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by David G. Duggan ©
July 25, 2023

A year ago, I had a landscaper replace the lawn in a thrice re-sodded courtyard separating my two buildings with shade-loving groundcover. As almost any urbanite will tell you growing grass (not the smokeable variety) in a city is a fool's errand. Too little sun and too many ambient weeds to make it the lovely carpet seen at golf courses and on TV ads for lawn care companies.

Though the landscaper used new soil to host the groundcover, that hasn't kept the weeds from invading. I was getting tired of seeing the weeds crowd out the groundcover so I braved the early morning mid-summer heat and forest fire wafted air pollutants and weeder in hand stooped and pulled, stooped and pulled. My arthritic back and hips could take it for only so long.

The last two Gospel lessons read this summer present Matthew's account of Jesus' parables of the sower, the seed, and the weeds (13: 1-43). Luke (8:4-15) and Mark (4:3-8) also have their own accounts, but only Matthew adds the parable of the weeds growing amid the "good seed." The three synoptics tell of the seed strewn on four different surfaces. Jesus uses seed as metaphor for the Word of God and explains how the different surfaces produced different yields.

Matthew describes a different scenario. An enemy "sowed weeds" in a householder's field and the weeds grew up among the wheat. Rather than have his slaves go out into the field and uproot the weeds, the householder told them to wait until the harvest because in uprooting the weeds, the slaves would also uproot the wheat. At harvest, the mature plants could be separated and the weeds bundled and burned. Again, Jesus had to explain this parable, but the good seed becomes the "children of the kingdom" and "the weeds are the children of the evil one."

The groundcover and the weeds in my courtyard had their roots intertwined and occasionally I pulled up a sprig of groundcover with the clump of weed. At $15 a flat for the groundcover I couldn't keep doing this and had to be more careful. Some have heard this parable and suggested that the weeds in the householder's field were just plants that hadn't been found uses for. But if that were true, why didn't Jesus say it: "Slaves, just wait several hundred years and science will come up with some use for those weeds. Don't burn them now."

The church today is beset by weeds in the field: transgenderism, a political agenda, recompense for historic wrongs by those dead for centuries. What little good wheat there is has been choked off by the droning voices of the evil one's children. Will the householder hear the cries of the children of His kingdom? Or will He let them die on the stalk?

David Duggan is an attorney living in Chicago. He is an occasional contributor to VIRTUEONLINE

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