7th Sunday after Pentecost- Deacon Gill- July 23, 2017

July 23, 2017

Father Chris told us last week how we are now in the season of Matthew relating the parables of Jesus and what parables are. He posed 2 questions for you to think about; ‘what kind of soil are you’ and ‘are you a good sower’? Jesus used farming metaphors as concrete images to explain the mysterious nature of the kingdom of God, because at that time were associated with farming.

In a classic strip of the famous “Peanuts” newspaper cartoon, Lucy explains to her little brother Linus about the existence of good and evil. She tells him that he, like others, has these two forces inside of him. Linus looks at his stomach with a distressed look on his face and declares, “I can feel them in there fighting.”………. What a truth!!

In today’s gospel, we have another farming parable with Jesus using a similar image – good wheat and evil weeds, fighting it out in a farmer’s field. Someone sows good wheat seed in his field, but while everybody is asleep, an enemy comes and sows weeds among the wheat. As the plants come up bearing wheat, the weeds appear as well. The workers in the field offer to pull up the weeds, but the owner shows them that in pulling out the weeds they uproot the wheat as well. He tells them that at harvest time the reapers will sort out the wheat from the weeds, which will be bundled and burned.

The kingdom of heaven can be messy and complicated. Good and evil. We read about it everyday in newspapers or online.  We see it on the tv and at the movies– good and evil fighting it out in the world. All around us there is a force that seemingly ruins our well being, our health and hope and peace and joy. Maybe your name for the evil force is Satan, the devil, Beelzebub, Lucifer, or “the evil one.” Whatever you call it, it attempts to undo the goodness of God by attaching itself much as a parasite does. It clings, it invades and it tries to stifle and take over.

Some may interpret the parable of the weeds as a battle between young blades of wheat or believers and young weeds or unbelievers. “An enemy of God” is a good explanation for the weeds. In the service of Holy Baptism parents and godparents are asked to renounce “Satan and all the spiritual forces of wickedness that rebel against God” and “ the evil powers of this world which corrupt and destroy the creatures of God” and “all sinful desires that draw you from the love of God”. As believers we recognize at the very beginning of our life in Christ that our lives, grow with evil intertwined among the grace and love that we promise to trust and employ in our Christian living. And we know from experience that no matter how intent we are to follow our vows, none of us will ever totally avoid the corrupting influences and tempting thoughts that lead us to go against the values of God.

Maybe that’s what makes so many of us anxious to do something about perceived forms of evil that we witness around us. In today’s parable, the slaves ask almost immediately whether they should destroy the weeds. That sounds like a natural reaction, doesn’t it? What farmer would not seek to destroy weeds that suck vital nutrients from a well-planted crop? Wasn’t that our first reaction when we experienced the evil of the 9/11 attacks? Isn’t that our reaction to today’s terrorism happening around the world? Our first thought is to exclude those who do not believe as we do because they may pose a threat. When human beings think they know the source and reality of evil, they almost always want to eradicate it. We think we know what is good and what is evil, absolutely certain that we are right so we make a judgement call.

But this could result in a witch hunt. It may make us feel good and pious because we have taken a stand. Or have we? Jesus tells us to wait. Do not cause harm by being hasty. Wait, until time for the harvest, because the process of ripping out the weeds will certainly destroy the wheat in the process.

But we are an impatient people who want  a perfect world. We want our lives all neat and tidy. Today we find Jesus telling us something we really don’t want to hear – to leave the judging until later, to recognize that throwing the weeds into the fire is God’s job, not ours. Our mantra may be “Don’t just stand there, do something!” But as he so often does, Jesus uses this parable to make us rethink our human reactions. Who is in charge?

Jesus is saying to us that we can relax in knowing that we don’t have to be in the judging business or in the business of destroying that which would work against God, because the owner of the farm, God himself, will make it all come out right in the end. The simplest, most obvious interpretation of this parable is that we are not to judge who is righteous and who is unrighteous, but to allow God  to do the judging in the final days. It is better for us to spend time tending the wheat – the good in life – fostering its growth and putting it to use.

Just like Linus of the Peanuts cartoon, we experience the battle and anxiety within ourselves. We live the conflict that Linus experienced as a fist fight in his gut.

The good  needs to be nurtured and strengthened leaving the evil to God. As we live out the vows of our baptisms we will recommit ourselves to leaving the weeds to God.

None of this is to suggest that we ignore issues that we feel passionate about.

There is an ambiguity of good and evil when seemingly good acts are done in an evil spirit, or that have unrighteous consequences. A missile is launched against the enemy, but when it detonates, it also kills innocent civilians ….. so called collateral damage.  Why didn’t God cause those three suicide bombers in Turkey to be in a crash in that cab on the way to the airport? Why didn’t God make the gunman in Orlando listen to his wife as she reasoned with him not to carry out the attack he was planning? Do you see the dilemma, the complexity of evil?

God has given humanity free will, and sometimes we make terrible choices that hurt other people. And it’s not just other people that do that, we do it too. So imagine for a minute God trying to undo every evil choice we make.

As I said we live in a complicated world. Would we really like it if God’s rule of the world was so direct and immediate that our every thought and action was immediately weighed, instantly judged, and if necessary punished? Are we willing to burn with the weeds? If we ask God to act on occasions that are important to us, do we really suppose that he could do that simply when we want him to, and then back off again for the rest of the time? Life is not that simple. But that’s not the message of this parable either—behind this whole story is an appeal to be patient; wait, give the good grain a chance!

We are, all of us, God’s plants, a complicated mixture of good and evil that cannot be fully pulled apart in human history. It’s tempting to think of ourselves as wholly righteous and to judge the evil acts of others. Ultimately, all any of us really are is wholly reliant on God’s grace, and there is nothing we can do to earn or deserve that grace. We rely on God’s merciful, steadfast patience, and that means leaving us in the field, intertwined until harvest time. Our task in the meantime is to persevere in the hope of God’s ultimate justice, and to be a patient witness to God’s amazing grace.

No matter how we do, God loves us anyway and promises that he will hold all of our choices and our lives together in love.

The very real evil that exists is not to be answered by attacking and destroying the people who are responsible for it. Doing so only adds to the harm. Our response is to be forgiving and to be willing to trust in God’s purposes. Sometimes we do have to deal immediately with people who are obviously evil such as dangerous criminals, but at other times we must not rush to judgment. If we want to receive grace, we must be willing to extend grace.

We are not the final judge of the world……..that is God’s job. We are to remain faithful to God’s word even during hard times, and when we go astray, we have opportunities to mend our ways. We have the time and the grace we need to make the changes we have to make before God’s final judgment at the last day.

Service Schedule

Sunday Services
8:00 a.m. Holy Eucharist, Rite I
9:15 a.m. Christian Formation
10:30 a.m. Holy Eucharist, Rite II

Weekday Services
Wednesday 12:00 p.m. Holy Eucharist


St. Paul's Episcopal Church
5373 Franz Rd
Katy, Texas 77493
(281) 391-2785

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