Life in the time of Covid: the Gospel today speaks of ‘darnel’ in amongst the wheat. I had to look up the meaning of darnel though from the context in the Gospel it clearly smacks of something rather nasty and very undesirable. Our friends in Google say it bears a close resemblance to wheat until the ear appears. Apparently it is poisonous but in small doses it can enhance the flavour of food. All news to me, I might add, being of non-agricultural stock. ‘Don’t pull it out yet’, Jesus tells us, ‘because we just might pull up the good stuff at the same time…let them both grow until harvest then we can deal with it.’ If you hear the longer Gospel today we hear three parables, not one: the wheat, the mustard seed and the yeast, all dynamic and living and what they have in common is growth, which is what Jesus is saying the kingdom of God is like. Like all parables, they are intended to draw us in, they force us to come off the fence and demand that we make a commitment. They do not make for comfortable hearing, but they were never intended to be so. This parable – or parables if you hear the longer version – is about judgement, final judgement and we are being forced to look at the choice between being gathered into the Lord’s barns, like wheat; or, if we so choose, we are as darnel or weeds ready to be burnt. Scary stuff! Yet, In saying ‘don’t pull it up yet’ we are getting some respite, some time to reflect and ponder on what might be. As the first reading from Wisdom reminds us: ‘…you have given your sons the good hope that after sin you will grant repentance.’
‘Life in the time of Covid’ is, somewhat ironically, giving us such an opportunity to reflect and ponder – there is time to make a difference to the quality of our individual and community lives. Human weakness will of course always be present and invasive, it seems that that is a part of who we are. However, Paul in his letter to the Romans gives us the encouragement that ‘the Spirit comes to help us in our weakness.’ There is much food for thought in our readings today and much comfort.
The great storyteller Jack Shea puts it thus: ‘When we fail, we feel humiliated, brought back to the truth that we have not progressed as far as we thought. But these humiliations are their own forms of progress. We learn that the movement from realization to integration, from the inner feeling of love to embodying love, is a never-ending process. We must not become discouraged.’
Life in the time of Covid is indeed horribly painful and distressing for most of us. But as today’s readings remind us, it can also be a time to repair any damage that we might have done.
Yours in Christ,