"Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field."
I think we would all like to have an explanation of why there are criminal weeds flourishing in the Lord's wheat fields.
It's not supposed to happen anywhere but we are less surprised to see it in some places, generally the margins of society. Neighborhoods stricken with poverty, managed by absentee landlords, with many felons stripped of their voting rights: we expect shootings, robberies, etc. It's a shame old people have to live there but that's the way it goes.
If a politician says that migrants, guilty of a misdemeanor -- that is, they entered the country without a proper visa -- are "murderers and rapists" many people accept that without question. They expected as much of "those people." They're probably fleeing from the law at home.
If the same politician is suspected of crime, it only confirms a long held suspicion that politicians in general are dishonest and care only about their own interests. The electorate, given their own willingness to take ethical shortcuts, will support the politician who prefers their interests over others, regardless of fairness or justice.
But the same cynical population often hopes there are places where innocence flourishes. Hospitals, schools, professional sports, churches: these should be sanctuaries where corruption cannot enter. The patient, tethered to his bed by IVs, sometimes restrained and unconscious, should not suffer neglect or abuse. Toddlers in daycare and kindergarten deserve emotionally, physically safe environments. Professional athletes represent our love of the game. If they play for money they should at least play by the rules. We need them to represent our law-abiding ethos.
And then there's the Church. Mostly volunteers, supported almost entirely by donations. Aspiring leaders know from the outset they will never secure the salaries of lawyers and brain surgeons. They set out to serve the Lord. He is their portion and their cup! Older people who enter the ministry should have made their pile already. They're not in it for the money.
Strangers who enter a church for whatever reason should find welcome, security and friendship. There they must be treated with godly kindness.
But there are weeds amid the wheat. They might not aspire to greed, though some do. Their tastes usually run to the other six: pride, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath and (especially) sloth. Less spectacular, perhaps, but nonetheless damaging to the Lord's mission.
In this parable Jesus teaches us to avoid judgment. Let the sinners remain among us lest we tear out the innocent as well as the guilty. We've seen abrupt, violent spasms of righteousness before: the French Terror, Stalin's purges in Russia, McCarthyism in America, and Pol Pot's massacres in Cambodia.
That may be the point of Noah's Flood. The Lord wiped the Earth clean of all sinners, sparing only one apparently righteous family, Noah and his son's. But Noah by his drunkenness and Ham by his filial disrespect picked up where the "liquidated" had left off. The Deluge failed.
So the Lord began a new, more effective way of saving humankind, beginning with the Call of Abraham and Sarah and climaxing with the Resurrection of Jesus.
Both stories and many like it remind us that "all have sinned and are deprived of the glory of God." For there is no distinction of saints and sinners, try as we will to separate and isolate the deplorables. As Pogo said, "We have met the enemy and he is us." We pray that the Lord will stay his punishing hand. for his mercies are renewed each day.