“’Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where have the weeds come from?’ He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’ His slaves said to him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’ He replied, ‘No, if you pull up the weeds you might uproot the wheat along with them. Let them grow together until harvest” (Mt 13:27-30).
One of my favorite trees is the Maple. When JoAnn, the kids, and I moved to Florida over twenty years ago, the thought did not cross my mind that Maples grew in Southern Florida. A few years after we moved into our home, I was walking in our backyard and thought I saw a maple leaf. I squatted down for a closer look and found that not only was it a maple leaf but a sapling with three leaves! I carefully cleared some of the weeds and grass growing among and around it, but otherwise let it be because it was so fragile. As it grew I cleared more around it. Today it is a fully mature Swamp Maple!
About a year ago, I saw a new Maple sapling emerging, though this time, some poison ivy was growing around it. I sprayed poison ivy killer, thinking I was carefully avoiding the Maple. Unfortunately, I must have gotten some of the poison spray on the Maple leaves because the sapling also shriveled up and died.
I can relate to Jesus’ parable from today’s Gospel. The master warned his servants to let the wheat and weeds grow together until they were more mature at the time of the harvest, so as not to pull up the wheat with the weeds. Weeds in this verse is translated from the original “Greek [as] zizanion [which] refers to a noxious weed that in its early stages closely resembles wheat and cannot be readily distinguished from it” (Harrington 2007, 204). Both, in their immature state, were indistinguishable.
Jesus is calling us to resist the temptation of judging one another. Even when there are those who commit heinous acts of evil, we may feel justified in our judgment and condemnation. Jesus says no. We may convict the person of their action and we are certainly to hold each other accountable, but judge and condemn, no. The Father is the ultimate arbiter and judge.
All of humanity has been created in the image and likeness of God, each of us are a unique gift to this world. We have been created good, yet all of us fall short of the glory and grace of God and because of our fallen nature our image and likeness to God has dimmed. God the Father will judge at the end of time between the wheat and the weeds and only he knows the time or the hour. Let us leave the judgment to God, and let us instead be about following the teachings of Jesus, repenting, and encouraging each other in the maturation process which can include, convicting others when needed, yes, but also encouraging and supporting.
We are to resist the temptation to spread the poison of judgment, gossip and condemnation, otherwise we are promoting division and a culture of death. We are to instead welcome, nurture and care for one another, promoting unity while respecting diversity of person and thought so to support a culture of life.
May we pray for patience, understanding, and the ability to seek forgiveness in our interactions, as well as be willing to forgive each other. Life, even when going well, is hard. We need the encouragement and support of each other if we are to mature and actualize the fullness of who God calls us to be and strive through God’s grace to restore our image and likeness to God. “Encourage each other while it is still today” (Hebrews 3:13).
Photo: Our Maple tree today with morning rainbow, much more mature than the little sapling I discovered about twenty years ago.