Fellow Passengers: This week’s Primary Passage* (Matthew 13:24-43) transports me to another Palestinian peasant farm, where the Evil One decides to play practical joker (imagine it being a scene from a Cheech and Chong movie). The old mischief maker himself, Mephistophales, sneaks over farm fences to sow some weed right in the midst of a newly furrowed field of grain. This garden plot thickens as grass starts growing in the midst of wholesome wheat. What do you want us to do, boss? the field hands ask. Should we start pulling up the pot? The master gardener tells them no, that could do more harm than good; weeding could uproot some of the wheat. It will all shake down in due time. When harvest time comes, a joint effort between the Son of Man and his angel band burns all the weed; it’s enough to make Bob Marley wail. The scene ends with the harvesters munching out on some wheat thins.
Ok, maybe this is not exactly how the story goes. Here’s another practical joke story, though, from my family lore; it seems to apply to Jesus’ parable. My late Uncle Jim, when he first moved into his Oakley house back in the 50s or 60s, spent a lot of time getting the yard ready. He had dreams of a beautifully manicured lawn. He tilled and raked and got out all the rocks, broadcast his fescue seed, and covered it with straw. Late that night, after everybody had gone to sleep, Jim’s brother Crawford sneaked over to the house and spread a whole bag of turnip seeds across the yard. Jim didn’t find out about the prank until his green lawn turned edible. I don’t know what the payback involved, but the episode might explain why Jim always kept a lot of dogs around from then on.
But there is a point to Jesus’ story, beyond parody and practical jokes. In the garden of our lives and our communities, invasives grow right along with the good stuff. It’s not our job, though, to play Roundup and rid the world of the bad influences, to weed out the evil. We can leave that up to God. We don’t even tend the garden – we are the garden. Our job is to be wheat, to dig our roots down as deep as we can and reach toward the Son as high as we can, and to bear as much fruit as we can. Who knows, those neighbors that look for all the world like weeds to us might wind up bearing fruit as well. And as we stand there in our field, swaying in the Wind, we’ll be. . . jammin’ in the name of the Lord.
How about you? Where does this Primary Passage take you on your journey of faith? Feel free to comment.