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16th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Cycle A

Matthew 13: 24-43

“No, if you pull up the weeds you might uproot the wheat along with them.” (Matthew 13:29)

“No, if you pull up the weeds you might uproot the wheat along with them.” (Matthew 13:29)

I used to interpret this passage as a way to understand why God allowed some people to commit terrible acts that caused suffering. I’ve since moved away from the “us” vs “them” mentality to reflect on what this passage can mean for my own heart. This time, I was struck by how it explains a challenging aspects of healing.

Recognizing our own weeds can take time, and when we finally do, the instinct might be to try to uproot them as quickly as possible. However, as we mature, we learn not to be ashamed of these parts of ourselves. Our coping mechanisms, entrenched thought patterns, and even our sins once served a purpose, protecting us or arising from a place of good intention. While we understand how they cause harm, we must acknowledge that they can sometimes be intertwined with good aspects of our lives. Removing them hastily due to erase them from our story can cause further damage.

During my own emotional healing, the most challenging phase was when I had to recognize that while I had been hurt and developed coping mechanisms in response, I still had choice. This meant facing my role in prolonging my suffering. However, being harsh towards myself whenever I fell into old patterns did not work. Feeling judged led me to become defensive, or I avoided change because I was too focused on feeling like a worm. Both approaches made change impossible.

When we look at the weeds in our lives and turn to God, asking, "What should we do with this?" we begin to see the roots of our brokenness. Sometimes, these weeds are so deeply integrated with our good qualities that we need to acknowledge them without eliminating them right away. Weeds are a natural part of life, and we need not be scandalized by their presence; rather, we should surrender them to God's mercy. He created us with complexity because He finds beauty in intricate things. Therefore, we must trust that it's okay to have shades of gray and believe that we are still lovable. Then, when the time is right, we can work with Him to remove the barriers preventing us from growing and thriving.

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