During the years I was growing up, my parents owned an acre and a half of land that was located next to our house. When I was a young boy, my dad made a pasture by putting up a fence around the land. He also built a barn on the land.
For a short period of time, we had horses. During the 1960s and 1970s, we had sheep and a cow that provided milk for our family.
Over time, the pasture became populated with hundreds of thistles. A thistle is a wild plant that has a stem and leaves that are covered with sharp points.
Thistles produce flowers that release tiny seeds into the air. Like most wild plants, thistles multiply quickly if they are not kept under control.
The animals stayed away from the thistles because when they attempted to eat them, their tongues and noses were pricked by the sharp points on the leaves.
One Saturday morning during the summer of 1969 — when I was 12 years old — my dad rounded up me and a couple of my brothers and we all descended onto the pasture to dig up thistles. The biggest challenge we faced was that the roots of the thistles were 12 to 18 inches in length.
My dad emphasized the fact that we had to dig deep enough to get the entire root of each thistle or the following summer, a new thistle would sprout up from the leftover root. We didn’t get very far that Saturday, so my dad offered to pay us ten cents for every thistle that we dug up on our own. The deal was that we had to get the entire root before we could collect our ten cents.
For the next several days, my brothers and I dug up thistles. When we picked up the thistles, we had to hold them by the roots because there was no place on the plant itself that didn’t have the sharp points.
We were able to remove all the thistles from the pasture that summer. The following summer, new thistles popped up, but the total number of thistles was only about 25 percent of what we had during the previous year. By the third summer, the new thistles were down to about 5 percent of the original number of thistles.
It took us three summers to completely eradicate all the thistles.
I thought about the deep-rooted thistles earlier this month when I read that Jerry Brown, the Governor of California, had signed a bill into law legalizing doctor-assisted suicide. The article referred to Brown as a “pious Catholic.” Another article I read referred to him as a “devout Catholic.”
After Brown signed the bill into law, he released a copy of a letter that he sent to members of the California State Assembly (see below). In his letter, Brown provided his reasons for signing the bill. Although Brown made it appear as though he had struggled to make his decision, there was nothing in his letter that indicated that the “pious” and “devout” Catholic had prayed or reached out to God for help in making his decision.
In his letter, Brown wrote that he had “considered the theological and religious perspectives that any deliberate shortening of one’s life is sinful.” That sounds like something Judas would have said — that he had considered the theological and religious perspectives that betraying Christ was sinful — before he actually made the decision to turn Him over to His enemies.
I read five articles that reported on Brown’s signing of the bill. Each of the articles pointed out that he is a Catholic. Three of the articles made reference to the fact that as a young man, Brown had been enrolled in a Jesuit seminary.
What did this so-called Catholic have to gain by signing the suicide bill into law? He won the last election by a huge margin. Why did he publicly spit in the face of God? Yes, he was attempting to pander to the media and his base, but ultimately, his actions proved that he is an evil man. Like Judas, he was in a position of authority that was granted to him by God, but with malice of forethought, he betrayed his church and his Creator.
What does all this have to do with the deep-rooted thistles that my brothers and I had to dig up for three straight summers? I’ll explain next week.