By Nick Sciarappa
I was excited for my first day of work. I wanted to prove to my father that I was a hard worker who would make him proud. Dad told me that landscaping was a tough job, but I knew I could keep up.
What would he have me do on my first day of work? Prune beautiful trees? Design mulch beds? Craft a retaining wall? Plant gorgeous trees?
My dad gave me a pair of gloves and showed me an endless bed of flowers and weeds. I was disappointed. While my dad was giving gorgeous trees their yearly haircut, I was planting my knees into the soil of a flower bed to pluck weeds for hours. It wasn’t fun work, but I continued to try to make my dad proud by working hard.
After about two hours into weed pulling, my dad come over to check on me. I was ready for him to tell me how proud he was of me for doing a good job. Instead, I heard these terrifying words.
“Nick, you pulled half of the flowers out of the flower bed.”
It turns out that the weeds I was pulling looked very similar to the flowers in the bed, and I couldn’t tell the difference. It took the eyes of someone much wiser than I to judge which plant was a flower and which was a weed.
Though I later learned the difference between weeds and flowers, this story reminds me of how I’m a pretty bad judge of a lot of things.
I’m bad at judging.
Whether or not to bring an umbrella to work. I’m bad at judging who will win any sporting event. I’m bad at judging what style of jeans fit me best. But worst of all, I think the gospel story telling the parable of the weeds reminds me that I am the worst at judging people’s hearts.
There are so many opportunities to judge people’s hearts every day, and I can’t help it.
Every morning when I’m driving in downtown Pittsburgh, and someone cuts me off, I don’t just want to judge their action – I’m tempted to judge their whole person. The same is true for when someone sits in my seat at church, listens to a different kind of music than I do, has an awkward interaction with me, drinks too much, weighs a certain amount, swears a lot, votes republican, votes democrat, dresses a certain way: I’m tempted to step out of assessing a truth about someone, into judging a person and their heart.
Thank God I am not a judge that matters – I’m sure I would be bad at it. But I think I can take a tip from Jesus’s parable.
In the parable, Jesus lets weeds and the wheat grow at the same rate in the garden. He doesn’t let an uneducated slave (Me) pick them, because he might pick the wrong plants out of the ground. A farmer who knows their stuff (Jesus) is the only person who can make right judgement of the plants, (our hearts).
For me, this parable is a story of mercy.
Jesus takes the burden of having to judge people off of our shoulders. He tells us that we don’t have to judge so that our mission in life can be much simpler: love our sisters and brothers. Love all of them, no matter what.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Nick graduated from John Carroll University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communications, and a Catholic Studies Minor in May 2014. After a short residency reporting for the newspaper, National Catholic Reporter in Kansas City he stepped away from journalism into full time ministry. He works for the Diocese of Pittsburgh as their Digital Media Strategist, at St. John Neumann as a Youth Minister, and speaks at various ministry events in Pittsburgh, PA. He enjoys playing the ukulele and singing.