Voices of Faith: In parable, why were weeds not pulled before harvest?

Weeds teach patience

Elder Donald D. Deshler of the Seventy, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Overland Park, Kan.: We learn in this parable that God permits both wheat (the good crop) and tares (the weeds) to grow together until the time of the harvest (the final judgment).

Jesus explained to his disciples, “the field is the world; the good seeds are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one.” (Matthew 13:38)

Being omnipotent, God has the power to remove tares in the form of evil influences, difficulties or trials from our lives at any time. However, one of the purposes of mortality is for us to learn to deal with challenging circumstances, situations and even difficult people in our lives.

Frequently, when something inexplicable happens (for example, an innocent person is harmed or killed through carelessness or ill intent of another), we may ask, “Why would God permit that to happen?”

In short, Spencer W. Kimball, a modern-day prophet, taught: “The Lord does not always heal the sick nor save those in hazardous zones. He does not always relieve suffering and distress, for even these seemingly undesirable conditions may be part of a purposeful plan.”

Among the lessons that we might learn from this parable are: First, we are to love, seek to influence, share God’s ways with, and not judge those with whom we associate who may adhere to a different set of values than we do.

Second, although we are saved through the grace and mercy of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we are to do everything that we can to develop ourselves (and our families) to be a righteous, obedient, loving people who will be worthy to be saved at the time of the final harvest.

Finally, we should orient our lives so that we are always following the “Master Gardener,” Jesus Christ, in all that we desire, think, say and do.

As Solomon counseled his people in Old Testament times (1 Kings 8:61): “Let your heart, therefore, be perfect with the LORD our God, to walk in his statutes, and to keep his commandments.”

Lesson in inclusion

The Rev. Holly McKissick, Peace Christian Church UCC, Kansas City, Mo.: It has been 46 years, but I can still see the worksheets in Mrs. Faggerstrom’s kindergarten class. There were three pictures on each line, like two cows and a horse or two mittens and a scarf. We were to put an X on the picture that did not belong.

The concept evolved, and later we learned about sets and subsets. The set of females had a subset of girls and grandmothers. Outside the set, in another world altogether, were things like boys and rocks.

It was important. To survive, a calf needs to know a cow from a horse.

The only problem is the “this belongs and this doesn’t” worksheet-world omits and oversimplifies. There certainly was no transgendered category in my kindergarten classroom. As it turns out, the world is more complicated.

The gospel writer Matthew knew that. It’s hard to separate the wheat from the weeds.

From the very first verses, the gospel challenges our assumptions. There are five women listed in Matthew’s genealogy, and none from the foreigner Ruth to the prostitute Rahab fits our subsets of righteous, valuable, chosen.

It’s like that throughout the Gospel. You can’t tell who belongs and who doesn’t. You can’t separate the wheat from the weed, the sheep from the goats.

Matthew is making a point: The one we put a big X on is the one Jesus welcomes and wants. You can’t pull up plants or people and throw them in a pile.

Everyone adds to the feast.