Mt 13:24-30, 36-43: The Parable of the Weeds
The Parable of the Weeds speaks about how people grow or grow up over time. We all know that teens tend to think that their parents, and all adults, have a very limited intelligence. Mark Twain said that after he had left home at 19 years of age, he returned at 20 years of age; and on his return, he was amazed at how much his father had learned in that year. Whether we use it or not is our choice, but we all have the capacity to learn and grow not only as young people, but as older folk too.
A. GOD IS THE ONLY JUST JUDGE
The parable of the weeds urges us not to rush to moral judgment, anger, or bitterness, but to patiently wait, even through suffering, until all things unfurl and reach God’s satisfying and perfect goal.
Remember Charles Dickens ‘Great Expectations’? The book opens with Pip showing compassion to an escaping criminal, Abel Magwitch. Later on, when Pip received anonymous scholarship help, Pip assumed that his benefactor was a wealthy neighbor he knew, the rich, cruel, and bitter Miss Havisham. But he eventually learned that his benefactor was not Miss Havisham, but the man he thought was bad, the criminal Abel Magwitch. Pip also learned that the reformed Magwitch was also the father of his beloved Estella! By the end of the book, Pip had to realize that the “bad” people were not so bad; the “good” people were not so good; and he himself had changed. So, people and our perceptions change. We find we are not in a position to judge.
In Christian history, an example of someone who changed from bad (very bad) to good was the repentant slave trader John Newton. He left us one of our most beloved songs, Amazing Grace—“I once was lost, but now am found, was blind but now I see”.
B. GOD TRANSFORMS EVIL INTO GOOD
For the patient believer, even the worst event, or the most heinous criminal contains the possibility of good. Furthermore, it is the spirit who is driving humanity together with the creation towards god’s goals (Rom 8:14 [q.v.]) God is the beginning and the end; is the only God; and is the rock (Isa 44:8// Deut 32:15), and that leads to our resurrection and our glorious inheritance.
God’s creation is beautiful, and its full beauty will be recovered. Remember Joseph’s words to his cruel brothers: You intended me evil, but God used it for good.
C. SUFFERING NURTURES COMPASSION, AND COMPASSION SPEAKS OF GOD
In Rom 8: 17 Paul says that as Christ suffered, we journey behind Christ. To leave off this journey behind Christ in his sufferings, is to leave off being a disciple. Indeed it is through our own suffering that we can become deeper in compassion for others, and through our compassion for others that we can possibly express God’s love and compassion to them. So the children of God are revealed to others and the creation through their Christ-inspired compassion.
An example of how suffering can nurture our compassion is also in Great Expectations. The book ends with this: For Estella “suffering had been stronger than [the pride and cruelty she had learned as a child], and had given her a heart to understand [the depths of love].”
In 1 Cor 15, Paul says that we are now being and will be clothed with a different body. German mystic Meister Eckhart (Eckhart von Hochheim c. 1260 – c. 1328) said this: “This, then, is salvation, when we marvel at the beauty of created things and praise the beautiful providence of their creator, or when we purchase heavenly goods by our compassion.” Every act of compassion now is and will be part of our heavenly clothing.
Let us pray: “O God, save our souls from being so steeped in [anxiety and] care or so darkened by [anger and] passion that we pass heedless and unseeing when even the thorn-bush by the wayside is aflame with the glory of God. Amen.” (Walter Rauschenbusch).