The parable of the good seed and the weeds makes me ache with remembered pain. When I was a child, the term “good seed” meant somebody born into the right family. That wasn’t me.
For some reason, I took on the negative assessment of the people around me. I believed myself to be a child of the evil one, a weed destined to be uprooted and burned up with fire. A young one blessed with a vivid imagination, I would ponder what it would be like to live with eternal pain, to always suffer and to have no respite, forever. It was a hell in and of itself, a lonely and terrible understanding.
Later, when I learned that perhaps I was not the evil weed of the parable, I was angry at God. I asked God how could God treat anybody like I had been afraid I would be treated? It was unjust and stupid to think any human being was so bad they should just be thrown away. What kind of love was that?
Later still, Matthew’s explanation of this parable was my stumbling block to accepting the Bible as the inerrant word of God. By that time I had experienced the love of God directly. I knew I belonged in the kingdom of God — and so did every other person in the world. Matthew was wrong in how he interpreted Jesus’ words.
Parables are like onions, replete with layer upon layer of meaning. Was Matthew wrong, or is there some other way of understanding? Human judgment is itself the devil’s child, the strangling weed that wraps around all our good grain. How will it happen that we slip out of either-or thinking into a new reality? When we do that, what gets burned away? The “end of the age” may be a time of accounting that has nothing to do with space and time in the natural world, and it may not happen for everybody at the same point and in the same way.
Aching for the little child who thought herself so bad, I wrap my arms around my younger me. Then I am overcome with awe. It is a wonder to me that I’ve had a whole lifetime of wrestling with the Word of God and that God, God’s self has been my partner in this journey. Faithful and patient, God keeps nudging me to deeper understanding. I am sure it is so with you as well.
May we keep on growing into people who fail to see evil embodied in the persons of our fellow humans. May our either-or thinking give way, and may the kingdom of God come for us. Whatever that means, and in whatever time, may we grow into who we were meant to be: children of peace, dreamers of hope. Amen.