Daily Reflection
July 18th, 1999
Andy Alexander, S.J.
University Ministry and the Collaborative Ministry Office
The Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Wisdom 12:16-19
Rom 8:26-27
Mt 13:24-43
The owner plants good seed in the field.  Weeds start to come up, planted by an enemy.  The workers want to tear up the weeds.  So as not to ruin the crop as well, the owner exhorts patience and will let the crop and the weeds grow up together.  It will be enough to separate them at harvest time.

We all know this story.  We know the experience.  Those weeds are familiar.  They represent any part of our life experience that is mixed or disappointing or messy or contaminated by evil.  The story reminds us of how, if we don't blame God for life's weeds, we certainly have had the instinct to want to pull up the weeds or reach for the weed-killer.

Our everyday life brings us encounters with people or situations that seem wrong or are a terrible annoyance to us.  Every morning's news confronts us with a world sewn with evil and forces at odds with God's Spirit of unity and love.  Our closest relationships are complex.  Who doesn't know the experience of frustration at the limitations of loved one?  And, of course, we have daily reminders that we ourselves are not perfect.  We have habits or patterns that are neither attractive or helpful in our growth as disciples of Jesus.

It is tempting - sometimes dangerously or tragically so - to desire a perfect world.  Eliminating undesirables, executing murderers, segregating our reality - are always tempting solutions.  We have all tried to fix flaws in our friends and loved ones.  And, we have all gone through cycles of disliking or hating parts of ourselves - followed by periods of resolutions, reform, or chronic unhappiness with ourselves.

It is remarkable and consoling that Jesus is familiar with the movements in us and put the dynamics into a parable.  He knows and understands.  He also reveals to us that while God certainly grieves the evil that is in the world, and in us, God is not interested in pulling up all evil.  God is able to love.  And God teaches us to love.  God embraces the whole world in love.  God loves each and every one of us, unconditionally.  God's redemptive plan - God's ultimate victory over the power of sin and death - can allow us to live more peacefully in a messy world.

In the parable of the mustard seed, Jesus gives us hope.  From the smallest of seeds God is at work in us and in our world.  God's work - love itself - is not violent or overnight.  Only a little love brings tremendous growth and new life.

Perhaps this is a wonderful reflection to bring us to the Serenity Prayer:

Grant me
the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
and the Wisdom to know the difference.
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