Jesus put before his disciples another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field; but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared as well. And the slaves of the householder came and said to him, “Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where, then, did these weeds come from?” He answered, “An enemy has done this.” The slaves said to him, “Then do you want us to go and gather them?” But he replied, “No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. Let both of them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.” ’
Well do I remember my first opportunity to plant a garden. The soil was thoroughly prepared and the plants which were mainly shrubs positioned in such a way as to catch the sun and be a delight to the eye. All went well until weeds began to appear and I found myself quite paranoid about removing them. Little by little the joy of gardening seemed to decrease as my attention had shifted. Instead of watching the miracle growth of the shrubs and flowers I became absorbed in getting rid of the weeds.
To understand a parable we need to be surprised by the twist in the telling which often reveals the hidden meaning. In today’s parable of the kingdom of heaven the surprise comes when Jesus tells His listeners to let the wheat and the weeds grow together till harvest. Now that does not seem like good gardening practice and yet Jesus is the gardener par excellence, the One in whom we can place all our trust.
Much of my Ministry as a Spiritual Director has been spent listening to people struggling with their inner landscaping as they endeavour to come before God with a garden blooming full of virtues. The focus can be on trying to get rid of vices, of weeds. Yet Jesus says let them grow together. I believe Jesus wants us to realise that of ourselves we are unable to get rid of anything let alone root out the weeds of what we don’t like in our neighbours soul landscape. Everything proceeds from God’s Grace and we need to wait patiently while enjoying the growth of the Divine life in the garden of our soul. What is needed is the desire and ability to nourish and befriend those aspects of ourselves and of others we do not like, the weeds that we consider to spoil our perfection. The invitation from Jesus is not to get rid of what we do not like. It is rather to grow and bloom in our relationship with Him just as we are. When we trust Him we integrate every aspect of our being by leaning on Him our Friend and Companion, the Gardener of our being. Let us pray for the Grace to allow our weeds and wheat to grow together, and to allow the same for our neighbour as we trust God to grow the blooming.
Scripture passage from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright 1989, 1993, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.