the wheat and the weeds – “a gardener’s tale”

One person’s weed is another person’s beloved plant! I have recently re-discovered a love of house plants, and they seem to be happily proliferating. Our latest new family member is a rather huge leafy fern thing, some four feet tall, which has been christened Flossie (no idea why!) – or as my two year old says, Mossy. Flossie occupies a corner of the sitting room and waves gracefully at us, but I can imagine for many people, this would be an intolerable intrusion into domestic space. 

Here is the parable of the Wheat and Weeds, as it is told in the gospel.
“The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field; but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared as well. And the servants of the householder came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where, then, did these weeds come from?’ He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ But he replied, ‘No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. Let both of them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’”

For me, the most important thing to remember when reading the Bible is that everything which we read MUST be read through the lens of God’s endless and unconditional love! This is especially true when we have passages which have suggestions of final judgement and of an in/out mentality. That said, here’s a brief reflection on this parable – after all I have to leave myself something to say on Sunday!!

Have you ever heard of darnels? No? Neither had I until a few years ago. Apparently, to the untrained eye, they look exactly like ears of wheat, until a certain point. But they are not. And they’re not all that edible either! So in this parable, the wheat and the darnels grow together until harvest time. It’s interesting to note, that although darnels are poisonous, they can (in small doses) give a certain kick to food. Not that I’m volunteering to test it out however! But there’s a metaphor here as well.

All things have a purpose, even things which are poisonous. And as the farmer says in the parable, if we vigorously root out the unhelpful, we run the risk of losing what is good and positive as well.

The next thing I’d like to point out is that in the BIble, fire is often used as a metaphor for purification, not wholesale destruction. Fire is used by God to burn away that which is impure, like a refiner uses fire to get the impurities out of the gold. I say this because it is my unshakeable conviction that God will not turn away or destroy anyone at all, no matter their actions – but we may have a very uncomfortable time of it when we see all our actions and motives laid fully bare, and the parts which are unloving and ungodly are burned away.

For we all have wheat and weeds in our lives. In the gospel story, Jesus explains the parable to his disciples and says that the field is the world – but it may just as truly be each one of us, and this is especially true as the Kingdom of Heaven in the gospels is not a place, but rather an attitude of mind and a way of living that God’s followers embrace. In the Great Field of Life, no one is wholly perfect; no one is beyond God’s redemption, healing and love. When the time comes – when what has been sown can be clearly seen for what it is, good or bad, the wheat can be harvested and the weeds can be safely pulled up – but don’t go in all heavy handed too early. As any gardener knows, in the earliest stages one plant can look much like another, and we don’t want to uproot and destroy the good by accident. And if we know that, then how much more the Gardener who cultivates and nurtures this whole Garden that is the Universe.