This week’s Daily Meditations focus on Jesus’ parables as teachings intended for our spiritual transformation. In this homily, Father Richard Rohr describes how Jesus’ parable of the weeds and wheat offers insight into becoming compassionate, “both-and” people instead of “either-or” people. Click here to read the Gospel passage (Matthew 13:24–30).
This Gospel is not only extremely insightful, it’s also very realistic and compassionate. With injustices and crises in every part of the world, many of us are asking ultimate questions about good and evil. “Where do the weeds come from? Where does evil originate? Why do people do such harmful things?” I ask this about a dozen times every day. This world doesn’t make sense. How can people be so malicious, so unkind, so uncaring? It’s like we don’t know how to care anymore, as though we don’t know how to access our own hearts, our own souls, and our own spirits.
For those of us who grew up as Christians, we may have heard this parable when we were younger. We may have been told to pull out the imperfect weeds and get rid of our faults. But since we really couldn’t get rid of them, we covered them up and pretended we didn’t have them. And that just doesn’t work.
Yet Jesus shows us an absolute realism. He says something that was never said to me when I was a young person: “Let the weeds and the wheat both grow together.” Wow! That’s risky. I can’t pretend to logically understand it, although I know it allows me to be compassionate with myself. After all, I’m also a field of weeds and wheat, just like you are, and just like everything is. Everything is a mixed bag, a combination of good and bad. We are not all weeds, but we are not all wheat, either. We have to learn, even now, to accept and forgive this mixed bag of reality in ourselves and in everybody else. If we don’t, we normally become very angry people. Our world is filled with a lot of angry people because they cannot accept their own weeds.
To accept this teaching doesn’t mean we can say, “It’s okay to be selfish, violent, and evil.” It simply means that we have some realism about ourselves and each other. We have to name the weed as a weed. We can’t just pretend it’s all wheat, all good, because it isn’t. We’re not perfect. Our countries are not perfect. The Church is not perfect. The project of learning how to love—which is our only life project—is quite simply learning to accept this. If you really love anybody, and I hope you all do, then you have learned to accept a person despite, and sometimes even because of, their faults.
What love means is to say, “I know your faults, I see your weeds, and I care for you anyway.” Only God’s heart, only the mind of Christ in us, really and fully knows how to do that.
Adapted from Richard Rohr, “The Weeds and the Wheat,” homily, July 20, 2014.
Explore Further. . .
- Read Richard on a contemplative, compassionate stance in the world.
- Learn more about this year’s theme Nothing Stands Alone.
- Meet the team behind the Daily Meditations.
Image credit: Carrie Grace Littauer, Untitled 12 (detail), 2022, photograph, Colorado, used with permission. Claudia Retter, Bexley Park (detail), used with permission. Claudia Retter, Oak and Moss (detail), photograph, used with permission. Jenna Keiper & Leslye Colvin, 2022, triptych art, United States. Click here to enlarge image.
This week’s images by Carrie Grace Littauer and Claudia Retter appear in a form inspired by early Christian/Catholic triptych art: a threefold form that tells a unified story.
Image inspiration: Parables require us to take a second look. These images make us pause and wonder, “what is that, really?” Perhaps it’s my own shadow, responding from the subconscious with knee-jerk reactions and judgments.
Story from Our Community:
I’m a Quaker and I love the description of worship as a “listening prayer.” When I stayed with some friends in Belarus, I noticed they answer the telephone not by giving their number or name, but by saying “I am listening” and then wait to hear the speaker. It’s a wonderful metaphor for prayer. —Diana L.
Prayer for our community:
God, Lord of all creation, lover of life and of everything, please help us to love in our very small way what You love infinitely and everywhere. We thank You that we can offer just this one prayer and that will be more than enough, because in reality every thing and every one is connected, and nothing stands alone. To pray for one part is really to pray for the whole, and so we do. Help us each day to stand for love, for healing, for the good, for the diverse unity of the Body of Christ and all creation, because we know this is what You desire: as Jesus prayed, that all may be one. We offer our prayer together with all the holy names of God, we offer our prayer together with Christ, our Lord, Amen.