Gospel: Matthew 13: 24-43

Jesus proposed another parable to the crowds, saying:
“The kingdom of heaven may be likened
to a man who sowed good seed in his field.
While everyone was asleep his enemy came
and sowed weeds all through the wheat, and then went off.
When the crop grew and bore fruit, the weeds appeared as well.
The slaves of the householder came to him and said,
‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field?
Where have the weeds come from?’
He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’
His slaves said to him,
‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’
He replied, ‘No, if you pull up the weeds
you might uproot the wheat along with them.
Let them grow together until harvest;
then at harvest time I will say to the harvesters,
“First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning;
but gather the wheat into my barn.”’”

He proposed another parable to them.
“The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed
that a person took and sowed in a field.
It is the smallest of all the seeds,
yet when full-grown it is the largest of plants.
It becomes a large bush,
and the ‘birds of the sky come and dwell in its branches.’”

He spoke to them another parable.
“The kingdom of heaven is like yeast
that a woman took and mixed with three measures of wheat flour
until the whole batch was leavened.”

All these things Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables.
He spoke to them only in parables,
to fulfill what had been said through the prophet:
I will open my mouth in parables,
I will announce what has lain hidden from the foundation
of the world.

Then, dismissing the crowds, he went into the house.
His disciples approached him and said,
“Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.”
He said in reply, “He who sows good seed is the Son of Man,
the field is the world, the good seed the children of the kingdom.
The weeds are the children of the evil one,
and the enemy who sows them is the devil.
The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.
Just as weeds are collected and burned up with fire,
so will it be at the end of the age.
The Son of Man will send his angels,
and they will collect out of his kingdom
all who cause others to sin and all evildoers.
They will throw them into the fiery furnace,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.
Then the righteous will shine like the sun
in the kingdom of their Father.
Whoever has ears ought to hear.”

My dear brothers and sisters in the Lord,

As we listen to the Gospel today, the message is quite clear. The  kingdom of heaven is likened to the good seed being sown in the field, the potential in a tiny mustard seed, and the yeast in the dough. One interpretation of the parable of the wheat and the darnel is about being inclusive.  Darnel is a weed that closely resembles wheat and the difference is evident only when the plants mature and the ears of grain appear.  When the owner’s servants discover weeds in the wheat field, the question is not only where they could come from, but also what should be done about them.  To their surprise the owner tells them not to weed the field but to let the wheat and darnel. He says: let them grow together. Then when both are mature at harvest time the sorting will be done.  The wheat will be gathered up and stored, and the darnel will be burned. 

Jesus explains that the parable is about good and evil thriving alongside each other in the world.  It is not early enough to tell weeds from the wheat and their roots are intertwined below the ground. Judgement is left to God’s angels.  We see the inclusive nature of Jesus’ vision. He explains that the power of the kingdom of God is like the growth potential of a tiny mustard seed, or the transforming qualities of the yeast. The tiny seeds and the yeast spores have a dynamic potential for change that is out of proportion to their size.  With the metaphors of the mustard seed and the yeast, Jesus asks us to trust our inner energies and the power of the Holy Spirit.  We can all be agents of change in our world.

And so we are invited to use our potential to build God’s kingdom. And a part of that is avoiding the most prevalent of all our sins, that is the sin of judging other people.  Jesus recognized this tendency in his followers, and there is a warning to us in the Church today.  We can set ourselves up as gatekeepers, and make some people welcome in our communities, while discouraging others.  However, let us get on with the mission Jesus has given us, that is, to proclaim the good news of the Kingdom of God. This will help us  guard against becoming useless weeds ourselves. 

Jesus teaches us to be patient  with the ambiguities of life and situations and people, especially those who are different from  ourselves.  We can apply this parable to our own Christian lives. We are called to follow Jesus’ patience and tolerance towards our neighbors, particularly vulnerable people. And nurturing wonder and humility towards the community of our world, which is all of God’s creation and this is so appropriate today as Jesus reminds us of the power of seeds and yeast.  From fields of wheat swaying in the wind to birds perching on a mustard tree to the smell of baked bread,  there is infinite healing and generosity in nature. At the end of the Gospel today, Jesus uses another wonderful image from our environment , when he says “the virtuous  will shine like the sun” in God’s kingdom.

Peace,

Fr Joe