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Let Them Grow Together

I hope you have at least one friend with whom you disagree.

I think of that admonition as I enter into one of the lightest schedules that I have had in several summers. Most summers, I volunteer for the national events of the Boy Scouts of America. One of the reasons I make this commitment every year is because the team of volunteers is the most extraordinary team with whom I have worked and without exception, they always help me to grow into a better version of myself.

Etched into my memory of working with this team is a photograph I have of two people working side by side in the video production trailer. For the sake of preserving their identity, I’ll call them Larry and Monty.

Here is the thing you need to know about Larry. He has no trust in the government to do anything whatsoever and espouses a strict Libertarian conservative worldview. As he reminds me regularly, he doesn’t trust Rush Limbaugh because he thinks that Rush Limbaugh is too far to the left. That is Larry. Then there is Monty. I don’t know for sure, but if Monty could be on a poster supporting Bernie Sanders, he would spontaneously combust with bliss. I believe that his veins are replete with a hybrid hyperstatic bloodserum that oozes like sap from the meta-brain machinery that is deep left liberalism.

Both Larry and Monty are my friends and both of them are friends to each other. It is very awkward to me to read what they post on social media because it is often so distantly alien from one post to the other that I sometimes experience a type of cyber-dimensional whiplash. Cognitive dissonance notwithstanding, etched in my memory is the two of them side by side working happily together to edit video sequences that will be played for a national event. It is truly a sight to behold.

Today’s world has made it so easy to cancel, unsubscribe, unfriend, and throw away relationships that cause within me the irritating vulnerability of having to confront my own insecurity and fear. If someone challenges me, it is easier to dismiss them than to integrate their insight into my own. It is hard to have dialogue because it is easy to disengage from people with whom I disagree. This is a danger in itself and contrary to the Gospel that Jesus shares with us this week.

(Please note that the Church and the author fully support the need to disengage from abusive and destructive relationships. Advocating for tolerance and openness is not an endorsement of life threatening or debilitating situations.)

In the Gospel, Jesus shares a parable of a farmer who has the unfortunate sabotage of weeds also being sown into his wheat field. The workers want to pull out the weeds, but the farmer stops them and says, “Let the weeds and the wheat grow together.” (continued on page 4)

The simple explanation given by the farmer for his unusual directive is that “you might pull out the wheat with the weeds” and that is true. It is good to avoid collateral damage, but there is something else that can be gleaned from this parable. It’s OK for us to be side by side with those who are different than us, who challenge us, and who disagree with us. In the end, it isn’t our place to judge them. It is God’s. God alone will find a wonderful usefulness for each of us in the Great Providence of his creation.

A number of years ago, I came upon a poem, or shall I say a prayer, that the Jesuit priest Michael Moynahan, S.J. wrote inspired by this weekend’s Gospel passage. (The poem is included in its entirety below). The more one reads the poem, the more one comes to understand that the wisdom of the parable is not just delayed gratification for the wheat, but an ethic of life to follow now, today, and with reckless abandon.

When I encounter someone with whom I have little regard, it is an invitation to practice and participate in the endless love that God invites me to follow. We are meant to grow, not side by side in agnostic deference to one another but mutually together into the full diversity of God’s creation.

In other words, let Larry and Monty grow together. Their fulfillment is not in inept self-contained isolation, but they grow better, despite their differences, when they grow towards an enriching and more fulfilling super-ordaining goal.

That’s why I hope you have at least one friend with whom you disagree. It is your invitation by God to see beyond the narrow horizon of one’s self-limiting perspective and to practice love. Not only do I hope that you have that person in your life, but I hope that with them, you grow together.

-David Heimann

 

 

Litany of Contradictory Things by Michael Moynahan, S.J.

 

 Wheat and weeds:

   let them grow together.

Arabs and Jews in Palestine:

   let them grow together.

Catholics and Protestants of Northern Ireland

   let them grow together.

Documented and undocumented aliens:

   let them grow together.

Immigrants and Native Americans:

   let them grow together.

Blacks and Whites of South Africa:

   let them grow together.

Sikhs and Hindus of India:

   let them grow together.

Revolutionaries and reactionaries:

   let them grow together.

Russians and Americans:

   let them grow together.

Republicans and Democrats of America:

   let them grow together.

Religious leaders who lay and lighten burdens:

   let them grow together.

 

People of God who wound and heal:

   let them grow together.

Rich and poor, humble and haughty:

   let them grow together.

Those whose thinking is similar and contrary:

   let them grow together.

Days of sparseness and days of plenty:

   let them grow together.

Joys and sorrows, laughter, tears:

   let them grow together.

Strength and weakness:

   let them grow together.

Doubt and faith:

   let them grow together.

Virtue and vice:

   let them grow together.

Contemplation and action:

   let them grow together.

The helpful and the helpless:

   let them grow together.

All the contrarieties of the Lord:

   let them grow together.

 

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