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The Difference Between Declaring Independence, and GETTING It.

Homily for Mtt.13:24-30 "Let the weeds and the wheat grow together."


 

As we celebrate the Declaration of Independence proclaimed by the Second Continental Congress

of delegates of the 13 British colonies during war between Britain and the colonies: let us remember that it is one thing to declare independence, but another to have it, and there can be a great deal of effort needed to get from one to another. This happens also, often enough, when one declares independence from a recurring temptation or a long-standing, deeply-rooted vice or addiction. That same Second Continental Congress was also working out the Articles of Confederation for a loose union of the same colonies, and the Articles were the first Constitution, lasting from 1776 to 1789. The year 1789 was the year the French Revolution started, and the year when our present US Constitution was made. It was the second for the 13 colonies or states, but the first for the US as a nation. Independence isn’t always simple, and can take time and effort for it to work out and take effect – and to maintain it.


We also celebrate today something more liturgical: Saint Andrew of Jerusalem, who is identical to

the 8th century Saint Andrew of Crete. It’s because he was born on the 4th of July that we celebrate him today, that famous hymnographer associated with the Great Lent and the long canons he composed. He’s called St. Andrew of Jerusalem because he served as archdeacon of Jerusalem and represented Jersusalem at the 6th Ecumenical Council, which is also known as the 3rd Ecumenical Council held in Constantinople. He’s also Andrew of Crete because he became Metropolitan of Gortyna in Crete. He was a temporary heretic and repented. There’s no consensus as to when he died. The odd thing is that Andrew of Crete, or Andrew of Jerusalem, was born in Damascus, to Christian parents, and was mute until he received Holy Communion at the age of 7. Our less from Andrew is that hymns are good for you! Scriptures agree, as we’re to address one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual canticles! [Ephes. 5:18-19]


But our main topic today is the Gospel, in which Jesus gives us another parable. It’s hard not to

like parables; stories are easy to love! Today’s is about the wheat and the tares, the tares being a weed that looks a lot like wheat till it matures. It’s said to be a soporific (or sleep-inducing) poison. Tares are not good for you. The householder disagreed with his servants about pulling up the tares, or bearded darnel, or Lolium temulentium, till harvest time, when they could be pulled out separately while keeping he good wheat for the harvest.


What struck me most when reading the parable this time, was that it’s also about the sneaky

enemy. “While men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went

away...” The enemy sowed tares! The enemy wasn’t even there when the crop of wheat was being

ruined! It was only the cleverness of the householder that let him rescue his crop, by waiting. Sure, this is also an explanation of why good people have to put up with wicked people in this world, till the time for Judgment Day comes upon us. But it’s also about the sneaky enemy, the satan and his devils. They don’t have to be possessing us, oppressing us, or afflicting us in any way: they can plant things in us or around us, to poison our thoughts and feelings, or to harass and bother us and keep tempting us. They can suggest thoughts and prod people to do things, that become temptations for us. It’s a lot like the kind of prank where the prankster gets away with the provocation and someone else gets blamed or retaliated against. The devil sets a snare, and – and then leaves!


But the Lord allows it. We endure it. It’s for our sanctification! Endurance begets virtue, so

we’re to take these occasions – outrageous, or bothersome – and upon them exercise ourselves in virtues, so as to grow more holy. The means used to provoke us to sin, we turn with God’s grace into means to grow stronger in doing what is right and good and even holy.


That is our ascetical life. It’s like declaring independence and getting it: there’s effort and work in

between as we work things out. It’s like St. Andrew going through all manner of ecclesial adventures and even a fit of heresy, becoming in the end renowned as a saint, and chiefly for the sacred hymns he composed. I have a dream, that we may sometimes learn by heart some of those psalms, hymns, and spiritual canticles, so that when we break holy silence, at least we may speak in prayers!

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