Saturday in the Sixteenth Week of Ordinary time at Mississippi Abbey

Scripture Readings: Jer 7:1-11;  Mt 13:24-30

Today’s parable cautions us not to judge whether the one next to us is a weed or the wheat. We are to leave that judgment to God, Who waits a whole lifetime to see what a person makes of herself. In short, one’s goodness is not so much in one’s acts; it is in the kind of person one is.

Jesus began His ministry calling us to “Repent… the kingdom of God is at hand.” Do we repent of bad acts, or is Jesus asking more?

We say the difference between weeds and wheat is in the kind of person one is because we are commanded most of all to love God and others-in-His-image, and it is this dominant, all-consuming interest of a person that counts most. The moral value of a person is in the substance or purpose to which she is dedicated. That is what distinguishes. As St. Paul says, it is what we put our faith in that justifies us before God.

When I look back on the difference between my life in the church growing up, my secular life in my 20’s and 30’s, and life now, that is the difference: What I put my hopes in, set my heart on as a dominating purpose or direction in life. Hope (faith for the future), is a theological virtue. A virtue is a habit formed to realize value. The wheat knows what is of ultimate value, what is “unsurpassable”. It is the object of our devotion that determines our standing as weeds or wheat.

Furthermore, in consciously living the love Commandments, we do things for one reason rather than another. And that reason makes us wheat. We can make the choice anytime. As I did, we form a new intention and act in accord with that intention. That is how we move from weed to wheat. We are deliberate. We do not leave our character formation to chance. That is what weeds do when they assign importance to the satisfying. We may live on the basis of satisfaction, or we may live for what is valuable-in-itself, independent of self. Which is worth repenting for? Which tells what to repent of and why? The answer is that the “valuable–in-itself” is the only thing worth changing self for. Everything else is mere fashion. It is time-limited.

Community is important to this devotion. Weeds and wheat do not grow alone. As has been noted before, communities form around a shared affection. It is because of what we as a community devote ourselves to for its own sake and its power that our development as wheat is essentially a gift.