One of the cable news channels has the slogan, “We report. You decide.” And it – at least the second part – is true. We decide. We decide what news channel to watch, or what show to watch. We decide which book to read. We decide who to follow on social media. And we decide who to follow in the most important question of our lives. That question is: “Why are we here and what are we going to do with our time here?”
We decide things because we have choices. We have choices because we have free will. Dr. Seuss put it in a nice rhyme: “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.”
We make better choices when we understand the situation. Using our minds, our intellect, we can decide between good and bad, between wheat and weeds, when we understand which is which. Dr. Seuss was right: we need our brains in our heads to choose our direction. We need our intellect to separate reality from myth, truth from a lie.
For the Kingdom of Heaven, there are a few important truths that we must understand.
The reality is there is a God. The myth is that you’re him.
The reality is there is a devil. The myth is he makes us do bad things.
The reality is God promises us a life of bliss. The myth is it’s guaranteed for us on Earth.
God is real, the devil is real, and the promise of Heaven is real. Knowing what is real, we can choose more wisely. We cannot be God; we must serve him as his disciple. We cannot trust the devil; we have to fight him and all his lies. We cannot have Heaven on earth, but we can bring some bit of Heaven to earth if we follow God as his disciple.
When we follow Him, we have to let him set the timetable. As his disciples, we must let go of our agenda and take up His agenda. Having accepted the gift of salvation, we know we will go to Heaven. But we do not know when, and we don’t know the details of how we will spend our time here before we go to meet our Lord. When Jesus says “pick up your cross and follow me,” this is what he’s talking about.
Sometimes our cross is the impatience that flows from our pride. We want it now, and we hate to wait. These parables are warnings about impatience. Weeds grow up amid wheat, but telling the difference takes time. The mustard seed grows up to be a strong bush, growing even in the cracks of stones in a dry country, but it takes time. If a baker mixes water and flour with yeast, in time the dough will rise for baking.
Can we give God control over the timeframe of our lives, our daily decisions? For many of us, the honest answer is “Yikes!” We’ve been told by the world that if you are not the lead dog in the pack the view never changes. And the Gospel seems to be saying in response, “Don’t just do something. Stand there!”
God knows how hard it is for us to do that. We like control. The devil is always in our ear suggesting we should have control over our lives. But being a child of God means giving God control over our lives. That includes letting him control the timing; letting him set the schedule.
This is hard for us at every stage of life.
Children are in a hurry to grow up. Adults are in a hurry to grow rich. Sick people are in a hurry to get well. We bristle as kids when our parents say, “Don’t be in such a rush, enjoy your childhood,” because we want to control our lives. We chase after the money as adults because it represents control. And we don’t like depending on hospitals when our bodies are broken down. We want to be self-reliant.
But God wants us to be like the mustard seed, and be willing to start small. Perhaps we can each find something we control, and we can just let go of it for a month, or a week, or maybe just a day.
God wants us to be like the yeast, doing our discipleship thing with the flour and the water so the dough can rise and become bread that nourishes life. It’s not the yeast but the baker who decides when to put the dough in the oven. Can we be the yeast and let God be the baker?
And God wants us to be like the wheat amid the weeds. Let him control the day of judgment rather than assume his role as judge. When we rush to judgment, we abandon his mercy. And we need his mercy because we are all sinners.
And we all have some faith. It might not be much, but it’s some faith. Remember from last week’s Gospel when Jesus said, “To anyone who has, more will be given.” Our little mustard seed of faith can grow into a big tree of faith, if we let God control the timetable and just do what he gives us to do today.
We have hope, which is confidence in the promise of salvation. We confidently believe Jesus will give us eternal bliss in Heaven. But these parables are talking about the Kingdom of Heaven, the supernatural life of being his disciple here on Earth.
We are called to be the wheat amid the weeds. We are called to be the yeast that leavens the flour. And we say, yes, Lord, I want to be that. I want to be your disciple. I want to go to heaven when I die. All of us have said that in one way or another; that’s why we are here in church today.
So let us focus on the words of the Lord’s Prayer and ask him to give us today our daily bread. And after Mass, when we are confronted by someone quoting the line about the the lead dog’s view; let’s remember the Christian disciple’s response: “When the view is a view of Christ the King, why would I ever want it to change?”