Gospel Meditation: Weeds and the Wheat
I offer a guided Ignatian meditation on today's Gospel. This is an invitation to let the scripture enter into your heart and mind and speak personally to you. Ignatius said that meditation specifically engages our memory, thoughts, and will. We hear the word of God, and we ponder it, noticing any words, images, or ideas that speak to our hearts. And we speak to God about all of this.
If this way of praying is new – simply relax and try to become engaged in the text. Try not to worry about what you are “supposed to” be doing. If you find yourself distracted during your prayer, very gently bring yourself back to the scripture text.
If at any point during the guided meditation the scripture comes to life in such a way that God invites to you stay with a particular moment, follow the invitation that you sense, rather than move on to where the written meditation is going. In that case you might want to stop reading and continue on your own.
Background to the text
The grass pictured on the right in this illustration is darnel weed (Lolium temulentum), also known as "false wheat." It is poisonous to humans, especially in larger quantities. Even a small amount mixed in with wheat, however, will ruin a batch of flour. Even to a trained eye, it is very difficult to differentiate this weed from the wheat it grows amongst, until the ears begin to form. Modern farming methods make it much easier to sort darnel from wheat.
Image: Wikimedia Commons
Quiet your body and mind
- Choose a position where you can be relaxed but alert.
- Breathe deeply several times and let your body relax
- Breathe out any worries or stressful thoughts and put them in God’s hands
- Become aware of God’s presence here with you now, looking at you with love.
Ask for a grace
- Ask God for the the grace of patience and compassion.
Read the scripture passage
Read the passage slowly twice, savoring the words. The first time, just listen to get a sense of it, to hear what is being said. The second time, notice any word or phrase, image, or idea that speaks to your heart or “shimmers” for you. Stay with that word, image, or idea and ponder its meaning. Notice how it makes you feel. Savor the experience.
Jesus proposed another parable to the crowds, saying: “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. When the crop grew and bore fruit, the weeds appeared as well. The slaves of the householder came to him and said, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where have the weeds come from?’ He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’ His slaves said to him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’ He replied, ‘No, if you pull up the weeds you might uproot the wheat along with them. Let them grow together until harvest; then at harvest time I will say to the harvesters, “First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning; but gather the wheat into my barn.”’”
Picture in your mind an image of a field of wheat. The wheat has begun to grow, but it’s only as high as your ankle. The plants are green - all looks well. You might even take a walk in this field. Watch the wheat grow, as if in a time-lapse. Everything is green, and all the plants look pretty much the same and healthy. When they reach about three feet, they begin to sprout ears containing grains. And suddenly you begin to notice some subtle differences – the ears are not the same. Some plants have larger grains; there are some differences in color. And as they reach full maturity, at about 4 feet high, some of the plants have turned brown, while others are much more black in color. You realize that there are weeds – called darnel, which is mildly toxic – in among the wheat. And it is impossible to put them out without also uprooting the wheat.
With this image in mind – reflect on the world we live in, on the institutions, communities, and families you are part of. How is the good present in these places, these relationships?
And how has the enemy sown weeds in these places and relationships?
A human tendency is to want clarity, a definite understanding of who is good and who is the enemy. However, no one is all good or all bad. Jesus never encourages that which is not of God – but he understands that we are motivated by different spirits and that a violent ripping out of the bad is not the way to care for the good.
What might it mean that God waits patiently and doesn’t destroy the good in order to root out the bad?
What might God’s way mean for you as you look at the mixture of good seed and weeds in yourself? What might it mean when you notice the weeds growing in another person?
Take a few moments to talk with Jesus about all you have reflected on, and what you are feeling and thinking right now. When you are ready, close with a favorite prayer.
Review of Prayer
St. Ignatius recommends that we review our prayer. A written review has many advantages. It enables us to look back on our prayer experience, and to notice what happened. It allows us to be fully present to our experience of prayer. We do not write while we are praying. The review of prayer enables us not to judge ourselves or look for how well we are doing. It helps us to become more sensitive to how God is speaking to us in the here and now. It is also a precious record of our journey with God, which nourishes wholeness and integration.
Some questions to assist with your review:
What happened in your prayer?
What feelings did you experience?
During the prayer period, when did you feel encouraged?
When did you feel discouraged?
Did you receive the grace you asked for?
What did you receive?