door of his heart, be it ever so little, to let in a ray of God’s merciful grace, and then God will do the rest” (no. 1507).
- Shining like the Sun: Much has been written about the communion of saints and on this feast day of Jesus’ grandparents–Anne and Joachim–we turn our thoughts to those who have gone before us: the saints (known and unknown) and souls in Purgatory. The saints, we can be sure, constantly intercede for us before the Lord. “…we believe that in this communion, the merciful love of God and his saints is always [attentive] to our prayers” (CCC 962). The souls in Purgatory need our prayers, sacrifices, and almsgiving to speed them on their way to Heaven. According to St. Alphonsus de Ligouri, “The practice of recommending to God the souls in Purgatory, that he may mitigate the great pains which they suffer, and that he may soon bring them to his glory, is most pleasing to the Lord and most profitable to us. For these blessed souls are his eternal spouses, and most grateful are they to those who obtain their deliverance from prison, or even a mitigation of their torments. When, therefore, they arrive in Heaven, they will be sure to remember all who have prayed for them.”
Conversation with Christ: Lord, by these verses you turn my thoughts away from the distractions of this world and toward my hope of spending eternity with you. Often, when I pray before you in the Blessed Sacrament, the veil that separates earth from Heaven seems very thin. Thank you for the gift of so many heavenly friends, the saints, who have enriched the Church by their witness and writings, and have helped to deepen my own relationship with you. And, Lord, bless the souls in Purgatory, especially those in most need of your mercy.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will make a special sacrifice for the souls in Purgatory, especially the deceased members of my family.
For Further Reflection: Purgatory in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
Maribeth Harper celebrated paying the last tuition bill for her kids’ college by writing a book for moms who have college-aged young adults, And So We Pray, Guidance for Moms with College-Aged Young Adults. She is a wife of thirty-five years, mother of four, and grandmother of ten and counting.