Jesus 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.”
He put before them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.” He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.” Jesus told the crowds all these things in parables; without a parable he told them nothing. This was to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet: “I will open my mouth to speak in parables; I will proclaim what has been hidden from the foundation of the world.” 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 ar 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!”
Following last Sunday’s parables, this Sunday we continue to listen to parables told by Jesus. The structure of the Gospel can be divided into the following parts:
1. The parable about the wheat and the weeds (verse 24 to 30);
2. The explanation of the parable of the wheat and weeds (verse 36 to 43);
3. The parable about a mustard seed (verses 31 and 32);
4. The parable about yeast (verse 33); and
5. Summary about parables (verses 34 and 35).
However, we should note that the sequence of the parables told by Jesus is in the Gospel is first the parable about the wheat and the weeds, followed by the parable of a mustard seed, which is then followed by the parable of yeast. After the parable of the yeast, Jesus gave a summary of parables before he explained to his disciples about the parable of the wheat and weeds.
What is so special about the chronological order of the telling of the parables? There is a message behind this sequence.
At the beginning of the Gospel, Jesus makes very clear that “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field.” That is God sows good seeds in this world. We may recall in the Book of Genesis that after the six days Creation, God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good (Genesis 1:31).
However, Jesus continues, when everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away. Note the word “everybody”. It means everyone is asleep. Being human, we all have our own weakness and disordered attachments. The word “asleep” refers to our confusion, not knowing what to do as what Joseph did when he did not know what to do with Mary when learning that she was pregnant.
Although the servant in the parable asked the master to get rid of the weeds, the master told him to wait until harvest. In this parable, Jesus implies the mercifulness of God, who do not want to punish us because what we do we don’t understand. God gives us the chance to repent. On the other hand, this parable also reminds us that it is only God who can judge.
The parable of a mustard seed is about Jesus. When some Greeks wished to see Jesus after his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, he replied: “Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit (John 12:24).” It is the prophecy of his passion, death and resurrection. The parable of the yeast is about his community, the disciples. They will also follow him to taking part in the world and being the Good News to all. The two small parables are the vine and branches told by Jesus in the Gospel according to John the Evangelist.
The summary of the parables in verses 34 and 35 was to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet: “I will open my mouth to speak in parables; I will proclaim what has been hidden from the foundation of the world.” Finally, Jesus explains the parable of the wheat and the weeds in verses 36 to 43.
From the chronological order of Jesus’ telling of the parables, we can see that he is revealing God’s salvation plan to his audience. We pray for God’s grace to enlighten us to see His salvation plan in each of our own life through today’s Gospel. Amen.