Jesus proposed another parable to the crowds, saying:“The kingdom of heaven may be likenedto a man who sowed good seed in his field. While everyone was asleep his enemy cameand sowed weeds all through the wheat, and then went off. When the crop grew and bore fruit, the weeds appeared as well. The slaves of the householder came to him and said,‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where have the weeds come from?’He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’His slaves said to him,‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’He replied, ‘No, if you pull up the weedsyou might uproot the wheat along with them. Let them grow together until harvest;then at harvest time I will say to the harvesters,“First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning;but gather the wheat into my barn.”’”
This can be very hard for Protestants to process. For them the Kingdom of Heaven is typically thought of as just the set of people being saved. Here Jesus talks about people not being saved and yet being active members of the Kingdom of Heaven. So what is it then? For Catholics that is easy. It is the church. Not everyone in it is saved but it is the visible kingdom of God on earth. The question of pulling up weeds is whether or not to try and purge the unsaved from the church. Jesus says No. You are not qualified to judge who is saved and who is not. You will make to many mistakes.
How would a protestant see pulling up the weeds? Maybe throwing them out of the denomination? That does not make that much sense. They would not associate any denomination with being in the Kingdom of God. So pulling up a weed is simply impossible in the protestant world. So what is Jesus talking about?
The other way this passage gets used is to suggest that excommunication is wrong. The trouble is that is explicitly talked about in scripture. Look at 1 Cor 5. So what is the difference? These people look like Christians. There is not one external that makes it obvious they are not. You just kind of think they are insincere. Someone who is publicly contradicting the faith either with their teaching or with their moral life can and should be excommunicated. This is to protect the body and to warn that person that their sin is serious and needs to be dealt with. The key think in that case is the public perception of what the faith is. Is there confusion being created? That is a matter for church leaders to judge.
This is more around people who say they are trying to live the faith. You might think if they were really trying they would be a little more successful. We need to patiently encourage people to live their faith better but never try and run them out of the church. I said last week, "Expect a lot." That is true. This week Jesus is warning us against the danger of judging. He is rocky soil. She is thorny soil. Them? The bird have long eaten their seed! We are not to get into that game. We encourage everyone to be good soil and when they seem like they are not we keep encouraging because we might be wrong.
It connects well with the second reading. The idea that we don't know how to pray as we ought. We don't know God well enough. We don't know ourselves well enough. We certainly don't know other people well enough. How can we know what grace their heart needs? We might even look at our own heart and wonder if we are wheat or tares. So do we need conversion or do we need to get up and keep walking the path we are on? The answer is just pray. If you pray the wrong prayer, which you will, the Holy Spirit will fix it.