This summer is like no other in the production of weeds. Recently I’ve been spending a lot of time pulling weeds and thinking about ways to prevent new weeds from taking over the landscape. Weeds are prominently featured in a parable Jesus shares with the crowd in Matthew’s Gospel today. I have always appreciated the parables Jesus shares and although I believe the intent is to help an abstract concept be more concrete, the parables do not necessarily make concepts simpler for me. The farmer in the parable is clear that the weeds will be gathered and burned while the wheat will be taken into the barn. At first glance this is so straightforward that sinners burn in hell and true believers go to heaven. Yet I know that the delineation is not so clear.
The other readings today speak to me of the paradox of justice. In Romans we are reminded that we are not alone and the Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness. And the book of Wisdom describes God’s loving engagement of power “but though you are the master of might, you judge with clemency and with much lenience you govern us.” My prayer around the phrase “those who are just must be kind” brings me to reflect upon restorative justice which engages the paradox of accountability and compassion.
My prayer leads me to ask: When do I judge another person harshly? How do I demonize another person? When do I show compassion? How can I strive to ask what are the needs of members of my community? Committing to the principles of restorative justice helps me live my Catholic faith in the image of our loving and forgiving God.