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For the Fifth Sunday after Epiphany: Augustine of Hippo on the Parable of the Tares

February 5, 2017

The reading for the Fifth Sunday after Epiphany including the Parable of the Tares, here, from Faith and Life, is a reading from Augustine of Hippo on that Parable.

It seemed to the servants a grievous thing that there should be tares among the wheat; and indeed it was a grievous thing. But the condition of a field is one thing, and the quiet of a barn is another. Bear with the tares; for thou wast born for this end. Bear with them, for thou, perhaps, hast been borne with. If thou hast always been good, be compassionate; if thou hast ever been bad, do not lose the recollection of it. And who is always good? If God were to scrutinize thee thoroughly, He would more easily find thee to be bad now, than thou couldst find thyself to have been always good. Therefore, we must bear with these tares among the wheat, these goats among the sheep. This growing together in the field will pass away; the separation in the harvest will come. At present, the Lord requires of us that patience which He exhibits in Himself, saying to thee: “Were I to choose to give judgment now, should I give any unrighteous judgment—should I be capable of erring? If I, who always judge righteously, I who cannot err, put off My judgment; dost thou, who knowest not how thou oughtest to be judged, venture to judge thus hastily?” Now, therefore, it is not the time for separating, but for tolerating. I am not saying this, in order that diligence in correcting evil should go to sleep; on the contrary, lest we come unwarned to the Great Judgment, and, as blind men ignoring our own blindness, suddenly find ourselves on the left hand,—let discipline be exercised, let judgment not be precipitated. What says the Lord? “I judge.” A great security,— He Himself judges; let good men set their minds at rest,—let bad men be proportionably alarmed.

–St. Augustine, Sermon xlvii

Indeed, we can always trust God to do the right thing; we can thereby set our minds at rest.

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