Christians recognize this interplay not just in the world at large but also in their own lives, he continued, realizing that “evil comes also from within us.”
The parable poses the question of what should be done with this situation, and the pope noted how the servants want to pull up the weeds.
“This attitude comes from good intentions, but is impulsive and aggressive,” Pope Francis warned.
“They delude themselves into thinking that they can uproot evil by their own efforts in order to save what is pure,” he continued. “Indeed, we frequently see the temptation of seeking to bring about a ‘pure society,’ a ‘pure Church,’ whereas in working to reach this purity, we risk being impatient, intransigent, even violent toward those who have fallen into error. In this way, together with the weeds we pull up the good wheat and block people from moving forward, from growing and changing.”
Instead, Jesus says the wheat and weeds have to grow together, the Holy Father emphasized.
“How beautiful is this vision of God, his way of teaching us about mercy,” the pope said. “This invites us to be patient with others, to be patient with others and — in our families, in the Church, and in society — to welcome weakness, delay, and limitations, not in order to let ourselves grow accustomed to them or excuse them, but to learn to act with respect, caring for the good wheat gently and patiently.”
In any case, it is God’s work, not ours, to purify the heart and claim the definitive victory over evil, the pope said.
He then noted how this attitude helps us to look back over our lives, especially when we’ve lived longer.
The elderly, he noted, look back over their lives and see “so many beautiful things” but also the “defeats and mistakes.”
“Yet today the Lord offers us a gentle word that invites us to accept the mystery of life with serenity and patience, to leave judgment to him, and not to live regretful and remorseful lives,” he said. “It is as if Jesus wanted to say to us: ‘Look at the good wheat that has sprouted along the path of your life and let it keep growing, entrusting everything to me, for I always forgive: In the end, the good will be stronger than the evil.’”
Pope Francis considered the second and third parables, about the mustard tree and the yeast, as images to encourage the elderly and the young to dwell together.
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Scripture calls us to be vigilant so we don’t marginalize the elderly, the pope said, “so that our crowded cities do not become ‘centers of loneliness’; that politics, called to provide for the needs of the most fragile, never forgets the elderly nor allows the market to banish them as ‘unprofitable waste.’”
“May we not chase after the utopias of efficiency and performance at full speed, lest we become incapable of slowing down to accompany those who struggle to keep up,” the pope urged. “Please, let us mingle and grow together.”
Following the Mass, Pope Francis underscored this theme when he prayed the traditional midday Angelus from a window overlooking St. Peter’s Square, flanked by a grandmother and grandson.
Reiterating the themes from his homily, the pope warned against judging our neighbors or trying to create a perfect world by uprooting the weeds. However, he noted, there is a place where we are free to work, and that is in our hearts.
There, we must have “constant care of the delicate shoots of goodness” as well as dedicate ourselves to “identify and uproot the weeds.”