24 July 2011

"Let everyone with ears listen!" (v. 43b)


The first part of this reading (verses 36-43) is an explanation to the disciples of a parable Jesus had given earlier of the weeds sown among the wheat which has a strong note of judgement (verses 24-30). The second part of the reading contains three short parables, the first two concerned with selling all to gain something of greater value, and the third parable about a catch of good and bad fish has more in common with the earlier one with its note of judgement.

In the parable about the weeds sown and growing among the wheat, the emphasis falls more on the patience of the farmer. It also contains the implication that humans are not competent to make the necessary judgement to separate the wheat from the weeds. In the interpretation, which forms the first part of today's reading, there is strangely no reference to this patience and the weight falls on the act of decisive judgement and its consequences. The parable of the catch of good and bad fish (verses 47-50) also focuses on the decisive nature of judgement.

The two short parables (verses 44-45) are not about the ethics of treasure hunting but are concerned with the thing of greatest value and what we are prepared to give up for the sake of obtaining it. Like buried treasure, God's activity can seem hidden and must be discovered; like a pearl of great value, the kingdom of God must be sought. But having found the response is to give up all for the sake of the kingdom.

To Ponder

How do you feel about the coexistence of good and bad and what do you want to do about it? To what extent are you aware of that coexistence within yourself and is your reaction the same?

Thank God for the divine patience that enables time for even weeds to become wheat!

What might the pearl of great value be for you, and what are you willing to let go of to obtain in?

Bible notes author: The Revd Peter Barber

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