Wheat, darnel and mustard seed

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Photo credit: andrewjbrown.blogspot.comToday’s Gospel presents us with different images of the Kingdom.  Each image in its own way says something significant about how we must imagine the Kingdom.  It is, first, like a field, says Jesus, in which good seed is sowed but where an evil person sows darnel (a type of weed).  In their early stages of growth, wheat and darnel were difficult to distinguish, with the result that in rooting out darnel you ran the risk of uprooting wheat.  ‘Let them grow together,’ says the Master of the field, ‘until harvest time.’  Then the separation will take place.  The darnel will be burnt and the wheat reaped and stored away.The early Church read this parable as a warning about the dangers of judging who was in the kingdom and who wasn’t.  Such judgments often mistook wheat for darnel and darnel for wheat.  You couldn’t tell very often who belonged where.  As St. Augustine said, some of those who are out are in, and some of those in are out.  Judgment should be left to the Lord.Judge not, Jesus also said in the Sermon on the Mount.  We do have to judge others at times, of course, especially if we are in positions of authority.  Every parent judges; so does every manager. What the prescription warns against is judging a person’s entire life.  It’s difficult to pass judgment on a person’s life, for the very obvious reason that we never have all the facts. And yet how casually we often summarize people as if we did. Sometimes a look does it, a raised eyebrow, or a nod – and a person’s entire life is dismissed.The imagery of wheat and darnel can be applied in other ways.  For instance, all young people have faults.  There’s also, as we know, in the young a great deal of idealism and generosity.  Every young person also goes through upheaval of some sort as part of growing up.  The difficulty a parent or someone in responsibility has is knowing what things time will take care of and what things require intervention now.  Not every fault is an occasion for intervention.  Sometimes one has to live with faults or tolerate them, because if you intervene too quickly or too harshly you will negatively affect or endanger other qualities.  What one has to say is what the master of the field says: let them grow together.   Sorting out will come later.  Often the young themselves, as they grow older and more mature, will progressively uproot the darnel, when they can distinguish more clearly what is harmful to their lives and what is not.The field in the image can also be taken to be the life of every person who reads or hears the passage.  None of us is all goodness.  We all have faults of one kind or another, shortcomings and weaknesses.  Both goodness and its opposite are in each of us, coexisting, indeed, interpenetrating, and the Lord says about that situation too: let them grow together.  There is a great deal of forbearance in that expression, a great deal of hope for what we may yet become, i.e. persons from whom an abundant harvest is always possible.Let me say finally just a word about the third image of the mustard seed.  This, of course, is meant to underline the truth that small or inauspicious beginnings have powerful results.  The community Jesus spoke the parable to, the small band of apostles and disciples, was one such beginning, which has grown into the major spiritual and civilizing force.  But one need not think only in Church terms.  Many significant modern achievements have been the fruit of the work of one individual.  Modern South Africa, for instance, is incomprehensible without the contribution of Nelson Mandela.  There were solidarity protests of different kinds around the world, of course, and they had their effect.  But even those protests were inspired by that single life.  The same is true of civil rights in the US.  All the benefits that are taken for granted by black persons today in the US would not have been possible without the life and energy of MLK.  Sometimes when we look at the world – the big one out there or the one just around us – and see how formidable the obstacles to improvement seem, we tend to say to ourselves: what can one person do?  The answer to that is that significant human achievement has rarely if ever been the work of a committee.  I remember being abroad when Cardinal Basil Hume passed away in London, and I read where all the churches in Britain, not only ours, thought they had lost someone who belonged to them, not to Catholics alone.  The example of his holiness, intelligence and humility was a beacon in a land where God to many people is more dead than alive.  Such is the possible range of influence of one person.Let us then pray at Mass this weekend to be patient with ourselves and other people, as God is patient with us, and continues to have hope for a harvest from our lives. Let us also pray that we may not look upon our individual lives as insignificant.  A mustard seed grows into a tree of stature and height. Great things can issue from small and insignificant beginnings.By: Father Henry Charles Ph.d Tweetcenter_img FaithLifestyleLocalNews Wheat, darnel and mustard seed by: – July 16, 2011 Share Sharelast_img

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