Scripture Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43 CEB
Today’s Scripture is the second of eight parables in Matt 13. Jesus uses these short stories to teach his disciples about different aspects of the kingdom of heaven. We are also disciples of Jesus and can receive a lesson too. Today, we focus on the parable of the wheat and the weed. Generally, they are weeds. This parable holds teaching that challenges us today.
The parable of the weeds that are planted alongside the wheat reminds me of one exceptional person whom I dearly love, Rosa, my wife. Every day when we get home before she goes into the house, she checks our front garden for weeds. She pulls these invaders out with care, not wanting to take out the wildflowers along with the evil weeds. One day she found something new that she did not recognize. Instead of pulling it out, she left it to grow. The seedling grew into a wild daisy and we enjoy it every day.
In our story, Jesus presents a simple illustration about good seed planted and later on the enemy planted weed. This parable presents a mystery that is a paradox. It teaches us that God permits evil and good to co-exist. Until the time of the great harvest, the end of this age, both good and evil will grow together in this earthly world.
This parable asks us to consider a hard reality: Christians will not eradicate evil in this world. The devil sows the weeds in the story, and the weeds represent evil and sin. The work of the enemy of our souls is to plant evil into our minds and hearts. The fact that good and evil co-exist presents an inconvenient problem. We don’t like to accept the paradox that the bad is mixed with the good. It seems contradictory or impossible for us. We want to deal with only good people, and don’t want to share or live with the bad seeds.
But, we forget that we also have weeds within our own selves. We want others to be patient with us when we do wrong or bad things. God calls us to show patience toward others and their mistakes like He is patient with us. Paul tells us that love is patient in 1 Cor 13. It takes patience to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. In Matt 5:44 Jesus asks us to love even our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. This is more than mere tolerance. Patience is a fruit of the Spirit and is founded on the principle that every person has been created in God’s image. We don’t know how things will turn out until our lives are done. We are to patiently love others even through their bad choices.
During my seminary years, I was a counselor for Narcotics and Alcoholics Anonymous. There was a man there who disliked me and I disliked him. But, I decided to be gentle with him. After a few months, he confessed to me that he was an atheist. I patiently continued sharing and listened to his pain, but then I didn’t see him for many years. The next time I saw him was at my mother’s funeral. He told me that because of the way I had treated him, he was now a businessman and had been sober for twenty years! The good seed that was planted in his heart grew and the weed of alcoholism, even though it will always be there, has been choked out by God’s grace. At the beginning of our relationship, I had to choose to patiently accept his weaknesses, the little lies, and the need for smoking, but God ended up transforming him into a new, clean, and sober man. Who knew?
Church, in our journey to become better disciples and followers of Christ, we cannot bypass the necessary tension and repercussions of living with good and evil. During this pandemic season, I have noticed that good people are finding themselves in the weeds, getting too angry, becoming impatient with others. The devil is always seeking an occasion to plant in our minds and hearts the weed of judgment, fear, suspicion, discouragement, and division. The good that lives in us will lead us to patiently love one another, especially newcomers or those who don’t share our point of view. There are many excellent and imperfect persons out there waiting for us to share with them Jesus’ good news.
Therefore, we need to see every person, even the ones who don’t look like good people as worthy to be received and accepted. We can sow seeds of good into their lives and support their growth. We can help them manage the weeds in their lives. But first, we must humble ourselves and then, patiently share God’s grace and love. In this way, God will patiently transform the sinner whose good is being choked by the evil weeds into a redeemed disciple.
That’s what happens when we patiently share love.
Dear Heavenly Father, as we have learned a new understanding about the mysteries of your kingdom, give us a strong faith to trust in Your divine will, so that we may patiently seek the conversion of all sinners into your children.
In Jesus’ name, we pray!