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Saturday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time. The reading is from Gospel of Matthew 13:24-30.

The Devil sowing rye grass (weeds) among the wheat – 17th century Flemish

The Parable of the Weeds among the Wheat – Matthew 13:24 -30

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 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.’

This parable is peculiar to Matthew. It is also known as “The Parable of the Tares.”

The comparison in

  • He proposed another parable to them. “The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a man who sowed good seed in his field. (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.

  • While everyone was asleep his enemy came and sowed weeds all through the wheat, and then went off. (Matthew 13:25)
  • ἐν δὲ τῷ καθεύδειν τοὺς ἀνθρώπους ἦλθεν αὐτοῦ ὁ ἐχθρὸς καὶ ἐπέσπειρεν ζιζάνια ἀνὰ μέσον τοῦ σίτου καὶ ἀπῆλθεν. (Matthew 13:25)

Weed in Greek is ζιζάνια (zizania). Zizanion, which is also called αιρα, darnel, is very like wheat, and commonly grows among wheat rather than among other grain. It injures the wheat; and, mixed in the bread, causes dimness of the eyes to those who eat of it.

The word ‘harvest‘ in

  • 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.”’” (Matthew 13:30)

is a common biblical metaphor for the time of God’s judgment.

  • For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Daughter Babylon is like a threshing floor at the time of treading; Yet a little while, and the harvest time will come for her. (Jeremiah 51:33)
  • Wield the sickle, for the harvest is ripe; Come and tread, for the wine press is full; The vats overflow, for their crimes are numerous. (Joel 4:13)
  • For you also, Judah, a harvest has been appointed! (Hosea 6:11)
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