Hitlers of the world, beware! -Tuesday, 17th week in ordinary time – Matthew 13:36-40
Due to a number of memorials and feasts last week, the second of the seven parables of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew was dropped from our teaching. The parable that has been come to be known as the parable of the wheat and the weeds, (13:24-30) was given to us as a reminder that the Kingdom of heaven will face opposition.
For some reason, Matthew punctuates the parable of the wheat and their weeds and the explanation that is found in today’s Gospel text, with the parables of the mustard seed and the parable of leaven. He ends these two parables with the words of the prophet Isaiah; “I will open my mouth and speak in parables. I will proclaim what has been hidden from the foundations of the world.”
The disciples, prompted by Jesus’ proclamation ask him to explain the parable of the weeds in the field. Jesus treats this parable more like an allegory than a parable. He clearly assigns a character to each of the elements in the parable. We have sadly, done the same with the parable of the prodigal son when in reality that parable had a single point only; and that was the hypocrisy of the scribes and Pharisees. Yet in this case, Jesus treats this parable as an allegory.
Even if you want to dodge the obvious meaning of this parable; this is one of those ‘in your face truths’. Jesus gives us the eschatological (the study of the end times) equivalent to the seven elements that will come to pass at the final judgment.
The modern mind living in a modern world may have its own spin on life but they wont be able to spin death. It’s interesting how the theories of life abound yet there is silence on the reality of death. Death is the only certainty that we know of right at our birth and Jesus addresses that certainty with authority. He asserts the reality of God and his created world. He asserts the reality the children of the kingdom of light and the children of evil. He asserts the reality of death and judgment. He asserts the reality of hell and heaven. There is no dodging this parable.
Christ places before the children of light the reality of the evil one and his agents. The children of light live in a world where evil is present and operative. We may wish, as sometimes this author does, that God wipes out from the face of the earth the Hitlers of our times; and they seem to abound – Yet, Jesus is emphatic, let both of them, the wheat and weed, the good and the evil grow together until the harvest. At the appointed time it will be God who will tell his reapers to collect the weed first. They are to be bound and burnt into the furnace of fire where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth . (Verse 30 and 42)
While many have proposed that the weed sown by the evil one was hard to identify as darnel (the weed) looked similar to wheat. Here, the parable is clear, even at its earliest inception, the weed as does evil, is easily identifiable. The parable of the wheat and weeds addresses the reality that evil and good co exist in the world and often times that evil is obvious to the world. We would want to eradicate that evil and wish it dead? While our human response may be a big yes, Jesus is concerned about collateral damage; the wheat might be uprooted also.
Christ recommends patience. “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” (Romans 12:19). The Gospel of today, having been proclaimed will end with the words, “the Gospel of the Lord,” to which we will respond, “thanks be to God.” This will be our Amen to His word and his promise. The evil man will perish even though he foolishly thinks he will live forever and then shall he be faced with the wrath of God.
Till then, let us be “the righteous that will shine like the sun on the day of judgment in the kingdom of the father. (Verse 43)