Weeds are a Fact of Life
(Matthew 13: 24-30, 36-43)
If you enjoy gardening and landscaping as much as Teresa and I do you have come to realize that weeds are a fact of life. Try as you may, they are resilient and have an uncanny knack for defeating your best efforts at eradication. People and companies have made fortunes coming up with various ways of assisting you in your everlasting fight against worldwide weed domination. And, of course, a cottage industry has sprung up that markets non-toxic weed killer. How is that even possible? Take the dandelion for example, they seem to thrive growing in the crack of a concrete sidewalk. I’ve seen moss growing on roofs where there is no soil, I’ve seen small trees growing in rain gutters and I’ve even seen plants growing on cars that never make it to the car wash. I saw a program not long ago about how Mother Nature is in the process of reclaiming Chernobyl. Weeds don’t need you to feed and water them. In fact, they thrive on you ignoring them. They get their nutrients from the healthy plants that they grow up next to. Wouldn’t it be great if we lived in a world without weeds?
That’s what Jesus was telling his disciples in the parable of the weeds. Weeds are a fact of life and they shouldn’t let a few weeds get in the way of their mission. The weeds, he tells them, will be taken care of when the time was right.
We learn in our scripture reading for today that Jesus is preaching to another large crowd and is using the technique of teaching through a parable. He tells them that the kingdom of heaven is like someone who planted good seeds in his field. The people in the crowd knew about planting and harvesting. They knew that a farmer would have to clear his land and prepare the field for the planting of the crop. This included removing stones and boulders along with any existing invasive plants to make room for the crop. Jesus said that while the people were sleeping, an enemy came and planted weeds among the wheat and went away. When the stalks sprouted and bore grain, the weeds also appeared. This was sure to be a puzzlement to the people because they knew the field was cleared of any weeds before the planting. The servants of the landlord came to him and asked, “Master, didn’t you plant good seed in your field? Then how is it that it has weeds? The landowner responded that the weeds were planted by an enemy. Somebody had intentionally come in and planted the weeds to ruin the harvest. The servants asked if he wanted them to go and pull the weeds. The landowner said not to because if they did they might pull up some wheat along with the weeds. He told them not to bother and to let them grow side by side until the harvest and that when it was time for the harvest he will tell the harvesters to gather the weeds first, bundle them together and burn them in the fire, then harvest the wheat and bring it to his barn.
When Jesus was done preaching to the crowd he left them and went into a house where he was staying. The disciples came to him and asked him to explain the parable of the weeds. He told them that the one who plants the good seed is the Human One (the Son of Man). He explains that the field is the world and the good seeds are the followers of the kingdom. The weeds, he says, are the followers of the evil one. The enemy who planted them is the devil. The harvest, he explains, is the end of the present age. Jesus says, the Human One will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all things that cause people to fall away and all people who sin. He will throw them into a burning furnace. Jesus tells them that these people will be weeping and grinding their teeth but that the righteous will shine like the sun in their Father’s kingdom. He finishes by saying, those who have hears should hear.
The message here is that the reign of God here on earth faces much opposition. Yet, he tells us, that the weeds and the wheat must reside together in the same field until the final harvest. The weeds in our Christian life can run the gamut from being small and insignificant to being a major infestation that threatens our very existence stunting our growth and jeopardizing out mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. Living as disciples of Jesus Christ is hard work and we must guard against becoming distracted and overcome by current difficulties. Your Christian life is not just something you do one day a week. Your Christian life is interwoven into your personal life, home life, work life and in all the comings and goings in which you are involved. In every situation, and at every opportunity you must consider what is the most Christian thing you can do. The weeds are those persons and situations that try to prevent you from doing what you know is right. They may question you or challenge you on your faith and belief system. They may try and draw you into a debate to either shake your faith or make themselves feel better about their own insecurities. They are eager to tell you about their “bad” experience with organized religion in hopes that they can engage you in some sort of debate based upon anecdotes. Social media, Facebook, has taken the debate to a wider audience where people can vent their spleens from the comfort of their own homes. The question eventually is asked how can you worship a God who lets all these tragedies occur to innocent people. The weeds are all around us and can even creep into our churches where we think we are the safest.
The weeds want to distract us from doing what we are called to do by Christ. To be God’s hands and voice when we see something wrong, when we see evil and injustice being committed upon the helpless. We must steel ourselves and face these problems head-on. We are called to join in the sorrow over the state of our world. We are called by Christ to pay attention to the suffering of the world and do something about it. We cannot allow ourselves to become disengaged when we think the problem is beyond our capabilities. We can’t turn our backs and rationalize that what is going on is none of our affair. We must not turn our eyes away when the tragedy is too painful to look at. To stand idly by and ignore the hatred spewed by others against the innocent is unacceptable. It is unthinkable for us to sit in silence when we are made aware of the injustices committed upon those who cannot protect themselves. It is our Christian duty to join in the suffering and take the pain of others to bear as our own.
We cannot let ourselves become distracted by the weeds that have been planted among us. We must look at the weeds as challenges to our faith and our very existence to be met with a determination of mission and a force unified in Christ Jesus. By not being defeated or deterred by the weeds in our work for the Kingdom of God his mercy, truth, love and grace will shine for all to see. Let us join our voices in the chorus of all creation as it groans from the labor pains of giving birth to the hope that is promised in God’s eternal kingdom.
Please pray with me.
Most gracious and loving God, how grateful we are to be the good seeds planted in your field with the expectation that we will be harvested into your eternal kingdom. In the meantime, use us to produce a bountiful harvest as we work to plant your seeds of truth, love, justice, joy, mercy and forgiveness in the hearts of those who do not know you so they too can experience the great joy of living a life of promise in you. Help us not to become so distracted by the weeds that have been sown among us that we do damage to your crop. Cause us to realize that the challenges presented by the weeds are opportunities for us to exhibit your power and authority over evil and injustice. Guide us with the Holy Spirit as we engage the forces of evil as we fight for the souls of the lost and the desperate who are struggling alone and afraid in this world. Use us to be a blessing to those who need to be blessed. In the name of your most holy and loving son, Jesus Christ, we pray, amen.