Joe was in confession, he never liked to go face to face, because the things he had to confess were embarrassing to him. He certainly didn’t want to have to look the priest in the eye when he said them out loud. So, thank God for the screen!
As Joe thought about it, it wasn’t even the particular sins that were embarrassing anymore, as much as it was that he had to keep telling them over and over again in confession. He thought to himself, “God must be really tired of hearing this!”
Nevertheless, Joe confessed his habitual sins to the priest. And for the first time ever, he not only confessed the sins, but he also said how frustrated he felt about his “losing battle” with all this “stuff”. The priest paused for a moment and then asked, “Have you ever read the parable of the wheat and the weeds that’s in Matthew’s Gospel? I think if you look at that story the right way, it can really help you. It has certainly helped me a great deal in my struggles with sin.”
Then the priest explained, “Think of the field as your soul. That’s the battle ground where these struggles with habitual sin take place. Here both good and evil seed is sown, the good by Jesus, the bad by the evil spirit. Both weeds and wheat sprout and grow in this personal field; and the mysterious fact is that it seems we must allow the weeds to grow until the harvest, otherwise “when you pull out the weeds you might pull up the wheat with them.”
“Think of it this way, this struggle with habitual sin isn’t just going to go away because we want it to. Our struggle with weaknesses will last until our death (harvest time). But the Lord leaves them in us to keep us humble, to make us realize how totally we depend on him and how helpless we are to do good without his grace and power. The wheat of our virtues which is trust, humility, gratitude, zeal, could not grow in us without the struggle with our failings.”
After the confession, the priest said to Joe: “For your penance I would ask you to read the parable of the wheat and the weeds, and pray about what we shared with one another today.”
Many of us feel like Joe, I would think. We all experience this struggle. Even someone like St. Paul wrote about his struggles. When St. Paul asked that the “sting of the flesh” in his life be removed, here’s what he was told by Christ: “My grace is enough for you: my power is at its best in weakness.” And St. Paul learned something that he would never forget—-that Christ would use Paul’s weakness to actually bring him into a closer relationship with God. And the Lord does the same thing for each of us, if we respond to his healing love the right way. Our weaknesses are really for our growth in humility and trust.
So, rather than give in to frustration, seek healing, most especially in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. When you are praying and asking for help, remember what God is trying to accomplish in your life, and say to yourself, these weaknesses are really for my growth in humility and trust. That will direct your response when you are ready to despair over your weaknesses.
Looking at this the right way can help you restore peace in your spiritual life and provide an opportunity for real growth and healing.
God in his providence will use even the apparent evil that attends us in life to some perfecting purpose…