No, lest perhaps, gathering up the cockle you uproot the wheat also together with it. Suffer both to grow until the harvest… (Matthew 13:30)
On this Fifth Sunday after Epiphany in the Extraordinary Form, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is strewn with the consolations of Divine Providence. We as Christians “know that to them that love God, all things work together unto good (Romans 8:28).” Intellectually, we acknowledge Divine Providence, yet we often forget or neglect to learn altogether how and why all things work unto good.
The Lord hath reigned, let the earth rejoice…
If you ever wonder why the church prescribes the lesson and gospel readings she does for Holy Mass, look to the introit. The introit gives us a glimmer and taste of the feast which is the Gospel. Today’s introit commands you to rejoice! “Adore God, all you his angels, Sion heard and was glad, and the daughters of Judah rejoiced. The Lord hath reigned, let the earth rejoice: let many islands be glad.” Why such rejoicing? What hath the Lord done unto his people for which they ought to rejoice? He hath reigned. How factual and intellectual it is to us believers that Christ is King and that God is omnipotent, yet do we stop to acknowledge that He is in control? An infant is most afraid when they cannot see their mother even if the mother is directly behind him. How often we too lose sight of the power which belongs to the Lord asleep on our boats.
May Your protection be their steady defense.
The collect of the Mass begs God to give us, His household, His safeguard “since [our] only hope is to lean on Thy heavenly grace…” We have at our every cry the grace necessary to escape the greatest temptations. God in His infinite justice and mercy supplies to every man the graces needed in overcoming at every moment any power of darkness. Yet do we seek His protection as our constant defense? Or do we run to the world for comfort? Do we lean on the ever changing, unstable things of this life as our only protection from powers not of this world? Go to Him! Hide your face in the folds of His divine mantle! Let your Father protect you from the evil one for He longs to do so if you’d only let Him.
Let the peace of Christ rejoice in your hearts…
From our Lord we surely can receive protection, but it is difficult to rejoice when the evil one lurks in every shadow of life and assails us at our weakest moments. The very terror of this is enough to make one shutter. How does one have the peace to live freely? To live the life one is called to live? The Blessed Apostle, Paul teaches us to take on at our very core mercy, benignity, humility, modesty, patience, forgiveness, and above all, charity. This is what He calls the bond of perfection. So too, we must bare an utmost charity towards our Lord. In this way, He is the first-responder to our every trouble. “If God be for us, who is against us (Romans 8:31)?” This charity and piety towards our Lord gains for us the peace to endure every trial for we hold our God to be perfectly beneficent.
Suffer both to grow until the harvest…
Whether or not we recognize this truth, evil is rooted in the very nature of this world. We will never escape such evil while in this valley of tears. How good our God is though in His omniscience and omnipotence to bring such fruits forth from such tragedy! From the dead wood of the cross carved from the barren fig tree of sin, the blood of our Savior watered the earth which His every footstep tilled on His way to Calvary that from the greatest evil which is the death of God Himself might arise the greatest good, His ceaseless love in which He stooped so low that man might be brought so high. He conquered death for the life of the world. So too in our lives, the cockle sown by the evil one grows around us at every side. Yet to uproot all evil from the world is to cease free will. For the sake of us being able to love Him freely and so in His ineffable providence, He spares us the uprooting of evil until our judgement. So the enemy’s cockle continues then to drain the soil of nutrients and water, making us grow weary day by day. It is then in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass that our Lord guarantees an unending flow of His Precious Blood to feed our ever thirsting souls planted in the Garden of Eden which now has fallen into drought and famine and which we know to be the Valley of Tears since to the seeds of destruction were sown by Satan long ago.
Every evil which you endure will bring about greater fruits than you can fathom. All trials and tribulations will pass, thus hold fast to the cross. We may find ourselves amid spiritual dryness, but in drinking of the Lamb your will never go thirsty. You always have therefore a reason to rejoice in the God who saves us!
“These things I have spoken to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you shall have distress: but have confidence, I have overcome the world (John 16:33).”
P.S. I have attached here the beautiful Litanies of Divine Providence produced and translated by the Benedictines of Perpetual Adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament at Silverstream Priory.