Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43
He put before them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field; but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared as well. And the slaves 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?’ He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The slaves said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ But he replied, ‘No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. 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.’” Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples approached him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.” He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man; the field is the world, and the good seed are the children of the kingdom; the weeds are the children of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. Just as the weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, and they will throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Let anyone with ears listen!”
The scripture passage for Sunday is from the lectionary. It is comprised of a simple parable, the wheat and the weeds. They grow side by side. Should the weeds be pulled? No, leave them as they are. The reapers will deal with it at the harvest and discern then what should be kept and what should be left.
Then, after some verses, Jesus offers an explanation of this parable. This explanation is uncharacteristic of Jesus and therefore scholars agree these are words placed into the mouth of Jesus by later scribes. He says the wheat is God’s chosen people and the weeds are those who are evil. The reapers are angels and the harvest is the end of time. The good will be gathered to God and the evil will go into eternal fire.
A world divided into good people and bad people is not the realm of God. Why do we have this interpretation? Is it helpful in any way? What do we make of the Bible and its most difficult passages?
Consider alternate interpretations of this parable. Maybe the wheat and weeds are in each of us, the mix of good and bad that make up every human. Maybe the wheat and weeds are not yet easy to tell apart; as someone said to me a weed is just a flower growing in the wrong place. Maybe the wheat and weeds are representative of the mix of our human condition of suffering and divine presence and we should trust God to lovingly make sense of it all in God’s own time.
Are there other ways this parable might find helpful meaning for our lives?