Looking Forward to Sunday: Impossible Purity

Rev. Daniel Eggold

Jul 13, 2020

Readings:

Isaiah 44:6–8; Psalm 119:57–64; Romans 8:18–27; Matthew 13:24–30, 36–43

Typical of medieval art, this 1540 painting of today’s parable, made to hang on an altar in Germany, depicts the devil with horns on his head and clawed feet. The landowner is asleep, and several bishops are not alert to the machinations of the devil. Note the cross of Christ shining in the sky.

     Maybe you have bought or been offered bottled water recently. Did it say “purified” on it? Did you assume that meant the water was totally pure?What if you learned that bottled water, even purified, always has some contaminants in it? Would you still drink it? You probably did.

     Jesus’ parable of the weeds among the wheat reminds us of our desire for purity. It is tempting on first reading the parable to immediately ask ourselves, So, who is a weed and who is wheat? We might wonder if the people we don’t like much are weeds. We might also be anxious to know whether we are wheat,children of the kingdom. Sorting it all out now and purifying the field would make things simpler.

     Except everything in the parable says we don’t get to sort things out!Surprisingly, Jesus lowers our sense of urgency to sort out good from bad in life. Jesus says it is better to live with ambiguity, better to accept impurity, than to try so hard to clean everything up now. Why? Because we risk great harm to others in trying to obtain a level of purity we can never have in this life.

     The desire for purity, especially among religious persons, can be strong. For some, this means getting rid of people who fail to live up to certain moral standards. For others, it means judging people based on who we label them to be. But total purity never exists in nature, nor in humanity as a whole, nor in any person... except Jesus!

     Rather than worrying about whom to get rid of, with Jesus’ help, we trust that we are children of the kingdom by God’s grace. We are included. When we know we are loved, we don’t need to worry about another’s status. That’s for God to worry about. We are free to love others and ourselves and to let God sort out the rest.

Prayer

Faithful God, most merciful judge, you care for your children with firmness and compassion. By your Spirit nurture us who live in your kingdom, that we may be rooted in the way of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.