Who are the weeds and who, the wheat? This parable invites us to ask that question so that the parable can remind us to avoid judgment or too facile assumptions.
One of the contributors to Homily Service saw the weeds and wheat together by noticing what happened at daily eucharist in her work place, an assisted living and skilled nursing facility.
One day after receiving communion, I sat back in my seat and began to watch people receiving communion. . . . I became overwhelmed at the richness of the Eucharist in this setting. Those who are able to walk up to receive communion do so while those who are in wheelchairs have communion brought to them. How profound to see people who can approach Christ in the sacrament and to see how Christ comes to those who cannot approach. Clearly, the weed and the wheat are alongside each other and will be until the end.
Based on my observations and experiences, good and bad things happen in life and through it all God is present with us. Good things happen because good things happen, bad things happen because bad things happen. God is with us in the good and the bad.
– Virginia S. Wendel
Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43
Like the gospel lesson last week, the parable of the wheat and the weeds is an allegory whose . . . explanation speaks to a complex situation in the Matthean congregation. Some folk presumed to know fully and finally whom God would condemn. Others were uncertain as to whether their interpretation of God's purposes was really adequate. Members disagreed with one another regarding how to respond to others who were drifting away.
Allegorically, the field is the world. Jesus (the Son of Man) has sown the good seed of alerting the world to the realm, and some have embraced it. The devil however, has sown bad seed in the world (evil) and some have allied themselves with it.
In the early stages of growth, it is almost impossible to distinguish tender wheat from young weeds. The farmer (congregation) should let them grow together, trusting that at the apocalypse, God will send angels to gather the evil ones and destroy them, while the righteous “will shine like the sun.”
The parable cautions the followers of Jesus not to assume the role of judge, but to be patient in the confidence that God will make the final determination especially with regard to ambiguous situations. – Ronald J. Allen
The prophet echoes the Gospel’s admonition against judging what we see before us. The Lord asks through Isaiah (as in the book of Job), “Who is like me?” The rhetorical question is answered with a loud voice: “No one is like you, O Lord. You alone are the rock.”
We do not know the ways of God. We do not recognize the wheat and weeds even within ourselves, let alone having the wisdom to know the strengths and failings of others.
Paul aims the Epistle at gentiles in the congregation in Rome who look down upon the Jewish members of the community. What happens to gentiles when they embrace the eschatological plan of the God of Israel revealed through Jesus Christ? They not only enter into the Spirit but are also adopted as children into God's eschatological family, the Jewish community. The proof is that they ecstatically cry “Abba” at high-voltage moments in worship: a sign that they have a full place in the coming eschaton.
The image of a pregnant woman in labor describes the situation of the world as the old age dies and the new realm is born. . .. The self groans in miniature in the same way that the world is groaning cosmically. Believers are not only to remain steadfast during the travail but also to see such suffering as a sign that the end is near. In such difficult times, they can be patient and live in hope. – Ronald J. Allen
Virginia S. Wendel is the Health Care Coodinator for the Cenacle Sisters, Chicago, Illinois.
Ronald J. Allen is professor of preaching and New Testament at Christian Theological Seminary, Indianapolis, Indiana.
Homily Service 41, no. 3 (2008): 108-117.