Monday, October 20, 2008
Monday in the 29th Week of Ordinary Time
The Cupboard Was Bare
Readings: Ephesians 2:1-10; Psalm 100:1b-2, 3, 4ab, 4c-5; Luke 12:13-21
Picture: CC frazgo
Old Mother Hubbard
Went to the cupboard,
To fetch her poor dog a bone.
But when she got there,
The cupboard was bare,
And so the poor dog had none.
Some of us may still remember this nursery rhyme. It expresses the disappointment of having one’s expectations dashed. Both Old Mother Hubbard and her dog were counting on there being something in the cupboard for the eating. But the cupboard was bare… Some of us may have similar experiences of such disappointment and misplaced expectations. We may be cooking, for example, thinking all the while that a particularly crucial ingredient or spice can be found in the cupboard. But just when we reach the stage in the cooking process when the ingredient is needed, we open the cupboard and find it bare… Or think of what’s been happening recently in the world of finance. We invest our hard-earned savings in a particular portfolio, hoping for a return substantial enough to provide for our retirement. And, overnight, what we thought to be a well-stocked cupboard suddenly appears so painfully empty, so tragically bare…
Today’s readings tell us that something similar can happen in the spiritual life too. Here too, it is possible to be deceived by the apparently well-stocked but ultimately empty cupboard. Such is the experience of the rich man in the gospel, who spent so much energy accumulating possessions that he forgot to stock up on the one thing that is truly essential. In his obsession with material things, he had forgotten what Jesus reminds us of today, that one’s life does not consist of possessions. So that when the time came to cash out on his investments, he found the cupboard of his life woefully bare.
In contrast, the first reading invites us to consider well life’s true location. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from you; it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so no one may boast… Life is to be found not so much in the various cupboards of our anxious striving for self-preservation, as it is to be received as a precious gift bestowed upon us by a loving God. Even so, to receive this gift, to enjoy the contents of God’s generosity, there is something we need to do, something in which we need to invest. Again, as the first reading reminds us, we are his handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for good works that God has prepared in advance, that we should live in them. We find life by performing the good works inspired by the Spirit of Christ, in whom we have become the possessions of God. In the words of the psalm: the Lord made us, we belong to him…
Especially in this time when the cupboards of many are bare, how might we be called to perform good works in Christ today?
Posted by Fr Chris at 11:21 pm