Jul 24 – Memorial for St. Charbel Makhluf, Priest
St. Charbel was a Lebanese monk, born in a small mountain village and ordained in 1858. Devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary, he spent the last twenty three years of his life as a hermit. Despite temptations to wealth and comfort, St. Charbel taught the value of poverty, self-sacrifice and prayer by the way he lived his life.
‘Do you want us to go and weed it out?’
Weeds are a nuisance. So it’s expected that the servants of the master ask ‘Do you want us to go and weed it out?’ I would have immediately said, “YES! Kill them all!” If the situation wasn’t brought under control, the weeds can overtake the entire field in a very short period of time. For farmers, weeds make it a challenge, they can get too big to be pulled – their roots become intertwined with the roots of the good plants, and pulling up one will also uproot the other, damaging the root systems of the good plants. In today’s parable, the Master knew this: ‘for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. Let both of them grow together until the harvest’.
Researching more about weeds, I learnt that we should just let sleeping weeds lie. Apparently, every square inch of our garden contains weed seeds. Only those on the very top layer of the soil get enough sunlight to trigger germination. So each time we dig the patch (attempting to remove those stubborn weeds), the hidden weed seeds are brought to the surface, causing it to erupt and grow. Dig only when we need to and immediately sooth the disturbed spot with plants or mulch.
As I ponder about this parable and how it is applicable in my life, I wonder why God does not step in when life throws me off the path, why does He not remove the weeds that seem to be choking my roots, making life so difficult. But God, in His wisdom, lets the weeds grow.
The big B word is a big gaping wound in my life. Betrayal. I have written quite a bit about this over the years in these reflections. Having gone through the different stages of shock and devastation, anger, grief, sadness and depression, I still ask God these questions:
“Why did you allow that horrible incident happen?”
“Why did you place that person in my life to hurt me?”
“What did I do wrong to deserve such treatment?”
“Why does God let bad things happen?”
“Why doesn’t He remove the evil that prevails everywhere?”
Many times in anger, I want to retaliate, fight back, and hit where it hurts most. But I hold back. It is not for me to judge. Like those workers in the field, we may think it’s our job to pull out the weeds, to judge who is worthy to flourish and who should be rooted out. But that is not our job. Judgment is God’s job. Judgment will come, and evil will be destroyed. God will take care of removing evil in God’s own good time.
Life is made up of good crops and horrible weeds. We are not good at deciphering between wheat and weeds anyway. That’s God’s job to do. If God were to immediately destroy the weeds in my life, it might cause huge damage to surrounding positive good growth. It is through the process of learning from hardships that I grow. And in time to come, at the very end of my life (at harvest time), He would collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.
Brothers and sisters, are you centred in Christ, so that nothing can uproot you? Is your identity grounded in God’s bountiful grace, and are you willing to extend that grace to others? Can anyone tell whether you are wheat or weeds, by the way you live your life? Do you let God be the judge of who belongs in God’s kingdom?
(Today’s OXYGEN by Geraldine Nah)
Prayer: Lord, I look at what disturbs me in my world, and what disturbs me in my life, and ask for the wisdom and courage to deal with them as You do. Help me to remember that You are the final judge. Help me, God, to keep my eye and heart on what you are doing and what you desire for me.
Thanksgiving: Lord, thank you for your patience and love for me. Thank you for the wisdom and the valuable lessons that you teach us through your parables.