The Wheat and the Weeds in our Hearts

Weekly Reflection, Sunday, July 19, 2020

By: David May, Rector

A prayer that I discover is often praying inside me is a prayer that is known as ‘the Serenity Prayer’. It’s a section of a longer prayer written by Reinhold Niebuhr. The words are: God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference. What I appreciate so much about this prayer is the way it holds together both this call to act and to let be. The crux of the matter is knowing the difference: when am I called to act (to change what needs changing and that is mine to change) and when am I called to let be (what is not mine to change)?

Jesus’ parable about the wheat and the weeds falls on the let be side of this equation. The servants in the parable are interested in rooting out the weeds that an enemy has sneakily planted among the grain. The householder says, ‘no, don’t do it; for in gathering the weeds you will uproot the wheat along with them. Let them grow together til the harvest.’ At the harvest – when all of our doing is done – God will sort it all out.

The danger is that in destroying the bad (the weeds) we may end up destroying the good (the wheat) as well. So where does that leave us?

Augustine of Hippo in a famous sermon offered a suggestion. He says that ‘the field’ is the world, yes. But, he said, ‘the field’ is also your own human heart; the wheat and weeds are growing there too. And, further, it is a very dangerous thing indeed to act as if only wheat is growing in my heart and only weeds are growing in yours. I’m afraid there’s way too much of that in our world right now.

Most mornings, I try to make a right beginning by remembering that wheat and weeds are growing in my own heart, to have some humility about that, and to ask for the courage to change what I can about that. Honestly, it is unlikely that I will ever change you by trying to pull up the weeds in your heart. That’s not my job. Besides, I’m not wise enough to do that without pulling up the good in you with it. My job is to love you. That’s more than enough for me to try to do! Until the harvest comes, that is enough to gives one’s life for.