I really love it when Jesus tells a story and then goes on to explain it! Boy does that make my job easier! In this case, the parable of the weeds and wheat, He makes it quite clear what the story is all about – how it is entirely possible for evil to exist alongside good. He even says in another place: the rain falls on the just and the unjust. I mean, if you watch the news it just proves the point. Yet, even though Jesus helps us understand the parable, it often leads to further questions … to a more in depth interpretation of that which is being said. With that, a few things jump at me … First: the workers want to act hastily and pull up the weeds. Second: the landowner’s response to their haste.
Many of us have gardens and so we know what weeds do to plants … But these weeds are different. It is a type of weed called ‘darnel’. It was particularly dangerous because its roots would become intertwined with the roots of the good plants – in this case, with the wheat. So, if you pull it up, you were likely to pull up the wheat along with it … and lose a good chunk of your crop. This is how Jesus explains how evil can co-exist alongside good.
The fact that evil exists in our world and why boils down to people’s freedom – but that’s a topic for another homily… Here, the workers want to uproot the evil, fight it right away! I’m always impressed with folks in our own country and across the globe who wish to do the same – in the face of some injustice, adversity, and wrongdoing many people seek to eradicate it and are not satisfied with a lack of results … but it is also a bit scary to see so many get behind fancy slogans and catchy rhetoric without really knowing what’s behind it. And we can see that many such movements are causing more harm than good, becoming more a source of division rather than healing … Could it be that they, like the workers in the gospel, were a bit too impatient? Could it be evil intermingling with good?
This is why the landowner’s response is striking… patience. It is lesson I think for us, as a people of faith as to how to respond appropriately in the face of evil, adversity, division, injustice and so on… with patience. In an address to catechists in December of 2000, Pope emeritus Benedict XVI warned us, against the temptation to impatience … we cannot insist on immediate success or large numbers – it isn’t God’s way. It takes time to form relationships, to understand truth – patience allows God to act with mercy… patience allows us to safeguard His word planted within our hearts and to be aware of the destructive forces of evil that seek to destroy it … patience allows us to be calm in the face of adversity, evil and injustice … patience allows us to act with love … to respect one another … to uphold human dignity … patience allows us to build a civilization of love – one that mirrors the patience and mercy of God. It is not accepting of evil but rather perseveres through it … it is not hasty but endures, with love, in an effort to become a witness for unity, healing, peace and mercy … patience is, therefore the proper response because it is an act of mercy and mercy is proper to God.