16th Sunday Year – A

Wisdom 12:13, 16-19; Romans 8:26-27; Matthew 13:24-43

Dear friends! “Enemy came and sowed weeds all through the wheat, and then went off”. Sowing bad seed in someone else’s field was a common way of taking revenge in Palestine. The weeds in the parable are bearded darnel. They resemble wheat plants so closely that it is impossible to distinguish the one from the other until the ears of seed appear. At the end of the harvest the weeds must be removed from wheat by hand, because darnel seeds are slightly poisonous. Sowing them in the wheat field was a crude way for an enemy to take revenge on a farmer.

This parable answers some of the questions we have been asking in our life: Why does God permit evil to triumph so often in this world? Why are the wicked allowed to prosper? Jesus answers these questions in the parable. The triumph and prosperity of the wicked are short-lived, whereas the reward of the Christian who suffers from their wickedness is everlasting. God uses the very wickedness and injustices of evildoers to perfect his elect. God gives time and is patient waiting for evil doers to change.

 God wants each and every one of us to do something. We are called to recognize evil and name it, and then to give it to God in prayer so He can take care of it the way the farmer in the parable told his servants that he would take care of the weeds. God wants us to do good instead of evil, to bless instead of curse, to praise instead of criticize, to help instead of stand aside, to love instead of hate, to forgive instead of resent and to tell the truth instead of lies. The disciples to whom Jesus addresses this parable include Judas who will betray Jesus, Peter who will deny him, Thomas, who will doubt him and James and John who cherish personal ambitions. In the end, only Judas is lost showing us that many weeds can become high yielding wheat.

 Darnel seeds can’t become wheat in reality, but an evil person can become a living saint. Therefore this parable tells also why we should not treat others as “weeds,” i.e. evil or wicked. 1) Each one of us is a combination of wheat and weeds. In each of us there are elements of the Kingdom of God and elements that are deeply opposed to it. Relying on the power of God, we, too, must learn to be tolerant of the evil ones. 2) The time for judgment is not yet come because the Kingdom of God is still in the growing stage. Now is the time to expect conversion because with the help of God’s grace, sinners can change. 3) Another reason why we should avoid judgment is that we cannot draw a line which would neatly separate the good from the bad because everyone is a mixture of good and evil.

This parable gives clear indication that there will be a separation of weeds and wheat, good and bad fish (13:47-50), sheep and goats (25:31-46). But this “harvest” will take place on God’s time-table not ours. Hence, instead of asking the question why God allows evil to exist (terrorists, criminals, diseases, hurricanes, etc.), let us ask what God expects from us. God wants us to take a good look into the field of our own lives to see what is growing there. Let us work with Him to pull out the “weeds” in our own personalities. Then we need to start treating the so called “evil ones” as Christ did. Why did he not weed out Judas who betrayed him, or Peter, who denied him? Jesus saw the weeds in their lives, but he saw also saw the wheat. He knew that with encouragement the wheat would prevail. And it did.

While the first part of the Gospel deals with the parable of the weeds with the allegorical interpretation of its meaning and explanation of the presence of evil in the world and God’s attitude towards evil and the sinner, the latter part of the gospel concludes with two other mini parables: the parable of the mustard seed and the parable of the yeast mixed with the dough. What all the three parables seem to have in common is the importance of small and apparently insignificant things in life and in God’s plan. The tiny weed planted by evil intentions can destroy much good in our lives. Conversely, goodness and good deeds even though they be as small as a mustard seed, can grow and have positive repercussions. Similarly, the parable of the yeast in the dough points to the potential of good deeds impacting the environment that surrounds us.

We have a tendency to evaluate, judge and categorize people into water-tight compartments: People are good or bad, saints or sinners! Yet we know that human beings are complex people and cannot easily be categorized and judged by their external behavior alone. All of us are a mixture of good and bad. As far as we ourselves are concerned, we have to look for small beginnings and sow seeds of goodness while nipping evil in the bud. As far as others are concerned, we should be patient and leave judgments to God.