Saturday, July 24, 2010

Let them just grow together

Even the richest soil, if left uncultivated will produce the rankest weeds
(Leonardo da Vinci)

Gospel text (Mt 12:14-21): Jesus told his disciples another parable, «The kingdom of heaven can be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. While everyone was asleep, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and left. When the plants sprouted and produced grain, the weeds also appeared. Then the servants of the owner came to him and said: ‘Sir, was it not good seed that you sowed in your field? Where did the weeds come from?’. He answered them: ‘This is the work of an enemy’. They asked him: ‘Do you want us to go and pull up the weeds?’. He told them: ‘No, when you pull up the weeds, you might uproot the wheat with them. Let them just grow together until harvest; and at harvest time I will say to the workers: Pull up the weeds first, tie them in bundles and burn them; then gather the wheat into my barn’».

The point of this parable, I believe, is the landowner's allowing the wheat and the weeds to grow together to maturity, which is just what God does for us.

In the four Gospels Jesus tells us in many ways that I have to choose between living joyfully with God forever and being forever separated from Him, in great pain over my loss. That aspect of this message is not new.

The special spin that Jesus puts on this question of my choice here is that I have a whole lifetime to make it in. God provides me with all that I need to choose Him and to make that choice concrete in my life rather than just a vague wish or orientation, and I must make that one central choice of my life in terms of the small daily choices that inch me closer to God or away from Him.

One other aspect here is that while the "harvesters" are able to tell the difference between the weeds and the wheat, I myself must ordinarily remain in some uncertainly about whether I truly have chosen God enough, whether I have loved Him enough. Any certainty about whether I am "saved" or not can be a form of self-delusion and lead to pride, laziness, and a fatal assumption that I am "good enough." The fact is, no one is “good enough” and Jesus said himself, “pick up your cross and follow me - the man who chooses to save his life will lose it and the man who lays down his life will save it.” This requires our participation with God in our own salvation. It does not mean we earn salvation, for that was earned for us on the cross but it does mean we have to “live” a certain way and if we choose not to, there are consequences.

I simply do not know whether I am weed or wheat while I am alive, and the fact is that I am both --- but which is the dominant side of who I am? Only God knows that answer. It is up to God to decide what I have actually chosen.

And that is where the virtue of hope comes in, as well as the Sacrament of Reconciliation when I ask for forgiveness for being more of a “weed” and less of a “grain of wheat”.

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