In All Things: Don’t be too quick to pull the wheat with the weeds
Wow! Where to begin? This week’s Gospel is so rich in meaning and message, it’s hard to pick a starting point. Let me set the stage…
Speaking to the crowds, Jesus tells this parable, likening the Kingdom of God to the sowing in the field. The master planted good wheat in his field but his enemy comes along and throws in seeds of weeds for spite. The servants were appalled to see the weeds sprout up with the wheat. What to do?
The master advices not to attempt pulling the weeds at this point; let them grow with the wheat, he said, because there is a distinct danger of pulling up the good with the bad. At harvest time, the weeds can be then be collected and burned.
The parable speaks to us of God’s mercy; of the dangers of being too quick to judge. It asks us to consider the weeds inside of us each and how we might nurture our wheat…the seeds of good that only God plants and nutures.
God is the only one who knows what fruit these seeds might bear…in his time and his way. Unfortunately, as humans, we like to be judgmental because we don’t comprehend what “God’s time” means. Our human nature too often calls us to make a definitive judgment about the worth of another. This is a basic flaw in any argument for the death penalty. When we determine someone should die at the hands of the state for his or her offenses, we are pitiful in our attempt to play God. In the taking of a life through capital punishment, we negate the possibility of God’s power to transform even the most heinous of criminals. We’re in too much of a hurry. In our rush to judgment, we don’t care if we might be destroying healthy wheat with the weeds.
But let’s look more closely at those weeds. They exist within each of us, you know. They’re called sins and we struggle with them all our lives.
In his parable, Jesus reminds us that the master – God – is patient. He knows the weeds are there but he waits, ready to forgive, eager to see how the seeds of goodness he has sown in each will grow and prosper. God’s compassion and forgiveness is only transcended by his love for all his creation.
Isn’t that a comfort…that we can turn to God over and over and over again and he will welcome us lovingly back into his embrace. Why, then, do we find it so hard to forgive others? Read carefully this passage from the first reading: “But though you (God) are master of might, you judge with clemency, and with much lenience you govern us…you taught your people, by these deeds, that those who are just must be kind.” (Wis 12: 16-19)
Seems rather clear, doesn’t it. If we expect clemency, we must learn to practice clemency. If God can forgive always, what right to we have to withhold our forgiveness? What does this say about how we will ultimately be judged by God?
The last thing that struck me about this Gospel is how it speaks to the need for inclusion. Looking at the weeds mingled with the wheat in the parable, I think we are being asked to trust that God will always find people wherever they are in life’s journey. Christian, Jew Muslim, Buddhist…churched and unchurched…agnostics and atheists, no one is “better” than another because God created us all. We don’t have the capacity to look at a person of a different religion (race, ethnicity, gender, etc.) and make the determination that he/she is a weed or a stalk of wheat. Only God can do that.
Don’t we have enough division in the world without using religion to create even more? Instead of celebrating our seeds of goodness, must we be intent on cultivating the weeds of hatred and mistrust?
Wheat and weeds…there’s a lot to ponder.