July 19, 2020
XVI Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A
There is an element that occurs in all three parables that we hear in the passage of today’s Gospel (Mt. 13:24-43), and it is the time.
A man sowed good seed in a field, but someone, secretly, also plants darnel. When both germinate, the master’s servants want to pluck up the darnel immediately, but the master asks them to wait as both must grow because, when they are small, they are similar and there is a risk of confusing one with the other. Not until the end will one know to distinguish them clearly, and then one can pick the grain and eliminate the darnel. It takes time.
A man takes a mustard seed and sows it in his field. In the beginning, this seed is tiny, the smallest of all the seeds. But then, day after day, the seed grows, becomes a large tree, bigger than all the other plants of the garden, and the birds can make their nests among its branches (Mt 13:31-32). Like the preceding parable, it takes time.
Finally, Jesus tells a third parable, that of a woman who, to make bread, takes leaven and kneads it with flour, and the yeast, slowly, makes the entire dough ferment (Mt 13:33). Here too, it takes time.
It takes time to become what we are, to bear those fruits for which we came into the world. Wheat needs time to be recognized as wheat, not to be confused with anything else. It is already present in the ground, but there is more, and only time will tell what brings good fruit, and what does not.
The mustard seed has already in itself all the potential to become a tree, but this is not enough: the potential of the grain, if it does not patiently accept the law of growth, is lost. And so also the yeast.
Last Sunday, in the parable that begins the thirteenth chapter of Matthew, we heard the account of the sower, and the types of ground, and also there we find the same logic: the seed that does not go deep but expects to bear fruit immediately, does not mature.
So, we have time to receive fully the gift that has already been given us in fullness.
God is not in a hurry, and time is the mystery of His patience and mercy, which awaits times of our growth, and waits so that we bear fruit.
Like the servants of the parable of the darnel, who pretend to know how to discern what is right from what is wrong, it is we, instead, who are impatient. But the Lord warns that this method is a little hardline: if we were to do that, in the end, nothing would remain, neither wheat nor darnel. None of us should be saved…
Then, there will come a time when there will be no more time: in the explanation of the parable of the darnel (Mt 13:37-43), Jesus dwells on the time of harvesting, on the time of the end.
There we will see what has matured in the life of people, what fruits were born in them, what comes from God, and what does not. There will be no longer the possibility of doubt because what comes from God “will shine like the sun” (Mt 13:43), while all the rest will be lost, nothing will remain, like the weed that burns in the fire (Mt 13:40).
The fruit we are all called to bear is charity birthed from listening to the Word of the Lord. It does not grow instantly. Whoever has the patience to die, like the grain of wheat, and whoever receives daily life from God, produces good fruit, ultimately.