March 2011.

March 2011

My dear friends and family,
I want to share this reflection that Adam Thada, WMF staff member in El Alto, Bolivia wrote in January. It really made me think and I thought that it was also a great update of what is going on in the WMF Bolivia field. Peace & love, Liz

Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared. The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’ ‘An enemy did this,’ he replied. 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 uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn…’
Then Jesus sent the multitude away and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field.” He answered and said to them: “He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one. The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels. Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age. The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear! – Matt. 13:24-30, 36-43, NKJV
I was reading this Scripture for Advent, and I couldn’t help but be impacted at its importance for us still today. I know that Matthew records that Jesus explained the parable, so who I am to elaborate? But Scripture is a wonderful, living document, like a multi-faceted gem that gives new beauty with each glance.
We “servants of the field” don’t like to be reminded that God alone is the perfect judge. Jehovah told the Israelites that “It is mine to avenge; I will repay.” Paul reminds the Romans of this passage in Deuteronomy when he writes, “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
Pride seems to be the root of almost every sin, and pride here says, in us, that it can distinguish between the good and bad, the righteous and unrighteous. I will set things right. With my human hands, my weapons, my legal proceedings, I will give God a boost at bringing His Kingdom to earth.
Many wise people have noted that sin and evil cannot be completely vanquished in this life. Rather, they must be controlled, isolated, even respected for their power. Andean spirituality seems to recognize the evil side of every good thing (perhaps too much, when some ask Jesus to send curses on the people they don’t like!), instead of the complete domination of Good over Evil. Richard Rohr points out that even in a vaccine, it is a crippled version of the disease itself that gives us strength. Every Christian knows that the more she focuses on not being tempted by sin, the more she seems to focus on it and be drawn to it.
Believe me, I would love to crush these disgusting brothels that I can see as I write from our 3rd story perch at the center! To me, there is no moral ambiguity at all – these men are in the wrong. When we’re visit our friends at work there, I can feel my body physically tense up. I imagine a guy grabbing at my wife or one of our female staff, and my clenched fist perfectly connects with his face every time.
Many of us have similar evils we’d love to rid the world of – the jerk who cuts us off in traffic, a certain politician, those greedy multinational companies that oppress the poor, the gays and socialists and tree-huggers with their radical agendas. We imagine we could judge wisely, that if only we had the political power, the physical, violent force, or a massive amount of money, World 2.0 as written by me would be a much better place. I think this is most evident by the way humans do war. We want complete obliteration, our unequivocal victory with no ambiguity as to our righteousness and the enemy’s depravity (which is, of course, a farce; the enemy always thinks the same).
Our downfall is that we forget that we are blind, poor, and broken. We too are greedy, selfish, and cold-hearted. Jesus was always going around healing people, opening their eyes, flipping their tidy systems on their heads.
Paul reminds us that we are to do good, and only good. Who knows? How could we not see that the greedy corporation employed so many people, or that the gay woman’s DNA didn’t match up to ours, or that the man in the brothel was patiently teaching his daughter to ride her bike last Sunday? More dangerous than the biases that we know we have are the ones we are completely oblivious too, the ones we don’t know that we don’t know about. The hidden reasons, the complex souls, the unique situations that we cannot even imagine.
And so God invites us, despite the ambiguity, despite the times that we can’t wait one more minute for God’s justice to come, to do good. And only good. And let the Creator of the universe be the judge of the universe.
I will end with St. Augustine’s interpretation of the passage:
O you Christians, whose lives are good, you sigh and groan as being few among many, few among very many. The winter will pass away, the summer will come; lo! The harvest will soon be here. The angels will come who can make the separation, and who cannot make mistakes. … I tell you of a truth, my Beloved, even in these high seats there is both wheat, and tares, and among the laity there is wheat, and tares. Let the good tolerate the bad; let the bad change themselves, and imitate the good. Let us all, if it may be so, attain to God; let us all through His mercy escape the evil of this world. Let us seek after good days, for we are now in evil days; but in the evil days let us not blaspheme, that so we may be able to arrive at the good days. (emphasis added)

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