36 Then having sent away the multitudes, he came into the house, and his disciples came to him, saying: Expound to us the parable of the cockle of the field. 37 Who made answer and said to them: He that sows the good seed is the Son of man. 38 And the field is the world. And the good seed are the children of the kingdom. And the cockle are the children of the wicked one. 39 And the enemy that sowed them, is the devil. But the harvest is the end of the world. And the reapers are the angels. 40 Even as cockle therefore is gathered up, and burnt with fire: so shall it be at the end of the world. 41 The Son of man shall send his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all scandals, and them that work iniquity. 42 And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then shall the just shine as the sun, in the kingdom of their Father. He that has ears to hear, let him hear. (Matt 13, DRE)
I was just drifting off to that last bit of sleep I could get this morning, when Killian opened the door.
"Dad, um, JJ got a possum."
I don't live in a rural area. I live in a small subdivision in a medium-sized city. Possum live there, too.
I had heard JJ barking to be let out of his crate. I had heard him let out of his crate. I heard our other two dogs going into canine apoplexy, too. I just wanted to sleep the sleep of the just while my wife did all that letting out.
So, fruit number one of my indulging in sleep was that JJ, our full-bred Jack Russell Terrorist, had finally gotten the goldmine of Jack Russell-dom—that possum he had been barking at since the Mesozoic era.
The boy is up, I reasoned. He's a high-school senior, manly and all that, thus his heroics would enable me to purchase some extra sleep. "Get a shovel."
And I turned over the turning over of the just.
Meanwhile, my wife, Pam, and the aforementioned boy were left to combine their resources in the retrieval of a possum carcass that they weren't too sure was dead. One thing was for sure: JJ was quite alive and enjoying his new plaything.
Now, mind you, I wasn't there, but I hear tell that my intrepid life-mate walloped the aforementioned possum over the head (using the aforementioned shovel), thus confirming that the possum was dead. JJ had faced off with the critter underneath the tool shed. (Jack Russells were originally bred in WWII to chew on land mines and dismantle Nazi Panzer Tanks. Brother Opossum never stood a chance.)
Having ascertained the dead state of the creature, my beautiful wife then attempted, I hear tell, to transfer the offending marsupial carcass into a welcoming double trashbag configuration that the boy had prepared.
Problem was that JJ (who has the vertical leap ability of Spud Webb) repeatedly jumped to all heights that my gorgeous (but, sadly, hobbit-sized) wife could hold the shovel and reunited himself with his unanimated playmate.
Eventually, however, the possum was raptured to the awaiting trash, JJ corralled, I woke up, and Pam and I went to Daily Mass, where the Gospel was Jesus' explanation of the wheat and the tares ("cockles" in the old Douay translation). In his homily, Father Rusty related how God roots out the evil that resides under the sheds of our hearts. (Uh, he didn't put it exactly that way, but the subject was in the shed—er, back—of my mind. I had gotten my morning beauty rest; I therefore needed no sermon naps.)
Now, again, mind you, I had selfishly turned over when my son and wife needed me. It wasn't like I plotted genocide or, say, broke the neck of an unassuming possum.
Yet, the creaturely "need" to sleep broke the neck of any self-giving love that would have gotten my well-slept self out of bed to give a durn about the predicament my family was in.
How do I do it? Without even trying, I screw up—by not trying. How does the wheat abide the tares in my heart? What JJ Angel will leap to the rescue and break the devil's neck?
Another kind of Wheat rescues the wheat … without even trying. The Eucharist is Christ exposed on the Cross and Resurrected in our hearts, the Angel who, without leaping, rests in the hand of Father Rusty until He lays Christ on our tongues, to deliver us by being with us.
I am a sinner. Thank goodness, I every now and then am made to recognize it. Thank goodness for a wife and children who love me. Thank goodness for JJ, who roots out possum. Bless the Lord, my soul, for the Christ Who gives all, especially when I don't. Amen.