Summary: Proper 11 (A). Christ is patient and merciful to all. We are reassured of His victory over evil, now and in the world to come.
“The Good Gardener”
May the words of my mouth, and the meditations of our hearts, be acceptable in Thy sight,
O Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer. Amen.
Here it is, mid-July. The flowers, the crops, the vegetables, all are growing. But in the flower beds and the fields, the weeds are growing, too. The farmer zaps those weeds with Round-Up, or some other herbicide. The gardener pulls the weeds away from the flowers, and hoes them out of the tomatoes and vegetables. In the Gospel for today Jesus tells a story, a story about a garden. From this story we learn that Jesus is not only our Good Shepherd, but that He is the Good Gardener.
This garden parable is the second of three agricultural parables. Last Sunday we heard the parable of the sower and the four soils. Now Jesus is speaking of the wheat and the weeds. The third is the one about the mustard seed. All of these are kingdom parables, that is – they start with the phrase, “the kingdom of heaven is like …. “ So the purpose of the parable is to tell us something about God’s kingdom.
Knowing about the kingdom of heaven – that is, the kingdom or reign of God - is helpful to you and to me. As baptized Christians we live in the kingdom of heaven, for we live under the reign of God. Yes, we are still living in this world, but we are no longer part of this world’s kingdom. Christ has redeemed you. You and I live in His kingdom. So it is that we pray, “Thy kingdom come,” that the kingdom of God may come among us also. (Sm. Catechism, Second Petition explanation)
We can be sure of the meaning of this parable. We do not have to guess, speculate, or puzzle it out. Jesus Himself tells gives us the explanation in verses 36 to 43. What does He tell us? First, the soil, the garden as it were, in this parable is this world. Last week, the parable had four kinds of soil. That is not in this parable, so we must be careful not to mix them up. This story has one soil, the garden of this world.
In this garden there are two plants. There is the wheat. It grows from the good seed planted in the garden by Jesus. The wheat are the sons and daughters of the kingdom of God. The wheat is you, and it is me. There are also other plants in this garden – the weeds.
The weeds are the sons of evil, and they are sown into the garden by the enemy. They are not put into the garden by God, for God is not the source or cause of evil.
The servants of the gardener, the angels, see the weeds growing in the garden. The angels know that the weeds should not be with the wheat. They also know that the weeds can make it difficult for the wheat to live and to grow.
You and I know that, too. Evil makes life difficult for us in this world. Difficult is hardly the word to explain it. It is only a beginning. Just as weeds are domineering, prickly, and invasive, the evil around us is domineering, prickly, and invasive.
The evil of the world is constantly bumping up against us. We feel the pain from its pricks and thorns. We wonder, “Why, Lord, don’t you do something, and get those weeds outta here. That’s what a gardener ought to do, you know.” But Christ is more than a gardener. He is a master gardener, The Good Gardener.
He knows that the weeds are hurting the wheat. Christ knows that sting of the thistles in your lives. He knows the pain of loss. The loss of health, the loss of job, the loss of your loved ones.
Christ also knows how the weeds are domineering. He knows how the evil of this world doesn’t just grow in its own patch, in its own space in the garden, with the weeds over there, and us over here. No, the weeds are mixed in with the wheat, and the evil of this world surrounds us. Evil is continuously trying to overtake our lives. It is not content to do its own thing. Evil wants us to do its thing.
“Don’t pray,” Evil demands. “You might offend someone and it certainly offends me.”
“Come to the Lake on Sunday,” the weeds invite. “It’s the best time, and you want to be seen there by the boss.”
“Do it my way. I’m the way of the world.”
The weeds are invasive, too. They spread and grow, filling every nook and cranny of the garden. Those weeds – and evil – are so tenacious, they grows in spots where it seems impossible for anything to grow.