The Goodness of God and the Need to Persevere.
Wisdom 12:13, 16-19, 2, Romans 8:26-27, Matthew 13:24-43.
After using the agricultural setting to drive home his point in the last readings of Sunday, Jesus continues to employ the same setting to teach the people the true meaning of the Kingdom of God and how to be a beneficiary of this kingdom.
The Kingdom of God is a place where God reigns. Jesus uses three parables at the same time; the wheat and tares, the mustard seed and the leavened bread to lay emphasis on the goodness of God or God’s love, mercy and patience and the need for us to have patience and perseverance to the end.
In this reflection, we have to take the points gradually in an exegetical style to drive home our points one by one.
The Goodness of God.
1. One of the qualities of God is goodness, God cannot but be good. This infers that everything that comes from Him must be good. God cannot be a source of evil.
The goodness of God is the reason we are still living despite our mistakes and ingratitude to God. If God should punish us for our iniquities, no one can stand.
The Goodness of God is the reason He allows many things to happen. it is not that He is powerless but He is giving us second chances and times to repent.
One thing we would like to notify in the gospel of today is that Jesus compared the Kingdom of God to the sower who sowed only good seed in his field.
The sower is not the source of evil. The goodness of God is shown in the way He does not want the good seeds to be uprooted. He also gives the bad seed a chance to repent.
2. In the first reading, the author of the book of Wisdom acknowledges that God cares for everything He created. In His goodness, He has not abandoned His creatures. God is just. He is mild in judgement and governs us with great lenience.
Our good God has sovereignty over all, yet He is lenient to all. In the gospel, the sower allowed the wheat and the darnel to grow together. He says “Let both grow until the time of harvest”. This is a sign of how merciful, loving and patient God is to us.
Our good God has been lenient, giving everybody the chance to repent and come back to Him. He is not quick in judgement. God is patient with our mistakes and weaknesses.
He continues to teach and direct us on how the virtuous man must be kind to his fellow men. In His goodness, He gives us good hope that despite our sinful pasts, He is ready to grant us repentance.
After creation in Genesis 1:31, God looked at all He created, and the Omniscient God proclaimed all Good. Evil comes in when there is a limitation of goodness in us. Jesus invariably uses the gospel, to let us understand that evil can never come from God. Everything that God gives the earth is good.
This infers that the evil man or woman still has the seed of goodness in him/her. In the gospel, Jesus uses this parable to explain the origin of evil and attributes the origin of evil to the devil.
The Parable by Jesus.
In the gospel, Jesus compares the kingdom of heaven to a man who sowed a good seed in his vineyard. Then, while everybody was already asleep, the man’s enemy came and sowed what looked like the wheat called darnels. He sowed this among the wheat and went away.
Now when the new wheat sprouted, the darnel appeared as well. The owner’s servants went to him and asked if they thought what the man sowed is only good seed, so where does the darnel come from?” The man affirmed that this must be the handwork of an enemy.
The servants asked if they could be allowed to go and weed it out But said “No. The man does not want them to make the mistake of pulling away the wheat with the darnel. He says “Let them both grow till the harvest”
At the time of harvest, the darnel should be tied in bundles and burnt, while the wheat should be gathered into His barn. Let us analyse this first.
When Everybody Was Asleep.
Sleeping is a moment of rest, a moment one becomes unaware of what happens to His surroundings. In the parable, it was at this time that the enemy came and sowed the weeds.
This can be attributed to the time we feel less concerned about our spiritual growth. This is the time we feel unaware of the good seeds God has planted in us and we begin to think bad and low of ourselves. The enemy now comes and fills this space with thoughts of evil, thoughts of jealousy, evil, negativity etc.
This also naturally explains that man by nature is good, but the evil around him today is the negative influences He has acquired over time through associations, books, social media, etc.
Gradually these negative influences build a strong root in him and begin to develop over time. Jesus tells His apostles in the garden of Gethsemane several times to get up and stop sleeping, and pray to conquer temptations.
1 Peter 5:8-9 advises the brethren to be alert because the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion seeking whom to devour. To conquer Him we have to stand up to Him. It is in the moments of our weakness that the devil creeps in, and unaware of his plans, he keeps us in bondage.
In His Goodness.
What the enemy sowed today as explained by Jesus is the darnel weeds which in Greek means zizania, which he sowed among the wheat.
Zizania in its early stages resembles wheat, which hereby makes it very difficult to differentiate.
As they grow, they sometimes become difficult to separate because the roots of the darnel and wheat intertwine, making it almost impossible to separate.
Any attempt to pull the darnel will also pull the wheat. So, God gives them time to develop until the end of time. Points to drive home from here are:
1. Evil continues to exist among us and sometimes those people who perpetrate this evil look like wheat in appearance but darnel at heart, they appear good but wolves in sheep’s clothing.
Many are green snakes in green grasses, they appear friendly but evil at heart. They sometimes come with smiles but are full of jealousy, wickedness and hatred. But despite anything, the parable still indicates that nothing lasts forever. One day the truth will be laid bare.
2. Secondly, God cares for the wheat, he does not want the wheat to be pulled away on time with the weeds. He cares for the righteous and still gives the darnel time and patience to repent.
He allows the darnel and the wheat to eat from the same field and soil until harvest time. In His goodness, God allows the coexistence of evil and good.
He sends rain and sun to both the just and unjust (Matthew 5:45). So, what we are is nothing if not for the grace of God. Everything becomes clear to us only on the last day.
3. Thirdly, The darnel growing with the wheat also indicates that it will not be easy for the wheat because the darnel will provide stiff competition and challenges to the wheat to survive in the same field. This explains why good people also suffer. It is not that God has forgotten them, but their existence in the world means continual battle with challenges and evil in the world.
The only way to conquer is to remain strong and persevere for there is always light in the tunnel.
In Our Weaknesses.
What God wants from us is patience and perseverance. In our weaknesses, He never ceases to come to our help. In the second reading, Saint Paul affirms this when HE says that the Spirit comes to help us in our weakness.
The gospel makes us understand that God allowed the good and the bad to grow at the same time. Therefore, this indicates that life itself is not free from challenges and troubles.
We are not immune from the troubles and wickedness of this world. In Matthew 10:16, Jesus told his disciples plainly that He is sending them like Sheep among wolves.
Just as the wheat will not find easy growing among the darnel, we are not going to find it easy growing along evil and greedy people, evil politicians, and wicked people in the high places.
We are not going to find it easy in a world filled with challenges, hence in the Second reading, Paul affirms that our good God will not abandon us. His Spirit will be our helper. He will help us with our challenges and weaknesses.
A few days before Jesus was crucified, He promised them that he was not going to leave them all alone. Instead, he promised to send the Holy Spirit to be with them permanently as their Helper. In times of trouble, He will be with us.
When we cannot choose words in order to pray properly, the Spirit himself expresses our plea in a way that could never be put into words, and God who knows everything in our hearts knows perfectly well what he means. He will make our prayer effective.
Therefore, in times of weakness, the goodness of God abounds. What we need to do is to persevere to the end.
Evil Does Not Last.
In the gospel, when the servants ask the master if he can allow them to go and weed the darnel out, He says
“No, because when you weed out the darnel you might pull up the wheat with it. Let them both grow till the harvest; and at harvest time I shall say to the reapers: First collect the darnel and tie it in bundles to be burnt, then gather the wheat into my barn.”’
Therefore, this shows that the evil happening and continues to happen does not in any way show that God does not exist or that God abandoned us. It does not also indicate that God keeps a blind eye to whatever is happening to us.
Rather, this shows that God knows everything that is happening and will always intervene at His appointed time. With this parable, Jesus reveals that every form of evil has its own expiry date. Evil does not last and neither does evil win over the good.
The goodness of God supersedes.
Therefore, no matter what is happening around you or what is happening to you, always know that no condition is permanent.
Humble Beginnings and Harvest.
In the gospel, Jesus puts another parable. He compares the kingdom of heaven to a mustard seed which a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the biggest shrub of all and becomes a tree so that the birds of the air come and shelter in its branches.’
He compares again the kingdom of heaven as the yeast a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour till it was leavened all through.’
1. In these parables, as we see in the nature of the mustard seed and the leavened bread, everything starts small and then develops over time both good and bad.
God allows wheat and weed to develop over time. Since man was created good, God in his patience allows Him to come back to what He naturally is; someone created in the image of God, if he errs. The only way to damnation is persistence in the face of evil.
Whatever we want to be in this world or what we want to become starts gradually. You would not know when a powerful, positive or even negative transformation has occurred to you.
2. The three parables simply project that everything starts like a seed that must be sowed and then develops. The seed has been sowed already, all we need to do is to water it and make it grow. Therefore, we must sow the seed first to reap the harvest. Whatever we want to be or see in our life, we have to begin it.
We have to start sowing the seed. Whatever we spend our time now nurturing will one day develop into something great.
3. Despite how humble the beginning may be, the future may germinate into something greater.
What we need in life is the field or the yeast which can be likened to the grace of God, God’s provision, the word of God, etc to water and nurture the seed in us.
Then we have to remain patient, work hard and persevere despite the challenges. Like the three parables, there is always a time for harvest.
1. In the wheat and weeds, Harvest time is done by the angels of God and not men. God knows anyone who is struggling today to live a good life.
When you are struggling to be good, do not think God has despised you or is keeping silent and allowing us to suffer, but be patient and persevere, always knowing that God’s eye is always on the righteous (Psalm 34:15).
He can never forsake the righteous( Psalm 37:28). Always know that your goodness will never be in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58).
David says “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow us. The Goodness of God will always abide us. What we have to do is to keep working, praying and persevering.
2. Naturally, we have the seed of greatness and the seed of goodness of God in us, etc because we are created in His image.
What we need is to nurture this seed and allow it to grow and mature over time. Doing this does not mean it will be easy. We will always face challenges, persecution, and competition from the weeds, but perseverance and patience are the keys to remaining to the end.
3. What we can conclude from today’s episode is that despite how long evil persists (like the weeds), despite how challenging it may be, and despite how evil will hide, there is always an end to everything.
From the three parables, there is always a time of reckoning, a time of judgement, and a time of harvest.
4. Today’s parables also confirm that there is an ongoing spiritual warfare between good and evil, it illustrates the strategies of the enemy and he continues to frustrate God’s plan for His people.
He continues to reveal how the enemy continues to plant the seed of deception, destruction, hatred and attack against the people of God and the church and seeks to hinder the growth of God’s kingdom. It also teaches us how we have to be careful when good things are coming to us. The devil will seek every avenue to pull us down.
All the same, the parable also shows that in everything both good and bad, the power of God will overcome and in the end, the devil and His agents will be crushed totally.
4b. Sometimes, many who are evil think that they are winning through their power and influence.
Some have challenged God and said lots of things against Jesus Christ. Many seem to come and challenge God.
In everything they are doing, it is as if God is keeping quiet on them. Many Christians now are tempted to think if God is truly alive.
The true point here is that the way of God is different from our own ways. That God seems to be silent does not actually mean that He is powerless. The Goodness of God is what is still keeping these people.
God still loves them and wants them to repent. When they persevere in their evil, in the last hour, they will come to understand how they have wasted their years without Jesus. in the goodness of God, He allows everybody to enjoy His provisions, until the time when the wheat will be separated from the darnel.
5. Finally, Despite how strong and mighty we think we are in this world, let us not forget that our end is certain and everything we think we possess will vanish into the thin air.
Despite how strong evil today becomes, evil can never conquer good, it can only exist in the world and probably think everything is in its power, not knowing it is enjoying God’s benevolence but at last, Goodness will still have the victory. So stay inspired, be faithful, and remain blessed, there is always light at the end of the tunnel.
Happy Sunday and God Bless you