Prayer before reading:
Lord Jesus Christ,
You call us to come
To be with you.
By your Spirit help me
To see you,
To hear you,
To receive your Spirit,
To be led by your Spirit.
Read slowly. Listen deeply. Indwell the scripture.
Fifth Sunday after Pentecost
Again Jesus tells another parable, and again he takes us into the world of sowing seed in a field. A man sows good seed, but one night when no one is around, an enemy comes and sowed weeds among the wheat; then he leaves. It is not until both kinds of seed grow and the grain has headed out, that the weeds—the bad seed—shows itself for what it is. Bearded darnel is one of the problem weeds which farmers deal with in the middle east. It looks just like wheat as its shoots spring up, and is only recognized for what it is at the time of harvest. Darnel, when eaten, is bitter to the taste, causes dizziness and sickness, and is narcotic in its effects. When the farm hands wonder where this darnel came from, the farmer answers that an enemy sowed the bad seed. But when asked if he would like for the farm hands to pull it up, he says, “No, because as you gather the weeds you might pull up some of the wheat along with them. Let the wheat and the darnel both grow up together until harvest.” At harvest time the darnel will be pulled, gathered, and burned, and then the wheat will be gathered into his barn. Darnel seeds could infest a field of wheat, mostly because of how its seed blows and lands where it will. But there were laws at the time of Jesus which prohibited persons from planting darnel in another’s field. Intentional spoilage of the harvest was known to happen.
After Jesus leaves the crowd at the shore of the lake and returns to Simon Peter’s house in Capernaum, his disciples want to know what this parable about darnel growing among the wheat means. We are invited to sit with them and listen as Jesus again makes know the mystery of the kingdom of heaven hidden within a parable.
Jesus opens the way for us to see into the larger sphere of God’s Great Reality. He, the Son of Man sows good seed in the field of the world, and this good seed represesnts those people who belong to the Kingdom; those persons who come to know Jesus and follow him in all of life. But the darnel, Jesus explains, represents people who follow another ruler; they belong to the Evil One. It is the Devil who infiltrates the Kingdom of God the world, and places his followers among the followers of Jesus.
This parable and the explanation Jesus gives, points to the need for us to be on guard – to realize that evil and its influences is very present in the world in which we live. We also learn that it is hard to distinguish between those who appear to be good and those who are truly good. Evil masks itself. A person may appear good but in God’s sight is evil. And a person we may judge as bad, God sees as good. What Jesus does indicate is that evil persons are those who cause others to sin, along with doing evil themselves. So we need discernment, the kind of clarity and light which the Spirit of God gives as we read the scriptures, prayerfully discern its meaning, and learn to be led by the Spirit of Jesus within, and in our outward actions and relationships. The psalmist in Psalm 139 prays and asks for help with this kind of discernment:
“Examine me, O God, and know my heart;
Discern, and discover my thoughts.
See there is any wicked and harmful way in me
And lead me in the way everlasting.” Vv. 23,24
We also learn that only God is the righteous judge, and that God waits until the end of this present age to render a decision. And the decision is God’s, the One who sees and knows us for who we truly are.
The call here is for us to be alert to how evil can infiltrate our lives and actions unawares, and so to ask for help, to come to God and trust in God’s seeing and knowing as we honestly open ourselves to God’s gaze and guidance. The prayer of Psalm 139 can help us as we pray.
Fifth Sunday after Pentecost
- 7/11 Monday: Matthew 13:24-30
- 7/12 Tuesday: Matthew 13:36-43
- 7/13 Wednesday: Psalm 139:1-12
- 7/14 Thursday: Romans 8:12-25
- 7/15 Friday: Matthew 13:24-30
- 7/17 Sunday: Matthew 13:36-43