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Can God Just Get Rid of All the Evil People?

Reading 1.  WIS 12:13, 16-19

There is no god besides you who have the care of all,
that you need show you have not unjustly condemned.
For your might is the source of justice;
your mastery over all things makes you lenient to all.
For you show your might when the perfection of your power is disbelieved;
and in those who know you, you rebuke temerity.
But though you are master of might, you judge with clemency,
and with much lenience you govern us;
for power, whenever you will, attends you.
And you taught your people, by these deeds,
that those who are just must be kind;
and you gave your children good ground for hope
that you would permit repentance for their sins.

 

Responsorial Psalm.  PS 86:5-6, 9-10, 15-16

R. (5a) Lord, you are good and forgiving.
You, O LORD, are good and forgiving,
abounding in kindness to all who call upon you.
Hearken, O LORD, to my prayer
and attend to the sound of my pleading.
R. Lord, you are good and forgiving.
All the nations you have made shall come
and worship you, O LORD,
and glorify your name.
For you are great, and you do wondrous deeds;
you alone are God.
R. Lord, you are good and forgiving.
You, O LORD, are a God merciful and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in kindness and fidelity.
Turn toward me, and have pity on me;
give your strength to your servant.
R. Lord, you are good and forgiving.

 

Reading 2.  ROM 8:26-27

Brothers and sisters:
The Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness;
for we do not know how to pray as we ought,
but the Spirit himself intercedes with inexpressible groanings.
And the one who searches hearts
knows what is the intention of the Spirit,
because he intercedes for the holy ones
according to God’s will.

 

Alleluia.  CF. MT 11:25

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed are you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth;
you have revealed to little ones the mysteries of the kingdom.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

 

Gospel.  MT 13:24-43 OR 13:24-30

Jesus proposed another parable to the crowds, saying:
“The kingdom of heaven may be likened
to a man who sowed good seed in his field.
While everyone was asleep his enemy came
and sowed weeds all through the wheat, and then went off.
When the crop grew and bore fruit, the weeds appeared as well.
The slaves of the householder came to him and said,
‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field?
Where have the weeds come from?’
He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’
His slaves said to him,
‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’
He replied, ‘No, if you pull up the weeds
you might uproot the wheat along with them.
Let them grow together until harvest;
then at harvest time I will say to the harvesters,
“First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning;
but gather the wheat into my barn.”’”

He proposed another parable to them.
“The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed
that a person took and sowed in a field.
It is the smallest of all the seeds,
yet when full-grown it is the largest of plants.
It becomes a large bush,
and the ‘birds of the sky come and dwell in its branches.’”

He spoke to them another parable.
“The kingdom of heaven is like yeast
that a woman took and mixed with three measures of wheat flour
until the whole batch was leavened.”

All these things Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables.
He spoke to them only in parables,
to fulfill what had been said through the prophet:
I will open my mouth in parables,
I will announce what has lain hidden from the foundation
of the world.

Then, dismissing the crowds, he went into the house.
His disciples approached him and said,
“Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.”
He said in reply, “He who sows good seed is the Son of Man,
the field is the world, the good seed the children of the kingdom.
The weeds are the children of the evil one,
and the enemy who sows them is the devil.
The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.
Just as weeds are collected and burned up with fire,
so will it be at the end of the age.
The Son of Man will send his angels,
and they will collect out of his kingdom
all who cause others to sin and all evildoers.
They will throw them into the fiery furnace,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.
Then the righteous will shine like the sun
in the kingdom of their Father.
Whoever has ears ought to hear.”

or

Jesus proposed another parable to the crowds, saying:
“The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a man
who sowed good seed in his field.
While everyone was asleep his enemy came
and sowed weeds all through the wheat, and then went off.
When the crop grew and bore fruit, the weeds appeared as well.
The slaves of the householder came to him and said,
‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field?
Where have the weeds come from?’
He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’
His slaves said to him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’
He replied, ‘No, if you pull up the weeds
you might uproot the wheat along with them.
Let them grow together until harvest;
then at harvest time I will say to the harvesters,
“First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning;
but gather the wheat into my barn.”’”

By Jenna Violi

During the COVID-19 lockdown, I’ve gotten super into gardening.  Every morning I go outside with a cup of coffee and water my plants, meticulously analyzing their growth and pulling weeds around them.  Before COVID-19, I never understood why people would spend hours tending to a plant in the ground; now I am one of those people. 

I love my garden because it is one of very few things I have control over right now during these very uncertain times. My garden has become like my child.

So when I read today’s Gospel about an enemy coming into the master’s garden and intentionally planting weeds, I am enraged.  If anyone intentionally planted weeds in my garden among the plants that I’ve poured my heart into over the past several months, I’d probably cry.  And yet, the master tells his servants that it is best to let the weeds grow up among the good plants so that the good plants not accidentally uprooted. 

Interesting. The gardener in me cringes at the idea.

What is Jesus trying to teach us here?  When the Apostles ask Him for an explanation of this parable, Jesus says that the weeds are “the children of the evil one, and the enemy who sows them is the devil.”  The good seed are “the children of the Kingdom.” Jesus explains that at the end of time, the angels (the harvesters) will “collect out of his kingdom all who cause others to sin and all evildoers.”

Why wait until the end of the age, Jesus? 

Why are you allowing evil people to dwell alongside those that are trying to live as children of the Kingdom?  Why would you allow weeds to grow alongside the good plants?

I reflect and ask myself: What am I?  Can I say without a doubt that I am a good plant?  Am I living as a child of the Kingdom? 

Well, honestly, I try, but I’ve failed a lot.  I’ve made mistakes.  I’ve forgotten who I am.  I have misplaced my identity as a child of the Kingdom. 

Have there been times where I’ve committed evil?  Yes. 

Have there been times where I have led others to sin?  Yes. 

Have there been times where I condoned others’ sin?  Yes.

So have I been a weed?  Yeah, I guess I have. 

But here’s the thing: Jesus does not identify me as a weed.  He identifies me as His.  I strive to be a good plant, but I have been a weed too.  I have been both.   Jesus does not condemn me eternally as a weed.  Through the Sacrament of Confession, I become a good plant again.

So why doesn’t the master pull the weeds? 

Why doesn’t Jesus remove the evil in my life?  Because that weed was me.  I have been the source of sin in other people’s lives.  And praise be to Jesus, He doesn’t see me as too far gone.  There is time, and there is grace, and redemption is always possible.  I have been a weed, but Jesus makes me a good plant again.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jenna Violi is the Director of Parish Services at a parish outside of Philadelphia and the host of A Shower of Roses, a weekly podcast which provides an explanation of the upcoming Sunday’s Mass readings. She has her Master’s degree in Religious and Pastoral Studies.  On the weekends Jenna plays guitar, piano, and cantors at several parishes.  Jenna lives in the suburbs of Philadelphia with her parents and three sisters and is engaged to her wonderful, saintly fiancé, Paul.  She loves corgis, coffee, and writing music.  For more info follow @ashowerofroses on Instagram and Twitter.

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