A Penitent Blogger

Mindful of my imperfections, seeking to know Truth more deeply and to live Love more fully.

Quid sum miser tunc dicturus? Quem patronum rogaturus? Cum vix iustus sit securus?
Recordare, Iesu pie, Quod sum causa tuae viae: Ne me perdas illa die...

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Self-ambition and self-destruction

Today’s first reading (Judges 9:6-15) gives us a parable about trees.

On one level, it is an allegory about the people of Israel’s foolishness in choosing the murderous Abimelech to be their king.

On another level, it is a cautionary tale about ambition and identity.

The olive tree, the fig tree, and the vine were each comfortable with their God-given identities, rejoiced in the gifts that came with these identities, and recognized the danger of becoming something they were not.

Once the trees went to anoint a king over themselves.
So they said to the olive tree, ‘Reign over us.’
But the olive tree answered them,
‘Must I give up my rich oil,
whereby men and gods are honored,
and go to wave over the trees?’

Then the trees said to the fig tree,
‘Come; you reign over us!’
But the fig tree answered them,
‘Must I give up my sweetness and my good fruit,
and go to wave over the trees?’

Then the trees said to the vine,
‘Come you, and reign over us.’
But the vine answered them,
‘Must I give up my wine that cheers gods and men,
and go to wave over the trees?’

The buckthorn, on the other hand, had an exceedingly unhealthy ambition. It was not content with its true, God-given identity but focused on one tendency within itself and made that the focus of its insatiable ambition, remaking itself as a tyrant.

As for the other trees, in their desire to embrace what was then the "new world order" of Monarchy, they tossed aside one of the most fundamental aspects of their God-given identity: that they were plants, needing the light of the sun to survive.

The result was that the buckthorn covered all the trees with its shadow.

No one who heard this parable needed to be reminded what happens to trees covered by shadow: they die.

May we never be persuaded by unhealthy ambition or by “what everyone is doing” to toss aside or twist the truth of what the Lord has given us: our unique identities and our unique gifts given to us in accordance with the truth and loving plan of God.