The Gospel today speaks of weeds and wheat. The weeds grow like the wheat. But on careful observation, we realize these are weeds that compete with the wheat for nourishment. This tells us to be careful when we observe something growing because we need to inspect them carefully so we will know whether it is something that comes from the plant or if it is weeds that hinder the plant from growing. In the case of the parable of Jesus, the weeds are left with the wheat because pulling them out will kill the wheat.
While this parable refers to the end times, we can also apply this to our spiritual lives. Ignatius of Loyola wrote in his Spiritual Exercises, that aside from seeing God in all things, we need to see all things in God. Everything we are, is in God, including our sinfulness, our weaknesses. God allows these to remain in us because he has some use for them. Everyone who wants to live for Christ struggles with something, a habitual sin, this includes me. Try as we can, we cannot shake it off. We pray to God to remove it, but it does not seem to go away. This causes us grief and sorrow, and often, frustration and despair. We begin to doubt and ask if we are indeed following Christ.
The First Reading tells God: You show your strength when people doubt the completeness of your power. This is similar to what St Paul said in 2 Corinthians 12, when he struggled and begged God to remove a thorn in his flesh. But God’s reply was: my grace is sufficient for you: for power is made perfect in infirmity. God allows this thorn in our flesh because this is where our weakness leads us to rely on God’s power to save us.
For those who struggle against habitual sin, they struggle to live for holiness, and they can only groan and sigh out of frustration, disappointment or sadness. St Paul tells us in the Second Reading: the Spirit helps is in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. When we seem frustrated that our habitual sin seems unsurmountable, we can turn these sighs too deep for words into prayer by calling on the Holy Spirit, the Power of God, to help us. St Paul tells us the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
God allows these habitual sins to remain in us for a reason. The Spirit knows our inner being that he knows how to pray for us. And God hears the prayers of the Holy Spirit. God uses our weakness to teach us how to depend on him, so that St Paul said in 2 Corinthians 12, when I am weak, then am I powerful.
Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth. Only God can heal us. This healing may be like the small mustard seed that is planted and grows to be useful, or the yeast a woman puts in the flour and leavens the dough. When we ask God to heal us from our habitual sin, God hears and he answers. The healing takes place in God’s time. Some are healed immediately. Some take a life time to be healed. But we are confident the seed will be planted. It will grow and work through our being, until it transforms our entire being.
In the mean time, we regularly go to confession and confess our sins, because when we admit our weakness, then God’s power will work in us. Confession waters the seed the Holy Spirit plants. It is makes the leaven of grace work through our being. Do not be too harsh on yourself. The First Reading ends with a prayer: you have filled your children with good hope because you give repentance for sins. God knows our weaknesses. He knows our hearts. God knows our struggle against habitual sin. He gives us hope that one day, we will conquer it through his grace, but for now, we turn to him and repent every time we fail. God is good to those who seek him. Do not be afraid, Jesus came for the sick.
Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner. I struggle against my habitual sin. Heal me and use this thorn in my flesh to let me see the fullness of your power. I know I fail, yet, I know you are merciful to forgive. Take me Lord, just as I am, a sinner, who struggles to live in holiness. Heal me and make me whole.