Scripture Readings: Wisdom 23.24, 26-29; Romans 8.26-27; Matthew 13.24-43
Jesus put another parable to the crowd. “The householder’s slaves came to him, “Master, did you now sow good seed in your field? Where did these weeds come from?” The master answered, “An enemy has done this.” The slaves said, “Do you want us to go and gather them?” The householder replied, “No, in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with the weeds. Let both of them grow together until the harvest. At harvest time I will tell the reapers, “Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.” – Matthew 13.24-30
His disciples ask Jesus to explain the parable about the weeds. The interpretation turns the parable into an allegory with double meanings. The sower is the Son of Man, a messianic title. The field is the world. The good seeds are children of the kingdom; the weeds are children of the evil one. The harvest is the end of the age, a scary time when weeds get burned and wheat gets gathered into barns.
Only Matthew’s gospel includes this parable and its fiery ending, making this a parable of judgment rather than pastoral patience. Who are the weeds and who are the grains of wheat? Matthew writes about A.D. 85 as Jews who follows Jesus and Jews who follow other rabbis are forming separate groups. Or perhaps Christian Jews and Gentiles belong in the same communities but have differences. Perhaps some resist Jesus’ example in eating with outcasts and sinners and extending God’s love for everyone. The parable suggests the patience of God in allowing weeds and wheat to grow together util the harvest forebodes an eventual sorting. The parable is both about being pastoral and about judgment.
Pope Francis encourages a pastoral approach in the first of his apostolic exhortations The Joy of the Gospel. “Time is greater than space,” he writes, giving priority to processes that build and develop communities over time and that allow time for healing and grace in relationships and families. “Unity is greater than conflict,” he insists. “The Spirit can harmonize every diversity.” Most of us recognize we so often magnify difference when we have more in common than divides us.
Sunday’s gospel also include short parables about mustard seed and leaven. A tiny seed grows into a great bush, a home for the birds of the air. Leaven invisibly transforms wheat flour into large, airy nourishing bread dough. Both parables suggest the mystery of God at work in our lives. Life takes time; God’s reign will take time. In the end human wisdom is not God’s wisdom.
What judgments about yourself, other people, or about the Church have you made that proved wrong? What changed your perception? What leaven do you hope you are in your community of faith?