The Prelate’s Sermon
Sunday, July 10
Today according to the Armenian Church calendar is the sixth Sunday of the feast of Pentecost. The Gospel reading is from St. Matthew Ch. 13. 24-30. Our Lord explains the parable of the weeds (also known as tares) creeping among the stalks of wheat as a divine depiction of the kingdom of heaven.
Even though our Lord Himself explained this parable (Mt 13 36-43), I would like to share a few thoughts from this simple yet profound analogy which keeps us alert in our daily life.
- The owner of the field who sowed good seed represents the Creator of this most miraculous universe. Since the beginning, the Creator has characterized His work to be good (Gen 1.4)., as the reflection of His own true nature and essence which are loving and good.
- The enemy who sows the weeds among the wheat stands for the Evil one. One of the greatest unsolved questions which is raised again in this parable is the origin of evil. If all of God’s Creation is good, then how did the enemy i.e., the Evil One, come into existence? There is no doubt that within our mortal lifespan, even if it were expanded over millennia, no human being would be able to provide a definitive answer which is known only to God. Yet, what we learn from the Scriptures, the source of our faith, is that a high-ranking agent of the Creator, named Lucifer (Is 14.12), and referred to as the “prince of this world” (Jn 14.30), deviated from his mission by misusing the power granted to him by the Almighty Lord. Pride and envy have been the motivation of his dreadful action manifested in misleading “the image and the likeness of God” (Gen 3.1-20).
- “The enemy sows the weeds when everybody was asleep”. It is obvious that the Evil one works in hidden ways. The explanation that everybody was asleep refers not only to physical but to spiritual inattentiveness. Being awake spiritually means to walk in the commandments of the Lord which are “a lamp for our feet, and light on our path” (Ps 119.105). There is no room for success to our Enemy when we are awake spiritually. When we take up the shield of faith, as Saint Paul says, then we can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one (Eph 6.16). But when we are asleep spiritually, dropping our shield of defense and surrendering to the weakness of the flesh, definitely the enemy will take advantage of our vulnerability. This is a fact not only in spiritual warfare but on the battlefield as we read in Judges 7.
- The judgment of the owner and the servants is incomparable. While the servants rush to uproot the weeds, the owner invites them to be patient. This is one of the best illustrations of the Lord’s characteristics revealed in Isaiah when the Lord God says, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways” (Is 55.8-9). This behavior is the full radiance of God’s love, understanding, forgiveness, patience, etc. For human beings, power is strength, while for God, Love is strength. His infinite forgiveness and patience are aimed only to see our salvation, as Ezekiel says, “I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live” (Ezek. 33.11).
- The verdict of the owner is majestic: “I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.” The fire, which is unquenchable, is foretold as the condemnation for the devil and all of his evil workers (Matt. 25:41), while the barn represents the safe gathering in the kingdom of heaven of all who do the Will of the Father (Matt 25:34). It is clear that the Evil one and all his followers by all means may neglect the supremacy and the power of the Almighty Lord because of His permissive and amazing Love. On the one hand, there is a consequence with high price to this deplorable misbehavior: endless suffering and useless remorse. On the other hand, there is tremendous reward beyond all imagination to all those who will enjoy the privilege of being in the heavenly Barn: the eternal presence of a loving Father who brought us into existence in order willingly and joyfully to use our free will and to be rewarded incomparably.
With this simple parable taken from agricultural life, let us all with Divine wisdom cultivate our life symbolized as a field. Let us be attentive and alert to worldly challenges, relying upon the instructions of our Humble Teacher in combating against the Evil one who plants his seeds, the weeds which choke our nature, when we are asleep spiritually. Let us always pray, and thank our heavenly Father who provides us all we need through His only Begotten Son and His Holy Spirit, glorifying the All-Holy Trinity. Amen.