Pentecost 5 :: Collateral Damage?

2009 UK Trip  106

Tribute Cross of War

Over the past several years I have become more and more disturbed over the so-called “collateral damage” which often occurs during wartime. You know what that is don’t you? Collateral damage happens when innocent men, women, or children are killed or wounded during wartime. Lately we’ve heard of many such instances involving drone airstrikes in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and, more recently, in Libya. While all such “incidents” are lamented, one often hears the nausea-inducing comment that those people shouldn’t have been where they were—that they should not have been anywhere near the bad guys.

Are we to accept that such is the tremendous price one pays for having the misfortune of living in a war zone? I think not.

Now it might seem a bit trite to bring up the parable of the weeds in the field from Matthew’s Gospel reading for this Sunday, but the connection is, for me, too obvious to pass up. Today’s farmers can apply herbicides to fields to keep pesky weeds from spoiling the crop. And even though the soil may eventually become contaminated from years of such application, that is a small price to pay for good healthy corn, or wheat, or whatever [But can we overlook the possible damage done to the crop itself through prolonged exposure to agricultural chemicals?]. However, back in Jesus’ day weeds had to be destroyed by the back-breaking labor of digging and pulling. And even then there was the “collateral damage” of pulling up the crop as well as the weed as their roots got entangled. Jesus’ suggestion that the workers just leave the field be until harvest time seems a bit odd. Won’t the weeds deplete the soil of many of the nutrients that the crops need?

Of course, Jesus was just using the weeds in a field as an illustration, wasn’t he? After all, this parable tells us something about the reign of God, which for the gospellers was not a future event but a present reality. There is good and evil in the world. Sometimes it’s darn difficult to discern the one from the other and any attempts we might make to destroy the one might, in turn, destroy the other. And besides, who’s to say who is good and who is evil. Isn’t that for God to judge? Best to just leave such things to God in God’s good time. 

Are we to accept that such is the tremendous price one pays for having the good fortune of living in the God zone. I think so.

Something to Ponder:

What do you think about this image of God’s reign?

Link to RCL Lectionary for Pentecost 5

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