(Submitted without editor’s approval)
Those who worship in liturgical churches this coming Sunday will hear another parable from Matthew’s gospel. This one about a field of ripening wheat in which “an enemy”had sown weeds to mess things up. What should be done? Wade into the field to rip them out one by one, or wait to separate them from the good grain at harvest time? Jesus ended the parable saying that both would be gathered at harvest, the good saved and the weeds burned in the trash pile.
It’s a parable that parallels an earlier one about a sower who threw seeds onto good soil and bad. The good soil produced bumper crops while the bad did not. Both are often interpreted to mean God will save good, obedient believers, but others will be cast aside. It may not be so. Perhaps they illuminate truths about each of our lives in which there is good soil and bad. Our lives, lived out in the soils we inherited, and the soils we created, produce harvests of wheat and weeds. No two are alike, and each of us at the harvest will have produced uniques yield of good wheat and weeds.
God, the master gardener, has offered to improve our soils, nourish the seeds of good wheat, and do a little weeding, but it depends. It depends on one’s willingness to be helped, and on the people in each life who help, hinder, or stand idly by. It brings up some questions. Do we, as individuals, and together as society, help, hinder, or stand idly by? Do we care for the soil our lives are built on? Do we sow weeds among the wheat that is the harvest of our lives? What effect do we have on the lives of others? Do we nourish their weeds or wheat? What defines a weed, and what is wheat? History is filled with stories of cruelty and injustice sold as wheat, and other stories condemning the godly righteous as weeds, Jesus included.
Whatever the life long yield from soils we’ve used and abused, the good grain is preserved and the weeds thrown into the fire where they cease to exist. We are made worthy to stand before God. It is not our doing. Grace, it’s about grace, unearned grace. Is that the only goal? Relying on God’s grace to get from this life into heaven? It doesn’t matter how this life is lived because God will take care of it? Some have said so.
St. Paul’s response to the question was, “What, are you nuts? Of course not.” Of course I’m paraphrasing what he wrote in proper King James English, but let us not digress. Life on earth is not a waiting room for heaven. Jesus didn’t come to straighten the magazines and refresh the coffee machine. This life, and the earth on which it is lived, are both holy. We are given stewardship of them so that others might prosper now, and future generations have greater opportunity for better life. We are commanded to help make life on earth an introduction to the more full life that lies yet ahead. While we are on this earth, our island home, we are to tend it as best we can to produce wheat, good wheat, in abundance, to avoid sowing weeds, and teach others to do the same. Having embraced God’s saving grace through Christ Jesus, we take on accountability as agents of God’s love that demands justice for the poor and oppressed, and the responsible use of God’s creation.