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Father Muench Says...

Recognizing evil in our lives, our world

July 29, 2020

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

I was truly fascinated by the Gospel reading from Matthew a couple of Sundays ago – the one about the wheat and the weeds. In this reading, Jesus again takes the time to explain it to the disciples and to us.

I am certain that you remember that his parable is a story about a man who plants his wheat field with good seed. Then an enemy (a very dastardly enemy) planted weeds among the wheat. Nothing was noticed for a few weeks. When they do discover what has happened, the owner decided to let them both grow together, and they will be separated at harvest time.

Remember this is a parable of Jesus. It didn’t really happen. This is a clever story developed by Jesus to teach us something about ourselves and our spiritual lives. Jesus gives this interpretation of his own story: the planter is the Lord, the field is the word, the good seed is the children of the Kingdom – you and me. The weeds are the children of the evil one. The enemy is the devil. The harvesters at the end of the age are the angels. After the weeds are removed, Jesus adds: “the righteous will shine like the sun in the Kingdom of their Father.”

So, let us now consider Jesus’ parable. In Genesis, God creates and says that all creation is good. So how did evil enter this world of ours? I suppose we can think of many answers to this question. However, the immediate answer we would all agree on is this human race, especially the selfish attitude that enters the lives of many of us.

Here in this story, Jesus tells us that good and evil will exist side by side in our world. We know this. This has been a significant part of our lives. This factor changes our existence tremendously. The very fact is that so many of our decisions are being made in a world in which good and evil exist side by side. The only solution for us is to seek the guidance and wisdom of the Holy Spirit and the readiness to patiently take the time to make our decisions with the help of the Lord.

You see, it is rather difficult on many occasions to distinguish evil from good. Many will say that is not true. They’ll say “I can always realize what is a good and what is a bad decision.” However, I must be honest with you.
Speaking personally about myself, I can think of too many times when I looked over a situation and was certain what was the good thing to do, but then everything turned sour, even to the point that someone got hurt. And far too often I have failed miserably in my decision making. Not recognizing my selfishness can truly be a bad mistake. As I consider in prayer how desperately I want this world to be a better place, I can become afraid to do what the Lord shows me is the right thing to do.

Can evil be prevented. It is all up to us, isn’t it? We have to truly seek the Lord’s guidance. May the Holy Spirit guide us all and lead us well that we recognize just what it is that we must do, and may the Holy Spirit do so often. We must reach out to our God to show us his will, so that we will be vigilant and alert and, I might add, sensible.

And please remember: Often it is all about the little things. We calmly say, “I can recognize evil” thinking of the big evils that fill our world. We must constantly recognize that we are the very ones who can transform this world if we carefully and lovingly do the little things well – the little things that bring love and peace and happiness to a family to a community. I read somewhere that a saint is someone who does ordinary things extraordinarily well.

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