Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
When I was young, my mother would have to patrol me in the garden. My youthful willingness to help my mom tend the family garden was not paired with any knowledge about plants. I frequently confused the weeds for vegetables, and the vegetables for weeds. I had to check with my mother what the thing that was growing in the garden really was. Often, I asked her only after I had already uprooted the plant to my mother’s consternation! Whenever I was in the garden, I knew I needed my mother’s help, and only had to ask for it to be given. This story came to mind when praying with the Gospel reading today about the weeds growing amongst the wheats.
This passage challenges us by causing us to think about who are weeds or wheats in the world, including reflecting to which category we ourselves belong. We want to know if we are good enough. We want to know if God concurs with judgments we have made about others. If all we do is wonder about ourselves or others, I think we miss the point behind today’s reading.
Instead of worrying about ourselves or others too much, we take our attention off of God. We miss the fact that God loves both the wheats and weed, and lets them grow together. Letting weeds grow is counterproductive to the average gardener. We can miss this description about God because we are launched into worrying about ourselves. God is no average gardener, nor are we any average plant. We are complex beings in which God loves both the wheats and weeds in us. Only God knows the totality of people’s thoughts, desires, fears, and hopes. We do not know who is truly a weed or wheat. As my early experience in the garden taught me, appearances may be deceiving on who is a wheat or a weed.
I think God tells us about these two categories to help us pay attention to Him. God is not rash to cast out what is unseemly in His garden; let us pray that we are not rash to cast out others or ourselves in a similar fashion. My experience gardening with my mother was similar in that I had to rely upon her, and watch what she did to know what to do myself. Let us pray for the grace to be like God in His garden.
What does the image of God letting the weeds grow in the garden mean to you?