Jer 7:1-11; Ps 84:3-6a,8a,11; Mt13:24-30
His dwelling place
The dwelling place of the LORD, the Almighty, is lovely. It attracts us to the very One who is true Beauty. Indeed with Psalm 84, we too ache with yearning. Our very soul pines for the courts of the LORD. Even our flesh cries out for the living God. Even the sparrow finds a home and the swallow a nest for her young. If the wild birds of the air find shelter in the Temple of The LORD, how much more do we who are made in his own image and likeness. We who dwell in the house of the LORD bless our King and God continually—without ceasing. In the Lord Jesus, we go from strength to strength. There is no place we would rather be than at the threshold of the house of the LORD. Indeed we would rather be at his doorstep than dwell in the tents of the wicked. It take the voice of Jeremiah to remind us that the Temple of the LORD is not just a place to gather or to worship. Indeed, the New Temple of the LORD is the Body of Christ. As the Body of Christ we tolerate the weeds so that we do not pull up the wheat. Today the Eucharist gives us the strength to announce the Kingdom of God that begins in our hearts and beckons us into the glory of the future.
Why did he have to stand at the gate of the Temple? Why did Jeremiah have to stand at the gate to challenge those who had made an idol out of the Temple of the LORD? His message might have had a better chance if he preached in the market place. Then again he wasn’t preaching to those gathering in the market place; his message was for those entering the gates of the Temple. Religious rites and devotional practices can be very self-deceptive. We can easily fool ourselves into believing that we are truly repentant of heart and truly just to our neighbors because we perform our religious obligations. The Temple of the LORD is no refuge from avoiding the resident alien, the orphan, or the widow. We cannot shed innocent blood or follow strange gods without inviting judgment and punishment. Just giving praise for the Temple of the LORD is putting trust in deceitful words to our own loss. We cannot steal, murder, commit adultery and perjury and burn incense to strange gods and not suffer the consequence of our behavior. The Lord Jesus picks up on this prophetic action of Jeremiah in his own cleansing of the Temple when he says that they have made it a den of thieves. Indeed, this preaching of Jeremiah and of Jesus still challenges us today. We cannot hide behind religion or take refuge in pious feelings and do whatever we want. The LORD sees what is being done and knows our hearts. We are summoned to uproot vice and plant virtue every day; then and only then do we worship in spirit and in truth.
From the early days of the church it was obvious that some had heard and responded to the good seed of the Word of God; however there are weeds planed by an enemy that fooled many. The weeds growing in the garden of God’s Kingdom on earth look just like wheat plants when they are young. Therefore, to attempt gathering the weeds and not the wheat before the time of harvest was not possible. Until both plants matured and the differences were completely obvious, it would be impossible to uproot one and not destroy the other. Even now the church houses both weeds and wheat, and still we must resist the desire to make the church look good. The appearance of perfection is merely an illusion, the work of an enemy. It is the work of the Christ and his angels to separate the weeds from the wheat and until that day, we must not rip up and tear out. Every human eye is too blind to distinguish between the true wheat and true weeds. Although we are not equipped to judge the church, we must weed our own inner garden or we will have little to no room for the Eucharist and the King it makes present here and now.