"The Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness..." (Romans 8:26)
There was a simple little song we used to sing when we were kids called: "He's Got the Whole World In His Hands." Believe it or not, I used to sing this in my public elementary school. As Christians, we sometimes fail to remember that this is wholeheartedly true. Even today’s psalm response reminds us the Lord is indeed good and merciful. However, we get discouraged when we see so much despair, injustice, and evil in the world. Yet Jesus reminds us in today's gospel that the wheat and the weeds grow side by side. The sun rises and sets on both good and evil. People sometimes ask: "Why is there so much evil in the world?" It's as if they perceive the weeds being far taller than the wheat.
As a society, we tend to focus more on the negative than on the positive. Bad news sells papers, leads TV news, and dominates the headlines under the false presumption that it sells better than good news. Rare is the time when you see inspirational stories on the front page. The world does not see the good work that we do because the weeds apparently do obscure the wheat. Society focuses and, I dare say, even relishes on the negative. Sometimes the negative that the media chooses to focus on distracts us from true problems and injustices around he world. Look at all the sensationalistic news we've been fed the last few weeks which has not let us notice a problem the Pope pointed out this morning: a severe famine in the horn of Africa. This afternoon the Japanese women's soccer team will play our USA girls in the World Cup Final despite the ongoing aftermath of the horrible earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear crisis that hit their country in March. When was the last time you heard anything about the disaster in Japan? Or about the victims of all the tornadoes and floods in the South and the Midwest this past spring? These are things that even though they don’t lift our spirits warrant our attention, but the cameras left once the waters had receded and the earth stopped shaking to focus on what celebrities we are building up or tearing down.
The fact is that there is much good happening in the world. All these disasters while terrible bring out the best in humanity. We don't have to look so far. I've been here for 17 days and every day I discover a new ministry here at St. Gregory that is helping the poor, the sick, the marginalized, and those who have no voice. This is the wheat that is growing in our midst, and we will not let the weeds obscure the good work that we are doing. Yes, there is evil and tragedy in the world, but we have to firmly believe that God holds us in his hands and is taking care of us.
We may sometimes feel that He has turned our back on us because the weeds start to obscure our sight as well. When we are overwhelmed by the problems that life throws at us we may feel that prayer has no purpose or that we cannot possibly bring ourselves to pray because the world has dragged us down into the depths of despair. This is where today's second reading comes in. St. Paul tells us that "the Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness" and that the Spirit intercedes for us. It is the Holy Spirit that lifts us up and holds us up praying for us when we cannot pray. We cannot allow the weeds among us to keep us from seeing how great our God is, and far worse, we cannot turn into weeds ourselves. We have to firmly trust in God that he will deliver us from whatever trial we may be facing and not let the world get the best of us. We belong to him, and he is our shelter and our rock. I guess we have to trust God like a young five year old who with great faith sings, "He's Got the Whole World In His Hands."
God truly does hold us in his hands, and his radiant face shines on the wheat that is growing around us even if it is growing among weeds. Jesus reminds us that on the last day the wheat will join him while the weeds will be burned. May we as Catholics continue to rely on our loving God who holds us so very tight in his hands, and may the wheat we produce grow taller than any weed around us so that the world may see the wondrous works that we are doing in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.