TO WEED OR NOT TO WEED. THAT IS THE QUESTION
Stories abound about those, lacking knowledge of plants and flowers, being set the task of weeding the garden. The proud custodian of the garden returns to find not only weeds but loved plants uprooted. The garden is neat and tidy but the cost of this appearance is high.
Jesus’ parable of the darnel (a weed resembling wheat when young) and the wheat is another version of the story. The workers see the non-wheat growing alongside the good crop. Their urge is to set about the task of weeding immediately. The owner of the field restrains them. They could easily mistake, at this stage of development, darnel for wheat. The prudent approach is to let everything grow to maturity. Then distinguishing wheat from darnel is easily done and none of the good harvest is lost.
In all kinds of situations we are tempted to weed prematurely. Without confusing our metaphors too much the desire to remove the bad apple before it ruins all the others is strong and not without its merit and place in life. I remember growing up and receiving parental warnings about avoiding bad companions who could get you into all manner of strife. And it was advice well given and an important part of my development. The caution against premature weeding has its application even in situations like that. Do not discard them too quickly or conclude that they are bad. As the New Testament says in other places we are to test all spirits to see what harmonises with Christ and what doesn’t. In other words we have to keep our wits about us in making these judgments.
As a Church and parish community the parable cautions us about too readily excluding people. Our Church as a whole has never adopted the approach of some that Church is for saints only. People are to shape up or ship out. Our door is open. Whether we are strong in faith and goodness or whether we feel we are hanging onto our faith by the skin of our teeth we can enter and be part of the worshipping communion.
As I said to the parents preparing their children for the sacrament of reconciliation we do exclude people from ordinary home or church activities from time to time to give them a wakeup call about behaviours that are unacceptable. But even then the aim is to see people grow strong and healthy with a good moral sense.
Helping people grow is an activity that demands much patience and attentive application. In the garden that is ourselves we need to tend it well so that it reflects God’s goodness and not anything that would contradict or reject that goodness.
Fr Adrian Farrelly
|Oct 20, 2014
|16th Sunday in Ordinary Time 20.07.2014