Saturday, August 27, 2016

God Is the Fire My Feet Are Held To

Rather, God chose the foolish of the world to shame the wise, and God chose the weak of the world to shame the strong, and God chose the lowly and despised of the world, those who count for nothing, to reduce to nothing those who are something, so that no human being might boast before God. 1 Corinthians 1:27-29

Now then! Take the talent from him and give it to the one with ten. For to everyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. Matthew 25:28-29

Ars Poetica II
by Charles Wright
I find, after all these years, I am a believer—
I believe what the thunder and lightning have to say;
I believe that dreams are real,
                                                       and that death has two reprisals;
I believe that dead leaves and black water fill my heart.
I shall die like a cloud, beautiful, white, full of nothingness.
The night sky is an ideogram,
                                                       a code card punched with holes.
It thinks it’s the word of what’s-to-come.
It thinks this, but it’s only The Library of Last Resort,
The reflected light of The Great Misunderstanding.
God is the fire my feet are held to.

“Ars Poetica II” by Charles Wright from Appalachia. © Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1998.

Sometimes, when I read from Corinthians, I feel pretty lucky.  God chose the foolish.  That means there is hope for the rest of us. However, I am not sure that the foolish would ever be caught boasting.  Or maybe they are foolish because they wrongly boast…about their money, their power, their intelligence, or other temporal talents.  

“Boasting (especially about oneself)” is an expression St. Paul uses to describe the worst sin.  Like Lucifer, the person who boasts in themselves claims self-sufficiency from God.  This is a fantasy if we think that we live and are saved by our own resources alone. Self-indulgence is set apart from “boasting in the Lord” which is the acknowledgment that our lives come from God and must be devoted to God’s purpose.  As Charles Wright put it in the poem above, “God is the fire my feet are held to.”

We have to be careful not to be too literal and economic as we read Matthew’s Good News.  This has NOTHING to do with the theology of abundance.  Rather, faithful use of one’s God-given talents leads to participation in the fullness of the kingdom.  However, lazy inactivity may result in exclusion from it.

With the approaching anniversary of Mother Theresa and her canonization next month, there is again a renewed media focus on some of her comments.  Once, when asked “What can we do to promote world peace?”  She answered, “Go home and love your family.” 

Start using your talents close to home and then branch out. Use your talents to serve your own family.  What fire is God holding to your feet?  Whose feet are you being asked to wash?  

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