The good and the bad…
In 1692, Salem in Massachusetts saw massive witchcraft trials, causing 19 convicted so-called witches to be hanged and many other suspects to be unfairly persecuted. The list of accused went on increasing until public opinion stopped and eventually condemned the trials. Four years later, the Massachusetts legislature adopted a resolution for repentance including a day of fasting on which the chief judge of the trials, Samuel Sewal, publicly admitted the injustice of the trials. The phrase “witch-hunting” originated from these trials. Witch-hunting now refers to any campaign or investigation against social deviants on the pretext of protecting the public welfare and resulting in public persecution and defamation of character. Like the search for scapegoats, it is a form of hysteria perpetrated by religious or non-religious fanatics.
Today’s parable was told by Jesus as an antidote to this kind of human mentality which is intolerant of sinners and wants to destroy them by violent persecution. His recommendation is to act as God acts and to be patient like Him, tolerating the present mixture of good and evil in our society. The ministry of Jesus was not aimed at destroying the wicked but at converting them. From His time until the end of time, they are given a delay so that they may be converted. One of the lessons of this parable is that in a society bent on revenge and violence, the farmer’s victory through tolerance of evil inflicted on him invites us to patience and forbearance.
Society will always contain a mixture of good and bad people. WE must no doubt try to contain and neutralize the notorious and dangerously bad with police action or intervention, courts or jails. This parable is also a good answer to those who are scandalized at seeing evil everywhere. Good and bad will be mixed till the end of the world. Good and evil will always be found together in persons and institutions. Having said that, we should not be surprise to find imperfections and weaknesses within the Lord’s Church. If he tolerates them, so should we. God is patient. The reconciliation of so many contradictory groups, forces and cultural currents active in the world will be attained only at the end of time. In the meantime, we are not to label any of them as the good ones and the bad ones. God respects people, especially their freedom. He knows that temptation is often stronger than their good intentions and they need time to find and choose steadily what is good.
Indeed, the Lord allows the weeds and the wheat. His rain will fall on the good and the bad alike. As a response to this parable in our own practical lives, it calls for restraint about uprooting them or being harsh on them. They are usually the work of the enemy. It also tells us not to give up growing simply because there are bad weeds or bad seeds among us. We can still grow even amid the weeds and plan for harvest.