Frank is a recovering drug addict. Though scarred, he’s one of the few who have made it through the scourge of cocaine coupled with other narcotics. A handsome and most articulate young man, he recently spoke to me of a telephone conversation with his Mother, who lives in another town.
"But why can’t you be home for Christmas?" she questioned disappointedly.
Frank manufactured some excuse about a special job at work, and how a particular report was already overdue.
"Frank," she insisted, "why aren’t you coming home for Christmas?"
"It’s too painful, Mom," he replied. Then he explained how recently when he’d been home his brother and sister were polite, but soon they and their spouses would take their children, and all would move to another room, frightened by his history.
"Then why didn’t you come sit by me, Frankie?" she petitioned; "I love it when you’re close to me and I can touch you and hold you."
"Father, this is the woman I cheated and stole from and lied to in the past; at that time she loved me with a tough love, and now she just won’t quit loving me. Why does she do that?"
I sometimes wonder what God feels when he hears ancient Israel (or me) say, "All that the Lord has said, we will heed and do," – as in today’s first reading. My anthropomorphic God-image rolls his eyes, or smiles, knowing my weakness. But like Frank’s Mom, I believe that God still loves it when I’m close.
And perhaps that is why Jesus speaks of a God who patiently lets the weeds and wheat grow together, not a God who insists on perfection. Maybe today I can learn more from this loving parent-God about how to care for others, rather than my own puny-imagination-god or limited-kindness god who demands flawlessness.
Fr. Jack Conley, C.P. is the director of the Office of Mission Effectiveness. He is a member of the Passionist formation community at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago.