Sunday, November 22, 2015

More Than All the Rest

But Daniel was resolved not to defile himself with the king’s food or wine; so he begged the chief chamberlain to spare him this defilement. Daniel 1:8

When Jesus looked up he saw some wealthy people putting their offerings into the treasury and he noticed a poor widow putting in two small coins. He said, “I tell you truly, this poor widow put in more than all the rest; for those others have all made offerings from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has offered her whole livelihood.” Luke 21:1-4

Led Zeppelin IV
There's a lady who's sure all that glitters is gold
And she's buying a stairway to heaven.
When she gets there she knows, if the stores are all closed
With a word she can get what she came for.
Ooh, ooh, and she's buying a stairway to heaven.
There's a sign on the wall but she wants to be sure
'Cause you know sometimes words have two meanings.
In a tree by the brook, there's a songbird who sings,
Sometimes all of our thoughts are misgiven.

(“Stairway to Heaven” performed by Led Zeppelin.  Writers: Robert Plant, James Patrick, Kenny Gamble, Leon Huff; Copyright: Flames Of Albion Music Inc., Warner-tamerlane Publishing Corp.)

As we wind up the last week of our liturgical year, we see power and wealth put into their proper place and perspective. It makes me wonder.

When I was in high school, our Catholic Youth Organization sponsored monthly dances with either a live local band or a disk jockey spinning black platters from his record collection.  The chaperons at St. Mary’s in New Monmouth, NJ, use to consider the song “Stairway to Heaven” a ten-minute hug and would limit it to being played only once per dance.  The late Fr. Leon Kaspryzk, our moderator, was a good sport about it but you could see the concern on his face as couples paired off and the first riffs of Page-Plante filled Memorial Hall. 

"Stairway to Heaven" is a song by the English rock band Led Zeppelin. It was composed by guitarist Jimmy Page and vocalist Robert Plant for the band's fourth unnamed studio album, (Led Zeppelin IV 1971). The song was voted #3 in 2000 by VH1 on their list of the 100 Greatest Rock Songs.[1] It was the most requested song on FM radio stations in the United States in the 1970s, despite never having been released as a single.

Back in the early 1970’s, we did not concern ourselves with the lyrics – but these might be the best that Page-Plante ever penned.  The lady of this song is clearly misguided about heaven.  She has none of the wisdom of the poor widow from Luke’s Good News who knows that you get into heaven by giving away your time, talents and treasures.  Yet, the lyrics speak of a person who thinks she can buy her way in with money or charm.  With a word she thinks she can get what she came for…NOT.

Yes…sometimes all of our human thoughts are misgiven.  We must turn over our thoughts to those that would go through the mind of Jesus and be guided by the wisdom of the Holy Spirit not the wisdom of Fidelity Investments or Bank of America or Wells Fargo.

Just like the poor widow passed the money test, the men in the Hebrew Bible passed the food test.  The bread, meat, and wine offered by Ashpenaz, the chief chamberlain of King of the Gentiles, were unclean because they might have been offered to idols; and the meat may not have been drained of blood, as Jewish dietary law required.  But Daniel and his companions refused to be forced to eat forbidden foods in contempt of their religion.

On Thursday, we all face the beginning of our annual food test.  Then Friday, open season on credit limits begins with the proverbial Black Friday ritual of shopping for Christmas gifts. 

Do not let the false gods of Safeway and Giant or Butterball or Nabisco force you to defile yourself on Thanksgiving.  Cook enough to share with others you invite to your table.  Give away a portion of what you have for Thanksgiving. 

As the “shopping season” begins, resolve to mark the beginning of the new Liturgical Year with good works and almsgiving rather than lust, gluttony, greed and envy. It makes me wonder if we are up to the test of Daniel and the poor widow. It makes me wonder. 

There are two paths we can go by…but in the long run, there’s still time to change the road we are on. 

1 comment:

Eccesiastes said...

Did God give us Black Friday to see if we would pass the test?