Between curfew and quarantine I have learned something of bird behavior from the back yard feeder. Tiny tufted titmice skitter from black-capped chickadees, in turn shooed by mere sparrows. Sparrows are rousted by cardinals, cardinals banished by Blue Jays, and Blue Jays et al acquiesce to the crowding of still larger White-Winged Doves. Doves themselves occasionally scatter as one of their own participates involuntarily in a hawk’s Apocalyptic Great Supper. Whether size and strength, wit and will, or furtive quickness, every bird’s Creator-bequeathed power serves its own interest. Nietzsche would be proud.
Aristotle adds only reason to humanity’s animal nature. Part of a community, individuals are not only proud and courageous, but also loyal and munificent. To the extent reason correctly guides them, they fulfil the purpose for which they exist, the end and happiness naturally attracting them.
Man and beast’s behavior and motive make perfect sense.
And then there is Jesus. To his disciples: When you are guests, “do not sit down in the place of honor….” When you are hosts, “do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they invite you in return and you be repaid.” And in case we take him to mean we do these things simply because the final reward is better than the immediate or intermediate, he next tells us who God invites when he is host: “…the poor and crippled and blind and lame.”
God gives us power, including rationality to excel bird and beast. But he also makes us more like him—more than simply powerful and rational. To be holy like him is to love like him. He loves those who by nature cannot equal the value he places on them. You. Me. The omnipotent Creator stoops to serve even the world protesting against him.
This week may our giving exceed gain, our vision extend beyond our own horizon, our strength serve weakness, our ego alter. That is, may we be more like Jesus.