Year A 16th Sunday: Matthew 13:24-43

The picture of today is an illustration of Jesus’ parable about the good seed and the bad darnel. I focus on that part of Jesus’ words and put aside the other parables (13:31-35).


13:24   He put another parable before them,

'The kingdom of Heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field.

13:25   While everybody was asleep his enemy came,

sowed darnel all among the wheat, and made off.

13:26   When the new wheat sprouted and ripened, then the darnel appeared as well.

13:27   The owner's labourers went to him and said,

"Sir, was it not good seed that you sowed in your field?

If so, where does the darnel come from?"

13:28   He said to them, "Some enemy has done this."

And the labourers said, "Do you want us to go and weed it out?"

13:29   But he said,

"No, because when you weed out the darnel you might pull up the wheat with it.

13:30   Let them both grow till the harvest; and at harvest time I shall say to the reapers:

First collect the darnel and tie it in bundles to be burnt,

then gather the wheat into my barn."


13:36  Then, leaving the crowds, he went to the house; and his disciples came to him

and said, 'Explain to us the parable about the darnel in the field.'

13:37  He said in reply, 'The sower of the good seed is the Son of man.

13:38  The field is the world; the good seed is the subjects of the kingdom;

the darnel, the subjects of the Evil One;

13:39   the enemy who sowed it, the devil; the harvest is the end of the world;

the reapers are the angels.

13:40  Well then, just as the darnel is gathered up and burnt in the fire,

so it will be at the end of time.

13:41  The Son of man will send his angels

and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of falling and all who do evil,

13:42  and throw them into the blazing furnace,

where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth.

13:43  Then the upright will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.

Anyone who has ears should listen!

Context and Information

We still are in Jesus’ Discourse of Parables which fills the 13th chapter of Matthew’s Gospel.

In this parable Jesus answers two vital questions. The first one is: where does evil come from? Note that Jesus doesn’t explain evil things, calamities and disasters as a punishment or even the wrath of God. Evil things come from God’s enemy.

The second question Jesus answers is: how do we have to deal with the evil element in our lives, outside and inside ourselves. Don’t try to weed it out. Don’t focus on the evil things, but focus on the good things.

There is yet another surprise in this parable. The kingship of God has to be found where good and evil grow together. So the kingship of God is not the situation that there is no evil at all; no, the kingship of God grows where I make the choice to do the good things while I live in a situation in which good and evil go together.

Picture Meditation

Looking at the picture I try to recognize Jesus’ parable of the good seed and the bad darnel.

In the top left corner the sower sows his seed. It is good seed. That is indicated by the little figure beside him: a person with praying hands. In the bottom left corner I see how ‘the enemy’ is sowing his seed during the night. In the top right corner a man who is complaining that there is darnel among the harvest. In the rhombic centre the reapers attend to their work.

In the upper part of the bottom right corner the good harvest is brought together; in the lower part the bad one is burned.

I look at the reapers and I try to place myself in their position. How often did I go to the Lord with the question: ‘Where does evil come from? How come there is evil? How do I have to deal with bad and evil things?’ Perhaps it reflects my prayers of this time?

I remember Jesus’ life. How he had to suffer because of the presence of evil in people. And how he dealt with it. He mentioned it; he warned for it. In his suffering he bore it and answered with good things: with the healing of the ear of one of his attackers (Luke 22,51); with his prayer for forgiveness for the people who put him to death (Luke 23,34); with the promise to the evil-doer who asked for grace that he would be with him in paradise (Luke 23,43).


Looking at the picture I see a very everyday scene of life in Jesus’ days. But through the everyday outside, Jesus discerned an image of God’s mystery. He does so as well in the two parables in between: a woman preparing a meal, and a little seed grows to be a tree. I read the other parables: each of them: everyday situations. Jesus had the capacity to see the presence of God’s mystery in everyday situations. Everything and every situation spoke of God in one way or another.

I try to do it myself. Looking at the things I do every day..., I meet every..., I deal with every day... Looking or listening at the everyday news: I try to find out if I can understand it as a parable of God.

Perhaps I can finish with a prayer where I ask for that skill.

Meditation by Fr Dries van den Akker S.J