What do hummus and convicted felons on Death Row have in common?
No, this is not some sick riddle with a trick answer but a commentary on a society in which "weeds" are ruthlessly eliminated. This week, the EWG released a list of 50+ brands of hummus --both organic and non-organic-- which have such high levels of glyphosate as to be unsafe. Glyphosate is a key ingredient in Round-Up which has been linked to lymphoma and other cancers. Garbanzo beans which have been exposed to this chemical either through direct spraying or cross-contamination are now unfit for consumption. The killing of weeds, then, has had deadly results for consumers and for the planet.
This week also saw the first Federal Execution in 17 years -- the death by lethal injection of Daniel Lewis Lee in Terre Haute, IN. Strapped to a gurnee for 4 hours before his death, Lee protested his innocence until his last breath.
In its rush to eliminate perceived weeds of the human variety, the government has reinstated a barbaric practice that is contrary to "the right to life." No nation can describe itself as "pro-life" when it uses execution as the ultimate punishment. No matter how heinous their crimes, perpetrators should be allowed to live out their natural lives so they can 1) have the opportunity to change and 2) in rare cases, prove their innocence. The finality of execution eliminates both possibilities and, far from bringing "closure," simply feeds the blood-lust of a sick society.
PS Try my spiritual self-assessment tool!
After you take the Quiz, you will automatically receive a computer-generated diagram and explanatory comments regarding your strengths and "growing edges."
I hope you find the Quiz useful!
Jesus told them another parable:
“The kingdom of heaven can be compared to
a man who sowed good seed in his field.
While everyone was asleep the enemy came
and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went off.
When the crop grew and bore fruit, the weeds appeared as well.
The slaves of the householder asked him,
‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field?
Where have the weeds come from?’
‘An enemy has done this,’ he replied.
His slaves then said,
‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’
‘No, if you pull up the weeds
you might uproot the wheat as well.
Let wheat and weeds grow together;
then at harvest time I will tell the harvesters,
“First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned;
then gather the wheat into my barn."
MT 13: 24-43
There are a number of contrasting symbols in this parable: the householder v. the enemy; the householder v. the slaves; good seed v. bad seed; the wheat v. the weeds; the harvesters and the harvest; and the barn v. the fire. To unpack the meaning of this parable, Jesus explains each pair of symbols so that his disciples can understand his teachings:
He who sows good seed is the Son of Man,
the field is the world, the good seed the children of the kingdom.
The weeds are the children of the evil one, and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. Just as weeds are collected and burned up with fire,
o will it be at the end of the age."
On a symbolic level, the pastoral imagery and references to the Apocalypse are clear enough, but how can we relate this parable to our own lives?
In the first place, it's clear that "God's Seed" is "good seed." As people of faith, we may assume that we belong to this category; however, even good seed can grow moldy and rot. To fulfill our destiny as "good seed," we must be willing to cooperate with our Creator and to commit ourselves to nurturing ourselves spiritually. It's not enough to believe we're "saved" and do nothing but wait for our heavenly reward; rather, we must at all times be people of prayer and action who grow God's Kingdom by acting in love and promoting justice.
In terms of "bad seed," the implication in the parable is that this is what weeds produce, and that the enemy deliberately scatters this seed as an act of sabotage. A modern agricultural parallel would be the way producers of genetically modified seed hire "agents" to scatter their seed in the fields of organic farmers. The organic farmers can no longer claim to be "organic" and the mega-corporation that sabotaged them (no names mentioned here!) can sue them for theft of the GMO seed!
Bad seed produces bad results, but it often presents itself as "good." Again, as people of faith, we need to cultivate discernment. Without becoming paranoid, we need to see clearly at all times, trust our intuition, listen for hidden agendas and make sure we are not
actions, beliefs and attitudes that conflict with our core values. Bad seed can contaminate good seed, especially by appealing to the ego through promises of power, riches and status.
Conversely, while this is not true agriculturally, "good seed" (people) can have a positive influence on "bad seed" (also people). Though Jesus doesn't state this, perhaps the householder has another reason for leaving the wheat and weeds together: So the children of the kingdom can invite the children of the evil one to change their ways, not through reprimand, shaming and punishment, but through acts of loving kindness. The loss of a single "seed" grieves the Divine Householder; our task as Christians is to help grow the harvest so there will be more grain for the barn and less fuel for fire.