We are been confronted daily with different life’s situation that sometimes it make us to cast doubt on the existence of God and His love for us. As we wonder on why the existence of evil in the world and most especially among the righteous, the church invites us to know that God is both the maker of all and the one who cares for all. Hence the call to imitate God’s justice.
In the first reading, wisdom extolled God for being a just judge. The theme here is that God loves all the things he made and so he wills not to destroy any of them. For this reason he spares even sinners and does not punish them to the extent that they deserve. In his love even for sinners, God only punish “little by little” to give them the opportunity to repent. He condemns no one unjustly or without cause. Since he himself is just, he governs all things justly and with mercy. In this reading, we are invited to learn to show mercy and be kind in our judgment towards others.
In the gospel, Jesus used three parables to teach us about the nature of the kingdom and God’s judgment. Taken by itself, the parable of the Wheat and the Weeds, as with all the parables in the chapter, addresses the nature of the kingdom of God. If, as Jesus maintains (Matt 4:17; 12:28), the kingdom has already dawned, why such continuing prevalence of evil? Why has God not already intervened to root out evil and establish God’s rule once and for all? To this the parable responds that the onset of the kingdom is not taking place on neutral ground. A powerful opposition is at work, holding human hearts against it, hence the slowness of its growth.
In Palestine a poisonous weed known as darnel affects wheat crops. In the early stages of growth it looks very like the young shoots of wheat. By the time both plants can be distinguished, the roots are so entwined as to make tearing out the darnel very injurious to the wheat. Likewise, good and evil are at present so inextricably co-existent in the world as to make too ruthless and any attempt to eradicate the one fatal to a successful harvest of the other.
As humans, we all have a tendency to divide people into two categories: saints or sinners. However, this division is quite unreal. Human beings are complex, and we find things that are at odds with one another coexisting in the same human being. There is a co-existence of good and evil, strength and weakness, loyalty and betrayal in every person. Moreover, the roots of good are so intertwined with the roots of evil that one can’t be pulled up without pulling up the other. But as soon as we discover a weakness in someone, we write that person off. Our heroes must be perfect. As soon as we find a flaw or crack in another person we lose faith in them.
Jesus says that the kingdom of heaven is “like a man who sowed good seed,” or “like a mustard seed,” or “like yeast”. Notice how tiny and insignificant is the three examples that Jesus used. Then, something creative and powerful happens! The good seed has grown into a field of rich grain; the little mustard seed has developed into such a bushy tree; and the tiny bit of yeast has caused the dough to ferment into delicious bread! These parables open up layers of meaning of the mystery of the kingdom, depending on how you focus your camera. They can be looked at from different angles.
Jesus is not just talking about seeds of grain. Grain is life sustaining, but there are many other different types of seeds: seeds of evil, seeds of sin and despair. Like the enemy in the parable, in our society, there are people and situations sowing bad seeds in our minds. Sometimes “weed” creep into our lives and our marriages. It can be a woman who flirts with your husband, or a man flirting with your wife. Result is a broken family. Sometimes, weeds appear to us in attractive, interesting and pleasurable forms. A weed can be a friend who invites you to take drugs, alcohol or go for gambling. Allowing the weeds to grow in our lives could mean the death of a relationship with family or friends. It could be a death of your education and your progress towards your career. It could also lead to the death of a relationship with someone you might have someday married. And, in some instances of drugs and alcohol, it could literally lead to one’s own death. Which of the weeds are most difficult for you to eradicate?
The farmer in the parable thought he had an impossible task, but he did what most of us we not do in this situation. He calmed down and was able to see things from a better perspective. Certainly, he could see that his precious field had both weeds and wheat and he recognized that he would have to work hard on the wheat, coaxing it and encouraging it so that it would outgrow the weeds. Like all good farmers, he worked hard on himself, not to give in to despair. Like the farmer, we have to learn to be patient and lenient, mostly towards ourselves. We must acknowledge the dark side of ourselves, with not conceding victory to it. We must struggle on in spite of the weeds, confident that good will finally triumph. It is through struggle that we are able to grow, provided we don’t throw in the towel.
The parable of the leaven instructs us on what to do with our lives. Spread love until it touches everyone. Like the good seed, leaven and mustard seed, let our love spread out to more people. When we are loved, we blossom, we support each other and we are friendly. We are invited to focus more than ever on doing as much good as we can, in being people of kindness, mercy, justice and compassion. Let us not allow the hurts and sins of the world to stop us from doing yet-more-good; to love more deeply than before. When the weeds around us might otherwise prompt us to respond with negativity, bitterness, revenge or hate, and where sin and hurt abound, let us ensure that the grace, kindness and forbearing love of Christ all the more abound in all that we do and say.
Peace be with you!
Have a grace-filled week
Fr Dumlesi N. Tor
St Mary’s Okwuzi