The Gospel According to Matthew – 2017.07.23
Parse the Gospel
Bear in mind that the Gospels were written long after Jesus dies. Matthews Gospel was compiled by a community of believers between 80 and 100 years after his death.
It is often the case that you can see two threads in the Gospel:
The teaching of Jesus as remembered by the community, and the community’s interpretation of that teaching, one that they believe promotes their interests.
These threads are often out of synch with other.
One of the tells that you are moving from Jesus’ view to the view of the church is when the gospels report that Jesus is deliberate in his use of mysterious messaging, as if he is hiding something from the people, and passing on the secret meaning of his teaching to his disciples only.
This is when the church puts its own interests above the teaching of Jesus, and this is where they begin to lead people astray, substituting simple wisdom for fantastical stories about angels, and the evil one and the end of time.
Reject that messaging and focus instead on the way, which is loving and patient and kind.
Plant the smallest of seeds and wait, it will grow into a mighty tree.
Allow the yeast to leaven the dough, it will leave no part of the bread untouched.
Let the weeds grow until the harvest. The wheat will go to the granary, the weeds will go to the fire, and remember, in the scriptures fire is an image representing our encounter with God, the creator of the universe, God who is just and loving, and good.
Let them both grow till the harvest
Jesus put another parable before the crowds: ‘The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. While everybody was asleep his enemy came, sowed darnel all among the wheat, and made off. When the new wheat sprouted and ripened, the darnel appeared as well. The owner’s servants went to him and said, “Sir, was it not good seed that you sowed in your field? If so, where does the darnel come from?” “Some enemy has done this” he answered. And the servants said, “Do you want us to go and weed it out?” But he said, “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.”’
He put another parable before them: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like 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 told them another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like the yeast a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour till it was leavened all through.’
In all this Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables; indeed, he would never speak to them except in parables. This was to fulfil the prophecy:
I will speak to you in parables
and expound things hidden since the foundation of the world.
Then, leaving the crowds, he went to the house; and his disciples came to him and said, ‘Explain the parable about the darnel in the field to us.’ He said in reply, ‘The sower of the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world; the good seed is the subjects of the kingdom; the darnel, the subjects of the evil one; the enemy who sowed them, the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; the reapers are the angels. Well then, just as the darnel is gathered up and burnt in the fire, so it will be at the end of time. The Son of Man will send his angels and they will gather out of his kingdom all things that provoke offences and all who do evil, and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth. Then the virtuous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Listen, anyone who has ears!’
16th Sunday in Ordinary Time