A Parable About Good and Evil
16th Sunday Ordinary Time
July 23, 2023
Why does God allow evil to exist in our world? This is one of the most vexing of all questions. Jesus gives us part of the answer in this Sunday’s gospel of the parable of the “weeds and the wheat” (Matthew 13:24-30). The servants of the master’s household are perplexed because weeds have begun growing amid the good crop that they have carefully sown. How did they get there? Should they be pulled out right away? This is a parable anyone who has a garden or grows food can relate to.
This “weed” Jesus speaks of in the parable is actually a real plant that his hearers would have been very familiar with. The “weed” is a plant called darnel, and it looked so much like the wheat variety that was grown in the Holy Land at that time that it was very hard to tell which plant was which – until harvest time. The wheat was edible, while the darnel/weed was poisonous. The servants’ first reaction was to pull all the bad stuff right out, but the master has a better plan – wait until the harvest time, so that the wheat is not destroyed along with the weeds.
The weeds were sown by an enemy – the devil. God is not the source of evil in our world, but he does allow both good and evil, weeds and wheat, to co-exist for a time. The ultimate end of the weeds is to be burned, while the wheat will go to the master’s barn – in other words, the home of God, or heaven. In the end, you can recognize the wheat by the good fruit it produces – and the weed by the poison. We will know which is which in our lives by what kind of fruit the plant has produced.
In this world, God gives everyone time to repent of their sins, to discover what the meaning of life is (e.g., love of God, love of neighbor). So part of the answer is that God is being patient with the wicked. The wheat, the children of God, will be tested by having to battle with the forces of evil, and will be proven by the fight.
Ultimately, the reason the whole field is not plowed over at once by the master is because of the presence of the wheat. God is depending on the children of God to be the wheat of this world. Evil looks very attractive at first and is chosen by many, but it is in the end, poisonous. Those who do evil usually think they are getting away with something, or that God does not see, or that he does not care, or that he is not there. But in reality, God sees all, knows all, and is waiting and watching. He has the last word. Christ warns us by saying “whoever has ears, ought to listen”.