I am a Baltimore Orioles fan. I always have been, and I probably will always be (You can send me your condolences later!). When I have the opportunity, I enjoy will watch the O’s play on TV. I especially enjoy doing that on a Sunday with my dad. I will even go to the ballpark when I get the chance. And when I do go to the park, I am almost always there until the end of the game.
It doesn’t matter if we are winning or losing; I am there. I know that many people will get up and head for the parking lots early if we are getting pummeled by the Rangers or Indians or Sox (Red or White), but I will stay. I guess I still believe in that old “Orioles Magic” of the late 70’s and early 80’s. In any given game, miracles do happen.
In today’s gospel, the slaves ask the master if he wants them to go into the field and yank up the weeds that have been sown among the good wheat. With the master, they see the effects of the enemy’s work, and they want to fix it. But the master has a different approach: “Let them grow together until the harvest.” Otherwise, he notes, they might pull out the good with the bad.
The servants, in effect, wanted to take care of evil on their own terms – tear out the bad effects of sin and death. They knew that the harvest was coming and that the master had no need of weeds. So why not just uproot them now?
Thinking like that, however, is like leaving the ballgame halfway through. It’s not over. Sure, our pitching seems to have tanked, and we can’t get a guy around second to save our lives, but there remain innings to play. We know this.
There is still time for miracles; there is still time for grace.
That’s Jesus’ point in the gospel. When we feel that it is a lost cause, after looking at our lives and seeing how many times we mess up, we might be tempted to just quit. “What use is it,” we may ask, “to live according to the Gospel? I just screw it up anyway.”
Again, this sort of thinking forgets the primary and central role of God. Paul knows this. He describes the action of the Holy Spirit on our behalf: “The Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness, for we do not know how to pray as we ought.”
And how “ought” we to pray? We must start by letting go of our desire to control everything. The harvest belongs to the Master; we are simply servants. We must take our cue from God first. This means listening to God before we act. After all, we believe that He knows best.
In opening ourselves to the will of God by listening to Him, we enter into that beautiful conversation that is a life of prayer. Our lives begin to unfold in a way that can only be described as an adventure. This is the nature of our vocations – whatever they may be. But it has to start with our listening to God – even before we ask God for anything. Like St. Paul, we must let the Spirit “groan” within us and share with God the needs and dreams of our hearts.
Then, God opens up His heart – the heart of His Son Jesus – and pours forth all that He is for us. It is from the beautiful fount of life that the mercy of God is shed upon us. This is the same mercy that gives the wicked time to repent and the sinner time to get up again after falling.
In listening to God’s call, we learn how to be truly happy, and we learn of the depth of God’s love for us – and all people.
We cannot let the difficulties of these “middle innings” discourage us. We are with sticking it out until the end. There is always time for some “magic”; there is always time for miracles. Jesus wants to bring these about in our lives and in the lives of those around us. May we open our hearts to listen and hear that wonderful will of God.