The Weeds and Wheat of the Human Heart

1 August 2006: Tuesday of the 17th Week in Ordinary Time
Jeremiah 14, 17-22; Matthew 13, 35-43: St. Alphonsus M. d’Ligouri

The first reading from Jeremiah tells us about Israel’s unfaithfulness. Israel continuously worshipped idols and false gods. Each time, the people of Israel realize that false gods can do them no good, they turn back to Yahweh. The Gospel talks about the Parable of the Weeds and the Wheat. It was meant for those, like the Pharisees, claim that they could see the righteous from the evil ones. These righteous people are inclined to form exclusive circles of ‘respectable’ people. Jesus cautions them from such attitude. Fr. Nil Guillemette SJ, tells us that the Pharisees’ name for example, suggests that they are the ‘separated’ ones ---- and so they wanted to create a society of ‘pure’ believers. In the first century, an apocryphal book called the Psalms of Solomon claimed that in the coming of the Messiah, He would eliminate all weeds, all sinners from Israel so that the Chosen Race will be composed of perfect persons.

However, we run to risk of eliminating the saints in wanting to eliminate the so-called sinners from society. Many saints are non-conformist and their criteria of action always run counter to the accepted norms of society. Take for example Augustine, Ignatius and Charles de Foucauld who all started as sinners. Even Jesus was like a poisonous weed: he appeared so scandalous to the pious and ‘religious’ men and women of his time.

I guess we can translate the thought of the parable from the field of the world to the field of the human heart. In reality, there is no human heart that is pure enough, totally good, or totally evil. It is sown with the wheat and the weeds in varying proportions and intensities. In the secrecy of our hearts, we easily discern the weeds from the wheat, the good from the bad intentions, the “false idols and gods” that have determined our lives --- as the first reading tells us. Similarly with our neighbor’s hearts, which we do not have total access. We can morally evaluate their actions: when they help us in our studies, we say that is a good action; when they gossip about us, we say that it is a bad action. But we know that sometimes our helping others can be for selfish reasons, like those who would like to be popular would help the star of the campus in order to belong to the popular group.

Thus, if God has shown himself infinitely patient with Israel, sending rain to both the good and the bad, and He has shown Himself infinitely patient with us, then we should show infinite patience with our neighbors, who like us, are struggling to eliminate what they do not like about themselves. And as in our struggles, they too need the support God gives to the human heart whose fields include even the poisonous weeds.

1 comment:

flowerdrumsong said...

Amen to that. Wow, I stumbled upon your blog while I am in deep need of some answers. Thanks for sharing your homilies here. I hope you don't mind that I link you up in my space.

Thank you and God bless you always! :)