The Man and the Lion

The man and the lion were walking through the forest debating which creature was superior to the other. The lion argued that lions were clearly greater than men because they were faster, more ferocious, and kings of the jungle. The man argued for his kind pointing out that men were far more clever and were able to fashion weapons. Eventually they came to a clearing where there was a statue depicting a man triumphing over a subdued lion.

“See,” said the man, “look how this man easily defeats this lion! Surely this statue must convince you once and for all of man's clear superiority!”

“No,” said the lion, “The statue proves nothing for it was made by a man! Had a lion sculpted that statue, it might tell a different story alltogether!”

This fable from Aesop is a clever reminder that stories can be vastly different depending on who is telling them. As human beings, we often depict ourselves as the heroes of our own narratives to the point of deceiving others and even ourselves. Pride blinds us from our flaws. As disciples, we are called to walk with humility in the knowledge of our limitations. We are also invited to be a part of the story God tells. The Gospel does not glorify humanity with false flatteries but tells us the truth about who we are whose we are.

Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear…

 

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The 3 Huts

A pilot was flying over the South Pacific when he noticed smoke coming from one of the many deserted islands below. The pilot flew closer and, sure enough, there was a man there with a great huge beard and tattered clothes sending the smoke signals. He looked like he had been on the island for years so the pilot made an emergency landing. When the pilot landed, the man was overjoyed.

“I’ve been on this island all alone for eleven years and I was beginning to lose hope! So many times I’ve seen planes fly by without noticing the smoke signals and here you are!”

“So happy I could help,” the pilot said, “Why don’t we gather your belongings and get you out of here.”

So the pilot followed the man into the leafy jungle and then to a clearing. In the clearing there were three huts. The man went into one of the huts and came out with a modest armful of belongings and announced that he was ready to return to civilization.

“Did you say you’ve been alone for eleven years?”, asked the pilot.

“Yes,” the man replied, “I’ve not seen another soul for eleven years!”

“Then, if you don’t mind my asking, why do you have three huts?”

The man smiled. “It’s simple really… the hut I just came from is obviously my home. This one next to it is my church. I go there every seventh day to worship God.”

“That’s very touching,” said the pilot, “How about that third hut?”

Suddenly the man’s facial expression got very serious and in a quiet voice he said, “That’s where I used to go to church…”

It’s pretty comical to imagine a schism of one and this old joke has made it into many a sermon about Christian unity. As the old saying goes, “it’s funny cause it’s true.” In most towns in the United States there are more churches than could possibly be needed to adequately seat all the worshipers on a Sunday morning. Too often these churches are not marked by a spirit of cooperation and common purpose but of competition and exclusive claims to God’s favor. Of course there are genuine theological differences between different churches and or course different worship styles speak to different people but how many churches are truly necessary? Far too often these are not the things truly dividing churches. Pride, history, and fear all stand in the way of unity. This parable reminds us of of the absurdity of having two huts when one should do.

Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear…

“Give it everything you’ve got!”

imageA father tells his 12 year old to go into the back yard and a remove a tree stump. The boy, eager to show his dad how he can master this manly task, runs out and begins pushing on the stump with all his might. After about twenty minutes of huffing and puffing, the stump hasn’t budged.

The boy turns to realize his dad has been outside watching him. Embarrassed, he tells him, “I’m sorry Dad, I can’t do it.”

His Dad just smiles and says, “Son, give it everything you’ve got!”

Now the boy, more determined than ever, kicks, pulls, takes running starts, and pushes and pushes and pushes until his arms are limp. Collapsing with exhaustion, the boy tells his father, between heavy breaths, “I can’t do it.”

His father looks at him and says, “Give it everything you’ve got!”

The boy picks himself up and decides to give it one last try but after 30 more minutes of grueling, the stump is no more loose then when he started. Now he is entirely spent. He sits on the stump and looks up at his dad. ” I’m sorry Dad. I gave it everything. I really did. It just wasn’t enough.”

The father looks at the son, smiles and says, “You didn’t give it everything you have, son. Because you never once asked me for help.”

This is one my dad likes to tell. I have no idea where he got it so, if you know, tell me. Too often in life, we let our capabilities be defined by our own strengths and weaknesses. This parable reminds us of the untapped resources we have in the people around us and, most importantly, in our Heavenly Father. Ask any wise old saint and they will tell you: the times they struggled most in life were the times they refused God’s help. As the old hymn says:
Oh, what peace we often forfeit,
Oh, what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer!”

Whoever has ears to hear, Let them hear!