Why Does God Leave the Weeds? (16th Sunday, Year A)
Last Sunday, we heard the parable of the sower and the seed and discovered that God has some unusual farming techniques. This week, with the parable of the weeds in the garden, we see once again God’s method of farming is different than most. Last week’s “parable of the sower and the seed” and today’s”parable of the weeds” are parables about the church, about the field that God plants in the hope of gaining a rich harvest of blessing for himself and for the world he has made. The farmer’s parables are parables about us as much as they are about God and what he does. As I mentioned last week, we are the field of God, the soil where he plants.
Not everyone thinks Christianity and Catholicism are worth the effort. The two main reasons modern people give for not being Christian and for not associating with or attending church are the following:
One: People in the church are just as lousy as everyone else in the world. In general they are hypocrites and in particular there are thieves, liars, gossips, cheats, snobs, and adulterers among them.
Two: The whole idea of a good God is clearly ridiculous because if he was so good why would he allow so much evil to exist in the world.
Do these two reasons sound familiar to you? It’s true. That’s where many people are.They are upset, understandably so, that not everything is perfect. Like the farmer’s servants in today’s parable they are concerned: concerned that there are weeds among the wheat, concerned that the harvest might not happen, concerned that the effort of their master might come to nothing.
It is easy to be intimidated by what we might call the weeds in the church. It is easy to focus on the sins and imperfections that exist in the world and in the members of the Church. We can become so preoccupied with the flaws, the weeds that we forget the vast bouquet of flowers that makes up the rest of the church.
It is hard to understand why God allows the devil to cast his seed in his garden. The darnel, the weed referred to, looks like wheat. It even has a head similar to wheat. When the plant is young, it is almost impossible to distinguish it. Only when it is fully grown, without any grain, can it be separated from the wheat and burned. The word that God gives his servants is very clear: do not remove them, ”if you pull up the weeds, you might uproot the wheat along with them.” In other words, leave it to me. Wait for the time I have set.
It’s hard to wait. It’s hard to understand, especially when you see terrible things happening. But when it comes to dealing with other people, both in the Church and in the world, God calls us to plant not to weed; that job is his. We are to resist evil, of course, in ourselves and in others through his grace. We are called to recognize evil, to name it, and to pray to God that he will take care of it, much as the farmer told his servants in the parable that he would take of it. BUT most of all, we are told to do good instead of evil
– to bless instead of curse
– to praise instead of criticize
– to help instead of walk away
– to love instead of hate
– to forgive instead of resent
– to tell truth instead of lies.
God indeed has a plan but when we look at it with only the dim light of human wisdom, or the closed eyes of doubt and pride, there is almost no explaining why God allows the devil to cast his destructive seed in his garden.
I want to conclude by saying that I am glad of one thing in this whole mystery. In this strange system of divine agriculture, in this field that is so mixed and cluttered with weeds (and some of them are real whoppers), I am glad that God waits a while and tells his servants to hold back. Because, at some point, and maybe even for long periods of time, each of us has been a weed in God’s garden. Some of the things we have done or failed to do were more of the devil than of the Lord. Knowing this, realizing what God has done and can do for us when we let him, I’m grateful to have the weeding put off to the end!
God is aware of the evil in our world. Evil is the price of freedom. If mankind did not have the ability to choose between good and bad, he wouldn’t be free. Evil choices affect all people, but it is the price of having the ability to choose good. The farmer does not refuse to plant because he might find weeds among the wheat. He plants knowing that the result might not be perfect, but there will be wheat.
God created us with the ability to bear fruit. That also gave us the ability not to bear fruit. We call out to God in times of tragedy, in times of evil. We want to be vindicated for doing good and suffering evil. The Lord recognizes our suffering and suffers with us, but he gives others time to choose him also, to be numbered among his wheat. God sees the weeds among the wheat. They are the price of freedom. But without freedom there would be no wheat.
Today, we pray that we might withstand the onslaught of evil against us and we also pray we might fight to eliminate evil in our own lives. With confidence, with hope, we realize the Lord who sees all will, in the wisdom of his time, remove the weed from the wheat and bring forth an abundant harvest.
Categories: ARCHIVE Fr. Kevin Schroeder