There are a lot of pitfalls on the road through our spiritual lives. We ourselves experience that all the time. Making our confessions, we have a firm purpose of amendment, but it seems like the devil knows that, and so we barely make it to the parking lot and there’s a new temptation or frustration. Those pitfalls in the spiritual life are many, and frequent, and exasperating at times.
Jesus said it would be so. Listen to what he says in the Gospel reading again:
The Kingdom of heaven may be likened to a man
who sowed good seed in his field.
While everyone was asleep his enemy came
and sowed weeds all through the wheat, and then went off.
Did you catch that? The Kingdom of heaven will be like that. It will be planted with good seed, but the enemy will sow weeds. That’s still the Kingdom of heaven. So when we are frustrated by the pitfalls we encounter, we can at least take some relative comfort in that our Savior said it would be like that, and we’re still in the Kingdom of heaven.
But what we can’t do is accept that to the point that we decide we can participate in it and still be forgiven. We can’t love our sins and expect God to save us. That’s called presumption, and it too is a sin, and a pitfall in the spiritual life. Presumption is what was going on in our first reading this morning. Jeremiah calls the people out on their practices of worshipping and then as soon as they leave, sinning gravely. He tells them they can’t murder, commit adultery, and worship false gods only to say, “We are safe; we can commit all these abominations again.” God is a God of justice; he sees that kind of nonsense and calls it what it is.
So here’s the take away. Yes, there will be pitfalls in the spiritual life. But when we run into them, it doesn’t mean we’re not still in the Kingdom of heaven. What we have to do is call them what they are, repent, reform our lives, and call on God’s mercy. But we can’t presume God’s mercy so that we give ourselves permission to sin. We have to love God more than our sins; love eternity more than today’s passing pleasures. We have to be like the Psalmist today who recognizes the pitfalls and cries out:
My soul yearns and pines
for the courts of the LORD.
My heart and my flesh
cry out for the living God.