Romans 8.12-25, Psalm 86.11-17 , Matthew 13.24-30, 36-43
In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
“But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” (Romans 8.25)
Patience is a virtue.
But – is it one you have?
Have you struggled with lockdown, the endless days, waiting for a lifting of the restrictions?
Has it given you any new insights to the 100 days Noah spent in the Ark? Or the 40 years the Hebrews spent wandering in the wilderness? Or the empty, painful days between Good Friday and Easter Sunday?
As the psalmist prayed in Psalm 13, “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?”
Patience, says God.
And it is patience that Jesus is talking about in the parable of the wheat and the tares.
This is one of a number of parables about the kingdom of heaven. The man sowed “good seed”, later identified as wheat.
Then an enemy came into the field and planted weeds, or tares. This plant, Lolium temulentum, cause terrible trouble for the farmer, because it is so similar in appearance to wheat. In fact it can only be identified easily when both are ripe. And it’s critical that it is removed as soon as possible, because if the two are milled together the flour will be spoiled.
The farmer’s servants suggested pulling the weeds up, but the farmer knew that the roots are intertwined, and besides they all look the same at that point! The farmer is content to wait patiently, and later a different group of people, the reapers, will come along and separate the wheat from the tares during the harvesting, so ending the parable with a portrayal of the final judgement where the good people are separated from the bad.
The growing season requires patience. Jesus spent time with people who were considered good and bad (religious elders and tax collectors). There were times when he was questioned about why he did so. Should not a respectable religious teacher only spend time with the pure and holy?
So we are gently warned not to judge others. They might look like tares, but could be wheat in the growing. They might present as good wheat, but at heart they are not. We are all intertwined. The judgement of God will take place at the end, but it will not be in our hands, as the servants of the God, but in the hands of the reapers, those appointed by God for the task.
The church is made up of all kinds of people. It always has been, and it always will be. Let us be wary of anyone who calls for purity within a community, or of deciding that we can decide who is righteous.
For now, let us continue simply to grow.
Patience will allow good growth to shine forth.
Patience will help difficult times to pass.
Patience will focus our hearts and minds on God.
So let us ask our Lord, to be with us and give us patient hearts in this time of waiting and longing, that we may learn to trust and hope in Jesus, our rock and our salvation. And may we be true to what we profess, ready to stand and give an account of our lives before Christ at the end of days. Amen.