It’s one of life’s great mysteries how, collectively, mankind can feel so all-powerful while a single human being can feel so powerless. Yet, each person is born with the seeds of great power sown into his soul. There are two of these seeds: love and hate. These seeds are tiny and dormant at our birth, but as we reach the age of reason we are given the power to cultivate them. The consequences of this power guide the course of our lives. And though those seeds are tiny, they have great growth potential—like the mustard seed Christ tells us about in this Sunday’s gospel reading (mt 13:24-43):
“It is the smallest of all the seeds, yet when full-grown it is the largest of plants. It becomes a large bush, and the ‘birds of the sky come and dwell in its branches.’”
The mustard seed is like the seed of love in our souls. As it grows it can offer shelter and protection for others. But the seed of hate grows into a weed that can be just as prolific and stifle the fruitfulness of our love. When those crops grow together, we harvest misery.
Take a look at any newspaper these days and you’ll see the evidence. A young Palestinian father holds the dead body of his little boy who was killed in an Israeli bombing attack. In this father’s anguished face you see both the love he feels for his child and the hate he feels for his enemies. Soon that love will be strangled by the desire for revenge. Revenge is another prolific weed that grows from the seed of hate. It grows as abundantly in families and neighborhoods as it does in all the world’s capitols. As it grows in one’s heart, the potency of love diminishes. That is a painful process until love dies and disappears. Then the pain of hate rushes in to fill that space. We must pray for help while our endangered love still lives. As Paul tells the Romans in Sunday’s second reading (rom 8:26-27), such prayer will be answered, no matter how feeble:
“The Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes with inexpressible groanings. The one who searches hearts knows what is the intention of the Spirit, because he intercedes for the holy ones according to God’s will.”
Love is Godly, God is love, and love resides in each one of us. But divine love is laced with wisdom, which channels its power. In Sunday’s first reading from the Book of Wisdom (wis 12:13, 16-19), we are taught by God’s example how to love wisely:
“Though you are master of might, you judge with clemency, and with much lenience you govern us; for power, whenever you will, attends you. And you taught your people, by these deeds, that those who are just must be kind.”
If we could just master the art of kindness in our own lives there would be no room for hate to grow.