July 23, 2017
Sixteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year A
The Kingdom of Heaven has a logic all its own, which does not correspond to the natural criteria of the old man. It is a logic which is always new for us, which is always rediscovered, that can only be given to us, and that is received again and again. Each time we are amazed and surprised, and, when we receive it, it makes us a bit more human, a bit more real, a bit more brothers to one another.
The parables of the Kingdom, which we find in the thirteenth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, are a summary of this wisdom. Today we read three of them: the wheat and the darnel (Mt 13:24-30) with its explanation (Mt 13:36-43), the seed that grows to become a tree (Mt 13:32) and the yeast in flour (Mt 13:33).
Speaking of the Kingdom of God, Jesus compares it first to a field where both good grain and darnel grow.
And this already surprises us: should not the Kingdom be the place where only the good, the righteous, and the perfect are found? This is the meaning of the questions that the servants are addressing to their master (Mt 13:27): why is there darnel, where does it comes from? Should not all that is Yours, that comes from You, be clean, right, and exempt from evil?
No, the owner of the field responds; and he seems to be the only one aware of the nightly work of the enemy, who sowed the darnel, and then left, without leaving a trace (Mt 13:25).
But He does not dwell at length on this question. Instead, He responds to the servants who would soon root out the weed that, in their view, seems to threaten the harvest.
But the master is not in a hurry.
First of all because He is not afraid of evil: He has already judged and conquered it, and knows that he has overcome it thoroughly. And since he’s not afraid, he’s not in a hurry.
The Cross is the place where evil has been conquered, and for those who are reborn from the Cross it’s no longer reasonable to be afraid of it.
The last judgment, then, is not now and is not here: time and history are not the place of the judgment, but the place of becoming, of possibility, of growth. History is the time of God’s patience, which is given to us because each one is entitled to a conversion to the good, a return to the Father.
God is not in a hurry, because He awaits everyone, and within this our history He introduces the only true power that saves everyone, both good and bad, which is a chance of conversion for everyone: one from evil, others from their fear of evil.
The judgment is not now, it is not here and, above all, it is not man’s concern: man, who lives in time, can only have a “transitional” judgment, who does not see the definitive plan of history, but only his daily snippet. And for this reason, he cannot know for sure what is actually bad and what is not: what seems to be wheat may eventually turn out to be darnel, and vice versa.
The Lord, however, truly knows the heart of every man, knows its intentions and manages its history with patience. And His patience is a grace for all: for the darnel, which has the potential, in growing, to prove to be wheat; but also for the grain, which in contact with darnel learns daily to have new standards, in receiving, in trusting, in rejoicing at the conversion of others, in desiring the good of all, in giving witness, in offering life. So also the wheat, next to the darnel, can become better grain, for it is within the adversity of life that each person has a chance to mature for good, to become a new person.
Accepting the idea that the darnel can exist – and perhaps be right here, next to us – actually creates fear, and this fear generates the temptation to eliminate the other. That we cannot do justice right away, that we cannot eliminate evil immediately, this is a outrage for us.
These parables talk about waiting. The farmer waits for the harvest, observing with disappointment that together with the grain the darnel also grows. The birds of the sky must wait for the seed to become a tree in order to take refuge among its leaves. The woman who is kneading must wait while the yeast mysteriously causes the dough to rise, and so on. Such is the Kingdom. For us, waiting is difficult. Like the workers of the parable, we want to put things in their place right away, to eradicate evil, the darnel, and to make justice triumph. Instead, we are told to wait.
The Lord invites us to remain within history as it is, with its contradictions and its burden of evil, and simply shift our gaze: if we will pay greater attention, without fear and without hesitation, we will discover that the Kingdom is already present within history, as it is.
It is hidden as a yeast in flour (Mt 13:33), and it’s as small as a mustard grain (Mt 13: 31-32); but if it really is there, it works the entire dough and can become a very welcoming space for those who need it.
All this, before even taking a look outward, must be a look at our own life: at the darnel that dwells within us, and which, mysteriously, is closely mixed with grace and good.
Original version in italian