Letters from Antioch, Those darned nellies


As we strode through the fields of Nevada wheat, at the junction of US 395, State Route 341, and State Route 341, Salvador pointed to a man who was out in his harvester sowing beautiful seed for beautiful wheat in his field. While the family members were sleeping, his neighbor with whom he was arguing came and sowed weeds among his wheat in his field.

Later, the man left. When the crop grew and bore fruit, the weeds appeared as well.

Fields between Reno and Carson City Nevada

The workers on the farm came and told him, “Sir, did you not sow the expensive seed into your field? Where have the weeds come from?”

The farmer answered, “Darned Nellies. The neighbors did this.”

His field hands asked, “Do you want us to go and pull them up?”

The farmer related, “No, if you pull up the Darned Nellies you might uproot the wheat along with them. Let them grow together until harvest time. The Darned Nellies make people drunk. The Darned Nellies of life make people drunk with greed.”

The farmer related, “The Darned Nellies stand upright with greed when full grown. The beautiful wheat bows in humility. Wait until harvest, then collect the weeds with their upright stalks and tie them in bundles for burning; but gather the humble wheat into my barn.”

Salvador related, “So it is in Pop’s world. The proud will be gathered and burned and the humble will enter the grand barn of heaven.”

Bill Kommen asked, “How can the Mighty Judge let evil exist in the world?”

Salvador related, “You ask, “How can the Mighty Judge let evil exist in this world? Look at September 11. God’s answer is, ‘Be patient. Give evil people the rope to hang themselves. In the mean time, what distinguishes you from those Darned Nellies?”

Salvador pointed out, “That is not for the field hands to decide what wheat is and what a Darned Nelly is. You would be the field hands, who would harvest the field. The people who are Darned Nellies are exactly like the people who are like the wheat. You say you can judge a tree by its fruit. That is true for today, but what about tomorrow?”

Salvador inquired, “Remember the story of St. Paul, and St. Stephen? Before St. Paul’s conversion, nobody would have confused him with the beautiful seed or the beautiful fruit it becomes. He was in the hunt to kill St. Stephen. God saw in St. Paul something else. He is one of our greatest saints. Look at St. Peter, known as one of the great buffoons of history. God saw in him something else.”

Salvador also gave example from Torah. “Look at Abraham who prostituted his wife twice and Isaac who prostituted his wife once. Look at what Abraham’s wife Sarah did to her Egyptian servant whose name means traveler in Genesis 16. If we burn everything we believe to be a Darned Nellie, we burn the patriarchs as well.”

Salvador gave King David as an example, “Look at King David and his affair with Beth Sheba. He not only had an affair, but had her husband killed. If you go rushing to pull weeds, you will pull people such as these and the divine seeds. The seeds that started the Jewish religion and the seed that gave birth to Christ die on the vine billions of times over.”

As we hiked down the road, we saw a billboard advertising the redwoods in California. Salvador related, “The reign of Pop is like the pollen in the California Redwoods. When the wind blows the pollen from the parent plant, it is the smallest of all the seeds, merely spores that irritate your noses.”

Salvador looked at a local evergreen tree, “Once it is grown, it becomes very large, and a home for the birds and the small creeping things of the earth. When you join in religious community, meditate on the words of Pop printed in the Good Book, in your minds and in your hearts, and through your hands and feet, communal growth will come to you.”

Salvador also mentioned the lady and the yeast, “The nation of the great flow of things is like a lady who went and purchased yeast so she could make fresh bread. After she had placed the prescribed three cubes in the dough, she placed the dough in a cool dark place. At the proper time, the bread was all leavened and ready for the oven.”

Salvador also asked for a radical choice, “To become a citizen of the nation, one must give everything. Words are not enough; deeds are required. The stories are like mirrors for man; will he be hard soil or noble earth for the word?”

Salvador quoted the Catechism, “The Anointed One and the presence of the nation in this world are secretly at the heart of the stories. For those who stay outside, everything remains mysterious.”[1]

Salvador strolled over to an oak tree, “You are to be like this oak tree. It is hard on the inside. It has an inner strength.”

Birds flew in and among the branches of the oak tree as Salvador related, “This tree is a home for others. Its leaves and twigs are the fuel for their nests and food for their stomachs. Be like these.”

Salvador quoted El Salvador, “Listen to the words of El Salvador in chapter 6:9-10, as he speaks to those who live their lives on the path, among the rocks, or between the weeds. You will indeed hear, but not build up your neighbors. You will look but not understand. According to the US Census, 35.9 million people live below the poverty line in America, including 12.9 million children. You show you understand these words by taking action on this plight.”


[1] The Catechism of the Catholic Church, ISBN 1-57455-110-8, section 546, p 139-40

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