[__01__] The root is the part of a plant that grows underground, gets water from the ground, and holds the plant in place.
To speak of a person or an idea as “radical”, we would have in mind …
- Something very basic and important – for example
- “There are some radical differences between the two proposals.”
- “there were radical changes in the country after the election”
Something which is “radical” is one which stands out not only in terms of its obvious or visible appearance – or behavior…but is also is different – at the roots.
[__02__] For example, civil rights leaders are sometimes described as “radicals”. And, in 1992, Nelson Mandela – after decades in prison… became a “free radical”. And, a free radical – in science and the environment is seeking something to bond with …something to do…
And, so Nelson Mandela –at the age of 70 was now – a free radical…with new ideas… and was elected president of
, his own country. South
As a “radical”, he was elected president of the country which had only recently imprisoned him for his ideas. So …there was a radical shift… not simply because Nelson Mandela was black and most of the other leaders were white… This would have been only a shift in appearance.
He was also hoping for a shift at the root level.
[[[ In mathematics, “radical” also mean the root or square root of a number…. The radical of 16 equals 4 … because 4 times 4 equals 16; the radical of 9 equals 3, because 3 times 3 equals 9. ]]]
[__03__] In this Gospel reading about the farm, the cultivated field, an image is presented for our consideration and prayer about our roots… about our own ¨radical ideas¨.
And, we are invited then, below the surface, to radical reform… not of a government… or institution but of ourselves.
[__04__] Each day, we manifest – demonstrate – behavior and personality and emotions to others. In this way, you and I behave certain ways – by word, action, silence, or inaction.
[__05__] And, we are invited to consider where are roots are …. Not simply how we appear on the surface.
Jesus cautions us not to consider only the appearance, or only the surface, saying that if you pull up the weeds [the bad plants] you might uproot the wheat [the good plants] along with them. (cf. Matthew 13:29)
So, if we are examining our lives, examining our conscience, or – as Jesuit Father George Aschenbrenner, [S.J.] wrote – “examining our consciousness” …
“examining our consciousness”
We might consider not only what we see on the surface.
[__06__] For example – “CONFIDENCE” … or “BEING CONFIDENT”
We might describe ourselves or someone else as confident. But, we might also ask – what is the root – or origin – of my our your confidence?
Where is the root?
Is my confidence based on my pride, by own need to be # 1, to be correct?
Or, could you and I not also be confident – and trustworthy – if were to endure criticism, or correction… that is, because we would trust in God’s strength and grace?
In other words [I.e.,à ] is my confidence based on pride (a bad plant in the garden) or prudence/wisdom (a good plant in the garden).
Sometimes, these roots are intertwined. We need God’s help to unwind them.
[__07__] Or … for example, we might describe ourselves or another person as ANGRY…
Certainly, all of us feel - experience – at times – frustration and anger.
However, at times, anger could be defined as a legitimate and virtuous reaction to some injustice.
We are angry at offenses against religious freedom, or justice… our anger, then, could lead us to God and to the truth.
Or, if my anger were only rooted in pride, then my anger could harm another person or could harm me.
[__08__] This Gospel reminds us that our emotions and behaviors can be rooted in goodness or rooted in wickedness.
In either case, we need God’s help to discern our own thoughts and actions.
For example, in Psalm 141, we pray that that God will set a watch before my mouth … a guard at the door of my lips.
In the letter to the Hebrews we read, that it is God’s word cuts to the heart as a double-edged sword, penetrating as far as the separation of soul and spirit, joints and marrow. (cf. Hebrews 4:12)
Thus, as Jesus says ... don’t be concerned only with outward behavior…or what is at the surface…
Yes, at times, we may be concerned about not having enough confidence…. To take on some situation…
We may be concerned that we are too angry or upset to take some action.
Nevertheless, ask for God’s help to go beneath the surface, to cling to what is God’s to ascend to Heaven… and, perhaps, to leave in the earth… in the soil, what belongs to the evil spirit, the spirits of temptation, from which we need God’s help to unwind, and be set free.