|By Fr. Brendan McGuire
Pastor of Holy Spirit Parish, San Jose and Vicar General for special projects, Diocese of San Jose. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Beavers or Humans?
Beavers are the most industrious little animals! They form packs or families and build dams out of fallen-down trees. And if there are not enough fallen trees, they chop more down with their very sharp front teeth. They pack the dams with clay so that both underneath and on top, the water easily dams and forms ponds. In the center of the pond, they create what is known as a lodge; on the surface it looks like trees gathered up but underneath it is actually like a pyramid and the only entrance is underneath the water.
These devices are protection against predators such as the coyotes because they cannot chase them under water. Also, after they dive into the water, they become slippery and difficult to catch. It is also a defense mechanism. However, it is not very good for the ecology of the neighborhood because once the beavers dam-up the water little to no fresh water goes downstream.1
They build the dam for themselves, not for others. That is the whole point. It makes no difference what happens downstream, they are just taking care of themselves.
We Americans can act a lot like beavers! We get an abundance of water coming from upstream; an abundance of goods; an abundance of wealth. We even say that every person needs to help themselves! Let’s look at some statistics. we are the wealthiest nation in history. Our consumption rate per capita is the highest that has ever existed in the history of the world. It is predicted that if every human being were to consume at the rate of the average American, the world’s resources would be depleted in just seven years.
But we are not beavers. We are humans. We are meant to care about the ecosystem of the world. We are meant to care about those downstream.
In today’s gospel, we hear Jesus tell his disciples how God gives and what God expects. God tries to break open our thoughts and to have us think in the mentality of abundance.
A talent was a form of weight and it was about 100 pounds; so that would be 500 pounds of gold, or 200 pounds of gold; or 100 pounds of gold. Now even by today’s standards, 100 pounds of gold is worth a lot of money. The servant buried $1 million!
The absurdity is clear! We do not bury $1 million, we find a way to invest $1 million; we find a way to bring a return.
If we understand that the water that comes downstream is God’s love. We have done nothing to deserve it. We just get the flow of water of God’s love. We have no right to stop that flow. In fact, what keeps the water fresh is passing that love on to others. We receive without merit and so we must give without merit. This not only motivates us to share materially but it also then calls us to share spiritually.
We are not beavers; we do not want to hoard the water of life that God gives us; we are humans who are called to care for the whole of God’s creation.
1 “Homily Helps,” (St. Anthony Messenger Press: Cincinnati, OH, November 16, 2014)