For those of us who enjoy gardening, today’s Gospel reading from Matthew chapter 13 is an interesting story – drawing much understanding, as it does, from the problem of weeds. Weeds are always an issue. They rob a crop of nutrients, compete for the sunlight, and crowd our precious plants.
Yet Jesus says that the Son of Man will tell the servants not to gather the weeds to begin with, because they may damage the wheat. Rather, they should be left to grow together until the harvest.
This made me think about when I was a child, and began learning what to pull out, and what to keep. Sometimes it is difficult to tell the difference between a weed and a precious seedling; especially if they are very young. Plant leaves can change dramatically as they mature. Perhaps, one way to understand what Jesus means, is to think about it in this way – as children learning to discern wheat from weeds?
The field is the world.
The good seed are the children of the kingdom.
The weeds are the children of the evil one.
The harvest is the end of the age.
The Son of Man will send his angels,
And they will collect out of his kingdom
All causes of sin and all evildoers.
This, according to Matthew, is Jesus’ interpretation of the parable.
But how do we bring this into focus in our lives, here and now? How can we use this story carefully enough to be helpful in our own lives, and the life of the church and community?
For me, it is certainly not simple, but I can search through it, and find some truths.
Perhaps we can think of some of the things in past years, which our church community has tried – things which were begun with hope and much careful planning?
Some of them have flourished. Some have not. None of them have been perfect. I Also love the idea that it’s hard to tell the weeds from the wheat until the harvest. I have seen time
after time, church communities sow seeds that they thought were crops, only to find out that as they bloom they are, in fact, not going to be a good harvest!
The other thing to remember, is not to push this metaphor too far. There are, always, things we would know immediately were unhealthy. Things that begin by damaging a community must be removed promptly, to avoid further damage, of course.
However, in God’s loving providence, there is a time for patience – a time when discernment means waiting. Seeing what might begin to unfold.
Perhaps that is where we find ourselves now? The winter has drawn in around us. We may feel a little like withdrawing. This cold weather can be a time for reflection and prayer. Spring is around the corner, and there will be time for us to discern what is growing amongst us. What exciting things can we do together in this next year?
Stay well and keep warm.
God bless you