Reflection: July 23

Published on Jul 24th, 2017 by Rev. Carol Prochaska (Ret) | 0

Uncertainty: A Spiritual Gift?
                Scripture: Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43

Rev. Carol Prochaska

Parables have been described as “strange stories” that “tease us into thinking”. This one concerning the farmer and the wheat and the weeds has undeniably “teased me into thinking” again and again! Why me Lord? Could this not have been David’s Sunday to preach?

Who among us doesn’t know what to do with weeds? Farmers and gardeners and those of us who grow plants in pots know about weed control! One way or another they are to be gone! Sooner rather than later. This was also true in Jesus’ day. Farmers weeded during the growing season. Farmers did not wait until the harvest. More than once in a growing season weeds would be removed.

But in this morning’s parable, according to Jesus, the workers are to leave the weeds alone. They are not to separate the weeds from the wheat. This separating will not take place until the time of the harvest. And even then it is not the workers who will do the weeding – it is the angels.

What might Jesus be saying to us through this parable? What couldn’t Jesus just come out and say directly? Oh yes! We’re being teased into thinking!

Parables are metaphors. So therefore parables are intended to take us from the concrete into the abstract and then back into the concrete of our own lives. How then are we to live the parable we just heard? We could choose to go with a simple interpretation. We could go with something like this: We are both wheat and weeds. Within us they are growing together. (Consider the Children’s Story seen at the end of this reflection) We are good cat. We are bad cat. As much as possible we do our best to be good cat… do I hear an “Amen?”

At the conclusion of today’s scripture we heard the promise: “those who are just will shine like the sun.” If the weeds were sown by an enemy, if this is an indication of an injustice – then why not do something about it – now! Or as soon as possible? Why would we wait until the end of the world? Throughout history folks have been predicting the end of the world and they have been very wrong. Certainly the world has gone through changes, but it is still here and so are we. And we are still yearning for justice for all people.

However, according to this parable, we seem to have lost our jobs of working towards justice. But! How foolish this sounds when we think about Jesus’ other teachings, including other parables like that of the Good Samaritan.

What if this morning’s parable is understood as a caution light? A blinking orange caution light? So these words become for us a loving constraint from a loving Jesus. Some of us are known to think and speak and act quickly. For instance, I’ve been known to make decisions quickly and with great certainty. I have been known to declare it’s time to get rid of such and such because –because I know it will never ever be needed again! Sometimes I’ve been right… but not always 

Jesus seems to be saying there are times when we need to take a deep breath and step back prayerfully. Before we surge ahead we take time to question our own certainty. This isn’t for all circumstances – but for some. We know there are times when we must act immediately.

To use John’s (John Prochaska) words — we need to be heroic. We see an injustice and we respond. We do what we can to change an injustice into justice and we don’t wait around for the end of the world!

When it comes to this parable of the wheat and weeds and letting them be, Jesus seems to be calling for a pause. Jesus may be asking us to consider that we are seeing only a partial picture. There will be times when we would do well to ask if there’s more to see. Are we too ready to leap? Are we about to respond in an old and familiar way? Is there within these circumstances a potential for Jesus’ vision of reality? Jesus presented a parable saying “the kindom of heaven is like …” Are we about to witness a glimpse of the kindom of heaven here and now? If so – what is our part? How can we best cooperate? Or – how can we not mess things up!

For the past four plus years we Canadians have been hearing about our Canadian Truth and Reconciliation Commission. We have slowly and painfully become more and more aware of a tragic and unjust time in our country’s history. First person indigenous stories are heart-breaking – enough to make one weep – and yes – even gnash our teeth. We have been coming face to face with the truth that conscientious and well-intended people literally yanked indigenous children from their families to put them into Residential Schools. Children as young as 4 and 5 were jerked out of their culture, their language and their creation- centered spirituality. Those in authority (government and church) were absolutely certain that what they were doing was a good and necessary thing.

Thanks be that the world of Residential Schools has come to an end. We’ve come a long ways. As a nation we are more just than we were in the past. That’s Good News. We are learning from past injustices. That’s Good News. We are learning from a tragically mistaken certainty. That’s Good News.

If this parable, like other parables, was shared in love. If this parable about the wheat and the weeds growing together tease us into thought – then Jesus has given us a life-long, life-giving gift. Jesus’ words are not scolding. Jesus isn’t saying: “You just don’t get it do you. Can’t you see what you’re doing?” Jesus invitation, Jesus urging, is couched in metaphor to give us time and space to consider (reconsider?) our own certainty. It seems we have been given a divine (and loving) warning.

This parable comes out of a gentle, powerful, transforming love calling us to be prepared to pause. We are being encouraged to remember there are times to take a deep breath and step back prayerfully. We do so trusting in the presence of Divine Love. The psalmist asks, “Where can I flee from your Presence?” God is with us wherever we are and that includes in our certainty and in our uncertainty.

Many, many times the Good Cat part of us shows up to become part of the solution. We do what we can and it is good. And there are the other times when we leap up on the table and stuff gets scattered…  So it is to be cat! …  So it is to be human.

Like the psalmist – we pray:

Teach me your way, God.
Teach me your way so that I may walk with you alone;
Make me single-hearted in reverence for your Name.     (Psalm 86)

 


 

 

 

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