Readings: Isaiah 44:6-8, Matthew 13:24-43
That is what we understand the kingdom of heaven to be: God coming near. Jesus’ presence in Word and action, love, that enters our lives and the touches the world. The kingdom of heaven is not some physical or even metaphysical place. It is when the reign, the rule, the essence of heaven happens, right here.
Wonderful things result from the kingdom of heaven happening around us. Those small acts of God’s love grows into grain or food for others. It mixes in the world like yeast in flour until the whole thing is leavened, until the whole world is touched by God’s love. Even the tiniest action of God’s love sprouts into a great tree that is refuge for birds--for birds, which Jesus says, you are of more value than many birds. God’s love means a safe place in the world for the “least of these”.
God’s love in the world happens through people just like you. The church, the body of Christ, is a special conduit of that love. God’s love reaches to all, and especially to those who are hurting, to those who are taken advantage of, and those who are looked down upon. The kingdom of heaven, Jesus says, belongs to children, to the the lowest in society. And we must remember that as we do, or do not do, for the “least of these”.
This is where the discussion of the wheat and weeds comes in. You will know a tree by its fruit. So a good act, a life that points God and shows God’s love is certainly coming from the wheat. And the opposite is true of the weeds. An act that does not produce fruit, a life leading to destruction and death and away from love and life is the result of weeds. The produce of wheat ends up in the Kingdom’s barn, and the produce of the weeds ends up in the fire, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.
So are you a weed or a wheat? You can tell by the fruit of your actions. But is that really the point of this parable?
It is God alone, and in this story God’s angels, who is able to sort between wheat and the weeds. It is the Lord, the king of Israel, and his Redeemer, the Lord of Hosts (as Isaiah says) who is the first and the last, beside whom there is no god. Christ alone sits in the judgment seat to decide: fire or barn.
I know what you’re thinking. So how do I know? Where will I go? Weed or wheat?
Well, the answer is: we are more akin to the dandelion. 100% weed. Capable of destroying the lawns of all the neighbors. 100% destined for destruction, decay, death. It’s part and parcel with being human: we are dust to dust, ashes to ashes.
And yet, the dandelion has incredible capacity for good. From the blossoms: cookies and wine; from the leaves: salad--nourishment; from the root, food and herbal tea. It is a 100% useful and good plant, like the grain of wheat.
It is Jesus alone who examines us. We do not have the capacity or authority to judge anyone. Only to participate in God’s kingdom coming near. But let it be known that the one who sits on the seat of judgement is the same one who died on the cross and now lives. He is the same one who gave his body and blood for the forgiveness of the sin of the world. The judge is the same one who called you, claimed you, and set a seal over you at your baptism.
Jesus Christ, God incarnate, takes on the sin of the world and gives in return all his own honor and glory. He takes what is yours--sin, failure, guilt and shame--he takes it all, and for it gives you all that is his--everlasting life, blamelessness, purity and perfection.
There is everything in all of us that needs the cleansing of the fire. And there is everything in all of us that Jesus Christ died and rose to redeem.
The Word of God turns a weed into wheat. Christ alone is our transformative Word.
So… weeds, sinners, who are continually being forgiven, called by the Holy Spirit to proclaim the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ to all the world:
Go tell the good news.