Proper 11, Year A, RCL, Track 2
Isaiah 44:6-8, Psalm 86:11-17, Romans 8:12-25, Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43
It seems all too human to make judgments about others. We may see someone who appears to be poor and we think to ourselves that if they just worked harder they could do better. We may see someone asking for a handout on a street corner and think, how could they have let themselves get to such a state. We may meet someone who doesn’t speak English and wonder if they are here legally or not. Some of us may see a younger person and wonder why they are always on their phones; why they are less . . . less financially prudent, respectful, and loyal to their jobs. And when making a suggestion all you hear is “Ok boomer.”(1) The people you judge or make presumptions about are also making judgments and presumptions about you. As I said, it seems all too human to make judgments about others. This judgment we have for one another our fellow neighbors is what the parable of the weeds is about and it is supposed to give us insight into the kingdom of heaven.
The kingdom of heaven Jesus speaks about is the unrealized world; a place without sin that God is striving to create through us here on earth. This kingdom will unfold over time as we listen to the word of Christ, plant seed (as we talked about last week), and nurture others to do the same.
Today Jesus says that the world in which we live is like a field. This field has been planted with both wheat and weeds, though the weeds were not intended. By the time the servant saw the weeds growing it was too late to do anything about it because the roots of the two plants are entangled. If we pull up the weeds we will also pull up the wheat leaving nothing to harvest. We find that the wheat is clearly those of us who follow Christ. And the weeds are evil. (Any of us who have ever had weeds grow around our plants would probably agree those weeds are not a good thing).
Here is what is important; we are not to uproot the weeds. When the servant went to the landowner, Jesus, the landowner said to leave them, let them continue growing side by side. As Jesus explains this parable, it is clear that we are not the landowner or the servant, we are the wheat.
Now in my life, I have done some backyard gardening. I’ve grown numerous crops such as corn, and tomatoes, and zucchini. I’ve done my fair share of weeding, and to be honest this is one reason I don’t garden as much as I would like. Weeding is hard work. You’re out in the heat; you’re bent over pulling, watering, and praying that your plants will do well. Now here is the interesting thing. In my experience, as limited as it may be, I have never had a plant do its own weeding. The corn never pulled out the weeds next to it. The tomatoes never pulled off their own caterpillars. Let’s face it, the plants are incapable of weeding. Even if they had the physical ability, I doubt the zucchini would be smart enough to know the difference between the marigolds I planted to prevent rabbits from feasting in the garden and the weeds that I didn‘t plant. According to this parable, it is the angels that are the reapers. They will come to harvest and sort the wheat from the weeds. Not the servant and definitely not the wheat.
As wheat, we are not capable of peering into someone’s heart and determining if they are good or not. No matter how righteous you might be and no matter how evil you think someone is, we are absolutely unable to judge another person any more than a zucchini can judge a marigold. I’d imagine, if we are honest with ourselves, there have been occasions in our own life where we have even had trouble discerning our own heart.
This parable makes it sound as if some people are born as wheat and others as weeds. But we know this is not the case. Each of us has been born as a child of God and the gift of salvation is available to all who desire it. It is your choice to follow Christ; to love God, to love your neighbor, and to repent. It is your choice to be wheat, to accept this gift, or to reject it. But even if you reject this gift, God still loves you and God will always accept you when you turn to him.
This is true for everyone we meet. We can’t judge their hearts, we can’t judge their life based on poverty, how they speak, their age, or the color of their skin. Because our eyes will deceive us, we are called to have compassion for those who are suffering and to build understanding with those who are different from ourselves. All the judgment is left to God.