SIXTEENTH SUNDAY OF THE YEAR OF MATTHEW
23rd July 2017
At this time of the year in England, the crops are beginning to be harvested. The fruit of careful planting and nurturing is dependent on both human effort and the vagaries of the weather. I can look at the fields around us here, or even in our own garden, and know how our best efforts will come to nothing unless we cooperate with nature. Similarly, our lives in this created world will only flourish and blossom if we are in harmony with the Creator.
The three images Jesus gives us in todayís parables vividly illustrate this. First, the weed. Gardeners donít like weeds, because they deprive other, more productive or beautiful plants of space and light, ultimately killing them. But weeds are only flowers growing in the ďwrongĒ place (for the gardener). Understanding the difference between wheat and darnel, which initially look like each other, is a process of discernment over time. Good and evil can look remarkably alike. Why did God create weeds?
Both the yeast and the mustard seed are images of phenomenal growth (gardeners would say thatís true of weeds too!). Yeast works from the inside out, its hidden power fermenting and expanding. Most of what God does in our lives happens within, where it cannot be seen, like the seed sprouting in the darkness of the earth (Mark 4:27). The mustard seed is almost invisible, yet once sown it grows into a large shrub. Donít underestimate the little, insignificant, seemingly trivial activities of creation; they disguise their divine Creator at work.
Finally, donít despise gardeners. Didnít Jesus disguise himself as a gardener so that even Mary Magdalen was fooled (John 20:15)? And Jesus called his Father the gardener of the Vine (John 15:1).
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