Sunday, February 05, 2017
The fake news about tares?
Sermon for the Fifth Sunday after Epiphany
You may have noticed that we live in an age of “alternative facts” and fake news. These days, we really can find apparent justification for saying that the Moon-landings never happened, that the Earth is flat, and we now have a powerful political figure claiming that Global Warming is a fiction against a lot of scientific evidence which claims that it is a fact.
Is Global Warming real, or is it fake? How do you know?
In the Church, we know that we are not immune from falsehoods. We see all these changes and additions and subtractions and criticisms from people who claim to have faith. We hear people say, “When Jesus says this, what he means is that.” There are Biblical Scholars who say that the Gospels have been altered and edited for the Church’s benefit. There are even people calling themselves active Christians who even deny that Jesus was God and, further, that God isn’t real!
How can we know the truth in a turbulent ocean of information, much of which is completely made up by men for their own ends?
We listen to Jesus.
“The tree is known by his fruit.”
We might say, “the proof of the pudding is in the eating,” but Our Lord tells us something stronger. Unless we have our eyes open to the truth to begin with, we can only know a fact by the effect that it causes. Until we see that effect, we are in no position to make any judgement at all. Indeed, if we judge too soon, then we can and will miss the truth. This is why prejudice is such an evil: it starts in ignorance, and is nourished by ignorance of our ignorance!
As we listen to Jesus, we hear Him say, “The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field. But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way.” It is while men sleep that falsehood comes into our world. It is while we allow ourselves to sit idly in ignorance that we lose track of what is really true. That’s where the falsehood enters in the first place, through the cat-flap in the back door on a moonless night while we’re napping.
St Peter exhorts us, “Brethren, be sober! Be vigilant! For your adversary the Devil as a roaring lion walketh about seeking whom he may devour; whom resist, steadfast in the faith.”
The sad fact is that many Christians are allowing themselves to be devoured by the enemy, ensnared in his tissue of lies. He hides these lies within an enormous cauldron of truth so that they can’t be seen. At all times, every single Christian is living in the temptation to loosen their grip on the Faith. This is why we need to keep sober, and watch, and wait for the wheat and the tares to grow.
Jesus says that He is the Truth. He says also that God is love. Therefore, the truth cannot be where love is not. As long as we see the love of God together with the love of neighbour, then the truth is growing there. So we must never despise someone who calls themselves Christian and yet behaves otherwise. While they are still in the Church, they have a chance to have the truth grow within them. Outside the Church, they will not have the benefit of the encouragement that we should be offering to each other as a matter of our Christian duty.
Only God the Father is the author of what is real. God the Son shows us, in His humanity, what is truly real by revealing His Divinity. God the Holy Ghost, fanned into flame within us by our continuing devotion to God and our growing love for our brothers and sisters, will guide us by His light in our darkness. And, with the help of God and abiding in His love, this little thing called the Church, with all the fallibility of the men and women within Her, has guarded, continues to guard, and will guard, this Truth, this Faith, more fiercely and devotedly than any prowling lion his prey.
How do we tell the difference between the real and the fake?
Wait and see!