As we continue to celebrate the Year of the Eucharist in the Archdiocese of Boston, I give you this video from a series of talks on the Eucharist that Brs. Jorge, Jonathon and I gave at St. Clement Eucharistic Shrine in Boston in summer 2020. You can check out my previous talks on Healing through the Eucharist on June 28, 2020 and Be not afraid on Aug. 9, 2020.
I was drawing lessons from Matthew’s parable of the wheat and weeds (Mt 13:24-43) from the 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time on July 19, 2020. The words of my reflection are below the video.
Isn’t it annoying when you pick up a pen or a marker and it doesn’t write? It happens to me many times. Here at St. Clement, we have a whiteboard to write announcements and various needs. Underneath the whiteboard is a box of dry-erase markers. Sometimes, a marker doesn’t write anymore. But because we don’t throw out the bad ones immediately, we forget which ones don’t write. The only way to know which marker is good or bad is to use it.
Jesus gives us a similar problem in today’s Gospel. When they first sprout from the ground, the wheat and the weed resemble each other. Telling the difference requires waiting for the plant to bear fruit. Then at harvest, it’s easy to sort them out.
Be the wheat. But how do we know that we are the wheat growing for the Kingdom of God? Of course, by our baptism. But how do we remain the wheat? Over time, little or big changes can turn us into the weed. How do we remain the wheat? Jesus gives two clues with the mustard seed and the yeast in the middle of today’s Gospel. The tiny mustard seed grows into a big tree as a home for birds. The yeast is a one-cell organism. The yeast with billions and billions of its friends makes dough rise and gives bread its texture and flavor.
Both the mustard seed and the yeast represent love. The mustard seed: By ourselves, our consistent acts of love (helping, listening, serving) draw people to us. The yeast: Together, we build this Mystical Body of Christ, the Kingdom of God, by listening, helping, serving, praying and worshiping together.
How do we know that we are the wheat? It’s by our love. Be the wheat.
Mother Teresa was the wheat. Like the mustard seed, she went by herself into the streets of Calcutta to take care of the poorest of the poor. Her example of helping one person at a time drew other women to her. Together, the Missionaries of Charity help the poorest of the poor around the world. Like the yeast, they bring God’s love and joy amid the harshest poverty.
But Mother Teresa said that the greatest poverty is the lack of love. Each Sunday, Jesus addresses that poverty. He loves us and gives Himself to us. We receive a seed of love in the Eucharist. The Eucharist is the seed. We receive Jesus, body and blood, soul and divinity. Jesus is meant to grow into his full stature inside each one of us. He grows when we love.
Be the wheat. Start today to love with the love Jesus gave in the Eucharist. We don’t need giant acts of love. Tiny ones would do. Mother Teresa said, “Those small things done with great love become the source of great joy. I don’t do great things. I do small things with great love.”
What happens if people resist our love? Jesus said that the weed is growing together with the wheat. Mother Teresa offers this advice.
“If you’re kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.”
“If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous of you. Be happy anyway.”
“What you spend years building someone could destroy overnight. Build anyway.”
We keep loving, even when we are stymied or hurt. Mother Teresa said, “God doesn’t require us to succeed. He only requires that you try.”
What happens when we give up? Here is the danger.
When we stop loving, we become the weed.
Be the wheat. Start with a tiny act of love. Make it a habit. Don’t be discouraged. Always begin again.
Be the wheat. Be love.