There is a lesson in Economic Geography in our Gospel reading today. I say this because the parable gives us an insight into the social and economic structure of Palestine at the time of Jesus.
In the Gospel given for today we hear Jesus’ teaching on forgiveness. Peter poses the question, an entirely practical one, by asking how many times we must forgive those who sin against us.
It may be a very short Gospel this Sunday but it contains three distinct sections that appear to be quite unrelated. If we find ourselves a bit puzzled as to why these three disparate segments of Christ’s teaching were put together then we first ought to spend a little time considering just how the Gospels were composed.
In today’s extract from St Matthew’s Gospel we see that Jesus has to give the Disciples some rather unpleasant news. It doesn’t sound as though he found it very easy. Telling your group of friends that you are going to have to suffer and die would be difficult for anyone; and it certainly wasn’t any easier for Jesus just because he was the Son of God.
In today’s Gospel reading we have one of the most important texts which underpins the structure of the Church. It is of course the great confession of Peter’s faith and Christ’s declaration: “You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church.”
The extract from St Matthew’s Gospel presented to us this Sunday seems to present us with a somewhat different aspect of Jesus’ character than we have seen until now. He seems unusually brusque and dismissive of the Canaanite woman. She wants a demon cast out from her daughter and is remarkably persistent even resorting to shouting after Jesus and his companions in an effort to embarrass him into exorcising the girl.
The Gospels are not long documents. The events which comprise the public ministry of Jesus are presented to us in the briefest possible terms and the Evangelists move very rapidly from one incident to another.
The Feast of the Transfiguration comes around every year on 6th August but we usually miss it because it most frequently falls on a weekday and is not a Holyday of Obligation. This year, however, this lovely feast lands on a Sunday and so we are able to give it a bit more consideration than usual. It is good that we do this because the Transfiguration is a very important feast yet all too often one which is forgotten.
In our Gospel today we are presented with three more parables about the nature of God's Kingdom. The first two about the treasure in the field and the pearl of great price tell us about the inestimable value of the Kingdom. The third one about the dragnet tells us about the great diversity of its make up.
Darnel is a common weed in Palestine and indeed around the world. The seed of the darnel is easily mistaken for wheat and the two plants are indistinguishable until they have ripened and the ear has developed. This means that they are easily confused for each other, hence the believability of the conclusion drawn in the parable that it had to have been an enemy who had sown the darnel among the wheat.