We can all relate to Jonah at times. We want people to get what is coming to them, good or bad- mostly bad- especially if they have hurt us. In this case Jonah wanted Nineveh to fry for the ill-treatment of his people. We’re told in Scripture that “Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry that God did not carry out the evil he threatened against Nineveh.” (Jonah 4:1)
The reason God didn’t exact their much needed punishment is because Nineveh had made an instant 180-degree turn on the very first day Jonah reluctantly began warning them. Wow, that is some serious conversion.
Imagine if some so-called prophet started in New York and walked but a day shouting, “Forty days more and the United States is toast!” How might New Yorkers react? If any media outlet even picked up the story, it would be for giggles, not repentance.
As humans we want the people who have hurt us, made our lives miserable, or personally wronged us, to get what is coming to them. Preferably, we’d like to be there when it happens, sitting front and center for “payback time.” We want to see them suffer, wriggle and squirm, and to understand how it feels when what went around, comes back full circle. As Christians, we can only hope that the little trial by fire might even be a nice catalyst for conversion.
That’s a neat little package of hope, but it doesn’t always work out that way.
When Jesus tells the parable of the wheat and the weeds (Matt 13:24-30) it again stumps us. What is all this business of letting the weeds grow along with the wheat? What purpose could that possibly serve, we might ask. Don’t you risk the wheat being influenced negatively by the weeds or even choked out?
It’s easy to want to give up when we’re being dragged along a weed parade heading straight to hell and shout, “Jesus get the weed whacker out, it’s trimming time!”
The very opposite in fact, might be the very reason Jesus says to let them grow together.
I know your ways are far above my ways and all Lord, but it’s hard, really hard, to love my neighbor when they tell me to keep my Christian mouth shut, call me a hater, and fine me for speaking truth…I could go on, but won’t.
Each of us is a unique and unrepeatable gift of God’s brilliant imagination, living and breathing and trying to do best we can with what we’ve got. As Catholic Christians we have been given an immense and beautiful treasure in our faith in Christ Jesus. This light of truth, if you will, is attractive when lived out in love.
When we let our lights shine, the light of Christ, He has the power to draw all things to Himself and that includes folks currently acting pretty “weedy.” God doesn’t write off any of us. He doesn’t give up on any of us. He doesn’t stop inviting us to throw away that which makes us look a lot like a weed.
The question is, do we trust his methods or do we just want a quick weed whacking party? Because I’ll tell you this, sometimes I do and it is wrong. What is easy, is not what is always right.
In God’s mercy and patience He longs for our conversion. “Do I find pleasure in the death of the wicked—oracle of the Lord GOD? Do I not rejoice when they turn from their evil way and live? (Ez 18:23)
So here is where sharing the field comes in. Be the best stalk of wheat you can. Stand tall and let the heat and light of the Son fill and strengthen you. Don’t let the winds of despair and negativity beat you down. All that is required is that we be ourselves and let God work through us. Yes, it will be extremely difficult and seemingly pointless at times. Trust God to do the heavy lifting and just be the best little you, you can be. It will all be worth it one day.
“I tell you, in just the same way there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance.” (Lk 15:7)