When I was young, my grandma had an amazing garden in her small back yard on the north side of St. Cloud. Every year she planted rows of green beans, carrots, peas, leaf lettuce, potatoes and more. Each year her grandchildren came and picked these goodies to feed to the rabbits she was raising as well. I remember her patience in curbing our desire to feed the bunnies the fruits of her labors as well as the wonderful meals she prepared for us from her garden. An important part of gardening is waiting for the plants to grow tall enough to take on the characteristics of what they are—to distinguish a bean from a potato or a weed. In today’s gospel, Jesus reminds us the same is true as people grow. Sometimes our actions are a shining example of goodness and love. Other times we might act selfishly or hurtful. Thankfully God is a patient gardener and gives every one of us the opportunity to grow into the person God made us to be. God smiles at our goodness and watches as we reflect the very heart of God and is forgiving when our faults or failings cause pain to ourselves or others. The parable Jesus shares about the wheat and the weeds is also a reminder that we cannot judge others by single encounters. In the same way that we nurture our gardens giving them water, fertilizer, sunshine, and loosening the soil to allow the roots to grow strong, we must encourage ourselves and others to pay more attention to growing in God’s love than in causing a wilting spirit by dwelling on one’s shortfalls.
As we continue to enjoy the beauty around us in this blessed season, I encourage you to find ways to nurture the positive qualities growing within one another. In doing so we just might find that our relationships are becoming as flavorful and memorable as the meals I remember from Grandma’s garden.