Saturday, July 16, 2011

Heaven is for Real, Weeds Among the Wheat

There's a book that came out recently and is the number one best seller on the New York Times: "Heaven is for Real". It deals with an account of a young boy who has this wonderful experience of heaven. While it didn’t really do much for me, it does get us thinking about the idea of heaven. The book helps us to realize the reality of Heaven which we sometimes forget because it seems so far away.

In the Gospel today Jesus gives us His own account of Heaven

“The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a man who sowed good seed in his field.
While everyone was asleep his enemy came and sowed weeds all through the wheat, and then went off.”

Now this is a very different account from the glimpse of Heaven that Holden has in "Heaven is for Real." And Yes, Heaven will be all that we could ever hope for and more... but Jesus shows us that the Kingdom of Heaven is also experienced in the here and now... right here... right now... in your life.... "Heaven is for Real."

Sometimes we doubt that we can experience the kingdom on this earth because we look around and see evil all around us... think of the daughter of Casey Anthony, The Murders of Anthony Sowell in Cleveland, and even some of the crime in your own home town. Then think of some of the evil in your own work environment, your home, and even in your own heart. We can get discouraged, become afraid, and despair, but we don't need to. Jesus tells us to expect it evil in our world.

In this life, Heaven is for Real, but right now it is a mixture of good and evil, weeds and wheat, working themselves out. But here's the thing. God permits it, he doesn't allow us to rip all of the weeds out, or get rid of all the bad people, and make everything easy. No, we are a work in progress. And the key is that in the end, when the master comes to harvest, the weeds will be ripped out and burned and the wheat will be harvested. The wheat will survive.

Just because we see evil present in our world, we shouldn't doubt the existence of God or the in breaking of His kingdom. No, in fact we should realize it is exactly as he foretold. In this life we will constantly grow and toil and wrestle with evil. Why? God permits it for our growth and wellbeing. We grow even stronger in virtue and goodness in the presence of evil.

In his book “Weeds among the Wheat,” Thomas H. Green SJ describes that even in our own soul we will struggle until that final harvest with the intermingling of the weeds and the wheat… “We can see that some at least of our instinctual and involuntary weaknesses are likely to remain in us until the harvest time of death. The lord leaves them in us to keep us humble, to make you realize how totally we depend on him and how helpless we are to do good without his grace and his power. The wheat of our virtues – truest, humility, gratitude, zeal – could not come to full maturity; it seems without the weeds of our instinctual failings.” (Green 145)

St. Paul spoke so strongly of this when he referred to the thorn in his flesh that would not be removed and growing content with his weakness. We too experience this same weakness in ourselves when we do the things we hate and don’t do the things we want to do. We too must learn to be content with our weakness with a trust that God will sort us out in the end.

So think about some of the weeds in your life right now. Maybe it's a difficult relationship, or a downright nasty person at work, or a tension in your marriage or family. These weeds, this presence of evil, are not a sign that God has abandoned you. No, it is a sign that he is working out your redemption right in your midst. Maybe it is even weeds and wheat growing in your own heart. Different pulls and tensions, temptations, and graces. The weeds and the wheat growing together. But, not forever. Don't be discouraged, you’re all right, trust that the wheat will continue to grow. In the end, there will be a harvest. The wheat will have grown strong and will be gathered, and the weeds will be pulled out and burned. Heaven is for Real, and it is in our midst in the weeds and the wheat, in the struggle and toil, in endurance of good in the face of evil. Heaven is for Real.

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