Am I Wheat or Chaff? Print
Written by Michael Fones   
Thursday, 10 December 2009 12:33
I came across this lovely, yet sobering image from Origen while preparing for preaching this weekend. I would only add that the virtues of patience and fortitude of which he speaks are not in us innately, but are the fruits of God's grace at work in us, and require our cooperation.
The baptism that Jesus gives is a baptism in the Holy Spirit and in fire. Baptism is one and the same no matter who receives it, but its effect depends on the recipient’s disposition. He who is portrayed as baptizing in the Holy Spirit and in fire holds a winnowing fan in his hand which he will use to clear his threshing floor. The wheat he will gather into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with fire that can never be quenched.??I should like to discover our Lord’s reason for holding a winnowing fan and to inquire into the nature of the wind that scatters the light chaff here and there, leaving the heavier grain lying in a heap—for you must have a wind if you want to separate wheat and chaff.?? I suggest that the faithful are like a heap of unsifted grain, and that the wind represents the temptations which assail them and show up the wheat and the chaff among them.?? When your soul is overcome by some temptation, it is not the temptation that turns you into chaff. No, you were chaff already, that is to say fickle and faithless; the temptation simply discloses the stuff you are made of.?? On the other hand, when you endure temptations bravely it is not the temptation that makes you faithful and patient; temptation merely brings to light the hidden virtues of patience and fortitude that have been present in you all along.
Origen, On Luke’s Gospel 26, 3-5: SC 87, 340-342

This is a good Advent reflection. Am I wheat or chaff? What do my failures - my sin - reveal about me, and how might they direct me in my prayer? Because surely they indicate where virtue is missing or weak, and so I can learn even from my sin, as well as be humbled by it as I recognize my dependence upon Jesus for every good that I do.