The Parable of the Wheat and Tares,
Engraved by Pieter Jalhea Furnius (1545-1610),
Executed in 1585, after Gerard van Groeningen, From the Series Thesaurus Sacrarum Veteris et Novi Testamenti,
Publish by Gerard de Jose (1509-1591),
Engraving on paper

The Parable of the Wheat and Tares,
Engraved by Pieter Jalhea Furnius (1545-1610),
Executed in 1585, after Gerard van Groeningen, From the Series Thesaurus Sacrarum Veteris et Novi Testamenti,
Publish by Gerard de Jose (1509-1591),
Engraving on paper

Gospel of 27 July 2019

Parable of the Wheat and Tares

Matthew 13: 24-30

Jesus put another parable before the crowds: ‘The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. While everybody was asleep his enemy came, sowed darnel all among the wheat, and made off. When the new wheat sprouted and ripened, the darnel appeared as well. The owner’s servants 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?” “Some enemy has done this” he answered. And the servants said, “Do you want us to go and weed it out?” But he said, “No, because when you weed out the darnel you might pull up the wheat with it. 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.”’

Reflection on the Engraving on Paper

The engraving we are looking at was published in 1585. We have to see this against a background of the Counter-Reformation, when the Catholic Church was fuelling a resurgence against the Protestant reformation which started around 1520. Print making became a huge tool for both protestants and catholics alike, to spread their message,. For the very first time in history, pictures and texts could be mass published and widely spread, almost as pamphlets. Both protestants and catholics used print making to get their message out to the masses. In that sense, I think that now we live in very similar times, where the internet for the first time since print making, is an equally revolutionary, powerful tool to reach literally everyone.

This print by Flemish engraver Pieter Furnius, graphically shows what the parable of today means. To 16th century eyes, this would have been quite a scary, graphic and challenging depiction. Our 21st century eyes have become quite immune to see images of violence, deceit and evil through television, papers and the internet; but to 16th century eyes, art such as this engraving would have had quite an impact. We see Satan sowing darnel, depicted as a monstrous man with a wild boar’s head, hoof feet and human hands. The people asleep in the foreground convey we are at night, when people are asleep, as per the parable. The darnel is a nasty plant, as it is virtually indistinguishable from the young shoots of the healthy wheat. In a way the parable is not just about how we have to be aware of evil catching us out when we are (spiritually) asleep, but it is all about trusting in God that He will take care of the harvest. When we leave the darnel among the wheat, rather than trying to extract it, ultimately God will harvest it all and then separate the weeds from the healthy wheat…

When we see great injustices or evil around us, we have to trust and rest assured that God will have the last word. God is a patient and tolerant ‘farmer’ where His primary care and love is for the ‘good seed’, the wheat, which he sowed initially. He will not jeopardise its growth, by trying to extract the evil weeds as the field’s crops grow. No, He is patient and will remove the bad crops from the good wheat… when He harvests…

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