Jeremiah 7:1-11; Matthew 13:24-30
In today’s Gospel, Matthew has Jesus giving us another agricultural parable. Many in his audience would be people who worked the land. They would understand the dastardly trick that had been played on the landowner. Given all the effort and expense of sowing the good seed, to have it intentionally polluted with weeds, would be devastating.
In an applied meaning of the parable the landowner is the Lord. When he created “the field” he saw that “it was very good.” It’s really immaterial who was responsible for the weeds. But no one can question the fact that scattered among the faithful there are many immoral and unethical people.
The owner isn’t interested in servants pulling up the weeds lest they destroy the wheat as well. That’s understandable. In my gardening days, I would weed a row of veggies and mistakenly pull up almost as many plants as weeds. So the story makes it obvious that the Lord is not going to remove today’s evil but let it continue to coexist with the good wheat. Moreover, who among us is wise and holy enough to distinguish the just from the unjust? God will decide the difference and bring good out of the evil in his own time.
There are some major differences between the initial and applied meanings of the parable. First, the weeds and the wheat have different natures. The good and evil people in this world have the same human nature. Since God loves every human person unconditionally, the deviant and deceitful are loved as much as the honest and moral. It’s impossible to imagine the landowner loving his enemy’s weeds in the same way.
It also follows, weeds are weeds and no way could they ever convert to becoming wheat. But the people estranged from God always have the opportunity of changing over. Knowing their potential for good, God is patient and merciful. He wants the evil as well as the good to be saved.
“To save the sinners, Jesus came,
To live among the friendless,
To show them love that they might share
The kingdom that is endless.” (Breviary Night Hymn)
Maybe in the telling of this parable, Jesus intended to give the errant souls hope since the division of the weeds and the wheat won’t take place until the harvest time. Could the parable also be a challenge for us to befriend the sinners? It is the Lord’s intention that we all share in the endless kingdom.
By Howard Kalb