The webpage of the Youth Ministry of the Irish Province of Augustinians

Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A - 20th July 2014

The parable that we’ve just listened to is one of those where there is much more than meets the eye. The straightforward message is clear – the farmer, God, allows the wheat and the darnel to grow together knowing that they can be separated at harvest time. In other words, God never loses sight of the good and can always distinguish them from the bad. But that’s not all.

There is another element to this parable that is important and that may well escape us – it certainly escaped me until it was pointed out to me. Darnel and wheat are two plants that are identical to all intents and purposes. In fact, they are so alike, that even an expert has great difficulty in distinguishing between them. The difference between them only becomes evident when it is almost time to harvest them. This changes the straightforward message of the parable.

Once we know about the similarity between darnel and wheat we begin to see something very important about what this parable has to say to us about the relationship that God has with us. We all begin as basically the same. God looks at us all in the same way. Good or bad are not categories that God thinks of when he thinks of us. We are all the same to God’s eyes – we are the ones who think of ourselves as wheat or darnel or, more likely, we are the ones who think of each other as wheat or darnel.

Both the wheat and the darnel receive the same attention and care from the gardener right up until the time of harvesting. Each one of us is given the same opportunity, the same invitation, the same care – it’s up to us what direction our lives are going to take. We are not destined to be either wheat or darnel. We have some say in this. We have choices. And God continues to support us as we make those choices, even when they are not what we might call the best of choices. The bottom line, our bottom line, if you like, is the fruits we end up producing. And just like the mustard seed, just like the tiny bit of yeast that the woman puts in to the bake the bread, our fruits are not judged by how dramatic they are, nor how abundant.

When we put these three images together, as they appear in Matthew’s gospel, we see the following message – and this message comes through all the readings today that speak to us of second chances and of God strengthening our weakness - God creates us all equally; he cares for us all equally; he wants the same for us, equally; even though we might feel that we haven’t produced fruits that, in our opinion, don’t seem to be important, God doesn’t see things that way. God looks for any fruit that we have produced – any good that we have done – and that is what he rejoices in.

This parable is a reminder to us that God does not set out to judge us harshly. It is also a reminder to us that we are never in a position to judge each other harshly either.


Article posted on 18th of July 2014

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