Jesus left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples approached him, saying, ‘Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.’ He answered, ‘The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man; the field is the world, and the good seed are the children of the kingdom; the weeds are the children of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. Just as the 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 causes of sin and all evildoers, and they will throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Let anyone with ears listen!
They are looking for explanations. They want to get their minds around this parable, so that they can put it ‘out there’ from them: that's what explanations do.
Still, it must be all right to look for explanations – so long as we don’t put too much store by them, or imagine that the one we give is the only possible one.
It is about seeds. Seeds are the beginning of things, not the end. Good and evil will be separated out only at the end of time. That means, in practical terms, never. In the ultimate, yes, in eternity; but not in time – at no time. We have heard politicians talk about “stamping out evil.” I heard someone comment, “Jesus didn’t do it, the Buddha didn’t do it, but this politician is going to do it!” Only in the final sifting will it be done, and we don’t know anything about that. Let’s not be too surprised at evil deeds: we are part of the picture ourselves. Besides, many things that we call good today we will call evil tomorrow. We don’t have the full picture. Only God has. To claim to have the full picture is to claim to be God.
This thought doesn’t make evil any less evil, or less painful to its victims. But if we don’t spend all our time wondering why there is so much evil in the world, we may have a little left over for wondering why there is so much good.
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