The Great Harvest
For Sunday, July 23rd, 2023
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.”
In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus tells a parable about the end of the age. When time comes to an end, the angels will come to separate the children of the kingdom from the children of the evil one. At the end of the age, the children of the evil one will be burnt in “the fiery furnace where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth,” but “the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.”
Commenting on this parable, Origen says, “The whole world, not only the Church of God, may be called a field. For as the Son of Man planted the good seed, the devil planted the weeds of evil words. Since these latter words have their origin in wickedness, they are sons of the evil one” (Matthew: Interpreted by Early Christian Commentators, 273). This evil is represented in the parable as a poisonous weed called darnel. The only use for this weed is to burn it.
The harvest of the field may seem a distant and unrelatable event. But, as Matthew later recounts, “of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven nor the Son, but the Father only. As were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man” (Matthew 24:36-37). The harvest could come anytime—in ten minutes or in ten thousand years. Like the age of Noah, this harvest will be a cataclysmic age. Time itself will end. In the age of Noah, “God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5). In response to this wickedness, God blotted out man and every beast. But this will not happen again (see Genesis 8:21-22). At the end of time, our hope will be completed, and the righteous will enter heaven.
In the second parable of today’s Gospel reading, Jesus compares the kingdom of God to a mustard seed. The mustard seed is—proverbially speaking—the smallest seed. Given time, the seed grows into a great tree. And so it is with the kingdom of God; the Church started with the outpouring of the holy spirit on the apostles, and now every baptized Christian is a part of this Church. The third parable builds on the second. The kingdom of heaven is like the yeast mixed with three measures of flour. The three measures of flour represent the law, the prophets, and the Gospels. The yeast causes this large amount of flour to spread and grow. At the end of time, the kingdom will be like a tree or a large quantity of bread.
In your silent prayer today, meditate on the kingdom of God. Reflect on the areas of your life that the devil has sowed evil seeds. Reflect also on how the kingdom of God is growing in every age. Then, thank the Lord for his great love.
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