Wheat, Mustard and Yeast.
Ordinary 16 Year A
A Hebrew Catholic Perspective
St. Matthew 13: 24 — 43
As we progress through St. Matthew’s Gospel, we will come across passages where it is critical to focus on every little detail to “get” the main theme or lesson. In this text, chapter 13, verses 24 — 43, we have to take care not to get buried in details, or we will miss the main message. Our Reflections which follow, therefore simply highlight some of the key understandings which will help us apply our Lord’s teaching in a world of increasing anxiety and disconcerting tension. There is lots of bad news in the world; but Jesus encourages us at the close of our text to keep in our field of vision His Glorious Return and the final consummation of His Kingdom (verse 43). That changes everything.
We will divide our text into:
Part 1 (verses 24 to 30)
“Wheat and Weeds”
Treasure and trash!
Part 2 (verses 31 to 35)
“Mustard Seed and Yeast”
Outer growth and inner-transformation!
Part 3 (verses 36 to 43)
“The Lord Shares His Secrets”
Pointing towards His Glorious Return!
Some Reflections on the Text
Part 1 (verses 24 to 30)
“Wheat and Weeds” — treasure and trash!
Verses 24 — 30 The Wheat and the Weeds
He proposed another parable to them.
“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
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.”‘”
In this setting, the crowds reappear unexpectedly, and our Lord delivers another parable. However, before He gives His explanation of it, He actually delivers another two parables and dismisses the crowd before explaining anything. Let’s first take a look at the “Wheat and Weeds” parable, which we know about, but may be a little unsure of what it is really telling us. There are some things about it we really must understand and take note of!
• Fr. Haydock (19th Century) draws our attention to the fact
that our Lord spoke in His previous parable of the four soils
and of those who did not receive the Word — but here, of those
who, receive the corrupted word. Jesus is therefore highlighting
the extreme evil and danger of error confounded with truth.
In plain words: the Church will need to keep a special watch,
with skilfully trained and highly informed workers who can
identify what is truly His message and what is counterfeit.
• So often error will be spread by people who started out good
and faithful, but later became infected by evil intentions.
Even Judas had been selected on account of his personal virtue
and devotion! Thus, this first category of fallen faithful will
sometimes become a conduit of evil teaching and practices in
• In the parable of the wheat and weeds Jesus goes further and
incorporates the idea that the devil also plants bad seed — people
who set out from the beginning — to spread distorted teaching,
and badly infect the whole crop to their own advantage. These
become a second category of bad seed who must not be confused
with the first: they too will need special treatment!
• Commenting on the clause, “While everyone was asleep,” Haydock makes an observation of the Church down through the
“When the supervisors or pastors of the Church were lulled
asleep or negligent, or, when the apostles were dead, as
St. Augustine expounds it, the devil spread the tares of error
and sin amongst a great number of Christians. These falling
from the state of grace, or becoming unfaithful, are yet
mingled with the rest of the faithful in the same outward
profession of Christianity, not unlike the good corn and
cockle (weeds) in the same field.”
There is a real sense here of the danger of failing to keep a close watch on
things. Fr. Charles Callan, O.P., Professor of Sacred Scripture (1917) wrote similarly:
“While everyone was asleep,” means literally, during the night
time; in its application the phrase means, during the
inadvertence of the ministers of the Church.
• Jesus emphasises how complex it is to undo the results of
Satan’s influence. Our Lord’s first concern is for the faithful
disciples, that they will not be destabilised by any premature
sorting out. Traditionally the Church refers to it as avoiding
a “scandal to the faithful”.
• Our Lord is acting consistently with His parable of the
soils — it may be too late to untangle the roots of the wheat
and the weeds, but it is too early to write off the weeds as
completely lost. Haydock puts a word in for those who may
be able to be brought back to the Lord.
“The prayers of repenting sinners are never despised.
We are taught also by this example not to cut off too
hastily a fallen brother; for whatever he may be today,
tomorrow perhaps he may see his error and embrace
Thus, there is a place for realistic, selective rehabilitation of offenders under the careful oversight of properly trained personnel.
• Fr. Martindale, S. J., points out that our Lord is not taking
a “soft option” with the offending foreign matter —
“Why trouble to tie down the cockle (weeds) into bundles?
Perhaps as a parallel to the ears of wheat already tied up
when the reapers had hold of enough; but why burn it first,
before the wheat was put in the barn? Perhaps suggesting
the owner’s (legitimate) indignant haste to get rid of the
weeds — the wheat was safe!”
Thus Jesus requires very clear identification of what does not belong in His teaching and religious practice, even if He requires patient forbearance until the time to strike arrives. The weeds are then to be burnt without any further delay. The day for this Divine Justice is already set!
His caution reflects a warning that in dealing with these people, one comes into direct conflict with Satan. This can be devastating and cannot be undertaken without intense, studious and prayerful preparation. It is not a task for individuals, but the whole Body of Christ to take action against alien imposters and opportunistic, crafty hijackers. Strong words? Yes — matching the strategies used before our eyes to divert people away from the Biblical teaching of Jesus Messiah.
Our Lord uses His parable to reflect the magnitude of the problem of deception among His followers. It is a matter of the greatest concern, as His imagery and strong language indicate.
We offer a further reflection on this vexing question in — To Act or Not to Act
Part 2 (verses 31 to 35)
“Mustard Seed and Yeast”
Outer growth and inner-transformation!
Verses 31 — 35
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
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).”
• The Mustard Seed tells us that the kingdom will not arrive
in a blaze of glory, as the Lord gave the Law on Mt. Sinai. It will
have small beginnings, hidden and almost unnoticed, like his
birth at Bethlehem; it will grow up in a world that does not
suspect what is going on, like his life at Nazareth; but it will grow;
and so great will it grow that all can find shelter in it (an allusion
to the call of the Gentiles). (R. Cox)
• Whereas the mustard seed absorbs and takes in from outside,
the yeast, or leaven is an energy that radiates from within; it is
a spiritual force that influences, not by force of arms from
without, but by enlightening the minds, and transforming the
lives of men. (R. Cox)
The commonly held opinion in Israel, was that the Kingdom of God would come with great splendour, accompanied by amazing events, miracles and so on, and that all this would be overwhelmingly compelling in its acceptance of the Messiah. We tend to criticise the Jews for not responding to the gentle, quiet, unfolding nature of the Church, then and ever since Pentecost.
But many people today, in all honesty, also go looking for just this bold, brash, type of religion and care little for what Jesus actually put into place. And when they find what they are looking for, there is often, very little focus on the Gospel message and the Blessed One who gifted it to His Church. Those who are attracted only to the spectacular and entertaining “show biz” religion care little for interior spiritual growth.
R. T. France puts it succinctly:
“The way of God is not that of ostentation but of ultimate
success. Little is great where God is at work.”
We should take note that our Lord chose to proclaim His message with all the limitations that His keenest followers would have to deal with. As a result, He had to accept very obvious limits to His success, and this meant His immediate results were unspectacular, to say the least. (A. Jones)
• Jesus carried out all his teaching at this time in parables
according to the prophecy of Asaph:
“I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which
have been kept secret from the foundation of the world.”
(Psalms 78: 2 and 3)
• Jesus taught as did that prophet, Asaph, in parables. The
words of Asaph described the manner in which Jesus taught,
and in this sense it would be said that they were fulfilled.
Let’s move on to the next phase of His teaching. If anything disheartened our Lord, it was the constant demand for “in-your-face” religious showcasing. He despised it then (as He does today), and on this occasion, sensing the mood of the people and realising that they were more interested in wondrous displays rather than understanding His words, He went inside the house from which He had earlier come out.
Part 3 (verses 36 to 43)
“The Lord Shares His Secrets”
pointing towards His Glorious Return!
Verses 36 — 43
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
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.
Despite our Lord’s patience with the false performers (weeds) He now shares His deepest inner thoughts about them with His closest friends — who are genuinely interested in understanding what He is trying to convey. Close to half of His final section deals with the destruction of the weeds. What are we to make of all this?
Nothing like it has been heard before. Here we are privileged to observe the thoughts of God. We listen and observe, therefore, and are slow to speak!
Jesus is greatly offended by the appearance of false disciples who dare to parade as His devoted followers. They are apostate charlatans who push His teaching aside and displace His own appointed members. They steal the attention of onlookers by their rapid growth and ostentatious self-presentation. But they are false, self-promoting, self-focussed performers who only make a pretense to present the true Messiah and His teaching. Our Lord wants it made perfectly clear that they will get what is truly owing to them. They will burn — not until they are destroyed but burn eternally! They hijack attention and teach falsehood; they harm the genuine; they use a false facade to gain acceptance and steal from the Lord. He has His eternal method for dealing with them already in place.
We therefore conclude, that whilst it is not our place to deal to them by way of “knee-jerk” reaction, to the extent we feel justified — we should nevertheless identify them and minimise their harmful influence on the faithful, by any appropriate means.
Meanwhile the cluster of parables has some important principles we must also keep in mind to balance the whole situation of the Church in the world.
• First, there is undoubtedly the need for Jesus’ listeners not
to play God by trying to purify the Church by man-made
methods: purges and Inquisitions. The Church must always
uphold the preaching of repentance, and practise
patience — supreme patience. (Fr. John Meier)
After all: “The Church has come to recognise that it is not
entirely a community of the elect; it has unfaithful members”.
• Fr. Ronald Cox, Scripture scholar of blessed memory, in
commenting on the message of these parables wrote:
“It is a solemn warning to the apostles not to expect opposition
and danger only from without, but even from within the fold;
the presence of Judas among them must not shake their faith;
the Master has forewarned them in this parable. Also they are
told that the real enemy of the kingdom is the devil; a much
more subtle and dangerous foe than Rome. He does not sleep;
he is out to destroy, and his activity is so secret and cunning
that it goes long unrecognised. Since it is so difficult to know
who are under his influence, it would do more harm than good
to try and exterminate them. (See Footnote:) Virtue is to be
practised in patiently enduring evil, and in trusting to God’s
providence; at the end he will vindicate his faithful followers.
Their work is the salvation and sanctification of men, not
Footnote: — ‘do more harm than good’ — This is a specific reference to situations,
where there is insufficient evidence upon which to take decisive action.
Fr. Cox is not advising virtuous patience when there are victims in danger of
spiritual or other abuse, and there is sufficient just cause to exercise authority
and take any appropriate action whatsoever.
Section 3 finishes with a glorious promise often missed or overlooked. After the Lord has dealt to the cheats, the charlatans, the false prophets:
Then the righteous, will shine like the sun in the Kingdom
of their Father. “Whoever has ears ought to hear“.
The word “hear” used by Jesus always contains His admonition to be listening, reflecting on, and understanding His words so that we will bear fruit. In this text, it is our Lord’s way of emphasising the importance of His doctrine.
So He is saying, yet again:
“Keep on listening to my Words.”
In fact, this is really the “punch line” of this set of parables upon which we have been reflecting. It is the high-point. It is a command! “If you ‘have ears’ — if you consider yourself one of my disciples, you will ‘hear‘ what I am constantly bringing to your attention.”
Our Lord provides the key to keeping on the Way He has provided — that is, to avoid being misled. This is an unmistakable reference to the first commandment and its enshrinement in our Lord’s armoury of Sacred Scripture:
“Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD alone!
Therefore, you shall love the LORD, your God, with all your
heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength.
Deuteronomy 6: 4 and 5. — St. Mark 12: 29 to 31.
So what does this mean? Devout Jews — and some Christians — recite this at least twice a day, (usually three times). Jesus directs His faithful back constantly to the Torah — the Living Word of God — the only God.
A rabbi was asked one day, how often he said the “Shema” — “Hear O Israel ….. ” etc. He replied, words to the effect — “I have no idea! When am I not saying, ‘Shema’.”
Our Lord’s final word, “Whoever has ears ought to hear,” is no casual, incidental remark. It is an essential part of the climax of His cluster of parables. We are to keep our whole focus on Christ the Word — Who is to return in glory. Unless we take that very seriously and put it into practice, all manner of evil will find its way into the Church.
In one way or another, all deviation from our Lord’s model and standards indicates the very real inroads of idolatry and witchcraft in their many forms. The Church has confronted these constantly from its beginning, with varying degrees of success. And they will continue to concern us until our Lord Jesus, our Messiah, returns — especially when we grow weak in our fervour, and allow slackness to permit worldly values to displace Christ’s teaching.
We offer a short reading from a sermon by St. Aphraates: “Against Discord and Envy” given around C.E. 320, in Syria, one of the first countries to be evangelised. It is his way of declaring how Christians must listen to the Word of God and put it into practice.
Many of us, from our youth, would have been able to give what we thought was the meaning of this parable, by relating the main idea in verses 28 and 29:
“Leave the wheat and weeds growing together, because if you pull
the weeds out you might damage the wheat.”
Well, it’s a good start; but the danger with just a brief reflection on a Gospel passage, is that we can easily miss the wider dimensions Jesus has carefully put in place. Our preceding reflection is an attempt to open up the main lesson and ensure we are not satisfied with just a superficial application. His teaching should be as clear to us:
1. We are to keep our focus on the Lord Jesus in our daily life.
We can do this by our prayer, study, meditation and other devotional
practices. How important are these! And how effective they are in
preventing bad seed from even sprouting, let alone flourishing!
2. Before we make judgments on the actions of others we should
take a realistic look and assessment of our own spiritual life.
3. Patience, humility and repentance are to be an integral part of
our daily Christian living.
4. When we observe others being misled by false teaching we need
to pray for them and offer assistance as we are able and think
appropriate, or refer them to others. We can never use our Lord’s
words as a means to avoid some kind of action to help the unfortunate.
5. In keeping with our Lord’s approach, we draw our reflection to
a close with the key focus:
“Let those who wish to be enrolled in My service, keep their whole
mind, heart and soul focussed on all My teaching: not just part of it.
This is the best protection against error and deception.
Let them be constantly listening to my words and doing what they
can to help others know and understand what I have taught.
Those who do so will be very blessed and will know this, and
treasure our partnership in the Kingdom of God.”
Against Discord and Envy
A sermon from around C.E. 320, given by St Aphraates (known as The Persian Sage) to help explain the importance of the parables to the Church under persecution in Syria.
Dearly beloved, it is not enough to read and to study the
sacred scriptures, we must fulfil them also.
For to me it seems that if anyone is involved in contentions and
in quarrels, his prayers are not acceptable, his supplications are
not answered, his gift rises not upwards from the earth; and
neither does the giving of alms avail him for the forgiveness of
his sins. And wheresoever there is no peace and tranquillity,
the door is left open to the Evil One. Where correction and
right order are also absent, then the Christian manner of living,
and earnest striving after righteousness, are also absent.
Then the wheat is mixed with the tares, thorns flourish, the
disorderly multiply, mockery is everywhere, there is neither
correction nor amendment of life, nor any right order. The salt
then loses its flavour, men’s minds become obscured, and the
body walks clothed in darkness. The ordinary things of life are
thrown into confusion, and there is peace neither for the one
coming, nor for the one going. Such are the fruits of discord.
In times such as these, those who are worthy reveal themselves,
those who are truly wise are now seen to be so, the good are
shown forth, they who follow after peace, who foster tranquillity
Their reward is enduring, and their fruit abundant.
(From: Homily Against Discord and Envy)
Further Reading: See: The Parable of the Tares.
Appendix: To Act, or Not To Act.
As we have pointed out, the Church has traditionally accepted responsibility for lapsing in its attention to the needs of the Lord’s mission. But it has also been wary of over-reacting and causing further harm by careless handling of unfaithful members, especially in the public arena.
Our parable — especially in verse 29 — is not a general prohibition to take action when serious abuses occur — of any kind. One such category which causes great concern, especially since they continue to spread without restriction, is the relatively recent flood of pagan religious practices and values via what is presented as “Christianity for our times”. Its leaders claim special anointings to speak with great authority. They dismiss the most fundamental principles of our Lord’s teaching, and supplant them with their own carefully selected bogus beliefs. They make religion big business and big money!
Due to media interest and fascination with extremes of ridiculous behaviour, and by slick marketing, these deviant forms of false Christianity have hijacked the popular image of the Church as seen by non-believers. The devastation this is causing, is unprecedented: yet it continues unabated.
It would be error, indeed, to say that this parable insists we let error continue to take root and, “leave it to the Lord”. Or would it? Did not the owner of the field of wheat in the parable say, “No, let the wheat and the weeds grow together, otherwise by pulling up the weeds you may damage the wheat”.
Here is a point easily missed in rabbinic teaching. If someone is already here and now suffering from the actions of an imposter — then not only is the Church authorised to act, it is morally bound to do so. To hide behind some literal, shallow interpretation would indicate a mistreatment of Jesus’ teaching. His Hebrew approach here, is to highlight the need — NOT for passivity, but fervent activity:
a) to prevent this sort of distortion of His work, in the first place, and
b) to remedy the situation, not by simplistic, instantaneous,
“knee-jerk” reactions, but by carefully considered, wide-reaching
and nurturing strategies.
Later, on this occasion, Jesus will direct His disciples to act in harmony with the Return of the Messiah and the decisive perfection of His Church. This may seem vague and too indefinite, but meditation on His explanation of this daunting parable of the wheat and the weeds indicates the power and decisiveness with which the Church is authorised to act, provided such action is carried out to prepare the way for the Lord to return in glory.
The Parable of the Tares
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Let us remember God’s teaching, contained in His Word and in doing
Wheat, Mustard and Yeast.
Ordinary 16 Year A St. Matthew 13: 24 to 43
1. The way St. Matthew presented the parable of the wheat and weeds, is
Despite all else, Christ’s Kingdom will grow to its appointed size and will
Such a hard-hitting declaration obviously was seen to be needed to
2. Our Lord was patently aware of the ever-present temptation for
3. In dealing with the common scandals, myths, mistruths, and false forms of
Fishers of men — that is what we are!
Apostles of Jesus Christ — that is what we are!
The Parable of the Tares
J. C. Ryle (1816 — 1900)
The parable of the “wheat and tares,” which occupies the chief part of these verses, is one of peculiar importance in the present day. It is eminently calculated to correct the extravagant expectations in which many Christians indulge, as to the effect of missions abroad, and of preaching the Gospel at home. May we give it the attention which it deserves.
In the first place, this parable teaches us that good and evil will always be found together in the professing Church, until the end of the world.
The visible Church is set before us as a mixed body: it is a vast “field” in which “wheat and tares” grow side by side. We must expect to find believers and unbelievers, converted and unconverted, “the children of the kingdom and the children of the wicked one,” all mingled together in every congregation of baptised people. The purest preaching of the Gospel will not prevent this. In every age of the Church the same state of things has existed. It was the experience of the early Fathers; it was the experience of the Reformers; it is the experience of the best ministers at the present hour. There has never been a visible Church or a religious assembly of which the members have been all “wheat.” The devil, that great enemy of souls, has always taken care to sow “tares.”
The most strict and prudent discipline will not prevent this. …..
Do what we will to purify a Church; we shall never succeed in obtaining a perfectly pure communion. Tares will be found among the wheat. Hypocrites and deceivers will creep in. And, worst of all, if we are extreme in our efforts to obtain purity, we do more harm than good.
We run the risk of encouraging many a Judas Iscariot, and breaking many a bruised reed. In our zeal to “gather up the tares,” we are in danger of “rooting up the wheat with them.” Such zeal is not according to knowledge, and has often done much harm. Those who care not what happens to the wheat, provided they can root up the tares, show little of the mind of Christ. After all, there is deep truth in the charitable saying of St. Augustine (6th Century C.E.), “Those who are tares to-day, may be wheat to-morrow”
Are we inclined to look for the conversion of the whole world by the labours of missionaries and preachers? Let us place this parable before us, and beware of such an idea. We shall never see all the inhabitants of earth “the wheat” of God, in the present order of things. The tares and wheat will “grow together till the harvest.” The kingdoms of this world will never become the kingdom of Christ, and the millennium will never begin, until the King Himself returns.
Are we ever tried by the scoffing argument of the infidel, that Christianity cannot be a true religion, because there are so many false Christians? Let us call to mind this parable, and remain unmoved. Let us tell the infidel that the state of things he scoffs at does not surprise us at all. Our Master prepared us for it eighteen hundred years ago. This was written in the 19th Century. He foresaw and foretold that His Church would be a field, containing not only “wheat,” but “tares.”
Are we ever tempted to leave one Church for another, because we see many of its members unconverted? Let us remember this parable, and take heed what we do. We shall never find a perfect Church. We may spend our lives in migrating from communion to communion, and pass our days in perpetual disappointment. Go where we will, and worship where we may, we shall always find “tares.”
In the second place, the parable teaches us that there is to be a day of separation between the godly and the ungodly members of the visible Church, at the end of the world.
The present mixed state of things is not to be forever: the wheat and the tares are to be divided at last. The Lord Jesus shall “send forth His angels” in the day of His second advent, and gather all professing Christians into two great companies. Those mighty reapers shall make no mistake. They shall discern with unerring judgment between the righteous and the wicked, and place every one in his own lot. The saints and faithful servants of Christ shall receive glory, honour, and eternal life. The worldly, the ungodly, the careless, and the unconverted, shall be “cast into a furnace of fire.”
There is something peculiarly solemn in this part of the parable. The meaning of it admits of no mistake. Our Lord Himself explains it in words of singular clearness, as if He would impress it deeply on our minds. Well may He say at the conclusion, “Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.”
Let the ungodly man tremble when he reads this parable. Let him see in its fearful language his own certain doom, unless he repents and is converted. Let him know that he is sowing misery for himself, if he goes on still in his neglect of God. Let him reflect that his end will be to be gathered among the “bundles of tares,” and be burned. Surely such a prospect ought to make a man think!…..
Let the believer in Christ take comfort when he reads this parable. Let him see that there is happiness and safety prepared for him in the great and dreadful day of the Lord. The voice of the archangel and the trump of God will proclaim no terror for him. They will summon him to join what he has long desired to see — a perfect Church and a perfect communion of saints. How beautiful will the whole body of believers appear when finally separated from the wicked! How pure will the wheat look in the garner of God when the tares are at length taken away! How brightly will grace shine when no longer dimmed by incessant contact with the worldly and unconverted! The righteous are little known in the present day: the world sees no beauty in them, even as it saw none in their Master. “The world knoweth us not, because it knew Him not.” (1 John 3: 1.).
But the righteous shall one day “shine forth as the sun in the Kingdom of their Father”. …..
When Christ Who is our life shall appear, then shall you also appear with Him in glory.” (Colossians 3: 4).
(Ammended slightly for Internet Use.)
Matthew 13: 24 — 43
Ordinary 16 Year A
24 He proposed another parable to them. 9 “The kingdom of
25 While everyone was asleep his enemy came and sowed
26 When the crop grew and bore fruit, the weeds appeared
27 The slaves of the householder came to him and said,
28 He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’ His slaves said
29 He replied, ‘No, if you pull up the weeds you might
30 Let them grow together until harvest; 11 then at harvest
31 12 He proposed another parable to them. “The kingdom of
32 13 It is the smallest of all the seeds, yet when full-grown
33 He spoke to them another parable. “The kingdom of
34 15 All these things Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables.
35 to fulfill what had been said through the prophet: 16 “I
36 Then, dismissing the crowds, 17 he went into the house.
37 18 He said in reply, “He who sows good seed is the Son
38 the field is the world, 19 the good seed the children of
39 and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest
40 Just as weeds are collected and burned (up) with fire, so
41 The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect
42 They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there
43 22 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the
9 [24-30] This parable is peculiar to Matthew. The comparison in ⇒ Matthew 13:24 does not mean that the kingdom of heaven may be likened simply to the person in question but to the situation narrated in the whole story. The refusal of the householder to allow his slaves to separate the wheat from the weeds while they are still growing is a warning to the disciples not to attempt to anticipate the final judgment of God by a definitive exclusion of sinners from the kingdom. In its present stage it is composed of the good and the bad. The judgment of God alone will eliminate the sinful. Until then there must be patience and the preaching of repentance.
10  Weeds: darnel, a poisonous weed that in its first stage of growth resembles wheat.
12 [31-33] See ⇒ Mark 4:30-32; ⇒ Luke 13:18-21. The parables of the mustard seed and the yeast illustrate the same point: the amazing contrast between the small beginnings of the kingdom and its marvelous expansion.
14  Except in this Q parable and in ⇒ Matthew 16:12, yeast (or “leaven”) is, in New Testament usage, a symbol of corruption (see ⇒ Matthew 16:6, ⇒ 11-12; ⇒ Mark 8:15; ⇒ Luke 12:1; ⇒ 1 Cor 5:6-8; ⇒ Gal 5:9). Three measures: an enormous amount, enough to feed a hundred people. The exaggeration of this element of the parable points to the greatness of the kingdom’s effect.
15  Only in parables: see ⇒ Matthew 13:10-15.
16  The prophet: some textual witnesses read “Isaiah the prophet.” The quotation is actually from ⇒ Psalm 78:2; the first line corresponds to the LXX text of the psalm. The psalm’s title ascribes it to Asaph, the founder of one of the guilds of temple musicians. He is called “the prophet” (NAB “the seer”) in ⇒ 2 Chron 29:30 but it is doubtful that Matthew averted to that; for him, any Old Testament text that could be seen as fulfilled in Jesus was prophetic.
17  Dismissing the crowds: the return of Jesus to the house marks a break with the crowds, who represent unbelieving Israel. From now on his attention is directed more and more to his disciples and to their instruction. The rest of the discourse is addressed to them alone.
18 [37-43] In the explanation of the parable of the weeds emphasis lies on the fearful end of the wicked, whereas the parable itself concentrates on patience with them until judgment time.
19  The field is the world: this presupposes the resurrection of Jesus and the granting to him of “all power in heaven and on earth” (⇒ Matthew 28:18).20  The end of the age: this phrase is found only in Matthew (⇒ 13:40, ⇒ 49; ⇒ 24:3; ⇒ 28:20).21  His kingdom: the kingdom of the Son of Man is distinguished from that of the Father (⇒ Matthew 13:43); see ⇒ 1 Cor 15:24-25. The church is the place where Jesus’ kingdom is manifested, but his royal authority embraces the entire world; see the note on ⇒ Matthew 13:38.22  See ⇒ Daniel 12:3.
Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised