Eighth Sunday after Pentecost (23 July)

Our Gospel passage comes this week from Matthew, Chapter 13, verses 1–23

This week’s Gospel seems almost a continuation from last week and ‘seed’ is the key metaphor in both readings. This parable too appears only in Matthew. Whereas in the previous parable all the seed was good seed, sown by a good Sower, here we encounter two kinds of seeds sown by opposite Sowers. Furthermore, seeds in this parable do not represent faith and disciples but only disciples – disciples of God and of the evil one. Addressing a growing concern within the young Christian community following the fall of Jerusalem, Matthew pairs the two parables together. In last week’s parable, Jesus addresses the question of why responses to the Gospel vary so greatly and so often seem unproductive. In today’s parable, the attention shifts from an external focus to an internal focus. Sometimes our own lives resemble the farmer’s infested field, with weeds and wheat intertwined in our souls, hearts and minds. As outlined last week in verses 14–16, what has been and continued to be required for understanding the secret of the kingdom is hearts that have not grown dull, eyes that can see and ears that hear. With verse 36 Jesus turns from the crown and moves back inside the house once again with the admonition, ‘Let anyone with ears listen!’ – at once a charge, a challenge and an offer. It is towards this God that we are forever moving. On such a journey as this, it is not our job to determine who is within and who is beyond God’s attention. It is rather our job to imagine everyone as belonging to this God, and therefore, with all that we can gather, to endeavour to embrace, through Jesus Christ our Lord, God’s holy and purposeful ambiguity. The parable’s ending affirms that there is One who is stronger and smarter than the weed-sowing enemy. God will sort out the good from the bad. In a world where seeds of hatred and injustice are daily sown, the parable affirms unmistakeably that God is still in charge. As an old hymn proclaims, Though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the Ruler yet.