Saturday, May 16, 2009

Weed warfare time

I pulled some weeds today. As always, this reminded me of Matthew 13:24-30, a little story by which Jesus warns his followers to work patiently, cautiously and gently, even when dealing with evil:

"The servants asked him, 'Do you want us to go and pull them up?' 'No,' he answered, 'because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest.'"

Weeds grow close to the good plants. Some look enough like the good plants to pass. Some have long tap roots down to the root ball of a good plant. So ripping at them with rough impatience can kill what you are trying to nurture.

I once heard the parable preached in Spanish, and it's always stuck with me:

Le preguntaron los siervos: "¿Quiere usted que vayamos a arrancarla?" "¡No! —les contest√≥—, no sea que, al arrancar la mala hierba, arranquen con ella el trigo. Dejen que crezcan juntos hasta la cosecha.

The Spanish verb for "rip out or pull up" is arrancar. It can't help but come out violently - you roll the double "r" in the first syllable and nail the hard "c" as you accent the last. The Catholic priest whose sermon I heard gave example after example of violence from Church history and illustration after illustration of the daily excesses of human self-righteousness. He ignited each point with arrancar, often leading in with a violent sweep of his arms and Les arrancamos cuando..., "We rip up others when we..."

And of course he came to the point that Jesus makes: we wind up ripping up ourselves and the good we seek to do in the process.

For those who don't get down and pull weeds, maybe change the parable to indiscriminate spraying of weed killer. Same idea. You wind up destroying the garden you sought to grow.

Jesus' warning might make sense even if you are not a Christian.

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