BY DAVID MARION 16th Sunday of the Year: Wisdom 12: 13, 16-19 Romans 8: 26-27; Matthew 13: 24-43
THE BOOK OF WISDOM, at one time thought to have been written by Solomon himself, was actually put together by a Jew living in Alexandria in the middle of the last century BC.
Alexandria was the centre of the Greek world. Ideas there ranged from animal worship to astrology. The book was written in part to defend the traditional faith of the children of Abraham from such dangerous ideas.
Today's passage is about God's justice and mercy. God is all powerful, unlike other "gods" on offer. He punishes wrongdoing but in a just, gentle way. So also are we meant to behave in our dealings with other people. God is not indifferent to our needs or disinterested in justice. He cares for us all even though, in the mind of the author of the book of Wisdom, he is much more interested in the chosen people than he is in any anyone else.
This passage must have been chosen because it makes a good introduction to our long Gospel reading from St Matthew which also has something to say about justice. Last week we had the parable of the sower and the seed. Today comes the follow-up. In among the good seed someone has sown darnel, a kind of grass weed. What to do? Wait until the crop comes up, then make the separation. Put the wheat into the barn but burn the darnel.
This is not an early version of Gardener's Question Time. Nor are the parable of the mustard seed and the parable of the yeast in the dough which come with this story. They collectively describe the Kingdom. We are still all part wheat and part darnel. The Kingdom is not just one for the saved and respectable, it is for the whole world. It has started as a tiny group but it goes on growing all the time. The dough does not rise because of the impressive titles of any cook. It has a life of its own. In the same sort of way God's Kingdom also grows in the dough of today's world, challenging the values of that world and constantly changing them.
Our ration from St Paul this week is only two short verses from the letter to the Romans. He might well have agreed that there is much in common between the Spirit "who comes to help us in our weakness" and who gives life to the Church and the yeast which changes dough into bread. But two short verses are not enough. Read on to the end of chapter 8 for St Paul's message of faith. "Nothing in all creation can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus Our Lord". t