"The weeds are the children of the evil one."
I was looking forward to my assignment this month. I’ve had my Bible waiting on my desk, next to my Catechism and some other prayer books. I thought I would be very practical and empirical by dissecting the Gospel as I used to in school. Maybe by picking apart the language and reading every footnote, I could uncover the true meaning-beyond any shadow of a doubt. Then I read Matthew’s passage, and all that went promptly out the window.
In today’s gospel, Jesus speaks to us as he often does, in parables. Christ describes the world as a "field" and the children of His Kingdom as the "good seed." But among this good seed grows weeds. The weeds are sown by the Devil and will be "collected and burned up with the fire" upon the end of time. It sets up, in no uncertain terms, a competition of sorts between good and evil, between "us" and "them."
I have seen this passage misused in the name of Christ with the message of hate and intolerance. When some group of people has decided who exactly these "weeds" are, they can use these words to point their fingers and promise eternal punishment. But this gospel is not about casting judgment on anyone. The harvesters are the angels sent by the Son of Man, so it won’t be you and I who will be deciding the fate of our neighbor.
What struck me as I mulled this reading over in mind is that the choices we make each day-how we live, how we treat people, how we parent-these choices can have enormous consequences. Are we "righteous" or are we "evildoers"? Have we chosen Heaven or have we chosen Hell? We don’t wear a sign on our heads. We haven’t been predetermined. We are choosing each day how to live our lives and therefore choosing how we spend eternity.
I will admit, eternity has not been high on my list of things to worry about lately. As I type this, I am simultaneously thinking about my schedule for tomorrow, which school my kids should attend, what to make for dinner, what color to paint my bathroom and how to lose 10 pounds very quickly. The details of our everyday lives have become all-consuming.
What we must remember is that there is so much more. There is an eternity for our souls to live long after these bodies (that we obsess over) are dead and gone. While the righteous will "shine like the sun," the evil will be thrown into a "fiery furnace." It is a horrifying prospect, and yet each day we may struggle to make the right choices that bring us closer to Christ.
God’s plan for us was never suffering and death. But our Father loves us so deeply that He granted us something that must be very painful for Him to watch everyday-free will. And with that gift, let’s face it, we have sometimes chosen poorly. But we can make different choices. Let’s take time to pull the weeds from our own garden.
Marlo Serritella is on staff at the Holy Cross Province Development Office in Chicago, Illinois.