15th Sunday A. July 16th
Weed or Wait
Weed or Wait
Jesus put a parable before the crowds, ‘The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. While everybody was asleep his enemy came, sowed darnel all among the wheat, and made off. When the new wheat sprouted and ripened, the darnel appeared as well. The owner’s servants went to him and said, ‘Sir, was it not good seed that you sowed in your field? If so, where does the darnel come from?’ ‘Some enemy has done this’ he answered.
And the servants said, ‘Do you want us to go and weed it out?’ But he said, ‘No, because when you weed out the darnel you might pull up the wheat with it. Let them both grow till the harvest; and at harvest time I shall say to the reapers: ‘First collect the darnel and tie it in bundles to be burnt, then gather the wheat into my barns.’
Have you suffered much from the faults of others? Have people caused you a lot of distress by what they have done? And by what they have failed to do? You may think of one or two people whose bad behaviour has cost you dearly. You may think of many others whose lesser faults and failings upset you and annoy you: these may be in your own home or in your neighbourhood. They may include relatives and friends – and strangers too.
There are two kinds of faults in other people: the ones we must put up with, and the one we must not put up with. In our own time we have become keenly aware of behaviour that must not be tolerated and must be firmly opposed, for example, domestic violence, physical and sexual abuse, racial discrimination and the exploitation of the poor.
The urge to correct
In our day-to-day living we are constantly faced with the faults and failings of others; we can sympathize with the farmer in the parable who found darnel weeds growing with his wheat. We can sympathize too with his servants who wanted to pull up the darnel straight away: how strong is our urge to correct people’s faults! Parents see their children’s every fault and may rush in to correct them. Husbands and wives see the faults in each other and may be quick to tell what should be done about them.
The wisdom of letting be
As we grow older we appreciate the wisdom of the farmer: ‘Let the wheat and the darnel grow together till the harvest.’ We learn to be patient and tolerant. We discover that correcting every fault on the spot may do more harm than good.
As we look back on our lives we can be grateful to the people who corrected us, but we may be more indebted to those who put up with us and were patient with us day after day. I have lived in religious communities for fifty years and have seen the wheat and the darnel in the people with whom I lived; I am grateful that they did not spend their time rooting out the darnel in me.
The wheat that lasts.
In every community, in every family and in every person, there is wheat and darnel. The parable assures us that in the end it is the wheat that will last, the darnel will be burned up. We glimpse this when someone close to us dies. While we lived with them we were aware of their faults and had to put up with them. When they die their faults often disappear from our awareness and their goodness shines out for us; we treasure in our memories the wheat of their lives.
God our Father,
we thank you for your patience and tolerance.
Help us to be patient and tolerant too,
towards others and towards ourselves.
Help us to remember that we are all good seed
which you sowed;
evil is only the darnel, which an enemy planted.
We pray that the darnel in us and in others
may be tied into bundles and burnt,
while the wheat is gathered into your barn.