ROOTS AND SHOOTS
No matter how good an education or upbringing we receive, we will make our mistakes – sometimes catastrophic ones. But, be careful. One thing is a mistake, something done inadvertently. Another is a sin, done deliberately. Sin is the real catastrophe.
One of our baptismal promises is to reject sin and the fascination of evil, and that’s because the tendency to sin is rooted in our fallen human nature. But so is the tendency to good, to love, to self-sacrifice. Our fallen nature is not for all that destroyed: it still retains the image of God within, even if our likeness to Him is marred.
As life proceeds, our choices both small and great will take shape along the tracks of the values we hold. Sometimes, despite maybe holding high values, we will choose something evil. Depending on how important the decision and how evil the thing we choose we may discover that we have allowed into our minds and hearts what is neither good for ourselves nor pleasing to God. And it’s the old story: it’s always easier to do wrong the second … and the third … and the …. time.
At the same time, though, we will probably also have made important decisions in love and generosity for God and neighbour. They’re not so easy to do the second and the third time, but the good in us – and there is great good in all of us – can inspire us to persevere.
So, we are a mixed bag. One minute we are ready to die for Christ, the next we don’t want to see Him. One minute the things of the spiritual life fill us with joy and inspiration, the next they fill us with boredom and even contempt.
We all have the darnel or weeds, and we all have the wheat within. Their roots are badly entangled. Our very energy for good can become our energy for evil. With the same lips with which we praise God, we curse our neighbour.
The Lord knows it. He can see right through every twist and turn of the entangled roots of good and evil within us. But he is patient. He sees not only the roots but also the shoots, the beautiful flowers and grain that will eventually blossom out from within us when our end arrives. So, we need to be patient with our tendency to evil, too. Not a patience of resignation, but a patience of gradual effort to invest all our energies in the good roots we know to be there and to implore the mercy of the Lord upon the weeds within. In his good time, our harvest will come and, with it, only pure roots and shoots.