Wisdom 12:13.16-19 Romans 8:26-27 Matthew 13:24-43
Today’s readings from the Holy Scripture provided us with a very powerful message. The First Reading from the Book of Wisdom spoke of God’s righteousness. Respect for God leads to countless Blessings. There is no God like the true God. He cares about everyone, shining in righteousness and patience towards all. Righteousness is His strength. He will not judge anyone unjustly. The Second Reading from the Letter to the Romans speaks of the intercession of the Holy Spirit on behalf of the children of God. We are united to God in the Spirit. The Reading from Gospel of Matthew announces how, at the end of the age, the children of God will be separated from the children of the evil one. The Gospel in fact extends last Sunday’s theme namely the Kingdom of God. Matthew in these parables speaks consistently of the “kingdom of heaven” and it could be, for some people, a misleading phrase because it seems to refer to the after-life, another world, our future existence. In fact, Jesus and the Gospel are speaking very emphatically about the world in which are living now. The Kingdom represents the kind of world that God, through Jesus, wants to see realized among us here on earth. We pray for it daily in the Lord’s Prayer: “Your Kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven…” And it will only come about in so far as we co-operate, work together with Jesus.
The subject matter of the parables of Jesus is the kingdom of heaven. Theses parables emphasize the mysterious ways in which the kingdom grows. It may begin in a small way but end up as something very big. It may be a struggle with something not so good like the weed and ultimately there is the victory of the good persons. From experience we know that a garden or a farm has all the desirable plants and also the weeds. Similarly our faith communities are made up of imperfect individuals. Each of the parable mentions of the purification. But there is a time for it. In the parable of the weed, the farmer waits for the right time to pull out the weeds from the field, lest the removal can hurt other righteous. Similarly, God also does not prune at once. He will do it quietly at his own correct time, waiting for their true nature is revealed. Like the farmer God also knows every thing perfectly and acts accordingly.
Matthew constantly speaks of the “kingdom of heaven”. We need to remember that this gospel is written mainly for a Jewish readership. Out of respect, the Jews did not like to use the name of God directly. “Heaven” then is a euphemism for “God”. And Matthew uses other devices to avoid mentioning God’s name directly. “Kingdom” in the Gospel does not refer to a place, either here or hereafter. The Greek word basileia is better translated as ‘kingship’, or ‘reign’, or ‘rule’, so some translations speak of the ‘Reign of God’. The Kingdom is primarily an environment, it is a set of relationships, and it is a situation where God’s values prevail. And what are God’s values? In practice, they are the deepest human values and aspirations as mirrored in the life of Jesus, who is himself the revelation of God to us in accessible human form. These values include truth, love, compassion, justice, a sense of solidarity with all other human beings, a sense of trust in other, a deep respect for the dignity of every other human person, a holistic concept of human growth and development. People who, individually and collectively, try to live these values belong, with Jesus, to the Kingdom of God. They are united with the rule of God in trying to build a world we would all like to see happen. It is very much something for the here and now.
In today’s Gospel reading we have three images or parables of the Kingdom at work among us. The first is the parable of the weeds among the wheat. The owner allows them to grow together while the slaves want to destroy those weeds. The Kingdom of God clearly calls for people of the highest ideals and great generosity. It also calls for a great measure of tolerance, patience, judgment and understanding in seeing the Kingdom become a reality. The parable is saying that people who are filled with the vision and values of God and Jesus must learn to live side by side with a whole spectrum of people who, in varying degrees, do not yet share or live this vision and these values. We can go even further. Each one of us is a combination of wheat and weeds. In each one of us there are elements of the Kingdom and elements that are deeply opposed to it.
The next two parables point to two other characteristics of the Kingdom. The parable of the mustard seed shows that the work of the Kingdom has tiny beginnings, whether we are talking of the small Church which Christ established or any newly established Kingdom-inspired movement today. And wherever the vision of the Kingdom becomes truly rooted, it will experience certain and inevitable growth. The growth is quick and phenomenal. The results are extraordinarily large. there is no attempt to explain how it happens. The growth of the kingdom is miraculous and mysterious and rooted in the things of our common experience. The challenge is to see the extra ordinary in the ordinary. But there is always the need of patience and tolerance.
In the third parable, the Kingdom is compared to a small amount of yeast in a large batch of dough. Its presence cannot be easily detected for it is totally blended with and part of its environment, as a good Kingdom community should be. At the same time, it has an energy of its own which produces a remarkable influence of growth in the whole. Perhaps part of our Christian problem is that we are too exclusively concerned with the growth (or even the survival) of the Church in general or of our little corner of the Church and not sufficiently with the growth and wellbeing of the whole community to which we belong.
We must remember that often we tend to categorize things as good and bad, but spiritual truths run much deeper than outward appearance. God alone judges and a truly Christian response to this truth is not mere acceptance but deep gratitude. God allows those who are evil to continue to live their evil ways to their last minute. That will not change anything! In the end, they will still be damned because, through their own free will, they have chosen to be damned.