“And they lived happily ever after.” It’s the end of a lot of stories we grew up with, isn’t it? Boy finds girl, seeker finds what he or she is looking for, employee gets the executive job with a corner office, somebody gets a windfall that makes it possible for them to live in luxury for life. No problems, right?
Consider end of Star Wars. The evil Emperor is dead, Darth Vader is recovered and he’s gone too, the Empire is gone and the Republic’s on the way back. Even the ugly slug Jabba the Hut is gone. Happily ever after? But there’s always unfinished business. Han Solo and Princess Leia will need some pre-marital counseling: it’s obvious they have some issues to work out. Luke is the only Jedi in the galaxy, how’s he going to recruit enough beings to help keep peace? How is he going to rebuild the Jedi order, since just developing ability to use the Force seems to be dangerous. What happens to all those cloned Stormtroopers and Imperial admirals and bureaucrats, do they all sign up for the new order or do they try to make things chaotic by going into organized crime?
In the Gospel, Jesus is showing why there’s still evil in the world in spite of everything. Wheat is relatively delicate and large scale weeding may hurt the fragile plants, especially if the First Team isn’t on the job and untalented workers pull good plants up with the weeds. God doesn’t weed things out right away because He is strong enough and patient enough to know there’s time to make things right, that evil is ultimately self destructive, and the end is already settled. The harvest will be all right. Jesus is telling us we don’t have to kick butt today because there’s trouble in the world; things will work out. We have to do what we can, but we also have to think about what we’re doing, see the big picture, and not just react.
We are called to live in an imperfect and unfinished world. Happily ever after is a nice dream, but not a reasonable expectation. This world will always be a bit of a mess, and that’s just the way of things. We know how everything ends, and we do the best we can in the meantime. We are called to be the good plant and not a weed. We are called to live in hope, because Jesus is here with us in the Word and the Eucharist, because we’re here to show that there’s a different way to make life better than destructive power, because we don’t have to worry about how things end up. We are not God’s gardeners to pull up all the weeds indiscriminately, lest we pull up the plants with hope of survival as well We don’t have to worry more than normal about the world being a mess, because God is with us in the mess and will make everything good.