Come with me as we feast on the Scripture readings for the coming weekend. They are packed with images and teachings that will keep us busy for the rest of our lives and beyond. The Book of Wisdom lays before us an impression of God that might make us scratch our heads. God is all powerful and yet acts with mercy. God is mighty and shows great compassion. Why would God be so kind and understanding to us? Why not do us in when we turn our backs? Why give us chance after chance to experience forgiveness and mercy? What can we learn about God that might, in the words of this reading, “teach us through these deeds?”
Jesus acknowledges that God might be difficult for us to understand and adore. So He offers us parables. We have wheat and weeds, yeast and the mustard seed. These stories are so familiar to us and yet offered to us again to tweak our imaginations, allowing us to imagine the God we can’t see. Is it true that God is so patient and enduring with us that God allows us to grow among the weeds of our lives, waiting for the judgment until the harvest time? Does that mean that we just take the chances of not being “thrown out” with the weeds or do we need to be doing some weeding in our own lives before the harvest time? Is it true that something so small as a mustard seed can produce a large bush that has a home for so many? Is it true that, though our lives are small, we can make that big of a difference in our world today? Yeast gives rise to many delicious things if used correctly and kept fresh. Is it possible that we too could give rise to great things if we use our lives correctly and keep it fresh?
I hope, by now, your head is swimming a bit. I hope that your imagination has carried you to new and deeper understandings of God and what God asks each of us to do. But sooner or later, we have to stop and admit that we don’t really understand completely how God works or how to express to God the wants and needs of our world or the praise and glory that we want to offer God. So Paul’s letter to the Romans gives us a way of moving forward in the midst of swirling images and deepening understanding of the God we worship.
When we come to prayer, we have our routines and practices. We have prayer books that lead us, reflection pamphlets that help us go deeper. We have instruments of prayer, like rosaries, prayer cards and sacred images. But there comes a time when words fail us. We don’t know how to express our gratitude or to cry out in our need. Paul encourages us to let the Spirit groan through us. We are encouraged to allow the groanings of our hearts to be heard by God. We get bashful sometimes. We think we have to have all of our prayers thought out clearly and have just the right words. But sometimes words fail us. The sighs of our hearts as we experience the grandeur of God are the groanings of our hearts. The gut wrenching groans of sorrow and loss are the groanings of our hearts. God understands the meaning of those groans. Don’t be bashful. Let them flow out of you and into the Heart of God. God has a home for each of the groanings of our hearts. Be courageous!
Father Wester is pastor of All Saints Parish in St. Peters.