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Speaking to the Soul: Weeds and all

Speaking to the Soul: Weeds and all

Matthew 13:24-30

Mother Teresa is a figure about whom there is some ambivalence.  It seems that hand in hand with her generous giving of time, love and resources to the poorest of the poor came a tenacious doggedness that allowed for no debate.  Allegedly she was very hard on her Sisters and impossibly demanding of herself.  And she opted, instead of bringing analgesics and more comfortable beds to her homes for the dying in India, to create more centers in other places around the world for the treatment of incurable disease.  She saw the suffering of dying people as a beautiful alliance with the suffering Christ on the cross.

After her death we learned that for the entire time she was working with the lowliest of sufferers she felt an absence of God’s presence in her life that left her in agonizing desolation.  She mentioned this regularly in letters to her confessor.  She couldn’t find the relationship with the Holy that most deeply nurtures and sustains us.

Because we have the reports of how human she was it is easy to second-guess her, to name the ways in which we would do things very differently.  And yet her accomplishments amaze us.  Her ambiguous nature makes her a true saint for our time.

Bottom line, she lived a life dedicated to the mission that Christ had laid out for her when she was young, and even in the absence of a sense of the presence of God she made an indisputable difference in the lives of countless people.

In Mother Teresa the weeds and the wheat grew up side by side.  And if we look carefully we can see that if somebody had tried to pull the weeds her mission might have faltered.  Her awareness of her purpose, the driving energy of her dedication, her ability to approach the daunting task of working with the poorest of the poor was all wrapped up with her stubborn authoritarian outlook and who knows what other “character flaws”.  At the time of the “harvest” all those weeds were pulled up and tossed away.  What bore fruit in Mother Teresa was gathered into Christ’s barns where it continues to seed new life.  Others with their own mix of weeds and wheat will carry on the work that she began.

Jesus was talking to both individuals and communities in this parable of wheat and weeds.  The message I take away today is, “Just do it!”  Regardless of how uneducated and unprepared we are, we need to follow our passion to bring healing to a suffering world.  Weeds and all, we need to try to be Christ’s hands and heart in the world.  If we don’t, what wheat will there be at harvest time?


Laurie Gudim is a writer and religious iconographer who lives in Fort Collins, CO.  You can view some of her work at Everyday Mysteries.



Image: Icon of Mother Teresa by Laurie Gudim



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I wonder what expectations she had from God? [I can’t imagine someone that has the Holy Spirit to ever feel far from God, as He lives inside the Believer.]

Mother Teresa exemplified Love. Yet, she questioned her own faith for years and years, and had dark doubts about God, and she stopped praying to God.

Love & good deeds are fine, but God asks for faith alone. The bible teaches that anyone that has faith is a saint.

Thom Forde

Mother Teresa did more for the poorest and weakest in one week that most of us will do in our entire life and her work continues through her sisters.


Ann Fontaine

Perhaps the “absence of God” came from the moving away from God to ego.

Jay Croft

I do have to admit that Mother Teresa had a great publicity machine.

Jay Croft

I understand that Mother Teresa felt “the absence of God” only after many years. She started out enthusiastically but at some point she entered a long, dry spell–perhaps even unto her death.

Nevertheless, despite her “sins of omission and sins of commission,” on a larger scale she brought attention to the plight of the poorest.

David Allen

I whole heartedly disagree. I find nothing saintly in the atrocities of which she has been accused, such as denying gay HIV patients medication until they had repented of their homosexuality. This to me is like the folks who admire Woody Allen, Michael Jackson & Bill Crosby, because they were so talented in their respective artistic fields, so lets overlook the atrocities, the pain in other people’s lives, of which they are accused.

Laurie Gudim

I had not heard this about Mother Teresa denying gay HIV patients medication. It is atrocious. Regardless of personal beliefs, to deny somebody life-saving medication is to aid in their death. If true it is another wrong thing this woman did on top of the wrong things I already knew about. I have no interest in making excuses for her. If she were still alive I would want to confront her — and in the words of her own belief system. “How is this different from murder?” I would ask.

What I am saying about her is that here is a woman who dedicated her life to serving Christ. Unlike Woody Allen, Bill Cosby or Michael Jackson, she was moved to serve the very poorest of God’s people in horrifying circumstances. She was out there, trying to be God’s hands in the world. Because she is our contemporary, we can really see the dark places where she fell far short. My contention is that every saint has those. We just don’t know the particulars of the ones further away from us in history.

As Carl Jung used to say, the more you focus light on your unconscious, the darker become the areas where that light isn’t falling. So — weeds and wheat.

Putting our hands to the plow in the service of God’s people, we are bound to expose our ugliness right along with our goodness. What I am saying is, “Do it anyway.” Do it and be willing to be confronted when your shadow nature starts showing, because it will. But don’t let that stop you. Keep doing it.

David Allen

There were the personal testimonies at the time of folks who worked in the HIV hospices who stated that was the very reason that they were quitting working with the hospices.


Has it been confirmed that she did “deny… gay HIV patients medication until they had repented of their homosexuality”?

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