Most of us have weeds
When I used to visit juvenile hall regularly, it was humbly to meet many of the youth there and hear their stories of survival all they endured. Beneath the rough exteriors were just children waiting for kindness guidance and hope. None of them like all of us, chose the circumstances of their birth—which family, which environment. Some have survived physical and sexual abuse, or worse, and yet what I saw, and fortunately a few of the county workers as well, were children nearly lost to life due to circumstances beyond their control. Whenever we prayed together, and the youth would express their hope of making better decisions and choices, we all knew it would be tough as they were often released to the same environment, or group homes or juvenile detention centers and camps.
Children are entrusted as a treasure by God to families, and they are the responsibility of all who enter into their lives. This is how we are to live as Jesus teaches us and calls us to help make his Kingdom come. Like today’s parable of the weeds and wheat could be applied to the schools where we send our children, our treasures.They are not finished products when they first arrive are they? Children have to do a lot of growing and we love them as God intends and help them grow and change.
However, not all children have such a positive environment and home life as we know. Some of our children may not have experienced basic human values. Perhaps, they have been raised in violent households, or households torn apart by some form of chemical dependency, or a violent divorce that has taken place. Perhaps, they have witnessed people hurting others, stealing, horrible language, and experiencing many terrible things. As a result, these children may have some pretty rough edges and a poorly formed conscience. We know they should not be thrown out and discarded but be given the opportunity to learn basic values from the school, from their classmates and other families—a chance for conversion.
Of course there are a few children that need to be removed from the mainstream if they do something that threatens the welfare of others or themselves. However, most are hungry for a sense of being loved by family/friends and especially loved by Jesus. They hunger for a better life and may need extra guidance and care to learn better choices for there may be wheat where some see only weeds.
The parable of the wheat and the weeds is also like the lives of most of us—for there is both beautiful wheat and some weeds within us. Should God destroy us because of the weed in us? Don’t we want God to give us time to cooperate, change and convert? The good and productive parts of us can lead us to full conversion. And a strong prayer life goes a long way in preventing serious sin and keeping us on the path of healthy spiritual grounds.
Many people tell me how our Holy Hour with the Blessed Sacrament, Confession and Sat morning daily Mass has changed their lives and relationships with family, friends and God. The Divine Farmer isn’t ready to give up on the crop. We shouldn’t give up on ourselves. God is so patient with us, shouldn’t we be the same for others including ourselves? Again, I’m not speaking about the extreme negative and pain-causing behavior in some.
I know people who have long suffered with alcohol, chemical addiction. For example, a man has a drinking problem. His drinking was destroying himself and his family. Through prayer and the determination to change his life and through his own openness to the grace of God, he admitted his disease and got help. At first he entered AA. For the last fifteen years he has been sober while acknowledging that he is an alcoholic, but his conversion resulted in virtue overcoming vice. Now he helps others. God didn’t give up on him. He didn’t give up on himself. What looked like a life filled with weeds, the disease of alcoholism, turned out to be wheat as he brings God’s healing to others suffering from alcoholic addiction.
The Kingdom of God is at hand, as Jesus states, and is at work in us through his great grace and love. That reflection begins in the way we love and treat our children, one another and ourselves living the way God intends—helping God to grow and harvest beautiful wheat, made in God’s image-reborn in Christ’s love. How are you making the Kingdom of God real in your family and life?
Blessings, Fr. Gordon