Monday, February 25, 2019
Rogelio Zelada - Office of Lay Ministry
In the parables and analogies that Jesus uses to announce the Kingdom and its characteristics, those dedicated to working the land occupy an important place: sowers, day laborers, winemakers, and the announcement of the extraordinary quality of the seed that he himself must plant at all times and places. His most immediate reference comes from his experience in Nazareth, the small world where he was raised and worked as a rural artisan, a village of just 150 inhabitants. Its source of work was agriculture or the reconstruction of the nearby city of Sepphoris, which Herod wanted to turn into the capital of his kingdom. Jesus grew up in a basically rural area, a colony of Judeans, of illiterate peasants who came to Galilee looking for work.
The Gospel of Matthew introduces us to a sower, possibly a small landowner who, according to the custom of that time, scatters the seed before plowing the land in a somewhat seemingly careless way. However, the context suggests that having the seed fall along a path, between thorns, thistles and brambles, and finally in fertile and generous land, was the intentional goal of the sower. Birds are the threat that constantly fly over the area and jeopardize the future crop; hard, stony earth and thorny plants are natural enemies of the harvest; but in spite of everything, the strength of the seed thrown into the air makes it possible for it to germinate anywhere.
When we travel on roads and highways, it is amazing to see plants sprouting in small cracks and crevices of the hard concrete, inexplicably managing to survive and grow without land and without water, splendidly sprouting and announcing a life and greenery that nobody has cultivated. The sower of the parable takes a risk beyond human possibilities because it is the sign of the Messiah’s action, offering God's salvation to all, in every moment and place. It is a transformative action of such caliber that, according to the testimony of the Baptist, it “can raise up children to Abraham from these stones.”
This sower Messiah does not only choose a safe and ideal space to carry out his plan of salvation, but mysteriously acts on all levels of the present reality without waiting for times of certainty or absence of conflicts. Despite the tremendous powers of evil or indifference, this seed can spring up in the midst of adversity and amid the greatest difficulties, by the very power of the Word that comes from the mouth of God.
On another occasion, a dangerous enemy sows weed, mixing it with the good wheat and threatening the seed that had been properly sown with extreme care. The logical thing would have been to uproot the weed as soon as it began to sprout. However, the reader is astonished to learn that instead of ordering its immediate clearing, the owner of the field spares its life and allows it to grow along with the wheat, giving it a unique opportunity to develop until it is time for the harvest. The owner faces enormous danger because the seed of this plant is highly toxic and if mixed with the wheat grain in the milling, it could poison whoever eats the bread.
Some New Testament experts see in this parable an image of the Church, where the uncomfortable outbreaks of mediocrity and superficiality appear among the good wheat of holiness, as if the Lord did not want for himself a pure, perfect community, made up of angels and not human beings with defects, ingratitude and weaknesses, stained by the mud of sin.
The Church founded by Christ is a family where everyone must be welcomed at the level of conversion in which they find themselves. The faithful — the good wheat — have the mission of illuminating the path of transformation for those who still suffer from the evil of the weed, to help them become rich and generous wheat every day until the end of time.
In the mind of Christ, the Church is always something small: a little yeast germinating the dough; a net in which fish of all kinds fit; a small coin that causes joy when found; and a tiny mustard seed that rises and grows to shelter the birds of the field.
The common and curious thing about all these parables is the constant invitation to sow, but not to harvest, a task that only belongs to the Lord at the time and in the manner that he considers appropriate. It is an action that the Gospel announces hyperbolically; an abundant harvest at that time would not have achieved more than four times the seed sown. Nevertheless, the harvest will be so abundant in messianic times that it will yield up to 100 times in harvested fruit.