One of the interesting things of the last few months is that people have developed an interest in baking and bread-making. It never ceases to amaze me that such a small amount of yeast is able to leaven such a large quantity of flour, making the bread light, fluffy, and much more pleasant to eat. It is an image used by Jesus in this morning’s Gospel to describe the kingdom of heaven. Christians are to be like yeast, something small which can have a great effect, something remarkable, something good. It’s a challenge, and that is the point. The conditions need to be right for the yeast to work, but the effect is tremendous. Likewise a mustard seed, while only the size of the head of a pin can, in the Middle East, grow into a six-foot shrub in a year. The growth is remarkable. Such an illustration should give us hope, that God always has good things in store for us, if we trust in Him.
The main parable Jesus uses to teach about the Kingdom is that of the Wheat and the Tares, the Good and the Bad. Rather than getting rid of the weeds and damaging the crop, both are left until the harvest.
It is very tempting to want God to act immediately, and especially when WE want God to act. Thankfully God’s plan is a bit more long-term. We need to wait. Waiting isn’t much fun. The world around us tells that we can have what we want when we want it. Thankfully, our experiences over the last few months have shown us that this is not always the case, and that is a good thing. In the parable we see that God is patient and compassionate. God loves us, and His ways are not our ways, nor His thoughts like ours. Rather than making God be more like us, we have to try to be more like God: loving and patient. As humans we will make mistakes, which call us to seek forgiveness and reconciliation, so that we can continue to grow in holiness. It takes time. There isn’t a magic wand which can be waved to make instant holy Christians. By God’s grace it is the work of a lifetime. I know that I’m not there yet. I’m still very much a work in progress. And that is ok. The message of the parable is that God is patient, and that we need to be so as well. It is difficult, but if nothing else our experience of the last few months has taught us that patience is a good thing, and that we will need to continue to be patient, with each other and ourselves, as we try to live our lives and to continue to make the kingdom a reality here and now.
We help to make it a reality by proclaiming that Jesus comes to save us from Sin, Death, and Hell. He does this first by proclaiming the Good News of the Kingdom and secondly by dying for us on the Cross, bearing the burden of our sins, and overcoming the power of death and Hell, and rising again to New Life. The Church preaches Christ Crucified, and offers salvation in and through Christ alone. Sins can be forgiven, and new life offered to all.
Let us pause for a moment to consider something important. In the Gospel, the time for the separation of wheat and weeds is not yet. There is still time, time for repentance, time to turn away from Sin, and to turn to Christ. The proclamation of the Kingdom is one which calls people to repent, and to believe. It calls us to have a change of heart, and to turn away from the ways of the world, the ways of selfishness, which alienate us from God and each other. It is not merely an event, but rather a process, a continual turning towards Christ, and reliance upon His love and mercy, a turning to Him in prayer, being nourished and transformed by our reading of the Bible, and being nourished with the Sacrament of His Body and Blood.
The good news is that we are not simply condemned, and we, all of us, have time to make sure that we are wheat and not weeds. Ours is a generous and a loving God, who longs to see His people reconciled, healed, and redeemed. The fact that the wheat and the weeds can grow together until the harvest is done for the sake of the wheat, lest it be pulled up by accident. Ours then is a patient God, who provides us with the opportunity for repentance, time to turn our lives around and follow him. And the Church, just like the world is made up of people good and bad. We are on various stages of a journey, and we are given all the chances possible to rely on God’s transforming grace in our lives.
It is a hopeful message, a message of healing and reconciliation, that God does not simply give up on us, but rather does all he can to make sure that we are wheat and not weeds. It is the wonder of the Cross, that God sends his Son out of love for humanity, of you and me, to suffer and die for us, to show us the depth of God’s love, That He rises from the tomb so show us that death is not the end, to give us hope. It is the best news there is. And we are told about it now, so that we can do something about it, and we can tell other people too. We can share the message so that others can hear, and repent, and believe, and live new lives in Christ, freed from slavery to sin. So that all the world may believe and give glory to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, to whom be ascribed as is most right and just, all might, majesty, glory, dominion, and power, now and forever. Amen.