This weekend’s Sacred Scriptures are especially rich in giving us God’s Word for our nourishment, strength and encouragement, especially for any of us who may be suffering or weak or discouraged. The coronavirus gave us many challenges. God’s grace and divine assistance are available to us. So we want to be encouraged today, and we want to encourage everyone around us during this challenging time. Be not afraid! We pray today for all family members, loved ones, neighbors, or friends we haven’t met in so long, and for all who most need our encouragement.
It is most helpful to remember in tough times that anything that is right now tempting us toward discouragement, is actually a grace and a blessing in our lives. Hard to believe, but that’s right. The great eighteenth-century Jesuit spiritual writer Father Caussade used to say that anything which God permits is for your good and for God’s greater glory; I have found this to be true in my own life. St. John Vianney said that even life’s most painful moments — like sickness, heartbreak, disappointment, betrayal — all these are actually moments of tremendous grace and blessing, if we will accept them in faith and pray for our persecutors. Not so easy, but definitely possible with God’s grace.
This weekend, Jesus tells the parable of the weeds and the wheat. Let’s apply it to our own lives. It’s a real mystery when we think about God doing such great things in our lives (like producing the wheat), while at the same time we’re so aware of obstacles and roadblocks and imperfections (like the weeds) that appear to hinder the good that God wants to do in us (the wheat).
The biblical lesson for us today is: Trust in God no matter what happens. In fact, we are completely dependent on God’s mercy and grace. We must trust that God wants to save us and that He will give us the resources we need to cope with life’s challenges and to achieve our eternal destiny. The saints had a profound awareness of the Lord’s presence in their lives — so profound that they didn’t seek miraculous confirmation or run after wonders and signs. Once, during the reign of St. Louis IX of France, when Mass was being said in the palace chapel, a miracle occurred during the Consecration: Jesus appeared visibly at the altar, in the form of a beautiful child. Everyone there gazed on Him in wonderful awe and contemplation, recognizing this miracle as a proof of the Real Presence. Someone hurried to tell the king, who was absent, so that he might come and witness the event. But Louis declined, explaining, “I firmly believe already that Christ is truly present in the Holy Eucharist. He has said it, and that is sufficient; I do not wish to lose the merit of my faith by going to see this miracle.”
So we must trust in God even when things seem bleakest. Here is one final example from the lives of the Saints: A very upset mother superior once came to St. Joseph Cottolengo, who asked, “What’s the trouble, Sister?” She answered, “I have so many things to buy, Father, and this is all the money I have.” St. Joseph agreed that it was a very small sum, so he took the money, tossed it out the window, and consoled the shocked nun: “That’s all right; it has been planted now. Wait a few hours, and it will bear fruit.” Later that day, a woman came to see the saint and donated a large sum of money — more than enough to meet the community’s needs. Sometimes we have no apparent options, but — like St. Joseph Cottolengo — we can always choose to trust in God, and this allows Him to help us, often in ways one can’t foresee.
So when we are tempted toward discouragement because the weeds in our life seem to be winning over the wheat, do not despair! With our hand firmly in Our Lord’s, let’s squeeze His all the more firmly and repeat: “Jesus, I trust in You.” Amen.