The phrase “an enemy hath done this” is from Matthew 13:28 in the King James translation. It is part of Jesus’ parable of the wheat and the tares, (to stay in the King James language), which is part of the larger group of “the Kingdom of Heaven is like…” parables in Matthew.
I wonder why the human brain seems wired to remember the most shocking and threatening events so easily.
We recall “December 7” and “9/11” with a simple month and day reference. Any baby boomer knows the year of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, and most everyone born in the last decade of the 20th century, and who has grown up in our continuous warfare, knows about the twin towers.
Anglican Archbishop Rowan Williams writes, “There are moments for all of us when the liberal, rational, humane categories we normally operate with suddenly collapse; sooner or later, we must all drive into the extermination camp and confront without illusion the most unbearable truth about what it is to be human, the truth that benevolence and rationality are not at the heart of people’s actions.
“There is the ‘horror of great darkness’ in our dealings with each other... echoing William Golding: ‘People don’t seem to be able to move without killing each other.’
“So, we blame someone else: ‘An enemy hath done this.’ Certainly not I or we. How could we? I didn’t mean it. How can we be responsible for what I did not mean?”
Yes, that sounds like a child’s evasion of responsibility, the refusal to be an adult and accept the consequences of our actions. Sadly, it sounds all too familiar in the United States today.
And yet, Christians should understand that if our assumption of responsibility rests on a belief that we can construct the patterns of our own lives, it remains an assumption of childhood omnipotence.
I do not think we can get away with rationalizing our own evil away by blaming evil spirits.
We can’t say, “I am the victim of a totally independent superpower.” Nope. To quote Walt Kelly’s Pogo, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.”
I think these kingdom of heaven parables should be for us what to do when we find our fields a mix of weeds and wheat. This familiar metaphor should not lead us down the path of identifying the cause or culprit.
Identifying the enemy is not time well spent.
Christians believe no human can remove us from this risk of darkness. We have no need to fight the battle Christ has already won.
If Satan is among the children of God, as I believe, he is not outside of the company of God’s beloved and as the Archbishop writes, “his (Satan’s) unpredictable working and uncontrollable power cannot break the bond by which the love of God holds us.”
Good News indeed.
The Rev. Dr. Mike Fay is rector of Episcopal Church of the Ascension in Salida.