Jesus set a Midrash before them, “Similar is the rule of the great flow of things to a man who sowed beautiful seed in is country. When the men slept their enemy came and and sowed false wheat in the middle of the grain and left. When the plants grew and the grain appeared making fruit, the false wheat, also appeared. The employees of the head of the house walked through the field and told him, “Kyrie, did we not sow beautiful fruit in the country and now we have false wheat.”
The head of the house told them, “An enemy man made this. The employees remarked, “Do you desire for us to come and gather them up?” He declared, “No. Do not gather the false wheat. You may uproot the wheat along with them. Let them grow together until harvest; at harvest time, I will tell the harvesters, “First collect the weeds, tie them in bundles for burning; but gather the wheat into my barn.”
He proposed another Midrash. “The rule of the great flow of things is a mustard seed a man took and sowed in the country. It is the smallest of all the seeds; when full-grown it is the largest of plants. It becomes a large bush; the ‘birds of the sky come to dwell in its branches.’ He spoke another Midrash to them. “The rule of the great flow of things is like yeast that a woman took and mixed with three measures of wheat flour until the whole batch was leavened.”
All these things Jesus spoke to the crowds in Midrashim. He spoke to them only in Midrashim, to fulfill what our tradition tells us through the Nabi: ‘I will open my mouth in Midrash. I will announce what has lain hidden from the foundation of the world.’
Then, dismissing the crowds, he went into the house. His Talmudim approached him,
“Explain to us the Midrash of the weeds in the field.” He replied, “Ben Adam is the one who sows the beautiful seed, the country is the cosmos, the beautiful seed is the children of the great flow of things. The false wheat is the children of the rotten one, and the enemy who sows is the Great Accuser. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are messengers. As we collect weeds and burn them in fire, so will it be at the end of the age.
The Ben Adam will send his messengers, and they will collect out of his domain all who cause others to err and all doers of rot. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth. The charitable will shine like the sun in the rule of their Father. Whoever has ears, Hear!”
The word for wheat used in this passage is “Zizanion.” English words used to translate this weed are, “Lolium Temulentum,” “Darnel” and “Cockle.” Some refer to it as “False Wheat.” This weed looks almost like wheat until the ear appears. The ears on real wheat are so heavy, it makes the entire plant droop downward, but this weed, whose ears are light, stands up straight. The wheat will also appear brown when ripe, whereas the darnel is black.
Here is the interesting aspect of this weed, the weed has the characteristic of making one feel poisoned with drunkenness, and can cause death. The scientific name alludes to this trait. Latin temulentus is fancy Latin for ‘drunk.’
This past Sunday I discussed the parable of the Sower with Father Francisco at our humble parish in Reno Nevada, St. Thomas Acquinas Cathedral. The point of discussion was the meaning of the beautiful ground as it relates to all ground. In Reno Nevada, we have farms and we have paths. The difference between the two, we agreed, is that the beautiful ground is spiritual, it has air in it. Therefore it is soft and pliable, and flows through our hands. The other ground, the path, the rocks, and the ground with weeds is hard ground. Beautiful farm ground is ground that nourishes, not so the hard ground which burns people with the fire of the sun. In this coming Sunday’s readings we are presented with the question, are we the soft seed, that nourishes others, or the hard ground, which wants to burn them with the fires of hell and drunkenness.
St. Matthew also gives us some things to look for in this weed of drunkenness. He tells us, “The Ben Adam will send his messengers, and they will collect out of his domain all who cause others to err and all doers of rot.” We see the signs of this weed when we see rot and drunkenness in our world. St. Matthew does not tell us that he will collect those who err/sin, but those who cause others to err, those who produce rot. We need to always be looking at our actions and asking, do we cause others to err. Do we produce rot in our cosmos? Cosmos is the Greek word most often translated as, “Organized world,” as opposed to “wilderness.”
A humble plant, the ears on the real wheat are so heavy, it makes the entire plant droop toward the ground. The ears of the weed point straight up, in pride. Do we droop like real wheat, or are we full of pride. In our actions, do we make those less fortunate than us want to get drunk and forget their concerns?
St. Matthew tells us that the enemy who sows is the Great Accuser. The gifts of the Holy Spirit are, spiritual skill, building people up, being like the tree (soft on the outside (leaves and twigs) and solid on the inside, the trunk), strong as a soldier, a community of facts, looking to the Personal Name and having a spirit of looking to the Personal Name. The Christian has the skill of building people up, is soft/gentle with others, and is a soldier, helping others. He creates community and he does so by always looking to the Personal Name and causing others to look to the Personal Name.
The other type of people, those who follow the Great Accuser, do the opposite. They accuse people. The Greek term most often used for “Accuse” is Categorize.” Do we categorize and accuse people, especially before we know all the conditions upon which they do things?” If we do, we are children of the Great Accuser and we are the weeds. When we abuse people we cause them to want to become drunk, just like the weed, and drinking too much can cause people to die. Remember, the passage does not refer to people who err, the drunk, but to those who cause people to get drunk, who cause people to err, by accusing people.
With this in mind, we look at the Midrash in the middle of the main Midrash. That is the parable of the Mustard seed. It is the smallest of seeds, just like Christianity started with one man, Christ. When we remove our weeds of accusation and categorizing people, when we start to build people up and not tear them down, we become like the redwood spore. It is the smallest spore of all the evergreen trees. When it grows, it becomes the tallest tree in the forest. So, what are we going to be, the weed that causes people to want to get drunk and die, or the redwood tree.