Monday, March 25, 2013

Easter, the Victory of Wheat Over Weeds

The following is my bulletin column for Easter Sunday.

Dear Friends in Christ,
When I was in seminary, often enough during Holy Week, some major controversy or another would inevitably arise.  One spiritual director used to say that the seminary was a prime target for the Devil because if he undermines what happens there, he undermines the whole Church.  Since then, I’ve always had a greater sense of how the Devil diligently works to destroy what is good and holy.  At certain moments, he seems relentless in his efforts. 
I imagine that if there are books written about what are best practices for an Easter Sunday bulletin column, chapter one might be entitled “Don’t Mention the Devil,” but I’m going to charge ahead anyways.  In many of his homilies thus far, Pope Francis has referred to the Devil and his attempts to steal from us our life and our joy in Christ.  I figure it is never a bad thing for a priest to speak in union with the Pope!
Many of you that I will greet this Easter morning, I know well, some not so much, and some who are reading this, I know not at all.  I do know, however, that you were bought at a price.  God loves you so much that He gave His Only-Begotten Son up to death for you.  Whether you’ve been faithful to God, faithful to His Gospel, Faithful to His Church, and Faithful to the Sacraments or not, God loves you.  He has paid the highest price for you.
When we are weighed down by anguish and suffering, we might think that God has forgotten us.  Illness, unemployment, family discord, betrayal, and hosts of other sufferings can perhaps make us feel discouraged.  So too, our own sinfulness can convince us that we have no hope of ever living near to God.  The Devil uses all of these things to separate us from God.  He plants tares in our fields, hoping to discourage us in our Christian life.  In a way, his intense effort to destroy us is itself a testimony to the extraordinary love that God has for us.  If God did not love us so much, His Enemy would not be taking aim at us.
The Enemy Sowing Tares
Satan can unleash the powers of Hell against us, but he is victorious only if we permit him to overcome us.  Psalm 27 tells us, “Though an army encamp against me, my heart does not fear; Though war be waged against me, even then do I trust.”  Sometimes in life, we might stand on the city wall and see the devastation that surrounds us.  Whether it be our own failures or, like the man who planted wheat in his field and discovers in the morning that an enemy has come during the night and sowed weeds among the wheat, we can be tempted to discouragement.  In these moments, let us trust Jesus even more.
Today, perhaps there are many people at Mass who, in one way or another, are perplexed by the situation in which they find themselves.  Easter Sunday is for you.  The announcement of Christ’s Resurrection is not only an announcement of a past event.  It is an announcement of a present reality and of a future glory.  Christ is defeating sin and death today.  He has crushed the serpent’s head and has purchased you at a costly price.  So, do not be discouraged.  Even if tomorrow you should awake and discover that weeds have been sown among the wheat; even if tomorrow you should sin greatly; even if tomorrow you should experience the pains of illness, the loss of work, or the rupture of relationships; even if an army encamp against you and all out war be waged against you, do not yield to discouragement.  Today, Easter Sunday, is the Day of Victory.  It is the day of your victory.  He has conquered sin and death.  He died for you and He rose for you.  You don’t have to wait for victory.  It has already happened.  Don’t let the Devil steal from you the victory that has already been won. 
To all who may feel distant from God, to all who feel weighed down by their past, to all who feel the assaults of the Evil One, to all who have awakened to discover that an enemy has sown weeds among your wheat, I wish you a Happy Easter because this New Day and the joy of victory belong to you.
Your Brother in Christ,
Fr. David Barnes


  1. The assaults, by Satan, are indeed continuous, you are correct. Thanks for speaking directly to this as we wait in the Garden of Gethsemane with our Lord who was tempted, unrelentingly, by the Evil One in the hours and moments before He was arrested, innocent though He was. Why would I expect any less honestly. The less we speak to it the happier Evil is. The more, though, we speak of the God and His salvation, the happier He is :)

  2. The Beauty of Truth, spoken with pastoral love. You are a remarkable Priest of God, Father Barnes: and he whom The Lord loveth, He chastiseth. I feel like the laborer in the Vineyard who came at the very end of the day, and yet was paid like all the rest: I thank God that I can say "I was one of Father David Barnes' flock" — I waited to meet a Catholic Priest like you my entire (at this point, rather long) life. You have been the conduit through which many Blessings have, are, and will flow: whatever joys, whatever crosses you know here, your witness to, and labors for, our Lord are storing up a mighty treasure for you when you come to hear those blessed Words "Well done, thou good and faithful servant!" You are in our prayers daily, and will remain there.

    1. Thank you for the kind words and for the prayers. I'm glad you are with us.

  3. Father Barnes I REALLY needed that last post - I am one trying everyday to keep the Lord central in my life - and seek solace and comfort in daily Mass - life's struggles can make is so difficult to continue on but with Prayer and Faith in the Grace of God I find peace. I hope you continue with your posts they get me through....