In the opening verses of chapter 13, the disciples question Jesus’ use of parables in preaching, to which he answers that they are stories in code. He does not preach to entertain or amuse; he preaches to reveal truth to those who have an interest.
Clearly these verses that interpret the parable bring to mind the final judgment: “the furnace of fire” or shining “like the sun.” They may promote anxiety as we consider whether we’re weeds or good seed. The harvest does come.
When I read the original parable in verses 24-30, I do not perceive the punitive tone as I read in today’s interpretive reading of the parable. Instead the weeds are simply gathered and burned, and the wheat taken to the barn. Jesus did not conceal the destiny of evil, but he did not capitalize on fear as a path toward God. I remember my mother confessing that her conversion resulted from her fear of death and hell. Only later did she come to appreciate salvation as an experience of love. We try to avoid turning the good news of the gospel into foreboding alarm. Jesus’ conversations with the hurting people of his time avoided condemnation and emphasized unexpected grace.
The parables of the mustard seed and the yeast separate the initial parable and its explanation. On the other side of the explanation we read of treasure hidden in a eld and the pearl of great price. The emphasis lies with discovering what is of value and then giving all in order to make it our own.
I have had experiences in my ministry as a prison chaplain with men considered dangerous by the officers and yet sensitive to the announcement of God ́s grace for them. Even more, they bear the fruit of that grace in the midst of so much hurt and limitation. “Let anyone with ears listen!”
Divine Shepherd, come and prepare a table of your grace even though I am surrounded by evil. Amen.
This week’s texts depict a broad span of settings of God’s activity, from Jacob’s encounter in solitude to the broader context of creation itself in Romans. The texts also tell of God’s commission of human agents, weak and inadequate, to carry out divine tasks. Jacob may not be totally aware of God’s plans for him, but the reader knows. Paul declares that the people in whom the Spirit of God dwells are very much in tune with the pain of creation. They also long for God’s nal deliverance. Just at the point of the reluctance of God’s agents to carry out the tasks, the parable from Matthew about the wheat and weeds gives hope. God will take care of the weeds in God’s own time. Psalm 139 is a moving statement on the ubiquitous nature of God’s presence.
• Read Genesis 28:10-19a. When have you “wakened” to acknowledge that you were in a holy place? What did you do to memorialize the place?
• Read Psalm 139:1-12, 23-24. Do you regularly take time in a set-aside place for an intimate relationship with God? If not, what steps could you take to ensure that relationship?
• Read Romans 8:12-25. Do you feel close enough to God to call God “Abba”? Why or why not?
• Read Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43. What are you doing to discourage the growth of evil in your life? How does your garden grow?
Respond by posting a prayer.
This season, Whitney R. Simpson has given us the gift we must open: a clear, accessible invitation to connect with the divine spark that is within us. This is the best present: being present for Jesus’ birth, God made human.”
Learn more about our newest Advent resource, Fully Human, Fully Divine here.