Matthew 13: 24 – 30
24Jesus put before the crowd another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field; 25but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away. 26So when the plants came up and bore grain then the weeds appeared as well. 27And the slaves of the householder came and said to him, “Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where, then, did these weeds come from?” 28He answered, “An enemy has done this.” The slaves said to him, “Then do you want us to go and gather them?” 29But he replied, “No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. 30Let both of them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.”’
If this parable is the answer, what is the question? It seems first of all as if Jesus is answering the question, “Why is the world the way it is?” Well, life is full of good and bad because actually there’s good and bad in all of us. And if we were to purge the world of badness we destroy an awful lot of good as well, and I’m not sure I would survive that and I’m not sure you would either. How can we take my greed away without destroying my compassion? They’re both part of my psyche, you can’t have one without the other. And that’s fine but it doesn’t get us very far, it’s more a comment about how things are.
But actually the question Jesus is answering is in the parable. “What’s the Kingdom of heaven like?” Jesus said, ‘The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field; but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat …’. Now I’ve no idea what heaven is going to be like but I didn’t expect it to be like this. More celestial harps. Less weeds. More resting in the arms of God. Less hard work on the farm. Surely this parable is talking about life now, rather than life in heaven?
And that’s the clever bit? Because of course, according to Mark, Jesus started his ministry by saying, ‘‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near‘ (Mark 1: 15). Jesus came to unite heaven and earth rather than to separate the good from the bad. He did this first of all by uniting God and humanity in his birth at Bethlehem. The kingdom of heaven is all around us. So if heaven is all around us it turns it into a redemptive journey rather than a final destination. My field is still going to be full of weeds at the end but that’s where the forgiveness of the cross comes in. Meanwhile you and I can do our best to get ready for that day by making earth as much like heaven as we possibly can. We can’t solve the problem. Only God can do that. But little by little we can allow him to work through us and if that sometimes means I manage to be a little less greedy, so much the better!
We are faced with a virus we are really struggling to bring under control. We have discovered the hard way we are not in control. We are faced with a global population which keeps on rising. We are good at keeping people alive a bit longer. But the effect is disastrous on the planet as we continue to denude its resources in order to do so. We are not in control. As people’s knowledge of different cultures and communities on the other side of the world grows, the number of people becoming dissatisfied with their own lot increases. The freedom and opportunity brought by the internet has a very dangerous dark side as envy and perceived rights cause social uprising and economic migrants and refugees increase. We are not is control. The parable is not just commenting that the world is like this because that’s the way it is. Rather it’ assuring us that God has a plan and heaven is unstoppably mingling with earth.
Are you part of that plan and how would anyone know?
Making sign of cross on forehead.
Receive the sign of the cross on your forehead, that you may always seek the truth of the Gospel and follow Jesus.
Making sign of cross on ears.
Receive the sign of the cross on your ears, that you may hear the cries for justice and respond.
Making sign of cross on eyes.
Receive the sign of the cross on your eyes, that you may look out upon our world and see the poor and needy and respond.
Making sign of cross on lips.
Receive the sign of the cross on your lips, that you may speak out against the injustices and poverty of our day.
Making sign of cross on heart.
Receive the sign of the cross on your heart, that you may open wide your arms to all those in need and Christ may dwell in you by faith.
Making sign of cross on shoulders.
Receive the sign of the cross on your shoulders, that you may bear the gentle yoke of Christ seen in the faces of the homeless and abused.
Making sign of cross on hands.
Receive the sign of the cross on your hands, that you may always work to overcome the obstacles that keep the world from healing and transformation.
Making sign of cross on feet
Receive the sign of the cross on your feet, that you may travel the path of righteousness and mercy and thus walk in the way of Christ.
This is the roof of the sistine chapel. Heaven seems a very busy place!