After the parable of the Sower, last Sunday, we continue talking about the Kingdom of God through a series of other parables such as: parable of weeds, mustard seed and yeast. All of them open us to the hope that despite obstacles or humble beginning God’s Kingdom is surely taking root and bearing fruit. Hence, we are invited not only to be hopeful but also to wait with patience and perseverance. Let’s reflect on the parable of the wheat and the weeds.
Bible Readings Wisdom 12:13-16, 19 Psalm 86: 5-6, 9-10, 15-16 Romans 8: 26-27 Matthew 13: 24-43
Posing the problem of the weeds
Often times we wonder, why is there so much evil in the world: violence, killings, sickness, death, injustice? And God never lacks his share of blame.
If God is serious about establishing the Kingdom of peace on earth why doesn’t he use his power to eliminate all those things and persons that cause trouble? We want a pure world, a pure church, perfect Christians, perfect spouse, perfect parents, and perfect neighbour. Yet, this is only a dream –it’s far from our reality. Yet, we find similar question and deception in the First reading.
God’s judgement is questioned for God seems not only lenient with those who do evil but he even makes them prosper in what they do. So, we have a shake up: hey, aren’t you God? Then use your power to finish off those who do evil and we shall be ok!
Attempting a response
So the text from the Book of Wisdom attempts to give some explanation in the form of defence in favour of God. “Although you are sovereign in strength, you judge with mildness, and with great forbearance you govern us… Through such works you have taught your people that the righteous must be kind, and you have filled your children with good hope, because you give repentance for sins.” God doesn’t wield his power to crush those who do evil, rather, he gives time. He’s mostly concerned about protecting and nurturing the good present even in those situations where we may only be seeing evil. That’s also what the parable of the weeds puts in evidence.
When servants discover weeds in the wheat field, they ask: “Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where, then, did these weeds come from?” And for them the solution is obvious: “…do you want us to go and gather them?” But the master sees things differently. “No” he replies “for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. Let both of them grow together until the harvest….”
Wow! How we often lack this level of wisdom and patience in our relations with others! We see things differently.
Different ways of seeing
The master and the servants have different ways of looking at the reality of weeds in the wheat field. The zealous servants are armed ready to get rid of the weeds, thinking little of the damage they may cause to the fragile wheat plants. But the master is concerned about securing the wheat so that it can bear fruit even in the midst of weeds. Isn’t that the difference between God’s way and ours?
We are quick to judge, condemn, and if possible to eliminate whatever appears different or opposed to our way. On the contrary, God shows patience and discernment, waiting for a right moment to act. Perhaps, it may have something to do with our idea of holiness.
Holiness, separation or encounter?
We have removing weeds vs. let them grow together. It’s a similar conflict between Jesus and the Pharisees. The Pharisees separate themselves from others as clean guys, but Jesus is a man of encounter.
The Pharisees just cannot not imagine, how can good Jew mix with sinners? In fact, that fits in with the perspective of John the Baptist who foresaw the Messiah as someone who would separate chaff from wheat –and the chaff will be thrust into eternal fire (Mt 3:12). But Jesus did just the opposite. Tax-collectors, prostitutes, the sick, the poor –all those who were considered “weeds” in the Jewish society found a friend in Jesus. Indeed, he came for sinners and for the sick. And that’s not just history.
We ourselves are not pure wheat, in us grow also weeds. But the Lord welcomes us and encourages us so that the wheat in us can blossom.
Our mission in wheat field with weeds
We live in the world where inevitably good and evil cohabit. Let’s not lose sight of the good around us, rather, we encourage it and make it more visible. In fact, the world where good and evil cohabit is not out there, but in us. And there we realise how difficult it is to separate.
Let’s watch then against the tendency to judge and to condemn. Equally, watch against unbridled compulsion to purifier the world, even church. Remember, the most hideous and barbaric acts the world has known have been committed in the name of “removing weeds” by those who considered themselves to be a superior race. Just think of the reigning mentality of slavery, colonialism, ethnic cleansing or genocides? Such inhuman acts were committed by those zealous servants intent to remove what they thought to be weeds.
The parable cautions us. When it comes to good and evil, it’s a delicate matter and God does not entrust us with chirurgical operation for he knows; for lack of sufficient discernment and tenderness we risk doing more harm than good.
Call to realism
I feel this parable is also inviting us to stop dreaming and be present to the world we live in. We may dream of the perfect world, perfect church, perfect spouse or perfect neighbour. I cry, illusion! We live in this real world which has its zones of light and zones of shadows. And it’s in this real world where God’s Kingdom is to be established. That’s why the patience of the master should not be understood as waiting for conversion. Weeds will never become wheat! And yet, it’s in this field of mixture where the farmer hopes to get his harvest of wheat for his bread.
Jesus, by this parable I become more aware of both the weeds and the wheat that grow together in the field of my life. Yet, you keep a positive eye on me for you believe in the good that can still come out of me. What does that mean for me in my relations?
Well, perhaps I shouldn’t live in the illusion of waiting to have a perfect spouse and perfect neighbour before I can have a fruitful relationship with them.
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