Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Whose Justice is it Anyway?

Jesus proposed another parable to the crowds, saying:
“The kingdom of heaven may be likened
to a man who sowed good seed in his field.
While everyone was asleep his enemy came
and sowed weeds all through the wheat, and then went off.
When the crop grew and bore fruit, the weeds appeared as well.
The slaves of the householder came to him and said,
‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field?
Where have the weeds come from?’
He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’
His slaves said to him,
‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’
He replied, ‘No, if you pull up the weeds
you might uproot the wheat along with them.
Let them grow together until harvest;
then at harvest time I will say to the harvesters,
“First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning;
but gather the wheat into my barn.”’”

He proposed another parable to them.
“The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed
that a person took and sowed in a field.
It is the smallest of all the seeds,
yet when full-grown it is the largest of plants.
It becomes a large bush,
and the ‘birds of the sky come and dwell in its branches.’”

He spoke to them another parable.
“The kingdom of heaven is like yeast
that a woman took and mixed with three measures of wheat flour
until the whole batch was leavened.”

All these things Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables.
He spoke to them only in parables,
to fulfill what had been said through the prophet:
I will open my mouth in parables,
I will announce what has lain hidden from the foundation
of the world.

Then, dismissing the crowds, he went into the house.
His disciples approached him and said,
“Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.”
He said in reply, “He who sows good seed is the Son of Man,
the field is the world, the good seed the children of the kingdom.
The weeds are the children of the evil one,
and the enemy who sows them is the devil.
The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.
Just as weeds are collected and burned up with fire,
so will it be at the end of the age.
The Son of Man will send his angels,
and they will collect out of his kingdom
all who cause others to sin and all evildoers.
They will throw them into the fiery furnace,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.
Then the righteous will shine like the sun
in the kingdom of their Father.
Whoever has ears ought to hear.”
(Matthew 13: 24-43)

What we hear in this reading is Jesus trying to help us understand God's justice. To appreciate this we need to discard the idea of laws being made by whomever gets elected. The justice that the reading speaks of is based on the fact, not that God is elected or chosen by us, but that God has established the universe and all that is in it. He holds it in being. This is the foundation of God’s justice. His power holds it together in an ordered way. This ordering means that we find ourselves in a relationship that is built into the way we are created. It is not a later add-on!
We cannot view God’s justice the way we might view going to another country to experience their justice. We do not step in and out of God’s justice. In it at nine, out of it after supper! God’s justice follows us wherever we go in Creation. We are in it and never above it – even if we reject God or simply do not believe in God. There is no appeal. To preserve this relationship we should respond to it so that we act in keeping with this justice and respond in fellowship to our fellow human beings.
With this in mind let us turn to the Gospel.

In the Gospel, the three parables tell us about the Kingdom of God. This is where God’s justice rules. The Parable of the Wheat and the weeds tell us that the generosity of God allows all their time. The world is a mixture of good and bad people. The good, the wheat, remain in the world in the company of the evil ones until the end. Then they are separated and put into God’s storehouse. A useful side note here: according to Klaus Berger: “the punishment of offenders is not numbered among the activities proper to the just man.” It is God who will judge at the end of time.
The Parable of the Mustard Seed tells us that the Kingdom of God is being offered to all. Parables don’t cancel each other out – they each only highlight one point. So the “all” does not mean that the weeds will enter the kingdom too.
The Parable of the Yeast and the Dough tells us that the Kingdom is supposed to become the inner principle of the whole world. We cannot even imagine what life would be like if more people lived the principles of the Kingdom, if they cooperated with the Spirit of God. There would be justice in the world. All God's children would be able to experience great joy. There would be a just use of resources around the globe. No more starvation. There would a cultural explosion the likes of which has never before been seen. Unfortunately, the kingdom is at hand but so few people see it or want to be in it.
The bottom line is really that we do not have power to know the identity of the wheat and the weeds in our society. We cannot read the contents of the heart as God can.
Therefore, we who have ears must let God's justice prevail regardless of what we may feel or others may think.

Peace and love,

Reverend Sue

"This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. " (1 John 4:9-10)

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