Daily Reflection
July 26th, 2003
Andy Alexander, S.J.
The Collaborative Ministry Office
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Memorial of Saints Joachim and Ann, parents of Mary
Ex 24:3-8
Ps 50:1b-2, 5-6, 14-15
Mt 13:24-30

" ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field?
Where have the weeds come from?'

‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?'
He replied, ‘No, if you pull up the weeds you might uproot the wheat along with them.
Let them grow together until harvest."
 - Mt. 13

This parable of Jesus can be so good for us today.  "Where have the weeds come from?"  You and I ask the same question of God whenever we are disappointed, discouraged, shocked or scandalized by the fact that - in our world, in our church, in our family, and in our own hearts - there's a mess.  This is a great story to console us and guide us, when we are tempted to shift into "clean-up" mode.  This tendency to rid ourselves of what is "impure" is deep in us.  In its worst forms, it can lead to the rejection of those who are different from us; it can foster the tendency to destroy others through character assassination; and, of course, it can be the "moral" argument for all war.  We can even find it difficult to tolerate our own inconsistencies and sinful habits.

So, what does Jesus want us to do?  Doesn't he care that things appear to be in a mess?  It's just common sense to not let the "weeds" get out of control, isn't it?

Jesus is quick to point out the Master's defense:  "An enemy has done this."  Jesus wants us to remember that there is an "enemy" of the work of the Father, and that is the Evil Spirit.  The Enemy would want nothing more than for us to tear the whole field up.  A family tearing each other apart, a parish divided by factions, bombing in the name of peace, or an individual paralyzed by self-destructive guilt - these are all the delight of the Evil Spirit.

I think Jesus wants us to let the Father be the judge.  I think Jesus wants us to be continually discerning what is coming from Holy Spirit and what is coming from the Evil Spirit.  He is warning us that the Evil Spirit often deceptively comes "in the name of good" - as St. Ignatius says, "as an Angel of Light."  Of course, we should oppose evil.  Of course, we should name it and expose it.  Of course, we should work against evil in all its forms.  Today's caution, however, is a good one.  The Enemy will take great delight if we end up being his servant in causing an even greater mess, leading to even deeper evils.

Today is the memorial of Saints Joachim and Ann, the parents of Mary, and therefore the grandparents of Jesus.  Though we know nothing about them from scripture it has been our long tradition to reflect upon what they must have been like.  It's nice today to long for the grace that must have filled their lives - to raise a daughter "full of grace" who would say, "May it be done to me according to your word."

Dear Lord, through the intercession of Ann and Joachim, give us discerning hearts, compassionate hearts, patient hearts, hopeful hearts, to trust that your promises to us will be fulfilled.  Let us be servants of your own mission today, with all we encounter, in all we do.  Amen.

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