"… gather the wheat into my barn"
The first reading from Scripture for this Sunday expresses God’s love of us through God’s kindness and mercy-forgiveness. God, knowing our nature, our weaknesses, our struggles, our challenges, equips each one of us with His/Her Presence in the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is our union with God and with one another. Are we aware of this Presence? Do we remain in this Presence?
In the parable of the wheat and the weeds, Jesus gave a personal message to each one of us. He foretells that our journey in life is not a bed of roses. The farm is the world we live in and the wheat and the weeds are predicaments within us. We find ourselves constantly facing good and bad. Even more complex and challenging is that we have the choice to make good or not of any given good/bad challenges or situations. When Jesus said “gather the wheat into my barn”, Jesus prompts us to “remain in Me” and allow God to be God in our lives.
The proverbial question of why do bad things happen to good people is affirmed in this parable. We are asked not to judge it but maintain an attitude of how and what choice to make to turn it around. This was evidenced when the farmer’s helper wanted to immediately pull the weeds and Jesus said, ”No, if you pull up the weeds you might uproot the wheat along with them”. We are challenged to dig deeper for our own evolvement. This is life, struggles abound and they can bring out the best in us when we choose to “ . . . gather the wheat in my barn”, remain in Me.
A favorite part of my ministry in Mombasa, Kenya is visits to the homes of marginalized families infected or affected by HIV and AIDS. We do this as part of our holistic care of the orphans whom we sponsor either in kindergarten, high school or trade schools. We visits when our students are going through problematic adolescence stage, struggling to perform in school or other concerns i.e. a member of the family is sick, struggling, a death, etc. We visit to listen, express empathy and be one. These families are from various religious affiliation yet they maintain a common belief of ‘Inshallah’ (God willing) things or life will be. In spite of the sufferings in their lives, they maintain this positive awareness and attitude. Truly God’s is present with and we, who are visiting, experience Jesus' teaching coming alive in “Blessed are the poor for theirs is the kingdom of God”.
We live in challenging times, an era of contradictions, fake news, eroded moral values and human indignity. Jesus reminds us: Let us not lose heart. Let us be steadfast, and let us “gather the wheat in my barn,” remain in Me.
Photo: Coralis Salvador, MKLM (front left) with immersion trip participants sharing a traditional Swahili meal in Mombasa, Kenya. Photo courtesy of the Maryknoll Lay Missioners.