Sunday, July 23, 2017 – Ordinary Time, Proper 11, Year A
Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43 (NRSV)
This Sunday’s gospel is the Parable of The Weeds Among the Wheat.
A parable is a succinct, didactic, story that offers one or more instructive lessons or principles. A parable is a type of analogy. As we have read in the Gospels, Jesus uses in his parables common events from daily life that his listeners would understand, such lost sheep, family relationships, and in this week’s Gospel, sowing seeds. Parables were often used to explore ethical concepts.
What is the concept Jesus is exploring here? What is he getting at?
Jesus is the sower, or The Householder, the field is the world and the good seed are the children of the kingdom of heaven. The weeds, he says, are the children of the evil one, the devil, who is the enemy who sowed them. The harvest is the end times and the reapers are angels. He explains, “The Son Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, and they will throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.” Matt. 13:41-43 (NRSV).
This lesson would be understood in the First Century, C.E. when society was agrarian. But what about ours? Can this parable make sense to post-modern children of the Kingdom? Let’s consider this by answering two questions.
Who are the good seeds? Children of the Kingdom, of God, of course. The people who seek every day to make a difference in other people’s lives and make our communities places where everyone is an equal and everyone is welcome. They are people who reach out to those on the edges of society, they are people who speak for the voiceless and those lacking power and often question authority despite the risk to themselves.
And the weeds? Given today’s political climate and our current situation in Washington, I’m going out on a limb to say that Congress and the White House is full of weeds.
The rhetoric and the actions of Executive and Legislative Branches are choking the American people.
I don’t remember reading in the Gospel that Jesus said it was fine and good to take necessary programs like health care away from millions of people who need it so that the wealthiest of our citizens can get tax breaks, a minority of our population who can afford to spend a fortune on medical care, while the Congress makes itself exempt from the repeal they want to impose on us. Nor has it ever been preached that a citizen working in a government job could be dismissed for ‘no cause at all.’
How long will it be before meal programs for our hungry children be taken away from schools due to lack of funding? It becomes illegal to run food banks or meal programs out of church halls, or shelter the homeless during the night? Or Social Security is gutted so that people who depend on the income to survive have nothing? Social Security, by the way, is not a gift of the government. Americans pay into the program out of their own pay as workers. For some, it is the only income they have because pension programs may not be available to them in their workplaces.
The Government has ceased to be by and for the people. It is for the privileged few.
The weeds don’t have to take over the field. We can pull up the weeds next year when the mid-term elections are held.
In the meantime, we can sow seeds of love and equality and justice in those patches where there are plenty of weeds and pray that they take root.