Weeds Among the Wheat - God's Infinite Mercy

by Fr. Tommy Lane

Lord, it irritates us in that Parable of the Wheat and the Darnel or the Wheat and the Weeds that the darnel or weed had to be let grow until the wheat ripened. It was a dreadful waste. I know it was a parable and did not really happen, but even in the parable could it not happen differently?

My child, you know that parables are to teach you a lesson and the lesson is about life. You are quite right in saying that it irritates you to let the darnel grow with the wheat but the darnel and the wheat represent different types of people. It doesn’t matter to me really what way you decide to grow and harvest wheat. What does matter to me is how you treat other people. That parable about the weeds in the wheat is a lesson from me on how you should treat other people.

I did not know it was a lesson on how to treat other people. From what I could see, Lord, when you gave that parable you were teaching that at the end of time those who did not live good lives will be punished.

There is a judgment awaiting everyone when they die and while some people may see that warning in the parable what I really wanted to do in that parable was to advise good people.

Lord, if you don’t mind me saying so, that is mighty strange. You admit that there is a warning to scoundrels in the parable about judgment so what is the parable saying to good people?

Those good people that you mention, who do they want to be like? Who is their model for living?

Lord, you know that we want to do only what pleases God, and when you were on earth during the three years of your public ministry you revealed to us what pleases your Father and what pleases you.

Right, and in this parable I revealed more about what pleases God, in particular, about how you are to relate to others. You said it irritates you that the weeds are allowed to grow in the midst of the wheat. But when you see both the wheat and the weeds as people, understand that I was teaching that God wishes you to be patient with sinners.

You mean that those who are trying to follow your ways should be patient with those who are not trying to follow your ways.

Precisely. In other words, in that parable I am asking those who are following my ways not to judge those who are not following my ways.

Lord as we look around us and see all the crime and sin in the world it is difficult not to pass comment.

There is nothing wrong in naming both sin and grace. What I am asking for in this parable is an attitude of mercy towards those who are not yet following my ways. Did you notice that I said, ‘those who are not YET following my ways?’

Yes, they may become committed followers of yours in the future.

Indeed. The farmer in the parable did not want the darnel pulled up because when it is a young plant it looks just like wheat and some wheat could be lost by trying to root out the darnel. It is the same in life.

That makes sense, there is no one without sin in their past, or as we say, without a skeleton in their closet.

Yes, I could put it another way, as you say yourselves, you may have sown a little wild oats in your youth.

Careful now Lord. This is a public conversation.

So you get the drift. God is always open to a sinner repenting. God never closes the door to anyone. People may close the door to God but God never closes the door. My Father and I are all-merciful.

Thank you, Lord. That reminds me of the time when they were going to stone the adulterous woman outside the town but you intervened and said, “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.”

Yes, leave judgment to God. I want you to have an attitude of mercy towards others just as my Father and I do. The world may say ‘Pull up the darnel.” But my Father and I say, “Let the darnel and wheat grow together until judgment.”

That reminds me also of the Parable of the Prodigal Son. The Father was waiting for the prodigal son to return.

Yes, but the really sad part in that parable was the elder son who refused to go in to the party for his younger brother because of his brother’s past. Today’s Parable of the Weeds and the Wheat reminds you not to be like the elder brother but to have an attitude of mercy like the Father in the Parable of the Prodigal Son.

When I look at the parable like that I can see now why the farmer in the parable allowed the darnel to grow at the same time as the wheat

I am delighted to see that the parable makes a lot more sense to you now. The parable is teaching about the Church. The Church is not to be just a club for saints but a hospital for sinners. (I have seen the latter attributed to a number of authors so I am not sure who is the author.)

Do you know Lord, I think that is the first time I have heard the Church described like that? It is a most beautiful description. The Church is not a club for saints but is a hospital for sinners.

Yes. And I would like to remind you of what Paul wrote in Romans 5:21, “however much sin increased, grace was always greater.”

That is so consoling to us Lord. It reminds me of the end of our first reading today (Wis 12:19),
“you have taught a lesson to your people
how the virtuous man must be kindly to his fellow man,   
and you have given your sons the good hope
that after sin you will grant repentance.”

I want you to remember that as long as there is one sinner I am still hanging on the cross offering my life to the Father for that person.

Lord that is also most beautiful. That is also the first time I have heard that. Lord, I am beginning to think that our problem is that we have absolutely no idea of your mercy. We think in a human way, we have boundaries and limits but you are without limits in your forgiveness.

Excellent, and in the Parable of the Weeds and the Wheat I am asking you not to judge, leave that to God. I am asking you to be merciful as my Father and I are merciful.

That reminds me of the prayer you taught us, “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

Remember God is love and God never gives up on anyone. God never closes the door on anyone but is always patient with sinners, hoping that they will repent.

Lord thank you for the Parable of the Wheat and the Darnel. It reflects beautifully the mercy at the heart of God.

I will conclude with the words that struck you most. The Church is not a club for saints but a hospital for sinners. As long as there is one sinner I am still hanging on the cross offering my life to the Father for that person.

Thank you again Lord for your infinite mercy. Amen.

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