Gospel parables are short stories which Jesus used to announce the Kingdom of Heaven to the crowds. Among these parables is a rather complex one: it is that of the good grain and the weed, which deals with the problem of evil in the world and calls attention to God’s patience (cf. Mt 13:24-30, 36-43).

The story takes place in a field where the owner sows grain, but during the night his enemy comes and sows weed, a term which in Hebrew derives from the same root as the name ‘Satan’ and which alludes to the concept of division. We all know that the demon is a ‘sower of weed’, one who always seeks to sow division between individuals, families, nations and peoples. The servants wanted to uproot the weed immediately, but the field owner stopped them, explaining that: ‘in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them’ (Mt 13:29). Because we all know that a weed, when it grows, looks very much like good grain, and there is the risk of confusing them.

The teaching of the parable is twofold. First of all, it tells that the evil in the world comes not from God but from his enemy, the evil one. It is curious that the evil one goes at night to sow weed, in the dark, in confusion; he goes where there is no light to sow weed. This enemy is astute: he sows evil in the middle of good, thus it is impossible for us men to distinctly separate them; but God, in the end, will be able to do so.

And here we arrive at the second theme: the juxtaposition of the impatience of the servants and the patient waiting of the field owner, who represents God. At times we are in a great hurry to judge, to categorise, to put the good here, the bad there…. But remember the prayer of that self-righteous man: ‘God, I thank you that I am good, that I am not like other men, malicious’ (cf. Lk 18:11-12). God, however, knows how to wait. With patience and mercy he gazes into the ‘field’ of life of every person; he sees much better than we do the filth and the evil, but he also sees the seeds of good and waits with trust for them to grow. God is patient, he knows how to wait. This is so beautiful: our God is a patient father, who always waits for us and waits with his heart in hand to welcome us, to forgive us. He always forgives us if we go to him.

The field owner’s attitude is that of hope grounded in the certainty that evil does not have the first nor the last word. And it is thanks to this patient hope of God that the same weed, which is the malicious heart with so many sins, in the end can become good grain. But be careful: evangelical patience is not indifference to evil; one must not confuse good and evil! In facing weeds in the world the Lord’s disciple is called to imitate the patience of God, to nourish hope with the support of indestructible trust in the final victory of good, that is, of God.

In the end, in fact, evil will be removed and eliminated: at the time of harvest, that is, of judgment, the harvesters will follow the orders of the field owner, separating the weed to burn it (cf. Mt 13:30). On the day of the final harvest, the judge will be Jesus, He who has sown good grain in the world and who himself became the ‘grain of wheat’, who died and rose. In the end we will all be judged by the same measure with which we have judged: the mercy we have shown to others will also be shown to us.

 

Adapted from Pope Francis’ Angelus Reflection Sunday 20 July 2014 St. Peter’s Square.

This article can be found in Mirror 0415.