Friday, 22 July 2011

It is all revealed at harvest time...

On the Gospel of Matthew 13:24-43
16th Sunday of Ordinary Time
The Gospel this week is a continuation of the Gospel of last week and gives a second parable of the seed being sown. Last week Jesus showed how different people receive the gift of God's Word, how some accept it with joy, while others are indifferent or even close their ears and shut their eyes “for fear they should see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their heart, and be converted…”.

In this week’s parable, Jesus shows that God allows people to live in their own chosen way, despite His offer of love and guidance. Jesus describes two 'camps' in this parable, the camp of the servants of God, represented by the wheat, and the camp of the servants of the evil one, represented by the weeds. Both are allowed to live in the world side by side.
While in the Gospel of last week, the seed is the Word of God, the source of the weeds is the seed sown by the enemy, that is, the lies of the evil one which persuade some to follow him and disregard the love of God. But God does not smother peoples' own choices, but respects them. In this world, whatever choice somebody makes regarding God, God respects it. The servants ask if they should root up the weeds, but the response is that by doing so the wheat might also get pulled out. Instead, the wheat and the weeds can grow together until it becomes clear which is which at harvest time.
God allows for each person to mature. It is only at the end, when fully grown, that it becomes clear if something is darnel or wheat. God always gives another chance to the heart to turn around and convert. It is not clear, at least to us, His servants, if somebody is going to turn out to be darnel or wheat, this is something that only God knows, and only God can, at the end of time, send the Angels to separate the ones who are virtuous and wish to do His will no matter how badly they have been failing, from the people who commit offences and do evil willingly thus separating themselves from His love.
Jesus is teaching us here that we should not judge, that it is only God who can judge at the end. Another parable in the Gospel speaks of the mustard seed, the smallest of seeds which can become the biggest shrub. It is easy to dismiss somebody on account of their apparent behaviour, but it is impossible to know if the mustard seed has been planted or not, and so also impossible to see if it will develop.
Finally, with the parable of the yeast and the wheat Jesus encourages us to be the good leaven, to go out and be a witness to Him. A small bit of yeast is enough to leaven the whole quantity of flour. So, while God allows evil and good to ‘live’ together, He gives everybody a fair chance to make their own decision about how they want to develop themselves. While it is impossible for us, His servants, to distinguish from the start the wheat from the darnel, our ‘job’ is not to judge, but to be the leaven and help others to find the true way to happiness so that, in the end, as many as possible will “shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father”.

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