Christ the King Catholic Church
In today's Gospel Jesus continues to teach us important truths about life and about the Kingdom of God using parables. From everyday experiences with which everyone is familiar, Jesus leads us to new insights about ourselves and the life that God intends for us.
Today Jesus points to a wheat field and uses that for his parable. The kingdom of God is like...
A man sows good seed in his field. The enemy comes and sows weeds. The servants ask the master if they should go and try to uproot the weeds. The master wisely says, ''No," because in uprooting the weeds some of the wheat will also necessarily be uprooted and part of the harvest will be lost. Instead, the master instructs the servants to let the wheat and the weeds to grow side by side until harvest time and then it will be clear which is wheat and which is weed.
Here's a little background to the parable. There is a weed called darnel It's an insidious weed because when it first sprouts it looks exactly like wheat. You cannot distinguish darnel from a good plant. And so, in the early stages there is nothing to do but to let the two grow together. Only when the darnel develops its head can you distinguish it from wheat. But there's another problem: by the time the darnel is rooted, its roots intertwine with the roots of the wheat and so if you try to uproot it, you will uproot the wheat as well. In Palestine, this weed is called by a name a name I cannot use in church, but it means 'illegitimate' wheat.
What's a farmer to do? The master in the parable did what the wise farmer would do. Wait. Be patient. Let the two grow side by side until harvest time.
Anyone listening to Jesus' parable would have understood the situation and the dilemma. It was part and parcel of farming in the Holy Land. In fact, the reality of an enemy sowing bad seed in a field was so real that in the Code of Roman Law it was a crime punishable by imprisonment.
Jesus takes his listeners from that common, everyday experience, and leads them to new insights into the Kingdom of God.
What are the lessons that Jesus wants to teach? What are the lessons we can draw for our lives from this parable? Let me suggest three.
First Point: Evil exists. There is a power at work in the world that is opposed to God, opposed to the coming of the Kingdom. Evil is insidious. It never presents itself as evil. It presents itself as wheat. Instead of infanticide, the evil of abortion is called choice or reproductive health care. Instead of revenge, capital punishment is presented as justice and it is done by lethal injection so that the state-ordered ending of a person's life is a sterile and a humane act rather than a barbarous act.
We gossip and we harm a person's reputation and we easily absolve ourselves by the thought that everyone does it and we are no worse than others.
Evil exists. It is at work in our world and it is at work in us.
We live in an age that for the most part denies the reality of evil. What we would have been ashamed to think of twenty years ago, we now broadcast on television twenty-four hours a day. And we pride ourselves thinking that we are living in an 'enlightened' time. And so, adultery and infidelity and dishonesty are not evil or sinful. They are simply realities of a liberated human existence. And Jerry Springer becomes unbelievably wealthy parading it all in front of us and at the end of each episode giving us a 'moral' lesson what we have just seen.
This is the way of our world. But this is not the way God intends the world to be. Evil is so insidious. It's like darnel. In the beginning, you can't distinguish it from wheat. In the end, it becomes so intertwined with the wheat that it becomes part of the air we believe. This is the field in which we live.
Second Point: A day of judgement comes. The master of the field allows the wheat and the darnel to grow together, but not forever. At harvest time, they are separated. They must be separated because darnel is poisonous. It causes dizziness and nausea and can lead to death in young children. And so, the farmer waits. But at harvest time he acts. At harvest time, the darnel is separated from the wheat.
The patience of the wise farmer in the parable should not be mistaken for ignorance or complacency. The patience of the farmer is a function of wisdom.
He does not act until it is time to act. But when that time comes, the farmer separates the wheat from the weeds. God is patient. He gives us time to bear good fruit in our lives - to distinguish ourselves from the weeds. But a time for judgement comes and we would be foolish to miss this point of the parable.
Third Point: Only God has the wisdom to make the final judgement. God alone is able to read our hearts. God alone knows us as we really are. Just as it was tempting for the servants in the parable to want to separate the weeds from the wheat, we are tempted to do the same. We are tempted to judge and to condemn.
But this is not our task. We are called to grow in the values of the Gospel and to allow Jesus' teachings to take deep root in our lives.
Before we can judge others, we must recognize that we ourselves are a mixture of weed and wheat. We are not indifferent to evil, we are not complacent in the face of evil. But we recognize that the master alone can truly distinguish between the weed and the wheat in his field and that he will act in due season.
Our judgement is limited by our own sinfulness. Our call is to bear good fruit in our own lives and to joyfully and publicly witness to the values of the Gospel and so be prepared for the day of harvest, whenever it may come.
Jesus concludes the parable by saying, "Whoever has ears ought to hear."
As we continue to reflect on this Word of God in this coming week, may God give us ears to hear and hearts to understand!