July 23, 2023
One of the great questions found in literature, philosophy, and in the history of ideas is the fact that our life is a mixture of good and evil. We are imperfect people living in an imperfect world. Everywhere we look we find this strange mixture of what’s right and what’s wrong. Why there is evil?
As followers of Jesus Christ, what do we do with the problem of evil? That’s the question raised in today’s readings. Answering the question is a big problem for all of us. Just what do we do when it comes to ridding ourselves and our world of evil? The Scripture passages in today’s first reading and today’s gospel account suggest that we deal with evil as God deals with it, with patience and forbearance. Evil will eventually reveal itself and evil will eventually suffer the consequences it brings down upon itself. Sin brings with it its own suffering and punishment.
God, however, is not quick to render final judgments upon us. In His infinite patience and loving mercy God gives us plenty of time to make multiple decisions to choose what is decent, right, and good. In a very real sense God doesn’t have to condemn us; we do a good job in condemning ourselves. That is perhaps why God is both just and merciful at the same time. There are a couple of interesting points that I would like to point out to you about the parable that we just heard. One is that when He was asked where the weeds came from Jesus replied: “An enemy has done this.” He doesn’t tell us why God has enemies; He simply states it as a fact.
He is a realist, not a dreamy eyed idealist. To take a realistic view of life we simply must begin with the facts – evil exists and it comes from people who have chosen to defy God. It may not make any sense to us, but we simply must take it as a fact of life. People, of their own free will, choose to defy God and do things quite apart from Him. In the world of human choices, things are not as they ought to be, things are quite apart from what God intended them to be. The price of human freedom of choice is terribly costly, not only to us, but to God. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, had to pay that price.
Sometimes we may ask Why, doesn’t God simply pull up all of evil’s weeds? Why doesn’t God, with fire and brimstone, simply blast evil off the face of the earth? Well, that’s a lot easier said than done. Suppose if God did, what would happen? What would happen to each one of us? Aren’t we all a mixture of good and evil? Wouldn’t we get caught up on their firestorm of evil’s destruction?
Which brings me to the second point, namely the fact that so very often what is evil appears to be good, and what is good appears to be evil. We can’t make the sorting; only God can. In today’s parable Jesus speaks of the weeds are darnel. Now at the beginning of the growing process darnel looks just like wheat. It’s only when the harvest time approaches that the difference between the two becomes apparent. We know that to be true, don’t we?
Everything in this world has something wrong within it. We certainly know that’s true in our own Church, in our nation, in our world, and in our own personal lives. There are no “quick-fix” and easy solutions. Patience and forbearance are necessary, and to have patience and forbearance one must have faith.
This is what Jesus is calling us to have – faith in His heavenly Father’s plan, faith in His heavenly Father’s ultimate ways of dealing with us and with our world. We have to believe in God’s goodness and believe in His love for all that is good in our world. Isn’t that the faith Jesus had when he suffered His agony in the Garden of Gethsemane and as He hung dying on the cross? The Evil One tempted Him to despair, tempted Him to go over to the Dark Side. But Jesus remained steadfast, confident till at the end, at harvest time, His Father in heaven would harvest the good wheat and burn the darnel. Dying, Jesus handed over His fate to His Father in heaven.
Yes, it is a strange world we live in. But at the same time it is a beautiful world, a beautiful world filled with beautiful, wonderful, and even heroic people. The miracle is that goodness and love have survived evil’s onslaught. What is the vision in which you live? Do you really have faith in your heavenly Father, in the ultimate triumph of good over evil, and in the power of love? Today, once again, Jesus invites us to share in His vision, in His hope, and in His faith that in the end God our Father will bring good out of evil.
But sometimes, we fail to realize that the weeds…are us. God gives us time. He gives us opportunities to learn; to grow; to convert. We can become more than what we are. St. Augustine once put it this way: Consider what we choose to be in God’s field; consider what sort of people we are found to be at the harvest. Nobody knows what is going to happen tomorrow. What do we want to be? Uplifted by his love, nourished by the Eucharist we are about to receive, enriched by his Word in our hearts, we can leave this sacred place today carrying this hope: We don’t have to be weeds. By God’s grace, we can become wheat.