In the Common Lectionary readings for Sunday, July 19th we are given the teaching of the weeds and the wheat (Mt. 13:24-30) as well as a reading from the Book of Wisdom (Ws. 12:13, 16-19).
In Wisdom, God teaches us that those who are just must also be kind. How easily we overlook the strength of kindness. Yet, God – the source of all that is – does not. But though you are master of might, you judge with clemency, and with much lenience you govern us; for power, whenever you will, attends you. And you taught your people, by these deeds, that those who are just must be kind and you gave your children good ground for hope that you would permit repentance for their sins.
This kindness and patience of God is given further evidence in our Lord’s parable on the weeds and the wheat in the field. The master of the field will not rip up the weeds and thus the good wheat but will wait. God’s patience is God’s and not ours. God will allow the weeds to grow along with the wheat and God alone will decide the appropriate time to harvest. But the teaching comes to us too; for (as Wisdom says) God has determined that those who are just must be kind.
In our day we are witnessing a strong desire to address injustice. This is a good thing but there is also, I would say, a harsh tenor to our times and I wonder if this harshness finds its root in a fallacy of thought that we may have all bought into. The presumption that we do not have any weeds in our own field. A basic truth of the parable of the weeds and wheat is that weeds have been sown, that everyone’s field has weeds. No one individual, no society, no culture, no church, no group is exempt. At the end of the day, we all fall back on the mercy of God. When this truth is forgotten, a harshness of heart and soul quickly sets in.
But God has given us good ground for hope in the overlooked strength of kindness. Kindness springs from empathy and empathy from humility and humility alone has the courage to see and acknowledge the weeds amidst the wheat, even in our own field. Yes, strive mightily for what is just and right but do not lose kindness. We lose our soul when we lose kindness. We lose that which is best in us when we lose kindness.
Strive for justice … and be kind to one another.