Wheat and weeds all mixed up

I remember the title of a book which a fellow student – now an eminent Jesuit –once jokingly proposed but never wrote: “God is Mixed Up!” I cannot remember precisely the nature of the good man’s complaint with God but there are questions people find puzzling. One is the problem of evil. Where does it come from? If, looking at his creation, God “found that it was good” how come it was messed up so quickly?

I am not about to propose any easy answer but the parable of the “enemy” sowing weeds among the wheat, in Matthew ch.10, does suggest a line of thought. A farmer sowed good seed in his field and when the grain sprouted the weed was seen as well. The servant wanted to root out the weed but the farmer said wait. “When you remove the weed you may remove the wheat too. It will be time enough when the harvest comes; then we will sort out the bad from the good.”

Does wheat grow better if it has to compete with weeds? I would say yes. Sowing in a pristine field without a single weed sounds rather dull. We need weeds to sharpen our focus. Gerhard Lohfink, in his Jesus of Nazareth (2012), says the parable allows Jesus to show the unstoppable growth of the reign of God, the minute and hidden character of its beginnings and the power of the forces out to destroy it.

So God’s reign is coming even if the signs of it today are sometimes hard to see and the forces ranged against it are mighty. We may not have an easy answer to the problem of evil but we can sense that our struggle against it makes us better people. If everything fell into place without any effort on our part, there being no physical or moral challenges to face, it would not be a church we would need but a scientific research centre.

The words of Thomas Aquinas come in here: “God did not want evil but he allowed it. And that is good.” I do not know if Thomas explained the last four words or even if he could explain them. (It is OK to write something even if you don’t know what it means. Others will puzzle it out later!) Perhaps we are in a region beyond explanations. Those of us who imbibed “western” educational influences want an explanation for everything. Sometimes there isn’t one. We just feel something makes sense. We call it intuition.

So leaving the weeds to grow makes sense. We have a messy Church, a mixed up one. It doesn’t look like the “spotless bride of Christ.” Every person and every institution in the Church is a mixed reality, full of good and tainted with evil. That is our identity. Years ago I remember returning from the football field, in the rainy country where I was at school, covered in mud and sweat. It had been a good game but we were a sight to look at.

23 July 2017                                        Sunday 16 A

Wisdom 12:13…19                             Romans 8:26-27                                  Matthew 13:24-43

Post published in: Faith

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