Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, “Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.”Matthew 13:30
Chores with the Community
Living in intentional community is great because we get to do everything together. It’s fun when we get to share meals, watch movies, and play board games together, but even when we do not-so-fun things together, we still manage to find joy. I don’t distain washing the dishes, cleaning the stove, or going grocery shopping because I get to do these things with and for the people who I love.
On a chilly October Saturday, we had our “Fall Cleaning Day.” We spent the morning and afternoon doing some projects around the big old house that we live in and lovingly call “the Casa.” Some of us re-grouted the kitchen tiles, some raked leaves, some replaced the garbage disposal, and some took the compost to the Farmer’s Market. After I came home from grocery shopping with two of my housemates, I helped to pull weeds from the front of the house.
It was fun to pull weeds with a few of the girls who I live with. We had some great conversations about discernment and vocations while we uprooted the weeds and tossed them into big brown bags. When we were quiet, I found myself praying some Hail Marys.
As I pulled the weeds and tossed them out of the way, I couldn’t help but think of the parables in which Jesus talked about weeds. Every time, they symbolize evil and show how it can destroy the goodness that God sows if it overgrows our hearts. The weeds soak up the water and sunshine that are meant for the flowers and plants in an attempt to kill them off.
I found myself contemplating the many weeds growing in my life. There are weeds that I plucked out and continue to keep at bay, there are some stubborn ones that I have to fight to remove, and there are ones that are seemingly here to stay.
The Gone-for-Good Weeds
As I continue to grow closer to Jesus and strive for holiness, I look back on my progress and notice fruitful blooms where weeds once grew. I look back and notice that with sins and bad habits gone, God has more room to garden in my heart. It’s an ongoing process, but as I remove the weeds of sin from my life, there’s more space for God to sow seeds of grace and love. With less clutter, I’m more open to loving him, to receiving him in my life, and to wanting his will for my life.
The Recurring Weeds
Of course, some weeds are easier to remove than others. As much as I’ve grown in avoiding near occasions of sin and of detachment from this world, I still have struggles that haunt me like pesky weeds. My own selfishness prevents me from growing in detachment. I know the importance of fasting and focusing on God instead of this world, but in my weakness, I choose comfort over penance. I’m so bad at the heroic minute and I love food too much. Sometimes I’m able to pull up these weeds, but before long, they spring up again. These weeds are harder to remove and I’ll need a little more time and help from God to get them out.
The Here-to-Stay Weeds
Finally, some weeds just won’t come out. They’re things that I’ll struggle with for the rest of my life. As painful as they are, they’re here for a reason. I probably won’t ever get rid of my periods of sadness, the nagging feelings that I’m not good enough, and miscellaneous pain from my past. I don’t know why I struggle with these things, but if they were gone, I wouldn’t be the same. If I were to uproot my ugliest roots, it would cost me my future Sainthood. The sufferings that we endure bring us closer to God and help those who will come after us to grow closer to him. Because of this, we don’t always get relief, and we shouldn’t always ask for it.
In the Parable of the weeds, Jesus doesn’t let the gardeners pull out the weeds because it could damage the wheat. They have to stay and grow together, but in the end, the weeds will be burned and the wheat will be gathered to him. We can consider these weeds to the crosses that we bear. They’re not pleasant and we want to get rid of them, but we have them for a reason. God doesn’t give us a hard time because it’s entertaining to him or because we deserve it. He allows these weeds or crosses in our lives because they make us holy. Like Jesus carried his holy cross to Calvary, we have to carry our crosses to make it to the Kingdom of Heaven. When they’re difficult and agonizing, we turn to the Lord and he gives us what we need to grow closer to him. We receive the grace to trust in his timing. We find his goodness and glory. We gain a way to encounter him and rest in his presence.
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Reflect on Your Own Weeds
Think of all of the weeds that you’ve encountered in the garden of your soul. What are the ones that have been easier to pluck out? Which ones have you successfully removed? Take a moment to thank God that they’re no longer keeping you from him. Which weeds are you still working on? What are some weeds that you thought you have taken care of, but have sprung back up? Ask God for patience in pulling these weeds, and ask him to guide you as you handle them. Which weeds seem like they’ll never go away? Which weeds have you been pulling at endlessly, but their roots are too deep to budge? Turn to God in your frustration. Surrender these weeds to him, and ask him to reveal to you the ways that they’re making you holy. Ask him to open your heart and your eyes to the ways that you’re depending on him and deepening your faith because of these weeds.
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