Although the “lillies of the field” phrase of the passage is better known. Yep, time for another installment of “let’s pick apart the mass that Imbrium attended for musical mercenary reasons.”
I’ll only be paying attention to the gospel reading this week since it’s the only one that managed to really hold my interest. For your convenience, here is the relevant passage:
New International Version (NIV)
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
My initial reaction was surprise because this sounds very like what Lord Father has said to me over and over. Basically, He’s got my back and I need not worry about having what I need. (need, not want. More on that in a moment.) Then I thought about it a bit more- ignoring the priest’s sermon after the reading since the sermon was yet another plea for donations to the Cardinal’s Appeal. Don’t google it. You don’t want to know and it doesn’t deserve the attention. What came to me is the realization that this is actually the second half of the total message from last week. If before we got warnings about keeping your actions in line with your thoughts and your thoughts in line with your deity’s rules; then this week we get the reward for doing so.
This, then, would be the proverbial carrot on the equally proverbial stick. Yes, I said it. And it doesn’t actually mean that I have a problem with it. There is a fundamental difference between what is stated in the above passage and what I have heard from my own Gods. Oddly enough, it’s a difference that does actually still exist in the Christian tradition. Follow.
In the above passage, Jesus states very simply that their God will provide their needs for them. He says nothing about their wants, but he does promise that their needs will be met IF they follow their God and allow Him to work in their lives. The phrase that we’ve probably all heard is “Providence provides” and my mom can surely explain exactly how real and tangible that phrase has been in her own life. I recall many times- and I believe there were many more times that I can not recall or of which I was not specifically aware- when the money or food or material would come from somewhere at the last moment. Someone would pay her for work she had done, dad would get a few extra days of work, I would manage to earn something, whatever. It came from somewhere. But it was never handed to us, which is why I have an issue with the “providence provides” mindset.
In my own experience, Ares says that He is my Abundant Father and that He will see to it that my efforts bear fruit so that I may have all that I need. See the difference? Ares is not promising to hand me jack without a little effort on my part, but He is still promising that I will have my needs met. It works out to a very similar pattern in tangible life. I work, I get calls and requests for classes. (of which I really need more. Share my page, people. Share my page.) I do a good job at the day work which is being my financial bandaid and I get called back for more- working more days and earning more cash. I work, my efforts are rewarded. He sees to it. In this case, it’s more like the other phrase “The Lord helps those who help themselves.”
The promises seem different, but they might not be, at their respective cores. Because They have each said to Their people “I will give you what you NEED.”
If you do nothing and expect everything to be handed to you, perhaps you NEED to miss a few meals. I know what it feels like to go hungry and I sincerely hope that that is not a lesson I need to relearn. Of course, this doesn’t mean that we don’t get deal shitty hands once in a while. I’m not convinced that anyone NEEDS to be homeless, dying of cancer, assaulted in any fashion, or whatever other nasty things my mind could all to easily conjure up if I let it. There are way too many people in the world who are living through just those ugly realities. Did they NEED those things? Probably not.
Maybe that’s where this all breaks down and maybe it’s where we step up to the plate. The Gods work through us, of that I am convinced. If human beings- any kind, any where- don’t NEED the pain that they are in, maybe we NEED to do something about it.
The birds of the air and the lilies of the field have all of their simple needs attended to by other factors of the natural world. The birds find material for their nests, find mates, find food because they have the instincts to guide them and the world to provide. The lilies have their mineral and water requirements met by the soil in which they bloom. We are more complicated creatures. Maybe our needs are too complex to be met without the aid of other humans.
Perhaps my neighbor has a need that I can fill? Perhaps my talents can be put to use in giving others what they need? I was distressed on Sunday to hear a very similar phrase (because seriously, this priest is a pretty good speaker) turned into a plea for money. I don’t have any money to spare and I was made to feel very small and inadequate. But I do have other skills. I’m an EMT and I work for FREE to help people out. I’m a decent gardener and animal caretaker and my whole family benefits from my skills. I’m an intelligent human with an excellent track record in keeping unruly middle and high school classes in check and on task so that teachers can go do other important things in their own lives. I’m considering- once I get cheaper housing squared away which will be a while- spending a lot of time on things like Habitat for Humanity and Christmas in April, putting my other skills to use since I don’t have the money to give.
I don’t mean to wave my own banner but so much. I know perfectly well that there are plenty of places in my life where I didn’t do so well at helping out other humans. Part of that I can chalk up to self-preservation having to come first but I have to admit that part of it is also laziness.
I’ll end the way I think the priest should have. Money is a great donation if you have it. Skills, talents, and sometimes just personality are equally great donations. The Divine works through us as well as by less visible means. Take care of each other’s Needs, and you will find that your own needs are also cared for.