Scripture Reading: Matthew 13:24-58 (NRSV)
Sometimes the miraculous comes with the suspension of our expectations.
There have been lots of times I got exactly what I expected. Did my perception influence my understanding of reality? Undoubtedly.
|Are these weeds or flowers?|
The parables in today’s reading seem to remind us of this. Matthew ends the reading by recounting how Jesus was rejected in his hometown of Nazareth. Their expectation of Jesus was that he was more ordinary than extraordinary. They knew him. They grew up with his siblings. What could he possibly do?
As we open with the parable of the weeds and the wheat, we see that our normal expectation would be to pull the weeds. The fear is that the wheat will begin to resemble the weeds if we let them associate together. But Jesus bids us to leave them together. What if the opposite were true? What if we were strong enough in our identity that the weeds may actually become wheat at the end of the age?
To continue down this path, both the mustard seed and the yeast are considered somewhat undesirable for a Jewish audience in that day. The mustard plant could easily spread and take hold, choking out the plants that were meant to be there. This could cause embarrassment as Leviticus 19:19 clearly states, “you shall not sow your field with two kinds of seed.” (NRSV) As far as yeast goes, Leviticus 2:11 tells us “No grain offering that you bring to the LORD shall be made with leaven.” (NRSV)
So we have two ordinary stories about the Kingdom of Heaven that would include items that would be unlikely in a polite comparison. They defy our expectation (or would in the original setting)!
In the parables of separation at the end of the age such as the weeds and the wheat and the good and bad fish, the concern might be that we would end up in the fire. However, in the time of Jesus, it was assumed that the scribes and Pharisees would be the chosen while the people Jesus associated with would be considered the chaff to be thrown into the fire.
As we see that his own townspeople took offense at him, we remember the admonition of Jesus earlier in Matthew (11:6) that “blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.” (NRSV)
This begs the question, how often do we take offense when things don’t go the way we expect?
Things may not be intrinsically wrong, but they may not fit into our neatly ordered universe. Things like mustard weeds or yeast.
Might there be miracles we are missing?
At times, can we somehow refuse to see what is before our eyes?
Prayer for the day:
God, we expect you to have some decorum.
We expect you to call the eldest before the youngest as dictated by society.
We expect you not to dally with weeds or mustard or leaven.
We expect you to shape up your followers!
But when we need a little mercy, we would invite you to offer it.
Just don’t use it too freely with our neighbors lest you not have enough for us!
Or maybe we need to re-read these passages rather than try to put you in our box.
Photo by Toshiyuki IMAI via Flickr.com. Used under the Creative Commons license.