The Company We Keep
July 20, 2014
16th Sunday in Ordinary Time
MT 13:24-30

My Dad, early on in my life all through high school and well into my university years, found numerous occasions to use this pearl of wisdom; typically introduced with the question: “Who are you going out with tonight?” And then it came: “Remember! People judge you by the company you keep.”

Today, I might respectfully respond: “They really shouldn’t Dad; it’s only God’s right to judge.” Still, Dad was right. We are often judged by the people we are seen with. Even Jesus was ridiculed for his friends; after all they were tax collectors and sinners.

Today Dad’s pearl of wisdom might rightly be expanded to say: “People judge you by the reality TV shows you watch, the video games you play, what you post on social media.” Quite honestly, it isn’t by accident that the company we keep, or the things we spend our time, energy and money on, are the standards by which others come to evaluate us. The truth is all of these things influence who we are and what we make of our earthly lives. The soil in which we plant ourselves, where we turn for nourishment and what we use to support and guide us, are the very things that form us. We can certainly argue that others have no right to judge us, but we will lose the argument if we are foolish enough to think that the people and things we spend our time with have no effect on who we are and what we are all about. Dad was right! My Dad was a “holy father!”

Speaking of holy fathers, Pope Francis, in a recent address entitled “In the Joy of the Holy Spirit” offered his own pearl of wisdom to Catholic families. The Holy Father said: “Families are the domestic church where Jesus grows; He grows in the love of spouses, He grows in the lives of children. That is why the enemy so often attacks the family. The devil does not want the family; he tries to destroy it.”

And then there is the parable that Jesus offers us in this week’s Gospel (Matt 13:24-43). Neither my Dad’s exact words, or those of Pope Francis, but Jesus makes a point that really needs no clarification. We need to be very careful about who and what we allow into our lives; especially our family life. In a very short time, the healthiest of gardens can be easily overpowered and strangled by weeds. And the same holds true for the healthiest of families; and the most vibrant of spiritual lives. Moreover, this is the season when weeds thrive. Maybe it might be advisable to examine both to see if it’s time to put some effort into pulling out those things that might cause us to be judged to be less than what we are: children of God. Happy gardening!