Today’s find: Wheat and weeds.

Things don’t always turn out the way we plan.

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One hot ride, courtesy of Sarah Schroeder.

It’s a lesson that became abundantly apparent to a young man who’d spent the day working on his motorcycle, and then – when taking it for a test-ride through my son and daughter-in-law’s neighborhood yesterday evening – found himself atop a very hot bike, indeed.

Now, I know better than to attempt such mechanical repairs myself. Still, I can imagine the young man’s frustration when all his well-intentioned labors went pear-shaped in a hurry. My tendency in such situations is to rail at the injustice of it all: Why, good and gracious God, are you picking on me?

It just doesn’t seem right, to have the good cluttered up by the bad in our lives. Yet, in the gospel passage we heard at Mass on Saturday, Jesus teaches that the kingdom of God is just this way.

He tells the parable of a man who sows good seed in his field, only to have an enemy over-seed the plot with weeds in the night. When the crop grew and bore fruit, the weeds appeared as well – prompting the man’s slaves to ask whether they should weed the field to give the wheat the opportunity to flourish. ‘No,’ the man replied, ‘if you pull up the weeds, you might uproot the wheat along with them. Let them grow together until harvest…’

There’s a bigger plan in the kingdom of God, Jesus seems to be telling us. We are not privy to all the details, nor can we fully appreciate the entire sweep and scope of God’s design.

It may offend our sense of righteousness, to let the wheat and weeds grow together. But when we contemplate this instruction from the Lord, it can also help to cure a defect in our souls – the tendency to see my needs, my desires, my plans as being at the very center of the universe.

I am reminded of a beautiful and thought-provoking prayer that’s included in Michael Harter’s Hearts on Fire: Praying with the Jesuits.

Litany of Contradictory Things,

by Michael Moynahan, S.J.

Wheat and weeds:

Let them grow together.  …

Revolutionaries and reactionaries:

Let them grow together.

Religious leaders who lay and lighten burdens:

Let them grow together.

Disciples prone to boasts and betrayals:

Let them grow together.

People of God who wound and heal:

Let them grow together.

Rich and poor, humble and haughty:

Let them grow together.

Days of sparseness and days of plenty:

Let them grow together.

Winter, spring, summer, fall:

Let them grow together.

Joy and laughter, sorrow tears:

Let them grow together.

Strength and weakness:

Let them grow together.

Doubt and faith:

Let them grow together.

Denial and commitment:

Let them grow together.

Preoccupation and freedom:

Let them grow together.

Virtue and vice:

Let them grow together.

Contemplation and action:

Let them grow together.

Giving and receiving:

Let them grow together.

The helpful and the helpless:

Let them grow together.

Wisdom of the East and West:

Let them grow together.

All contrarieties of the Lord:

Let them grow together.

 

This prayer is a good reminder that it all belongs – both the wheat and the weeds in our lives. By learning to embrace every circumstance, good or bad, we encounter along the way, we are in fact coming one step closer to the kingdom of God.

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