The presence of good and evil
Sixteenth Sunday of Year A (Matt 13:24-43)
July 23, 2017
By Fr. Sal Putzu, SDB
THE presence and aggressiveness of moral evil in a world ruled by God’s Providence is bewildering. This feeling of confusion increases when we see evil right within the Church itself, which is supposed to be the beginning and “the leading agent” of the Kingdom.
What bewilders us most is the impression that God does not seem alarmed by this situation. Why does He tolerate the devastating presence of evil in the world and in the Church? The basic answer to this question is that God wants the conversion of the sinner, not his/her death. (See today’s First Reading and Ez 18:23 and 33:11.) But conversion is a long process . . . . God knows that and this is one of the reasons why He is so patient.
In the meantime He derives good even from evil. God’s “permission” that evil continue may be a means for Him to test the faithfulness of His children, to challenge them to “grow,” to bring them to be vigilant and humble. God allows evil in order to stimulate the creativity of “good people” and elicit from them manifestations of a love that is absolutely sincere and faithful.
Evil is not just around us. It is also right within each one of us, in different degrees, and often well-concealed. But it is there, nonetheless, always ready to grow and strike . . .
God’s patience with the many forms of moral evil in the world, in the Church, and in us does not imply either weakness or surrender. It simply means that He loves all. (See Mt 5:45.) He knows that all of us are weak. He “sees” beyond the present moral failure. He keeps sending appeals and reminders.
God is patient but not impotent. He is loving and merciful, but also just. Our faith assures us that in the end, goodness and justice will prevail. God will be the one to have the final word. In spite of the great noise evil can do, the threats it can pose and the insults it can hurl, God remains in full control of the situation. He knows when to declare “Time’s up!” That will be “Judgment Time,” when God and evil will be clearly and definitively separated, and everyone will be rewarded according to his/her own deeds. (See Mt 13:42-43 and 16.27.)
Such is the teaching of the parable of the wheat and the weeds. The whole Bible, especially the book of Revelation, bears witness to its fulfillment.
Meanwhile, however, we should not allow evil to go unchecked. Evil has to be opposed wherever it manifests itself.
This duty to oppose evil and get rid of it is especially imperative concerning the evil that is in us, both in the form of “tendency” and of actuations. Evil is the “Anti-Christ.” It is the “Anti-Kingdom.” The same applies to the presence of evil within the Church. As workers of the Kingdom, we must overcome the temptation to deny or “cover up” the existence of evil in the Church. We must not allow ourselves to be blinded by a misguided and short-sighted “love for the Church.”
We have the duty to muster the courage to expose and fight evil wherever it is. This is the only way to bring about a real improvement in ourselves, the Church, and society.