Sunday, July 23, 2017

God is the Only Just Judge

Matthew 13: 29-30a (NRSV): God is the only Just Judge
29 But [Jesus] replied, “No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. 30 Let both of them grow together until the harvest . . .”
I am fascinated by Christian-themed tattoos, and in my recent Googling, I unearthed an interesting trend. Many Christian-themed tattoos include the following words: “Only God can judge me.” Initially, my thoughts centered on the personal baggage of the tattoo bearer. Their life struggles may invite the judgment of others. Then, however, I considered the message itself and the truth therein: We are often tempted to judge others, which is hurtful to all involved. No matter who we are, our lives are a mixture of virtue and vice.
Jesus’ parable of the weeds and wheat points to God’s mercy and gives us hope. When the sower of the seed tells the slaves to not gather the weeds and wheat until the harvest, we are reminded that God has the power to judge us at any moment. However, God gives us the chance, through grace, to choose and develop the way of self-giving love (our wheat-ness) over the way of self-serving sin (our weed-ness). As flawed humans on the path to discipleship, we are both weeds and wheat, for to uproot one is to uproot the other. To elaborate, the late Jesuit scholar Frank Doyle states:
Each one of us is a combination of wheat and weeds. In each one of us there are elements of the Kingdom and elements that are deeply opposed to it. Paul recognised that struggle within himself (cf. Romans 7:21-25). So we need to learn how to be tolerant with our own weaknesses. God told Paul that it was precisely through his weaknesses that he could reveal his glory. “My power is made perfect in [your] weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
We know through Jesus’ teaching and Paul’s struggle that we are given the grace to grow stronger in Christ. And God cultivates us through time to bear good fruit in his name. The temptation, however, is to pass judgment on the “weeds” of the world, and that we all harbor our own “weeds” gives us no right to judge others. Instead, we should mirror the mercy of God.
The image of the tattoo resonates: Only God can judge any one of us. And his way is that of mercy, love, forgiveness, and grace. Can we, like the loving sower, practice mercy, refusing to uproot the wheat and the weeds?
Let us pray:
Heavenly Father, we pray to choose the path of love. And in choosing that path, we pray for the grace to mercifully forgive others as you forgive us. For you, dear God, teach us that we can only receive forgiveness when we give it. Cultivate each of us to be the loving, fruit-bearing wheat in your Kingdom field. In Jesus Christ we pray, Amen.

Have a blessed week,

Stan