July 23, 2017
What is the Kingdom of Heaven? How can we understand and describe something that we cannot readily see or measure or touch? Jesus chooses to use the language poetry and parable to offer sketches of God’s Kingdom. Jesus engages our imagination and draws us into the metaphor to give us a sense of its meaning and mystery -- like solving a riddle or putting a puzzle together.
Anyone planting a garden looks askance at the appearance of weeds; although aggravated we know pulling a weed may risk taking a flower. When Jesus first tells this parable some are dismayed at his association with sinners and undesirables. They are scandalized when Jesus dines with those who are judged to be breaking the law. Jesus exhibits attributes of God mentioned in the Book of Wisdom. God revealed in Sacred Scripture is slow to anger and rich in mercy. Like God, people who are just must also be kind, and the human exercise of power must be tempered with leniency.
The parable about wheat and weeds speaks of God’s toleration/patience with sinners but also of the coming harvest when the weeds will be bundled to burn and the wheat gathered into barns. But God will do the sorting out! It cautions us to temper our inclination to judge and condemn others. My friend and tennis partner years ago made an observation and posed a question: “Why do we judge harshly? Are we hoping that by throwing dirt upon another person our own light will shine more brightly?” Weeds, rejection of Jesus and evil deeds, in our perception may be apparent in others but we should not fool ourselves that weeds are not also growing in us.
St. Paul tells the Church at Rome that the Spirit comes to our aid in weakness and empowers us to pray. Every day and throughout the day we must utter the “prayer of the heart”: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.”
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