Proper 11 Year A
We continue this week reading further into chapter 13 of Matthew’s gospel.
Lakeside, with no sound amplification system (!),
Jesus is teaching parables to an enormous crowd.
A parable is a figure of speech, a metaphorical story (placed in parallel),
meant to highlight one or two points, which serve to reveal.
Always and ultimately the One who is beyond normal human experience
and thus needs to reveal Himself: God
Such revelation is always Jesus’ purpose:
to open and share the mystery of God with us.
Thus, everything that Jesus says and does is revelation.
That this parable be revelation of God
is fundamental and paramount to bear in mind.
The kingdom of God is not
a particular political system or a behavioral code.
The kingdom of God is nothing less than God, the King.
Jesus says as much in this parable!
“The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man.”
[That the kingdom of God is God cannot be underscored enough.]
The kingdom of God is also God taking hold of us and of the Cosmos.
We are the kingdom of God insofar as we participate in the life of God.
Thus, when we pray “Thy Kingdom come”, we are not asking
- that things go in a particular political direction
- that there be a moral spring cleaning in our nation
- that people be inspired to practice random acts of kindness
that the downtrodden emerge victorious or that there be peace on earth.
We are first asking that the King come and take hold of us
and flood us with love and light.
The rest—in which we do have a role to play—will follow.
Recall what Matthew says back in chapter 6 (verse 33):
“Strive first for the kingdom of God (i.e., for the King!)
and all these things will be given to you as well.”
When we pray “Thy Kingdom come”,
we are asking to be granted a greater share in the very life of God.
And so, we are asking to be more Christian.
To be a Christian is to share in the very life of God thanks to Christ,
with the same intimacy that exists
between the Son and the Father (and the Holy Spirit).
Now, Jesus interestingly, uncommonly, explains the parable.
(although Jesus’ “explanations” always leave one hungry for more!)
Well, Jesus’ explanations are designed to arouse hunger.
Jesus’ explanation is simple.
Jesus is about making children of God
who find themselves amongst persons who refuse the Good News
—in this, somehow moved by evil,
and, at the end of time,
the latter will suffer payback and the former will be rewarded.
Simple—or so it seems…
Upon closer reading, there is perhaps more/something else.
What is certainly revealed is that, when it comes to the divine life,
Jesus takes the initiative.
He sows the good seed.
We are Christian because God become human, Christ,
has reached into us and deposited the gift of grace that transforms us
—beyond anything that we can do:
“born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man,
but of God.” (John 1:13)
We are, of course, to cooperate with grace—bearing in mind that it is pure gift.
How do we cooperate?
We cooperate by feeding our faith, hope and love, the beautiful wheat.
Actually, we allow Jesus to feed us—in a particular way
when we encounter Him through the Scriptures and in the Eucharist.
Let us go further.
That Jesus tell us not to uproot the weeds, not to separate good from bad,
is perplexing and significant, and perhaps obliges us to discover the more.
Perhaps Jesus does not want us to uproot the weeds
because the weeds are in us.
Grace—and faith, hope and love, grow in us
alongside not-so-wonderful things, weeds.
If we are honest, we all know and experience this,
and we all know and experience the resulting inner conflict
so plainly and poignantly described by St. Paul,
“I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” (Romans 7:14)
Jesus makes it clear that only He, God, can carefully separate.
It is His to do, and we are to surrender the weeds
and let Him take care of them, let the angels of God take care of them.
We are to focus on the child of God in us and to trust for the rest.
We trust believing what is revealed in Malachi, chapter 3 (v. 19),
“They shall be mine, says the Lord of hosts,
my special possession on the day when I act,
and I will spare them as parents spare their children.”
Our trust is founded on the incredible trust expressed by the sower of seed:
“Let both of them grow together until the harvest.”
Apparently, the darkness in us will not extinguish the light,
the weeds in us will not overtake the wheat.
There will be a purification at the end—“burned up with fire”--
so that there be only wheat, only light, only love.
In the meantime, however, we are to focus on the child of God in us
and to trust.
We trust believing that, as the prophet Malachi says (4:2),
in speaking of the great day of the Lord,
“the sun of righteousness shall rise, with healing in its wings”.