These last few weeks, the Gospel Lectionary texts have been some great parables Jesus teaches in the Gospel of Matthew. We had the Parable of the Sower last week. This week is the Parable of Weeds among the Wheat. Next week is the Parable of the Mustard Seed. And then we’ll go on from there in the Gospel of Matthew—the Feeding of the Five Thousand, Jesus Walks on Water, and so on. Just read Matthew Chapters 13 and 14 if you’d like to read ahead or catch up!
Now from a historical perspective, we know without a doubt that Jesus taught in parables. Jesus’ lessons have lasted the test of time as they still make us think! And even if they seem simple upon first hearing them, we find that they reveal important lessons about life. As I said on Sunday, keep in mind this great definition of parables from New Testament Professor Arland Hultgren: “a parable is a figure of speech in which a comparison is made between God’s kingdom, actions, or expectations and something in this world, real or imagined.” To compare a concept like the Kingdom of God/The Kingdom of Heaven to a real world object or event is absolutely genius!
With all these parables focusing on the natural world, I’ve been especially trying to pay attention to growing things around me. It dawned on me to phone a friend (in the form of my father) to ask him specifics about his family farm outside Wooster, Ohio growing up as I contemplated the Parable of the Sower last week. What makes soil good in the first place I wondered? Dad would know!
This week, I paid attention to a “weeds growing among the wheat” situation in my own backyard. There’s this small place in the backyard of the parsonage where I’ve noticed lovely flowers and ferns—pretty sure there’s weeds in there too. I’ve just let them be because even though I find my dog Fritz in the middle of these “weeds and wheat”, he hasn’t attempted to dig there in a while. I’ve wondered what makes him not dig to his heart’s content in this patch now. Maybe it’s just too hot and I’m overthinking this? Maybe he somehow respects that these are living plants and knows he shouldn’t mess with them, even if some are not so attractive weeds? Who knows! But this interesting patch of plants and how Fritz has been with them of late has made me notice and contemplate. Weeds do get in among the “wheat,” isn’t that just how life goes?
Living a good life is about paying attention after all. That’s part of how we preachers come up with something to say week in and week out. We follow the good advice of my favorite poet Mary Oliver: “Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.” That’s what we can all keep doing, as Jesus sure has a lot more to teach us with these parables.
 Arland J. Hultgren, The Parables of Jesus: A Commentary.
(This Week’s Thoughts 7.21.17)