Note: At my parish this summer, we’re dealing with a hot hall, loud fans and uncomfortable folding chairs, plus masks and gloves. So we’ve been advised to keep our homilies brief. (No use adding to people’s purgatory time, when the idea really is to shorten it…)
In the Sunday readings right now, it is a time for planting.
Last week, we heard Jesus speak about the sower, scattering seeds among rocks and thorns.
This week, he tells us about the seed that grows among weeds.
I hear these stories about nature, and God’s work in the garden of our lives, and I can’t help but think how far we have come from that perfect garden, Eden.
The world is very much a place of rocks and thorns and weeds. In a time of pandemic and protests, of anger and fear, of churches burning and statues falling, there are days when it seems that is all it is.
The garden has become overgrown.
But in today’s parable about seeds, there is another seed: one of wonder and hope. God never loses hope in what we can become.
Three years ago, when I last preached on this Gospel, I spoke about something called Vavilovian mimicry.
It’s a scientific principle that was first discovered by a Russian plant geneticist by the name of Nikolai Vavilov. He found that a weed can often take on the characteristics of surrounding plants. Vavilov discovered that rye, a basic grass, when growing among wheat can start bearing seeds like wheat, and even adjust its growing pattern to follow the same annual schedule as wheat.
It can change. It can become something more than what it was.
Perhaps that is one reason why the landowner doesn’t destroy the weeds right away, but lets them grow among the wheat.
Maybe he understands the mystery of how God works in nature.
Maybe he wants to see if the weeds will, in effect, become wheat.
God is continually giving us the precious gift of time — to grow, to learn, to be more than what we are.
He offers the world his patience — and possibility.
We hear it in the reading from Wisdom: “You judge with clemency… you gave your children good ground for hope, that you would permit repentance for their sins.”
For those of us who often feel more like weeds than wheat, this is a relief — and a blessing.
The question for us this morning: what will we do about it?
In a world overrun by weeds and thorns and rocks, how will we strive to be wheat?
In a few moments, we will receive the gift of finest wheat, the Eucharist. As the familiar hymn puts it, we will “become what we receive.”
This morning let that be our prayer: to become more than we are. To become living sacraments in a troubled world. To be wheat, not weeds, in God’s field.
As we receive Jesus in our hands and welcome him into our hearts, we pray that we may be changed — so that we may we begin, in some small way, seed by seed, heart by heart, to change our world.