Year A - Pentecost +7 or Community Practice 7
July 27, 2014
It was just a moment ago we heard that a sower sowed “good” seed and someone else sowed “weed” seed or invasive species. The wisdom of that moment was to let them both grow until harvest and to then separate them.
Here it seems a sower sowed mustard in their own wheat field. What sense does it make to sow mustard among the wheat?
Well, remember this is a parable and we only compare them to one another within the closing rubric of this pericope: we are to bring out of our treasured experiences that which is new and what is old according to the situation at hand. Attend to the situation to reduce the misapplication of a favorite saying.
For now rejoice that even a weed can be a symbol of the presence of G*D. In some sense this story is a direct challenge and counter to the privilege of mighty cedar trees. Here a mustard holds birds just like a cedar. All flighty persons are welcome to settle. That is you and me and all.
The New Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible says the mustard in question is “almost certainly” Brasica nigra (the black mustard) with a seed about 0.1 inches in diameter that in ideal conditions can grow to 15 feet tall with a stem as thick as a human arm. Of course parables don’t need to deal with “almost” certainties to make a point. If they were it would have to be recognized that in usual circumstances, the plant’s tendency to go limp in the heat of the day wouldn’t be an ideal nesting place. The certainties would also get us into the sexuality of the plant wherein the flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs). The plant is self-fertile. This wouldn’t play well with the “one man, one woman” crowd but does opens up a whole new understanding of “heavenly realms”.
For the moment, imagine the presence of G*D portrayed as a humble garden herb instead of an imperial tree already mighty, high and lifted up. Here is an opportunity to add flavor to life, not to overpower it. May we go and do likewise.