Monday, 30 September 2019

Wheat and Tares - political leaders

Ordinarily we tend not to talk about judgement too much. It is uncomfortable in our age of liberty to consider being brought to account. This week we have had a lot of talk of being held to account and even if the sense is a little different still it is in order that we can think about this in the context of tonight’s reading. Jesus’ parable begins with a good man, that is to say God the Father sowing good seed, actually the best seed, in the world and then another, the enemy Satan coming and sowing weeds amongst the good. Naturally the question for God is “Why do you allow evil to flourish in your field ?”

This is a question which used to come up often when I was attending a church in a city centre, especially at the late evening service attended by the young - “Why” they would ask does your God allow bad things to happen? “ And it is a good question in the context of the parable “after all master you are all powerful please pull the weeds up.” The answer we are given “but if we gather the weeds we may uproot the wheat” reminds me somewhat of the conversation between Abraham and the Lord which we find in Genesis (chapter 18).

‘Abraham came near and said : “Will you indeed sweep the righteous away with the wicked? Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city will you then sweep away the place and not forgive the fifty righteous that are in it?”  And the Lord said, “If I find at Sodom, fifty righteous in the city, I will forgive the whole place for their sake.” And you will recall that the conversation continues as Abraham progressively reduces the number of the righteous in the city.

I am not sure that the parable is quite so easily interpreted since the implication is that the weeds are there and cannot ever be other than weeds. It may be that the weeds in question were probably darnel which are difficult to distinguish from wheat in their early growth and in our post resurrection world it may be that the parable works better with this in mind. After all we have a gospel of forgiveness so weeds have an opportunity to transform - or if we have weeds in our lives then we have an opportunity to discern them and then transform them ourselves. (If your right hand causes you to sin …)

Jesus is of course talking about the kingdom of heaven and the day of judgement when the weeds and the wheat are fully developed. Then there will be no dissembling or cloaking God who knows all the secrets of our hearts will instruct the reapers to separate the wheat from the tares. It is the final snapshot, the harvest time has come and the yield is what it will be.

So it matters what we do. I have to say that watching recent events in our politics I wonder whether some have forgotten this. The intervention of our bishops is timely - and by the way to manage to get all the bishops to agree on a joint statement is astonishing, a rarity in my understanding. It matters how we behave, it matters how we speak and it matters what we do. If not propelled by the exigencies of our own world let us pray that our leaders may be compelled by the thought of the next.


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