He put before them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field; but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared as well. And the slaves of the householder came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where, then, did these weeds come from?’
He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The slaves said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ But he replied, ‘No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. Let both of them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
Good seed is sown in the soil of our hearts. Without any ill will on our part, weeds spring up. Call it dysfunctional family systems, systemic injustice, or simply original sin, there are parts of us that are, and will always be, screwed up. How I wish I could just reach inside and root out all the bigoted, addicted, selfish, insecure, jealous, violent parts of me and our society. But years of spiritual direction and therapy keep teaching me to accept the less evolved sides of my personality, for they are as much a part of me as my creatively inspired, spiritually generous, and genuinely loving parts. That doesn’t mean that I simply excuse bad behavior. But when I embrace my own shadow, I find a lot more tolerance for the weeds growing in my neighbor’s garden. It oils my stiffened joints, and I find myself on my knees, not just weeding but pleading for mercy.
—Fr. J. Michael Sparough, SJ, is a retreat master, writer, and spiritual director at the Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House, in Barrington, IL. His weekly video reflections can be viewed at Heart to Heart.
As swimmers dare
to lie face to the sky
and water bears them,
as hawks rest upon air
and air sustains them,
so would I learn to attain
freefall, and float
into Creator Spirit’s deep embrace,
knowing no effort earns
that all-surrounding grace.
—“The Avowal” by Denise LevertovPlease share the Good Word with your friends!