Those who listened to Jesus speak about weeds growing among wheat were people who depended on the land and its produce for survival. Even to this day, many of the political and religious conflicts of the Middle East stem from who controls the land and its produce.
The weeds Jesus talked about were “cockle-seed”. In its early stages, it looks very much like wheat and even to the farmer, it is practically impossible to tell the two apart. If, however, any part of the root or stem makes its way into the grain supply in large numbers, because of its toxicity, it can have disastrous effects on any product with wheat.
As with every parable spoken to us by Christ, this one is loaded, packed and layered with so much to reflect on. His illustration of the weeds and wheat having to grow alongside until harvest time doesn't need much explanation. We get the point. But too often, we fail to apply it to our own lives.
This might be because, simply put, we tend to think of ourselves as problem solvers. We don't like to sit on the fence and allow complex and unpredictable situations to unravel freely. When Our Lord had the landowner ask where the weeds came from, maybe it was one of us who jumped up first and yelled, “Aha! An enemy has done this.” And so, conspiracy theories are born and we rush out where even angels dare not to tread!
“Do you want us to go and pull out the weeds”, the servants said to the landowner. “No! That type of attitude [and I’m paraphrasing] will cause more damage than good. For now, you have to allow them to grow together, taking whatever steps not to get tangled up in the weeds. And anyway, Our Lord reminds his servants, “you’re not qualified to make that judgment call.” It takes a trained harvester, angels of God, to distinguish the saint from the sinner. This might make us reflect that, for the foreseeable future, we all might have to live with many of the restrictions we are forced to accept as part of our present landscape.
I see weeds and wheat growing together in the rich soil of many an individual’s life, in each one of us. They grow together within the tensions and challenges of this pandemic. They grow within the fabric of family life, in relationships of marriage and between friends, and yes, even within the structures of government.
But I also see the incredible patience of those who live with sickness or a disease, or with the fear of living with an underlying health condition. I have come to admire the patience of parents with screaming babies, or the dedication and sacrifices made by families who look after a child with special needs, or have a loved one struggling with addiction or depression. I am encouraged by those who are not afraid to climb out of their painted flower pot and enter into the ever expanding field or into a formidable forest, befriending those they meet along the way as Christ did, not afraid of saints and sinners.
We all live with weeds and wheat in our own lives, and yes, often there is a tension between the two. But Christ himself is the Lord of the Harvest which will come in due time, His own time. He will not allow any of us to force his hand. Instead, as today’s Sunday psalm reminds us, we should join our voice to the psalmist and pray “You, O LORD, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in kindness and fidelity. Turn toward me, and have pity on me; give your strength to your servant.” (Psalm 84). And your patience.
Father Cávana Wallace