This week as much as I wanted to write the usual Sunday musings - my heart was pulled in another direction. By now you have likely heard the news of a parish priest being arrested on devastating charges. It's hard to put into words the range of emotions not only I felt but that I heard from others that day and in the following days. Why does such evil exist? And why despite all of the good work the Church has done to protect children did this happen?
A few weeks ago we heard the following Gospel:
Jesus proposed another parable to the crowds, saying: “The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a man who sowed good seed in his field. While everyone was asleep his enemy came and sowed weeds all through the wheat, and then went off. When the crop grew and bore fruit, the weeds appeared as well.” Matthew 13:24-26
Now - imagine if this story were true and you were the farmer who worked very hard at sowing the seed throughout your field. Upon watching your crop grow you realize the weeds have been sown in with your crop. What would you feel? Anger? Disappointment? Frustration? Defeat? All of the above?
This parable really focuses on Jesus, sowing the good seed of His love and His Word, which was further cultivated with the spilling of His Precious Blood. But we know that Satan has always been trying to undermine the work of Jesus - a weed among the bountiful harvest.
How much does this parable remind us of where we currently are? The great evil that we see is trying to overshadow what Christ has grown in St. Michael Findlay - the largest parish of our diocese, a thriving school, a brand new convent soon to be full of young faithful Dominican sisters and the new assignment of our own Fr. Peter Grodi - Jesus has sown much good seed in His Church. It's hard to refrain from anger and despair in this case. It's hard to remember the truth that Jesus does not allow Satan to steal His peace, and that we are called to continue to grow in the midst of the weeds. This parable continues:
“The servants asked the farmer, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’
“‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’” Matthew 13:27-30
It isn't easy but we may have to endure evil on a regular basis. In those moments we are called to look to Jesus even more to help us to grow in virtue so that we can push past the weeds to seek our place in the Kingdom of Heaven.
Despite the great despair that evil causes us, and Satan's attacks, we know he will ultimately be defeated. That brings us hope and helps us to begin to rest in the peace of Christ who will see us through this dark time.
As a mother, pastoral associate and social worker I would be remiss if I didn't take this time to talk about the importance of having age appropriate conversations with your children about abuse of any kind. These are conversations we might not be comfortable with, but it is our responsibility as parents to keep our children safe and for them to know that they can come to us, or another trusted adult, if something doesn't seem right. The statistics are staggering. 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 5 boys will be sexually abused before turning 18 in the United States. The link below has some resources you might find helpful:
If you are in need of someone to talk to regarding the most recent allegations please feel free to reach out, I am happy to listen and to pray with you and for you.
Finally I ask you to pray for our good and holy priests, victims of abuse, our brothers and sister at St. Michael's in Findlay, and as hard as it may be to pray for Fr. Michael Zacharias.
Prayers and Blessings this Sunday!
To report any sexual abuse of a minor by Diocesan personnel (priest, deacon, consecrated religious brother/sister, or lay person), immediate contact should be made with local civil authorities, and with the Diocese of Toledo’s Victim Assistance Coordinator who can be reached at 419-244-6711, ext. 4880 in the Toledo calling area, or 1-800-926-8277, ext. 4880 (Outside Toledo, Within Ohio).