As I write this I could instead be profitably weeding my front yard—which has no grass, lots of English ivy, pretty trees, flowers in their season, and an infinite amount of weeds.
In chapter 13 of the gospel of Matthew, Jesus tells two parables about weeds. In the first, there is a sower whose seed lands on different kinds of soil. One kind has thorns, which choke the new plants when they begin to grow, so they never produce. The other parable tells about a wheat field sowed with good seeds but when everyone is asleep the enemy comes and sows weeds among the wheat. The surprising injunction is to let both of them grow together until harvest time.
Sometimes weeding is helpful and sometimes it is not. To ignore injustice is to let conditions fester that choke out the life or Life in the individuals or groups to whom injustice is done, and also in those in whose name the wrongs are done. People’s lives may be cut short because of the unjust conditions they face—hunger and malnutrition, exposure to high levels of pollution in order to produce the products wanted by those whose clean air is protected, being subject to gang violence because they can’t see better alternatives, enduring sex trafficking for others’ greed and lust. With such conditions where is the compassion to which Jesus witnessed? How can one be loving one’s neighbor as oneself?
We all have faults, but to become solely focused on removing the weeds, in ourselves or others, can result in perfectionism and losing sight of God. We may forget who indeed is God, and also forget God’s love for us just as we are. We judge, we ruminate on negative things, we lose sight of life and the abundance of gifts that we have been given. A lack of humility and too much self-righteousness might prosper, because we don’t always know what are truly the weeds. Nor do we always know how to pull them up without damage to the wheat. To weed or not to weed is a question that needs prayerful discernment.
What are the weeds in your life?
How do you listen to and care about others who have different values from yours?
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
For further reflection:
“What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8).
“Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Philippians 4:8).