Monday, November 18, 2013

Doing Your Best at Times is Not Enough

A  lion and cow fall in love. They met  accidentally in the woods and  intuitively knew they were made for each other. They overcame their biology, their different origins and culture, and decided to marry.  Obviously, the families on both sides were greatly upset, but no one was able to dissuade them, and with the animals from each of their worlds gathered for the joyful event, they celebrated their union.

Every morning the cow would gather all the the best environmentally friendly and organic grasses, and prepare the lion's meal. But the lion did not even once raise this food to his mouth. Never did he ever think of eating such fare. The lion on his  part spent time  preparing the best Korean meat that he could find and put it before the cow. The cow took that expensive piece of meat and buried it.  Each day this would be repeated: The lovingly prepared meals would be offered but not eaten, and both of them began to get weaker, lost weight, and quarreled. They stopped talking to one another and the relationship ended. As they were readying their belongings to depart, each said to the other: "And yet I did my best for you."

This parable, written by a priest for the Life & Bible magazine, is similar, the priest says, to the comments from a book on prayer by Fr. Thomas Green S.J. where he makes a distinction between working for God and doing God's work, and explains the distinction with an example using blue cheese. A person asked a friend what he would like for his birthday;  blue cheese was the answer.  But the person felt this was not enough of a present for his friend, and wanted to give something  better.  What should be done, Fr. Green asks: Give what the friend wants or give what the person thinks is a better present for his friend?  When I give my friend what I think is a good present this is working for God. Giving the friend what he wants (in this case, blue cheese) is God's work.

We can be working for God whenever we are doing our best. This is good work and admirable, he says, but what we think is good work is not necessarily what is going to unify us with God.  When I do what I think is the best for God, it may be my best, but not the "blue cheese" that God wants.  We give God the best present we can imagine and think this is  wonderful, but if God likes blue cheese and we give him something else thinking that we have done our best, we may be pleasing ourselves but have we really pleased God?

We think that love means giving something to the person we love. We do many things for the beloved and say we have done our best. That is a fact, but giving our time, money, and devotion, even when done lovingly, without complaint, does not always bring the best  results. Despite these efforts, quarreling, complaints and emotional scars often develop that can't be easily washed away--and yet they are the results of this love.  Where is the problem? the priest asks. Why does this happen?  It is because the love, he says, is expressed in the manner we think best, believing we are doing everything for the beloved. With the sacrifice, altruistic  attitude and feeling satisfied with what was done, we miss the opportunity of doing what should be done.


No comments:

Post a Comment