One of the things I do when we have school Mass is ask the children ‘tell me who you are.’ They can all answer, ‘we’re good people’. And they are good people, we are all good people. But as we all know from our own life experience, good people can do some pretty hurtful things, thoughtless things, even mean things. I think that’s what today’s gospel parable of the wheat and the weeds is all about. We all have within us wheat and weeds. St. Paul was speaking of the reality of his own weeds and wheat when he said of himself, “the good that I would that I do not and the evil I would not do, that I do.” God in His wisdom lets wheat and weeds both grow together and judges us with mildness and great forbearance. He holds back the enthusiasm of those who would want to root out our weeds lest more damage than good be done.
It is good to know that the “kingdom of heaven” is not a place or an institution, but an attitude, a mindset where one places ones trust and priorities. Jesus told us, ‘the kingdom of God is within you.’ We would make a mistake to think the kingdom is limited to the Christian faith or the Catholic Church. On the feast of Christ the King we hear that God’s kingdom is an eternal and universal kingdom, a kingdom of truth and life, a kingdom of holiness and grace, a kingdom of justice, love and peace.
Whenever, wherever and who ever works for and brings about in the human family or in the earth community, truth and life, holiness and grace, and especially justice love and peace – they bring about the kingdom of God. It is our life time effort to bring about the kingdom in our own lives as we try to be people of holiness and grace, justice love and peace.
There can be times in our lives when the wheat of our Catholic, Christian faith is choked by the weeds of our prejudice or our narrow mindedness, weeds that choke our ability to see the good and the dignity of people of other races, religions or cultures. We can ask ourselves whether or not we get choked on the weeds of arrogance and a sense of superiority because we find the wheat of our Christian faith which calls us to love and respect men and women different from ourselves to be too demanding and difficult.
Do our weeds of indifference and apathy stifle the wheat of our sense of responsibility to the poor, the homeless, those good people less fortunate than ourselves, do such weeds desensitize us to the needs of such good people and choke the wheat that teaches us, ‘whatever you do to one of these, the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you do to me?’
Do our weeds of busyness and frantic activity choke the wheat of our need to spend time in peace and quiet, our need to spend time in prayer with God?
As we praise and worship God in this ‘green space’ can we admit that our weeds of consumerism and waste are choking our wheat of respect and reverence for God’s good creation?
The good that we would, that we do not and the evil that we would not do, that we do. This is the lifetime struggle of our wheat and weeds.
As we continue to celebrate this Mass we can pray for ourselves and for each other that we be graced to know that our sins and failures don’t really agree with our real selves. Our sins and failings are not good things, nor are any of the weeds growing in us wonderful or desirable and they are only a part of who we are. Our urges to put ourselves and our needs before others, our impulse to think less of those different from ourselves, our tendency to neglect the presence and grace of God in our lives, our tendency to take for granted the bounty and beauty of earth – all these are never the full description of who we are. We are good people who are also mistake making beings and we should try to remember and celebrate, there is more to us than our weeds.