Gospel Reflection: Unfinished
Gospel Matthew 13: 24-30, 36-43
He put before them another parable: ‘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 slaves 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 slaves 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.” ’
Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples approached him, saying, ‘Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.’ He answered, ‘The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man; the field is the world, and the good seed are the children of the kingdom; the weeds are the children of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. Just as the weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, and they will throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Let anyone with ears listen!
Limbo: an uncertain period of awaiting a decision or resolution; an intermediate state or condition. Synonyms: unfinished, incomplete, unresolved, on hold, pending, abandoned, forgotten, betwixt and between, up in air, on the back burner, suspended, put-off, etc.
I once attended the Young Men’s Leadership Conference (“Camp Miniwanca”) under the auspices of the American Youth Foundation. It took place on the shores of Lake Michigan in the summer before senior year, high school. So it was that in one of my classes, we were challenged to recall a “first impression” of someone at camp, someone who may have annoyed us in some way. Or with whom we had started on the wrong foot. We were to remember what happened and how we reacted. Later in the week, the leader asked us to examine the encounter to see how we could make a fresh start in our thinking and our manner with the person who, at first, rubbed us the wrong way. The teacher called it “reconciliation.”
The exercise showed me that my first impressions are as much about my own prejudgments as they are about the other person. Jesus’ parable cautions me to stop wasting my time and energy determining the good and the bad. I can surely judge myself harshly too. When I do this, I am not equipped to offer friendship or kindness to others. In my own spiritual life, I am learning to identify and to resist the voices of guilt and shame in and around me. Contrary to what we may have heard, there is not a medal ceremony for the guiltiest person alive!
The “limbo” we are living through would not be strange for any generation of humanity-or the church. There is God-given wisdom in waiting: “For if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” Romans 8:24 Like the disciples hearing the story of the wheat and weeds, we are cautioned to step back and be mindful that we do not have the last word: “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.’” Matthew 13:30
The good grain will be lost forever if we try to extract the weeds. God will take care of God’s harvest in God’s time. And God will take care of us. According to Psalm 139, God knows every aspect of our life, before it happens. God knows all about us and continues to offer the joy of the holy presence, Holy Spirit. God shows up for us, wrapping us in divine mercy, even if we make our bed in Sheol. Psalm 139:8 There is nothing in all creation that can separate us from the love of God in Jesus Christ. Thanks be to God, the Lord of the harvest.