"[Jesus] put before them another parable: 'The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field; but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away...' " -- Matthew 13:24-30
"WEEDS AMONG THE WHEAT." Somehow, these words kept coming to mind persistently a few weeks ago. Had just registered for a series of seven spiritual discernment seminars at the Centre for Ignatian Spirituality and Counselling. Was pleasantly surprised when the secretary called to say that all participants need to purchase a book, Weeds Among The Wheat by Fr Thomas Green, s.j.
Around the same time, had been discussing the condom issue with two colleagues. Jesus' parable "Weeds among the the Wheat" came in handy to explain a few ideas: how sin in the Church is to be expected (one can find sinners in a church just as one would find sick people in a hospital), how even when there were sinners among church leaders, God's grace would continue to prevail in the Church, how every one of us would sin many times in our lives, our need for repentence and to start all over again, and so on.
While researching on the Church's two-thousand-year papal history to answer yet another query, was quite struck by the numerous "anti-popes", saints and sinners in the Church, as well as the numerous half-truths put out by fundamentalists, bitter ex-Catholics, biased media and so on. "Wheat among the weeds" and "... the gates of Hades will not prevail against [Peter and the Church] ..." (Matthew 16:18-19) resounded with ever-deepening meaning.
STARTED READING FR GREEN'S BOOK only after the third seminar on spiritual discernment. Was quite amazed. It's by far the most enlightening and useful book i've read on discernment.
Fr Green began by looking at three key concepts of God throughout history: disinterested watchmaker, manipulative puppeteer and loving Father of mature adults. Then, he explained the three-fold darkness (ambiguity) that we are often subject to -- the indistinct voices of God, the Evil One and our desires. Next, he outlined six norms for distinguishing true prophets from false prophets in the Old Testament -- prophecies often of something 'bad'/unpopular (rather than something 'good'/popular so as to make the kings or the powers-that-be artificially happy), fulfilment through 'signs', faithfulness consistent with earlier teachings in the bible, obedience to God, intention to convert people for the better (rather than to covert power or other material rewards), and an inaugural prophetic call.
Then a chapter followed on how Jesus discerned infallibly His identify and mission, as well as how his disciples discerned gropingly the person of Jesus and His mission, what the apostles Paul and John had taught about spiritual discernment in their letters to the faithful (e.g., Galatians 5:19-23 in the New Testament). Next, more details on the kind of disposition and 'climate' that a discerner needs to maintain to be truly open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, and so on.
How i wish i've read this book much earlier! Then again, if i had read this earlier, it would not make that much sense, would it?