In today’s Gospel, we continue Jesus discourse in parables directed to the large crowd gathered by the shore, which we began last week. Matthew places his discourse in parables at an important juncture in his Gospel. Jesus is being rejected by the Jewish leaders, who are already plotting to kill him, his new community is just being formed, and the inclination of the people as a whole is in the balance. Jesus delivers his parables to the crowd in a situation of conflict and increasing polarization.
After having delivered his parables, he dismissed the crowd and went back into the house. His disciples approach and ask him to explain to them the parable of the weeds.
Unlike the parable of the sower, which we heard last Sunday, in which there is one sowing and the seed is a symbol of the good and powerful word of God which generates believers, in the parable of the weeds there are two sowings, that of the good seed sown by the Son of Man, which are the children of the kingdom, and that sown by the devil, which are the children of the evil one.
Matthew doesn’t give any characteristics of the children of the kingdom except that thy are righteous, but it is easy enough to back over the text to draw a good picture: these are the ones who accept the lordship of Jesus over their lives; he is their only teacher, to whom they come for instruction. They have eyes to see and ears to hear. As we heard last week, they are the rich soil that hears the word and understands it, who indeed bear fruit and yield a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.
A constant question therefore for the Christian, and for us as monks is: “If I am to be counted among the good seed, how can I learn to see and hear better, that I may come to understanding, and therefore have the possibility to bear much fruit?”
For us monks the Lord as light of the world comes to us in the forms which he has given us, in which he has chosen to appear: Scripture, Liturgy, the Rule, the common life, the brothers, and so on. With these, Jesus calls us in turn to be lights of the world. We can choose to give them the vivid attention of an attentive artist and shape our monastic conversatio into a strong monastic life.
Photograph by Brother Brian. Excerpts from Father Timothy's homily for this Sunday's Eucharist.