There is a bold idea present in the parable that we have listened to - that in the field both the wheat and the weeds are allowed to grow together. They are sown alongside one another, break the soil together, they start as small shoots, there roots and their stalks are entwined, they share both the soil and the rain that falls from the sky. Although the parable doesn’t make it clear to our ears, the darnel or weeds that it speaks of is very similar in appearance to the wheat, only the professional eye could distinguish them. The wheat and the darnel stand side by side and grow together in the field.
Contained in that idea in the parable is life as we know it, contained here is how things are. There is no world other than this one, there is no world or life free from temptations, tragedies, disappointments and difficulties. This is no perfect world out there, idealised world, air tight world other than the world in which the wheat and the weeds grow alongside each other.
This is a world in which we have to face things, good and bad, we can’t pretend that there is plain sailing, an easy ride, things that won’t knock us off course. We will not have a force field around us in which awkward and harmful things we don’t like glance off us. If we think that living the Christian life is about constructing a world in which we are protected, a bubble is placed over us, we are extracted from all its cares and problems, then that is not how it is or will ever be. No, it is exactly this: we are in the field in which the wheat grows alongside the weeds. We are in the field in which there is good and bad taking place. We are in the field in which two realities are growing alongside each other.
It would be great if it was a world which was perfect, that bad things didn’t happen, that bad choices weren’t made. But this is not the way it is – in the field the wheat and the weeds grow together, alongside one another, their roots are bound together, their stalks and leaves touch one another.
It’s in this world, this real world that our Christian life takes place. Here are the struggles, here are the difficulties, here it all takes place. Not a false and dreamy world and illusory world, but a real, gritty world in which hard choices have to be made.
Some of the ancient heresies of the Church were exactly that to try to escape from the world, to fly from its troubles and temptations
There is no other place where the drama of good and bad and right and wrong and which God’s plan is unfolding than in this very world in which the wheat and the weeds grow together.
It would be great to have a world in which there was no money worries but it doesn’t exist. It would be great having a world where there was no violence, but it doesn’t exist. It would be great having a world in which there was no family worries but such a world doesn’t exist. It would be great having a world in which people get on, but that isn’t true either. It would be great having a world in which children aren’t going to bed hungry but it doesn’t exist. It would be great if random and unforeseen things didn‘t happen but they do.
This is the field in which the wheat grow amongst the darnel. Where bad things stand side by side with good things. And strangely sometimes where the darnel looks exactly like the wheat, we cannot tell one from another. This the world where right struggles with wrong, where good wrestles with bad, where there is plenty and where there shortage, where there there is famine and feast. where there is vice and virtue standing side by side, growing next to one another.
This is the real and true place that we all live in, this is the real tough world in which the real and true Christian life takes place. Not an imaginary life in which we are protected but it is the real world. Here in this world in which the challenges to be good and virtuous are being played out.