One of the rather tedious things to do is house-keeping, which is also known as spring-cleaning. But whether it is spring or summer or autumn or winter, cleaning the house is not something we look forward to, and it is not something we like to do often, much less every day.
We can actually tolerate quite a bit of dust and we will only realize that it is getting too much when we start writing notes and phone numbers in the dust on the table. Then maybe it’s getting too much.
And some people can give funny reasons for not doing housekeeping or spring-cleaning:
- My room is not dirty. I clean it every other day. Just that today is not every other day.
- My room is not untidy. I just have everything on display, just like a provision shop.
And when it comes to housekeeping, it is not only physically tiring, it can be mentally taxing. We have to think carefully about what we want to throw away as junk. Because junk is sometimes defined as something we throw away three weeks before we realise we need it. So to throw or not to throw, that’s the question.
The question in the gospel parable is kind of similar – to weed it out or not to weed it out. That was with reference to the darnel, a kind of weed that looks similar to wheat in the early growing stages, but can only be distinguished when it is matured.
Not only can darnel choke out the wheat, its seeds are also poisonous. So we can imagine how tedious it can be to harvest wheat that has got darnel with it. It is like trying to sort out between sugar and salt.
But to begin with, what was sown was wheat, and it was good wheat. And then when everybody was asleep, the enemy came and sowed darnel among the wheat and made off.
And it was only when the wheat sprouted and ripened that the darnel appeared as well. And weeding out the darnel was out of the question.
This parable can be used to explain the origins of sin and evil, and the conclusion can be this: The devil did it!
But that would only be highlighting an obvious problem. But what about the solution?
In the parable, the solution is given at the harvest time – the wheat and the darnel will be separated, the wheat going to the barn, the darnel going to be burnt.
That is the end-time solution to the problem of evil. In the end, evil will be held accountable, and evil will be punished. That is the end-time. But for us, what is it for the meantime?
To begin with, as much as the parable distinguishes between wheat and weeds, between good and evil, the reality of this world is not separated into two camps.
Because the fact is that no one is absolutely good and no one is absolutely evil. In each of us, there is a mixture of both, some more, some less.
But we must also realise that God has sown good seeds in us, so that we can bear a good harvest. And we also have to realise that there are some poisonous weeds crawling within us that would make us forget who we are and what we are called to be.
There is a reflection on our current lifestyle that somehow causes a distortion in our lives. The reflection is this:
- When TV came to my house, I forgot how to read books.
- When the car came to my doorstep, I forgot how to walk.
- When I got the mobile in my hand, I forgot how to write letters.
- When computer came to my house, I forgot spellings.
- When the air-con came to my house, I stopped going under the tree for cool breeze
- When I stayed in the city, I forgot the smell of the countryside.
- By dealing with banks and cards, I forgot the value of money.
- With the smell of perfume, I forgot the fragrance of fresh flowers.
- With the coming of fast food, I forgot to cook traditional cuisines.
- Always running around, I forgot how to stop.
- And lastly when I got WhatsApp, I forgot how to talk.
One of the consequences of the weeds of our lives is that they make us forget who we are and what we are called to be.
The 1st reading reminds us that like the man who sowed good seeds, God has sown goodness in us and the reading says this: By acting thus, You have taught a lesson to your people, how the virtuous man must be kind to his fellowman, and You have given Your sons the good hope that after sin, You will grant repentance.
So even before asking why there are wicked people, why there is evil, let us do some spiritual housekeeping and spiritual heart-cleaning, and to admit that we have allowed the weeds of sin to enter into our hearts and choke out the wheat of goodness.
So repentance is about cleansing our hearts of the weeds of sin so that that when we are faced with the wickedness and evil of this world, we won’t resort to that kind of “eye for eye, and tooth for tooth” reaction. Anyway fighting fire with fire only creates a bigger fire.
Rather we fight evil with the goodness and kindness that are planted in our hearts by God, and Jesus reminds us of this in today’s gospel parable.
So let us remember who we are and what we are called to be. That is the meantime direction, and it is also the end-time solution.