Living the Christian life has challenges, as we all well know. Often, it is our own failings that present the greatest harships. Central to these is the reality of our smallness, our impatience with the permeable and fleeting nature of humanity. Sometimes, it is the failings of others that cause the greatest blows.
We can find it especially difficult to live and work alongside those who have such opposing views to our own, not to mention those who actively revel in being unpleasant and obtuse. We have all had dealings with narcissists, for example. Monastic life offers no respite from this kind of difficulty. You will find all sorts of people, all sorts of characters, in a monastery. It can be worse, too, for the immersive nature of monastic community life.
For all who struggle with these kinds of relationships, wherever and whoever we are, today’s Gospel offers us respite. It gives us assurance that nothing is set in stone, that our Lord watches all and sees all. God may, perhaps, use us as the first mover in someone’s road to sanctification. Or, maybe a particularly difficult character in our life may be the proverbial chisel that smoothes our hard edges and forms us into the saints we are called to be.
None of these spiritual processes are easy. They mean walking through the shadow of death: the death of anguish and depression, of anxiety and deep, ongoing frustrations. All of these can be a kind of death. But God is calling us to rise up through this death into the new eternal life of love in him. Ultimately, we are asked in today’s Gospel to trust in God.
A reading from the Gospel according to Matthew 13:24-30
Jesus put a parable before the crowds,
‘The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. While everybody was asleep his enemy came, sowed darnel all among the wheat, and made off. When the new wheat sprouted and ripened, the darnel appeared as well. The owner’s servants went to him and said, “Sir, was it not good seed that you sowed in your field? If so, where does the darnel come from?” “Some enemy has done this” he answered. And the servants said, “Do you want us to go and weed it out?” But he said, “No, because when you weed out the darnel you might pull up the wheat with it. Let them both grow till the harvest; and at harvest time I shall say to the reapers:
First collect the darnel and tie it in bundles to be burnt, then gather the wheat into my barn.”‘
The Gospel of the Lord
Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.