“The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a man who sowed good seed in his field…When the crop grew and bore fruit, the weeds appeared as well. The slaves of the householder came to him and said, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where have the weeds come from?’” (Mt 13,24.26f)
This past weekend I was in Fowler with my cousin Randy who was getting ready to plant his wheat and he was getting his seed wheat ready so that he could fill his wheat drill and plant his fields. He was transferring the seed wheat from one truck to another. Seed wheat is a special portion of the harvested wheat that has been specially cleaned and prepared for use as seed for the coming planting season. This special preparation makes this seed “good seed” that has been cleaned of all weed seeds. Watching the preparation for the sowing of the good seed reminded me of the parable that Jesus told about the weeds and the wheat. Certainly any experienced farmer is going to plant “good seed”. He is also going to inject a little fertilizer in with the seed to give it the best chance to grow. You can understand then why the workers were so surprised when the wheat began to grow that there were weeds also growing with the wheat. The workers are well aware that the farmer used “good seed” for his planting, so where did the weeds come from? No matter how good the farmer is or how diligent he is in preparing his fields, using good seed and spraying for weeds, there will always be weeds growing among the wheat. Every wheat field has some weeds. You can’t get rid of all of the weeds. You have to learn to live with that reality. Some of the seeds of the weeds are hidden deep within the soil and grow again when given the proper conditions. Others are blown in upon the wind from neighboring fields. You may be a very careful and meticulous farmer but if your neighbor has a field full of weeds some of those weeds are going to end up in your field.
In our lives (and in the lives of our children) we can also become very frustrated with the weeds that we find growing among the wheat of our spiritual endeavors. We can work very hard at planting the “good seed” in our hearts (and in the lives of our children) of the gospel, of prayer, of God’s commandments and sound moral teachings and still there will be the weeds of sinful behavior and attitudes and weaknesses in our life. It is frustrating and we want to find the answer to this problem and root out the bad seed and pull up the weeds and fix the problem and produce a perfect harvest. The problem is that we can do more damage than good with these good intentions. Often our pride is behind this refusal to accept weakness or imperfection. Especially when we are trying to eradicate the weeds in someone else’s life (ie. our children) we can be most vulnerable to causing great damage. The weeds among the wheat is a mystery of our humanity that we all must live and we cannot treat it as a problem to be solved by applying some simplistic solution. We certainly are going to get nowhere in assigning blame.
Where have the weeds come from? We are told in the parable, “An enemy did this.” Well, who then is the enemy. We start with blaming the media, or technology, or the school system, or the Church, the liturgy, the local priest, friends or people we hang out with and on and on. It seems that in the end everyone can be seen as the enemy, even ourselves. All this leads to is frustration, resentment, bitterness, anger and hatred. Our trying to identify the culprit and rid our field of the weeds ends up causing worse problems in our lives than the weeds ever would have caused. In the gospel parable our Lord advises patience. Give God’s grace a chance to work.
St. Paul also struggled with weeds in his wheat. He had a little weakness thrown into his mix of perfection. He asked God to take it away, three times, he wanted those weeds pulled. God said no: “Therefore, that I might not become too elated, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, an angel of Satan, to beat me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times I begged the Lord about this, that it might leave me, but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” …Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ, for when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2Cor 12,7-10)
We sow the good seed, we certainly don’t purposely sow what we know is weeds in our own fields (If you are doing that then stop it! Clean your seed before planting.), and we rest. We rest in God’s grace and in his power. We do what we can, as imperfect as it may be, and we then place our trust in God and allow the power of his Spirit to finish the work that has been begun in us and bring it to completion. “I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Phil 1,6) We know that there will be weeds among the wheat, don’t fixate on the weeds, take care of the wheat and have patience that God and his angels will sort things out in good time. Be gentle and humble with yourself and others. Certainly, don’t blame God for the weeds in your field, he is not your enemy, he always plants the “good seed”.