Listening to Jesus

Listening to Jesus!

Genesis 28:10-19a 
Psalm 139:1-12, 23-24
Romans 8:12-25 
Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. Romans 8: 14

Tena koutou katoa e te whanau o Te Wairua Tapu.

Well whanau, another week has gone and so has all the challenges we have faced. Work at the church is coming along and I’m amazed at how much is getting achieved. Scaffold coming down and more is going up, walls are getting rendered, the new kitchen is almost complete and the rubbish pile is growing.  Every time you think you’ve got all the rubbish, more seems to show up! So I’m glad we can all pause and take time to recharge our wairua, hinengaro and tinana so we are better prepared for the week ahead. But always stay alert and awake whanau! 

So here’s the question for today. Where did those weeds come from in our gospel? Nothing like getting right into it. I’m sure many of you have asked that question or at least thought about it. Why? Because the questions that face us are, “How did our world end up where it is today? How did we get to this point?” We are facing life altering situations on a daily, if not, on an hourly bases. The world we knew is dying and the one we live in today is going crazy. Perhaps your life’s circumstances have left you asking yourself, “How did my life get like this?” And, we want to know “Why, if God is good and loving, has all this happened?”

You see, we often live with the assumption that if we do good, work hard, and be nice everything should work out as we want. That’s the illusion with which the slaves in today’s parable lived. “Master,” they ask the farmer, “did you not sow good seed in your field?” Of course he did. That’s why they were surprised when they found the weeds. The weeds smashed their illusion and this wasn’t supposed to happen. “Where did the weeds come from?” They wanted to know what happened and who was responsible. So do we. That’s what we want to know when we discover trouble in our fields, in our space and in our lives. We want an explanation and of course, someone we can blame, hold accountable, and even punish. We see that in all political stoushes, especially those we are involved with, on our social media posts and in our own privately held opinions. 

However, Jesus is less interested in this approach than we are. He doesn’t give it much time or attention. “An enemy has done this,” he says. That’s it. He doesn’t explain it. He doesn’t identify or name the enemy. He doesn’t give any instructions to find, drive out or punish this enemy. Behind our desire for an explanation and to find out the name of the culprit is a truth many of us neither like nor want to accept. It’s one of the challenges of today’s gospel and, like I’ve consistently told you, the gospel always challenges the way we think, see, act, and live. It’s the challenge to become more than who we think we are. It’s a challenge that arises every time we face the weeds or troubles of our life and the world.

According to Jesus, the reality is that our lives and our world are a field in which good and evil, life and death, joys and sorrows, that which we want and that which we don’t want grow and live side by side. The wheat and the weeds stand together in our world and in each of our lives. That, Jesus says, is what the kingdom of heaven is like. That’s good news for us. It means that despite the weeds in and around us the kingdom is still here. The weeds don’t overcome or make absent God’s kingdom. It may not be the fullness of the kingdom but it’s still the kingdom. So what do we do about the weeds? Nothing according to Jesus. “Let them grow together until the harvest”. But that makes no sense. The weeds are bad and the wheat is good. We gotta do something. We need to take a stand, draw a line in the sand, establish some boundaries.

“Don’t you want us to pull up the weeds,” the slaves ask their master. “No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them.” The parable speaks of a particular weed that grows with the wheat. It looks like wheat but it’s a false wheat. It’s roots intertwine with the roots of the real wheat. The difference between the two is not easy to identify. So the separation between the wheat and the weeds is not as clearcut or black and white as social media, the news, our politicians or our personal opinions would often have us believe. And besides, we aren’t the ones to make that judgment. We’re not the ones called to rip out those we see as weeds. And I know we can be so driven to do so but Jesus is clear about that. Don’t do it.

“Let them grow together until the harvest,” he says. Jesus shows more interest in growth than extermination. He is willing to wait and to be patient. If we are his followers we too will need to wait and be patient amongst the weeds of our life. While we patiently wait let’s not get too excited about the end of this parable. Let’s not celebrate the end of the age and the coming of Jesus as some divine weed exterminator. I don’t think Jesus intended this parable to be taken literally, but, rather, with absolute seriousness.

So do we do nothing? Just sit and wait? No, that’s not what Jesus is saying. There is plenty to do and it will be a challenge. The words that are translated as “let them” in Jesus’ statement, “Let them grow…” can also be translated as forgive them. It’s the same words Jesus spoke from the cross in St. Luke’s account of the gospel when he says, “Father, forgive them” (Luke 23:34). Even then, even on the cross, Jesus is unwilling to pull out the weeds. There’s no place in the gospel for Christian vigilantes, by word or by action, against another or against ourselves. And I know this from personal experience but Jesus commands love. Love your enemy. Love your neighbour. Love yourself and Love God. Forgive the weeds? Love the weeds? Remember, I told you the gospel is always a challenge. So, yes, forgive them. Love them. Maybe that’s how the wheat begins to disentangle its roots from the weeds and show itself to be wheat and not weeds. Maybe love and forgiveness is what life is like in the mixed field of God’s kingdom and this world. Have a great week whanau. Amen.

Archdeacon Kaio Karipa

God of all wisdom; yeast, mustard and weeds with such as these Christ taught your ways. Grant us wisdom to teach with the common things of life that none may elude your call. Through Jesus Christ our Liberator, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen 

The Venerable Kaio Karipa
Sydney Maori Anglican Fellowship Church of Te Wairua Tapu