Just as weeds are collected and burned [up] with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. Matthew 13:40
When I was about 8, my parents were busy in our gigantic garden and I thought I’d be helpful while they were busy outside and take a stab at doing the laundry. I’d seen mom do it a hundred times so I was sure I could do it…how hard could it be? Eight-year-old overconfidence, cluelessness and an overflowing hamper of dirty laundry contained all the making for a complete disaster. I knew the laundry needed to be divided into smaller piles but I didn’t understand the first thing about sorting, I simply divided it into smaller piles and started up the washer. If you can imagine a mix and mess of pinks, reds and blues throughout all the laundry, I can assure you the outcome was worse than you imagined! The look of shock on my mom’s face was not due to a surprise task being done to say the least. Luckily, I hadn’t wrecked everything and we had a full box of Biz color bleach but I learned a gigantic lesson about the importance of proper sorting that afternoon. Each time I hear the Gospel stories about sorting the weeds and the wheat or God sorting the sheep and the goats I remember that sorting lesson from long ago.
I might not have understood the relevance of sorting the laundry when I was 8 but I often remind myself of the relevance of my words and actions when it comes to the “final sorting” done by my Heavenly Father. The goats and the weeds are not what we’re aiming for! I taught a family of lovely kids whose mom kissed them goodbye every morning and said “Don’t be a goat!” What did she mean? Goats and weeds represent the qualities that are the opposite of what Jesus showed us. Goats are stubborn, independent, self-reliant and headstrong. I act like a goat when I don’t rely on God and I try to muscle through everything with my own strength and my own plan. He made us to depend on Him, to need Him, to follow Him instead of blazing our own trail. The weeds are those plants that don’t bear fruit. They add no value to the crop or the people who God created it for. They snatch up the water and resources needed by the good stuff and their roots can anchor them deep. Gosh, can I ever be weed-like but thankfully even in my greatest “weediness” God is merciful. In the parable the weeds weren’t gathered up and destroyed immediately, they were given time. The Father doesn’t yank us up and toss us to the side every time we become rooted in sin or involved it things that don’t allow the gifts and talents, He’s given us to benefit His creation. Just like those weeds, He gives us time before the destruction in the end but I have to be mindful that I don’t know when my “sorting and harvest” will happen.
The sheep and the wheat are the model of good discipleship. The sheep are trusting and follow the voice of their good shepherd. They are dependent, obedient and loyal. The world may say sheep are stupid just as the world sometimes says Christians are stupid for blindly following Jesus. I guess it boils down to a big question. Am I following what the world thinks or am I following the one headed in the direction of heaven? The final sorting depends on how I answer that question. The wheat is a gift created to nourish, strengthen and delight. It is the example Jesus used to connect the physical gift with the spiritual gifts He gives us and we are meant to receive, enjoy and share them.
So, what if you happen to love goats and you’re gluten intolerant? These sorting stories aren’t meant to bash goats and promote bigger bread consumption. We probably all have some goat and weedy behaviors that we need to tune into before the final sorting. I don’t know if goats can change but people can change and you don’t have to eat toast to get to heaven, the nourishing, strengthening wheat in your life is exactly what Scripture and the Sacraments are for.
A Seed to Plant: In prayer this week, make a list of all the goat and weed-like attitudes and actions you’d like to ask the Father to help you sort out of your life.
Blessings on your day!
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