Ascension Church

Homily, July 23, 2017


I. Theologian John Shea tells of a man who took the spiritual quest seriously. He went on a prolonged retreat, and when he came back, he was loving, considerate, and compassionate. That is, until his mother came to visit.
We all move from being centered to being scattered, from having it together to being fractured: a few steps forward, a few steps back. We are, at the same time, saint and sinner. As Shea says, “We are repeat offenders, and so we become ‘repeat repenters.’” We’re wheat and weeds.


II. Especially to gardeners, Jesus’ advice today may be confounding. Let the wheat and weeds grow together, good and evil side by side. It’s God’s prerogative alone to judge between them. Our response is to intensify our practice of faith, hope, and love, to be good wheat: to mind our business, and leave the rest to the master gardener.


III. When there appear to be more weeds than wheat in our world, when we don’t know what to pray for anymore, St. Paul reminds us today that, at these times, the Spirit does the praying, interceding for us with “inexpressible groanings,” with sighs too deep for words. When we ourselves don’t have the words for prayer, St. Francis de Sales says,


When you come before the Lord, talk to Him if you can; if you can’t, just stay there, let yourself be seen, and don’t try too hard to do anything else.


If we give ourselves to a life of unrelenting faith in God and God’s action, God will take care of the rest. In the landscape of God’s kingdom, what appear to be weeds will ripen into wheat; good endures, life wins. In God’s Kingdom, it’s always too soon for discouragement, too soon to pull up the weeds.