Nothing is easy. To get somewhere it takes blood, sweat and tears. We don’t even see what we are working for. It is like being in the gym and try to get in shape. Getting in shape takes a lot of sweat, tears and groaning. But we keep the hope because if we don’t have hope, we cannot see what lays beyond hope. We might be groaning with all efforts that we take. We might be groaning with what we see around us in the world. Paul tells us that “the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains. It is not only about humankind, NO! It is about all creation that is affected with what we did and still do with the world. It is a good idea and more peaceful at times not to watch the news these days. It often takes away and reduces your hope. Though we should never let anything do that. We must keep the hope that is within us. Because if we don’t have hope, we cannot see what lays beyond hope. The hope that is the fruit of God or shall we say today: the wheat of God!
When we look at the Gospel it is all about that wheat. Last Sunday we hear about the seeds on the different kinds of soil. Today we hear about the Wheat and the Weeds. The Lord tells us that with the wheat there also comes up the weed. The two words look somewhat alike and definitely sound alike. And actually, that is for a good reason. Not only do the words look similar but Jesus tells us they are similar. In the time of Jesus, the Wheat and the Weeds looked alike. We should not understand it in modern way and for instance thing about the weeds among the grass or in between our flowers. That kinds of weeds are easily recognizable. But not so much the weeds that Jesus is talking about.
The Greek uses the words ‘Sitos’ which means wheat and grain. That seems logically and we know all what grain is. That is needed to produce our bread for instance.
When Jesus is talking about weeds however the Greek word ‘Zizanion’ or ‘Zizania’, which means ‘bearded darnels’, is used. This resembles wheat, it is a spurious wheat or darnel, which is a plant that grows in Palestine. In Latin it is called the Lolium temulentum. It resembles wheat in many ways, but it is kind of worthless. Darnel usually grows in the same production zones as wheat and this weed was troublesome for the farmer because it was hard to recognize. It was not until the coming of modern sorting machinery that it enabled farmers to separate the darnel from the wheat. The similarity between these two plants is so great that in some regions, darnel is referred to as "false wheat". It bears a close resemblance to wheat until the ear appears. Wheat will appear brown when ripe, whereas darnel is black. That is what Jesus is talking about. That is the reason the landowner leaves it there until the harvest. Would he do it earlier it would be hard to recognize the Wheat and the Weeds. But at the harvest you can recognize it because of the differences in color.
We can look at news and social media in the same way. It became a kind of darnel in our spiritual life. It obsesses those who deliver and those who consume the news. And anything that obsesses becomes an idol. We need to tear it out and discard it. All this comes to mind as we read today's lessons and try to learn from them. There is great comfort and hope in the lectionary of today. In the world we live in there is much confusion about right and wrong -- wheat and weeds -- great polarity between all kinds of groups. There are fundamentalists on all levels, who explain scripture as it fits them. It is not a good time for hope, for reason, for patience to allow both wheat and weeds to grow together. There are voices clamoring for the evil to be punished, destroyed immediately. We want the evil be punished, and so we justify war, and we justify violence. But God calls for patience. But as we are confused and fearful, we look at the scriptures for guidance. The writer of Wisdom sees the Creator as full of righteousness; this righteousness, he declares, leads God to mercy, not vengeance.
St. Paul recognizes the futility of trying to live by the law. But then, through the power the Holy Spirit St. Paul sees hope! We groan in labor pains, he says, until we are redeemed together with the whole of creation. The daily news, social media and other things take hope and joy away. It tries to convince us that about our own supremacy. That we are better than all the rest. It wants us to live in constant fear. That message is not from God but from his enemy who sows the weeds. He has sown the weeds of fear in our hearts. The enemy has made us forget that we belong to God almighty. Depending on human power will always fail. Trusting in God, in the hope of adoption as children of God, will save us. Scripture today gives us a hopeful message. It is not our job to pull out the weeds and bring vengeance to our enemies. "The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers," as Matthew tells us.
But we have to be realistic. We will continue to live together with those who don't trust in God's goodness. But as believers we are not meant to trust in human leadership or nations but in God only. So, let us put our trust in God. We will not be abandoned; we will not be left without hope. In the end God’s angels will collect the wheat and the weeds. So, let us not lose hope but keep the hope that is set before us. It is as St. Paul tells us in his letter to the Hebrews: “ We need to be looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God”. Amen