Jesus put a parable before the crowds, ‘The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. While everybody was asleep his enemy came, sowed darnel all among the wheat, and made off. When the new wheat sprouted and ripened, the darnel appeared as well. The owner’s servants went to him and said, “Sir, was it not good seed that you sowed in your field? If so, where does the darnel come from?” “Some enemy has done this” he answered. And the servants said, “Do you want us to go and weed it out?” But he said, “No, because when you weed out the darnel you might pull up the wheat with it. Let them both grow till the harvest; and at harvest time I shall say to the reapers: First collect the darnel and tie it in bundles to be burnt, then gather the wheat into my barn.”’
He put another parable before them, ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed which a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the biggest shrub of all and becomes a tree so that the birds of the air come and shelter in its branches.’
He told them another parable, ‘The kingdom of heaven is like the yeast a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour till it was leavened all through.’
In all this Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables; indeed, he would never speak to them except in parables. This was to fulfil the prophecy:
I will speak to you in parables
and expound things hidden since the foundation of the world.
Then, leaving the crowds, he went to the house; and his disciples came to him and said, ‘Explain the parable about the darnel in the field to us.’ He said in reply, ‘The sower of the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world; the good seed is the subjects of the kingdom; the darnel, the subjects of the evil one; the enemy who sowed them, the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; the reapers are the angels. Well then, just as the darnel is gathered up and burnt in the fire, so it will be at the end of time. The Son of Man will send his angels and they will gather out of his kingdom all things that provoke offences and all who do evil, and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth. Then the virtuous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Listen, anyone who has ears!’
'Is it possible that by telling these tales,one might indeed save themselves?'
Scheherezade certainly thought so.This part of Matthew reminds me very much of my Arabian Nights storybook. The Sultan was not the only one tempted to wait one more day - to see what happened - although I have to confess that I didn't always keep it to one story a night no matter how often I started the book with that intention.
In my mind the tales of Scheherezade; the fables of Aesop; and the stories of the Brothers Grimm often find themselves in company with the parables of Jesus; they all sat by each other on my 'favourites' bookshelf but I used to find it funny that not only did Jesus tell these stories but then he has to explain them as well. Those grown ups didn't seem so bright after all.
Not that I remember my interpretations but I understood that their meanings were meant for me - the 'me' that I was then -the message decided by the ears that hear.
Unlike Scheherezade, who told her tales to save her life - Jesus tells his to save ours.
In this part of the Gospel, Jesus only explains one parable - the scary one. The reminder that being saved is a lifelong work - we might believe that we have weeded out our sins early in our lives but once is not enough - our lives are constantly in peril. And that whilst we have no right to make judgement on ourselves or each other - the day will come that the One who can - will.
Then we have the rest of the parables - unexplained - left to speak for themselves.
The 'me' that I am now, today, is reminded of another book on the same shelf - Tales of Long Ago - and the story of Pandora's Box. That even with all the evils of the world; all the wrong that humankind does; all the wrong that I do - there is always that tiny gift - of Grace. Tiny but enough.
Grace will grow from a prayer; spread itself through a kind deed; will build the Kingdom from almost nothing - because nothing is impossible to God. And like the 'worthless' sparrows of the skies we will all find shelter in it's branches.
It's an Ignatian practice to give the story of each day to God and look forward to the tales that are to come - taking time to give up the distraction of ego and the clinging to regret.
There is grace in allowing hope to flourish and to be made new- as Scheherezade knew - one day at a time