Mary Mother of Light Maronite Church in Tequesta, FL
July 17, 2022 Matthew 13: 36-43
We are in the middle of Chapter 13 of Matthew’s Gospel, and that chapter is full of parables. These are not parables that tell us how to live. They are not about what the Kingdom of God will be like. These parables speak to us about now, this time, this year, and this place. The trouble with these verses we have today is that they are taken out of the whole context of Chapter 13. Most scholars think that these verses were added later either by the author or a scribe at some early point in making a copy of the text. It could well be that some in the community for whom Matthew was writing misunderstood the whole thing and needed to be corrected. Whatever, Matthew now has Jesus explaining a parable about someone sowing weeds in a field that a farmer has just sown with good seed. What to do about the weeds was the problem.
The good people in the Church that Matthew is writing to have a problem. Gentiles are infiltrating their communities with strange ideas and ways that these loyal and faithful first followers of Christ have suffered to maintain. These new converts do not want to keep the rules and respect the customs carried over from Judaism. They want to clean things up. Jesus says: “Wait just a minute.” Matthew has seen how the Scribes and Pharisees took matters into their own hands with that man from Nazareth who disrupted the Temple, cured on the Sabbath, touched lepers and other sick people, talked to Samaritans, ate and drank with tax collector and known sinners. They thought he had to go, so they killed him and cleaned things up. But God didn’t buy their judgement. What they thought was a weed was really the wheat God had sown to feed us. What Jesus wants to make clear to all of us is that it’s not our job to pull up the weeds any more than it is our job to bring in the harvest.
We plant, and then we wait. Gathering in this church, week after week are sinners and saints. It’s hard to tell the difference. Sometimes we feel like one and the next week we feel like the other. Maybe we’re both. A lot of so called “Sinners” who come to pray with me I think are really saints because of their faith and the hope that in the face of their failures, they humbly accept the loving forgiveness of God. Some of the so-called “Saints” who say all their prayers and never miss an “Amen” never do anything else either and never sincerely recognize their need to say: “Bless me Father, I have sinned.”
So, we can look around and admit that we might not know what is wheat and what is weed, who are sinners and who are saints. The honest among us know that we don’t even know for sure about ourselves. Sometimes we feel one way and act it, and then turn right around and feel the other way as well. The good news is, it is not time for the harvest. The angels have not come, and the fire has not been lit. As long as we can keep from taking charge and assuming that we know weed from wheat, we have a chance to get it right. No one except God has the right to call someone else a sinner. We can only claim that for ourselves.
The problem this chapter addresses then and still today is not the weeds and wheat. The problem we have is that there is a temptation to take charge, assume the power, authority, or the right to clean things up, straighten up this place, this church or this world. That temptation to judge and name a sinner is always lurking.
We must learn a lesson from the Scribes and Pharisees. We must not repeat their behavior by cleaning up things ourselves because we run the risk of condemning ourselves. The righteous who will shine like the sun in the Kingdom are those who hear the warning that simply says: Wait! It’s not time. Throwing someone out takes away their chance to repent, and that would not be a good thing to do. We simply have to make certain that we are not a weed that takes up space or crowds out the wheat. When we understand that we’ve been planted here by that generous sower and owner of this field, we might finally begin to bear fruit and no one would be hungry.