The first Parable of the Gospel text of today found only in the Gospel of Matthew is known variously as The Parable of the wheat and weeds or the parable of the wheat and darnel or tares is one of the only two parables which have been allegorized, the other being the parable of the Sower. Though the text for today includes the Parables of the Mustard seed (13:31-32), the Yeast or Leaven (13:33), the reason why Jesus speaks in Parables (13:34-35) and the allegorization of the parable of the wheat and the weeds (13:36-43), this homily will focus only on the Parable of the wheat and weeds (13:24-30).
The story is told of a man who went from church to church, hoping to find and then join a “perfect church.” In the midst of his search someone was bold enough to say to him, “I feel sorry for that church if you ever find it, for in the moment you join it, it will not be perfect any more!” The Parable seems to speak precisely of this, were there to be a perfect church, it would be less than perfect once any human joined it, simply because all are sinners. It also warns us against relying on our human capacity to know fully the mind of God. It suggests that what might appear to be bad and corrupt or good and pure to us might not necessarily be any of these. The master's instructions to the servants are therefore clearly that they are not to get involved with separating the wheat from the weeds. The master goes so far as to say that if they even try to do it, they could end up damaging the wheat.
This is reiterated by both the first and third readings. The reading from Wisdom speaks of God’s leniency though he has all the power. He gives sinners time for repentance because though he is just, he is also merciful. Through this patience God teaches humans how they must behave towards their fellow humans. The virtuous must be understanding towards others and slow to condemn.
The text from Romans makes clear that no one can penetrate the mystery and depth and any attempt to do so is futile. God is indeed a mystery and we will never be able to know his fully. One can only accept this fact humbly and realize its truth, and in doing so act with all humility.
However, the fact is that in every generation, in every century, in every epoch of time, there have been and are people who attempt to be more religious than God himself and some who attempt to be more Catholic than the Pope. Such people try to make others feel irreligious, guilty and not very good inside, like weeds in a field of wheat. As humans we are often quick to judge. We want to remove the obstacles in our way, get rid of, or avoid, people who disagree with us. We want to make life as simple, as easy, and as straightforward as possible. And unfortunately, many people throughout history have taken it upon themselves to choose who belongs in the field and who should be weeded out. But we are called today to recognize that it is not our place to judge others. Our task is not to judge how others should live their lives, for that is between them and God. Our task is to think and judge for ourselves how we should act in our own lives and in response to others. By weighing what we see, feel, and discern, in the context of community, we are given the chance to choose whether we will let what is good grow in us or what is evil. We are called to as far as possible be wheat. Nothing can stop God's work in Christ. His kingdom is forever. Even when it is difficult to discern signs of the kingdom, because the field might seem to us to be full of weeds, we must continue to remember that the wheat will continue to grow.
In the meantime we have to accept the fact that we live in a world full that besides wheat also has weeds and rather than trying to pull up every plant that looks vaguely suspicious. Because the truth is that none of us is completely free of evil. As someone once said, “there is more bad in the best of us, and more good in the worst of us, than any of us, in this life, will ever know.” This is all the more reason to leave the sorting of good and evil to God who is patient, merciful and wise. We need to spend our time trying to be wheat in the world rather than pull up weeds. At the harvest, that is what will matter most.