The simple and stark reality is that the world is made up of good and evil, light and darkness, brightness and shadow, wheat and weeds.
As Jesus says, weeds grow among the wheat. And when he was speaking in Elizabethan English, he said that the tares grew among the wheat. … That’s an attempt for a chuckle, by the way, since Jesus never spoke any form of English. His language was Aramaic.
As for the weeds or the tares, the same goes for us: we are made up of both wheat and weeds as I was saying in last week’s homily. There are parts of ourselves that are like the trodden path, the rocky soil, and the weeded corners.
That’s the reality of the human condition. It’s the reality of who we are as people. Part of the journey in faith is to understand that.
We can work on those parts of ourselves. Thanks to God’s grace, we can do that.
According to today’s parable, the householder cannot separate the wheat from the tares (the weeds) while they are growing. That would mean ruining the wheat while trying to deal with the weeds.
When I hear parables about things such as the wheat and the weeds or the sheep and the goats -- I don’t know about you – but I get a bit uneasy. Am I the wheat or a weed, a sheep or a goat? Both the weeds and the goats don’t come out very well in those stories. There’s the bit about being cast into the outer darkness or being tossed in the fire where there is wailing and gnashing of teeth.
I think over the aeons, power-seeking princes of the Church and oppressors of the world used those references to instill fear and compliance. Some false prophets still do the same.
But, for those who understand Jesus’ over all message, that’s not the way things work. Maybe this parable is hyperbole – an intentional exaggeration – to make sure we pay attention.
Jesus’s over all message throughout the entire gospel is a message of forgiveness and encouragement, compassion and acceptance, love and understanding.
And Jesus is well aware about the reality of the world and the reality of our human condition. Weeds are part of the equation. We live in a fallen world.
Gospel passages such as this one can contribute to what I call the “Christian Neurosis”. And the classic example of that is what Jesus is purported to have said in the Fourth Gospel. “Be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect”. Remember, Jesus spoke Aramaic.
According to some ancient languages scholars, whom I know, there is no such word as “perfect” in the Aramaic language. So, Jesus never used the word perfect. We struggle to find an adequate word to translate what he did say. But, it was not “Be perfect.”
Jesus knows that each of us is made up of various parts. As I was saying, he knows of our trodden paths, rocky memories and weed-cluttered fringes. And for all of that, he offers forgiveness. The call is for a person to acknowledge failing, to understand our human foibles and to grow just as the wheat grows even in the midst of weeds.
Remember there is good soil. You have good soil. The wheat is there even though, you have some weeds. It is the wheat within that it’s all about.
The focus of the journey is not on the weeds. The focus is on the wheat and the harvest. How to maximize the wheat and not let the weeds choke out what has value. How to manage the reality that weeds grow among the crops. To understand and learn to manage how the weeds (figuratively) are sown and present in who we are and in how we live our lives, how you and I journey along in faith.
You can’t change everything. You can though understand brokenness and by that process learn how to manage its impact while focusing on what is good, where there is light, where there is forgiveness and encouragement, compassion and acceptance, love and understanding.
Being able to move in that direction means acknowledging brokenness, and darkness, trodden paths, rocky places, weeded corners. Acknowledgement like that comes in confession through a humble and contrite heart with the absolute knowledge and assurance of Jesus’ over all message.
There is forgiveness and encouragement, compassion and acceptance, love and understanding. That’s how we learn, discover, and learn to cope and manage. You can let go of the weeds. You can let go of brokenness and stumbling.
The simple fact of reality is that Jesus died once and for all for your brokenness and stumblings. That is the good news.
Jesus forgives. Jesus encourages. Jesus shows compassion. Jesus accepts you and understands who you are. It’s all through his love. And it’s all about his beckoning you to shine like the sun shines in the Kingdom of your Father.
So, my dear friends, if you have ears to hear, then listen.