Friday, August 26, 2005

God is for the Birds

Behold the birds of the air, for they neither sow, nor do they reap, nor gather into barns: and your heavenly Father feedeth them.

Are not you of much more value than they?

Matthew 6:26

I was looking outside and I saw a bunch of sparrows feeding, and it reminded me of the value of spiritual poverty. From what I hear, the life of birds can be pretty rough. But they live for the moment, not hoarding anything. In this same way, we should not hold back anything from God nor should we be attached to anything on Earth. One of the easiest ways to accomplish this is through material poverty.

I was watching Sunday Night Live with Fr. Groeschel and he was telling a story. He stumbled upon a Greek festival at an Orthodox church. He thought, "maybe if I go in someone will feed me some Greek food." He said it was very Franciscan of him to think that. How often do we walk into a situation with the bird-like simplicity of hope that God will provide for our needs? I myself do this rarely. Sure enough, he stumbled upon a woman at the festival. She recognized him as the man on EWTN and praised him for all his work and support for the Orthodox Church. Sure enough, she was the pastor's wife, and he ended up getting his fill of baklava.

People like Fr. Groeschel live on practically nothing, and yet they still survive. Their only material request of God is, "give us this day our daily bread" so that they may focus their energy that day on praising God and not making more money for the next day.

Which leads me to the strange paradox I notice between this miniparable and the story of the 10 virgins. The wise virgins saved up their oil. They stored it and met the bridegroom wheras the man with the stores of grain stores his grain and dies. Is storing a good thing or a bad thing? In the case of the 10 virgins, I think the storing is of a different idea. The virgins stored oil while the man stores grain. Grain is of material value because it can be saved for eating or sold for money. Oil in this case is used for keeping watch. The women that did not keep much oil were not intent on keeping watch for a long period of time. The women who were wise knew that the time of His arrival could be now or later during the night.

Waiting is a funny thing, isn't it? In waiting, we experience the now because waiting is something that can only be done in the present. However, to wait implies a continual activity, such as struggle, over a duration of time. Therefore we must be as much in the now as possible, expecting the thing to come regardless of the duration of time spent. And because we are living in the now, we cannot save since it prevents us from being in the now.

This idea is very similar and yet very different to the way many modernists try to live in the now in order to achieve their individualist or hedonist goals. They aren't holding anything back because they see nothing worth while to save. It is in fact, quite animalistic. We also are like this because compared to God nothing is more valuabe. Nevertheless, we have something to wait for. Thus, those people are more like the foolish virgins who use up their oil instantly unlike the faithful who keep their lamps trimmed.

Hopefully I have made some sense.

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