Theodicy, as defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is the “defense of God's goodness and omnipotence in view of the existence of evil”. The mystery of evil and why God allows it, has plagued humankind since the dawn of time. A natural response to the “weeds” that threaten to interfere with the growth of goodness, is to uproot them. As good as that might sound, a kind of “collateral damage” could be experienced in the process. Jesus offers the parable often referred to as the “tares and the wheat” to address the existence of evil in the Gospel According to Matthew:
“He proposed another parable to them. “The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a man who sowed good seed in his field. While everyone was asleep his enemy came and sowed weeds all through the wheat, and then went off. When the crop grew and bore fruit, the weeds appeared as well. The slaves of the householder came to him and said, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where have the weeds come from?’ He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’ His slaves said to him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’ He replied, ‘No, if you pull up the weeds you might uproot the wheat along with them. Let them grow together until harvest; then at harvest time I will say to the harvesters, “First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning; but gather the wheat into my barn.” (Mt 13:24-30)
The inclination to “uproot” that which threatens our health and well-being is built into the human psyche as a means of survival. The slaves in the parable were well-intentioned in their request to take action. The householder was in possession of all the factors involved with his property, and therefore was able to reach a decision based on a macro view that was not available to his servants. God, in his providence, sees all and permits the ”weeds” of evil to coexist along with the “wheat” that represents the good. The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains God’s mysterious presence and seeming “absence” in the face of evil:
“Faith in God the Father Almighty can be put to the test by the experience of evil and suffering. God can sometimes seem to be absent and incapable of stopping evil. But in the most mysterious way God the Father has revealed his almighty power in the voluntary humiliation and Resurrection of his Son, by which he conquered evil. Christ crucified is thus “the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”It is in Christ’s Resurrection and exaltation that the Father has shown forth “the immeasurable greatness of his power in us who believe.” (CCC 272)
Let us pray for the grace to live in “the power of God and the wisdom of God” as we sojourn through life under God’s immeasurable greatness and providence.