of Creighton University's Online Ministries
July 23rd, 2011
School of Law
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Within the context of the mass, we find a way to say “yes” to God together and to voice our common faith together. Our many disagreements on particulars are subsumed within the common liturgy. And more importantly, God finds a way to offer his “yes” to us through our Lord Jesus Christ. But there is not always “yes,” but also “no” in the divine order. The people of Israel knew this in Moses’ day, and we have the same teaching presented in today’s gospel.
The parable of the wheat and the weeds (or tares) resonates with those of us who grow things. Modern chemistry has allowed us to kill some weeds selectively, but not all weeds can be killed or rooted out without harming the crops that grow with them. A weed that closely resembles alfalfa has become quite a nuisance around my home in Iowa. This weed is unpalatable to livestock and no effective herbicide can kill it without also killing the desirable alfalfa. Before this weed blooms, it takes a careful eye to discern it is different from the alfalfa. But once the weed sends forth its yellow flowers (in the midst of the purple alfalfa blossoms), the distinction is clear. The untutored might think there are pretty wildflowers in the field, but others know better. If those plants proliferate, the alfalfa has to be destroyed.
In the parable, the man and his servants could apparently tell the difference between the weeds and the wheat. However, the man determined to deal with the weeds at harvest time, which would not disrupt the growing wheat. Burning the weeds (and seeds) would cut off their production cycle, ensuring that next year’s crop could grow unharassed.
Later in this chapter, Jesus gives an eschatological explanation for the parable involving final judgment that sorts things out properly. While the parable seems to evoke patience and waiting, the explanation provides comfort to those vexed by weeds and longing for relief: eventually all will be set right, but just not yet. Augustine certainly thought that weeds and wheat existed even within the church. Perhaps that may explain why we sometimes have trouble with the “one voice” thing.
It is a good thing that we are not plants, but humans with choices to make about ourselves and even about our environment. This parable evokes many questions within us, since there are so many facets of the metaphors of sowing, growing, and bearing seed or fruit that resemble our lives. May God help us to discern properly, to be fruitful, and to have unity in following Him.
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