Reflection for the 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time…July 23, 2023

by Michael Driscoll, Notre Dame Associate

In today’s reflection, we contemplate the parable of the weeds in the field shared by Jesus in Matthew’s Gospel.  As I read and reflect upon this parable, I must admit that, like the disciples, it raises some concerns within me. Whenever Jesus speaks about burning or destruction, it stirs a certain uneasiness deep within my being.

Drawing from the wisdom of early Catholic theologians, I find myself resonating more with Origen’s interpretation of this parable. He presents the idea that the children of the evil one can be understood as evil ideas rather than solely representing actual individuals. This perspective invites me to consider the influence of negative and destructive thoughts within my own life.

Reflecting on this, I recall a personal encounter I had many years ago, far away from here. I vividly remember offering a lady several rides to a recovery meeting. She wore a beautiful, feminine white dress, almost resembling a bridal gown. However, it was apparent that she was trying to compensate for her facial hair, which was darker and thicker than mine.

In that moment, I recognized the importance of practicing kindness and withholding judgment. I made a conscious effort to extend compassion towards her, understanding the struggles she faced.  It turned out that she had recently been released from the hospital after a brutal assault by five men, yet she wore her dress with resilience and courage.  She expressed her gratitude for the rides, and it was a reminder that recovery meetings attract individuals from diverse backgrounds and experiences.

Recovery meetings serve as a sanctuary for individuals seeking healing and transformation. It is within these spaces that we strive to cultivate an environment of acceptance, where everyone has the opportunity to embark on their own journey of recovery. Our focus remains on supporting one another and abstaining from judgment. However, I must acknowledge that, like anyone, there are times when I falter in my attempts to live up to this ideal.

In those moments of imperfection, I am reminded of the importance of self-reflection and growth. Each day presents an opportunity for me to learn, to become more compassionate, and to extend understanding to those around me. Through the shared experiences in recovery, I continue to strive for a deeper understanding of the complexities of human nature.

May we all embrace the spirit of empathy and non-judgment as we walk the path of recovery together, recognizing that we are all on a journey towards healing and redemption.