19.07.2020 Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Buckwheat Harvest Summer
1814 – 1875
Museum of Fine Arts
24 [Jesus] put before [the crowds] another parable: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field; 25 but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away. 26 So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared as well. 27 And the servants of the householder came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where, then, did these weeds come from?’ 28 He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ 29 But he replied, ‘No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. 30 Let both of them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, ‘Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’”
What we said last week about the Parable of the Sower is equally valid to introduce the context of today’s Gospel reading.
It is unlikely that Jesus sat on one single occasion to deliver a series of Parables one after the other.
Matthew has gathered them together in one chapter, probably not to lose the stories that Jesus gave on different occasions, even if the Evangelist who wrote the Gospel of Matthew, could not gather more details about when Jesus spoke each one of them.
Jesus with the crowd: v. 1-35
Parable of the Sower: 3-9
About parables in general: 10-17
Explanation of the Parable: 18-23
Parable of the Darnel and the Wheat: 24-30
Other Parables: 31-15
Jesus alone with his Disciples: 36-52
Parable of the Weeds 36-43
Parables of the Treasure, the Pearl and the Net: 44-50
The Parables of Jesus
One interesting thing about the Parables of Jesus is that they are very focused. With his Parables, Jesus generally wants to convey just one important message. That single important teaching is often to be found in an unexpected detail within the story. Therefore, it is important to discover that unexpected turning point which makes the stories of Jesus so amazing and full of meaning.
The Darnel (bearded darnel or tare - lolium temulentum)
Tare is a poor quality of grain. It is slightly poisonous, causes dizziness and sickness, and has a bitter and unpleasant taste.
Wheat and tare cannot be easily separated at an early stage: not only because it is difficult to distinguish them, but also because their roots are intertwined in such a way that attempting to uproot a weed will cause the good seed to be uprooted as well.
However, it is not difficult to separate them when they grow since the darnel has a slightly grey colour; however, attention is required to avoid potentially serious consequences.
The Turning Point in the Parable
Like the Parable of the Sower, this is an enigmatic Parable. The meaning is not immediately clear, and it admits as many interpretations as the listeners might number.
The sorting out of the good and evil seeds was something customary in ancient Palestine. Therefore, the “servants” are not supposed to ask the master’s advise as what to do, but to wait until harvest time to separate them. Why should they be surprised at all that darnel grows with the wheat?
Again, if the enemy was clever enough to spoil the entire crop, he could think of something easier like for instance setting fire to the collected grain when it is harvested.
Therefore, there is something more intriguing about Jesus’ story:
1. When the darnel is separated at an early stage the only thing one can do with it is to leave it in the ground to be dried by the sun;
2. However, at harvest time, after the tedious and laborious work of separating them, the farmer will be able to take advantage of the discarded weeds: he can burn them and so be able to warm his house with the heat.
The Kingdom of Heaven
Jesus used this Parable to teach about the Kingdom of God:
1. We find a sower who in this case seems to be a landowner or better, a householder, who must have been rather rich to have at his service a number of faithful servants.
2. The Householder is good and plants good seed;
3. As soon as the seeds bear fruit, they can be easily distinguished;
4. The servants show interest about the affairs of their master by worrying about the darnel being planted.
At the same time, when revealing the Kingdom of Heaven, Jesus reveals the human condition as well:
1. Jesus gives meaning to the dilemma about the existence of evil;
2. He gives an answer to the question: “why do bad things happen to good people?”
3. Jesus is preparing his audience to understand why He needs to die on the Cross. Out of the dreadful unjust execution of Christ, God will be able to bring salvation to the world.
4. This Parable is found only in Saint Matthew’s Gospel. He wants to teach the first Christian Community, ravaged by persecution, how God is the only one who can bring good out of their suffering.
The last judgment
The Disciple should not be too quick to judge him/herself and never pass judgement on anyone else:
1. If the Pharisees lived and preached a dualistic religion whereby, they are the good people and the pagans and the poor are the evil ones, Jesus’ disciples should look at others with eyes of mercy;
2. Jesus’ disciples must be able to recognise what is evil within themselves and what needs to be uprooted (purified) in their hearts.
3. Eventually, it belongs only to God to bring to fruition the good within our heart and gratuitously purify us all for the eternal embrace of life, in the fulness of the Kingdom.
GOD OUR FATHER, WE THANK YOU FOR YOUR PATIENCE AND TOLERANCE. HELP US TO BE PATIENT AND TOLERANT, TOO, TOWARDS OTHERS AND TOWARDS OURSELVES.
HELP US TO UNDERSTAND THAT WE ARE ALL GOOD SEED THAT YOU SOWED; EVIL IS ONLY THE DARNEL, WHICH AN ENEMY PLANTED.
WE PRAY THAT THE DARNEL IN US AND IN OTHERS MAY BE BOUND INTO BUNDLES AND BURNT, WHILE THE WHEAT IS GATHERED INTO YOUR BARN. AMEN.
Jesus is the Teacher. He reveals the Truth of God. He also leads us from unbelief to faith and sustains us when we fail to understand God’s designs:
Psalm 25:9: “He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his
Psalm 16:7-8: “I bless the Lord who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart
instructs me. I keep the Lord always before me; because he is at
my right hand, I shall not be moved.”
God plants the seed of goodness in human hearts. God plants beauty in the universe. God is the source of every good thing that happens in our lives.
When our awareness fades (in the ‘night of our sleep’) the enemy plants weeds in our hearts. We have to be alert. We need God’s Spirit to keep us awake. Come Holy Spirit!
Jesus calls us friends, because He has revealed to us the mysteries of the Kingdom. I want to taste what it feels like to be Jesus’ closest friend, to care for what He cares and strive for what He loves: for the poor and the needy; for justice and right…
I trust the mercy of the Lord and not my own self. My ego speaks to me making me think that I am omnipotent and hides my sinfulness and limitations; God unveils my true self and I find my strength in my weakness: God is my Saviour:
Psalm 98: 8-9: “Let the floods clap their hands; let the hills sing together for joy at the presence of the Lord, for he is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with equity.
 Matthew 7:11: “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”
 Matthew 7:16-17: “You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? In the same way, every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit.”  John 15:15: “I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father.”