Saint Bridget of Sweden

Lectionary: 400

...if you pull up the weeds
you might uproot the wheat along with them.
Let them grow together until harvest;
then at harvest time I will say to the harvesters,
First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning; but gather the wheat into my barn.

The "slaves of the householder" in today's parable are eager to get out there and uproot all the nasty weeds that have appeared in their lovely wheat field. But the owner very wisely restrains them.

"Non-judgement" has become an important watchword in recent spirituality. The eastern guru and the western monk encourage their disciples to sit quietly in meditation, observing without judgement the wanderings of the mind and occasionally inviting it back to focus on the word of prayer (western) or emptiness (eastern).

I remember a day when I finally learned to apply that simple lesson. For reasons of my own training and background I had unconsciously attached red flags to certain images, memories and impulses. When any of these popped up in my mind an alarm went off and I reacted with anger toward myself. It took a while to learn that the anger was unnecessary, it only disturbed the mind.

"Let it pass." the Lord and my spiritual director assured me. Thoughts and ideas floated through the mind. "In one ear and out the other!" as Dad would have said. Unattached and unattacked, they drifted away. Because I was paying attention only to the Lord, I didn't care where these distractions came from or where they went. Nor could I remember them later in the day. They had left no impression.

Non-judgement has become a critically important tool in my ministry at the VA hospital. First, as I listen to the patients, I have to let my own clever remarks, insightful thoughts and amusing stories pass back into oblivion. I have not been sent to entertain the Veteran or his family.

Secondly, I let the Veteran tell his story and express his opinions. He didn't come to the hospital to be instructed, chastened or edified by the chaplain. He doesn't need my assessment of his salvageability. But he might find meaning and purpose in telling me about himself.

Finally, I let the Veteran discover faith in my presence. As a sacrament of the Church, I offer blessings through my willingness to see, hear, touch and know the patient. Most are willing to receive the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, which I offer equally to devout, practicing Catholics and to the majority who are only associated with the Catholic Church.

Occasionally, rarely, I might offer advice but 
on those occasions I usually find I'm wasting my breath. 

I am required to do a "spiritual assessment" but that is not an evaluation of their standing in God's sight. I only ask if they are willing to receive a chaplain visit. What they make of it is not my concern.

The slaves were ready to uproot and destroy but the friends of Jesus bring his presence to friend and foe alike. How we judge or what we think of one another is of no particular interest to Him, neither should it be to us.

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I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

You're welcome to add a thought or raise a question.