Such contrast between different ways of being in this world! The results make the distinctions clear, but by the time we pay attention it may be too late to change our habitual way of of thinking and sharing. I hope not, since I’m so often like the 1st tree, the one in the desert, who acts like it can live without water, or find its own source.
The 1st reading of the mass for Thursday of the 2nd week of Lent Jer 17:5-10 is one I found so profound I memorized it in the old translation. “Cursed be the man who trusts in man and maketh flesh his arm and whose heart departeth from the Lord. He shall be like Tamarack in the desert and shall not see when good shall come.” The new translation calls this miserable plant a “barren bush in the desert that enjoys no change of season, but stands in a lava waste, a salt and empty earth.”
Cutting ourselves off from the love of God, just trusting in ourselves like this barren bush or Tamarack tree – choosing to grow away from the water. This hit my 18-year-old heart hard.
Then the contrast. “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose hope is in the Lord his God. He shall be like a tree planted besides running waters that stretches out its roots to moisture. It shall not fear when the heat shall come. The leaves thereof shall be green and in the time of drought it shows no distress but still bears fruit. More torturous than all else is the human heart, beyond remedy; who can understand it? I, the Lord, alone probe the mind and test the heart, to reward everyone according to his ways according to the merit of his deeds.”
Opening oneself to being attentive to what God wants of us seems the key virtue asked of us in this reading as well as the one about the difference between sheep and goats in Matthew 25. The main virtue of sheep is that they listen to the voice of the shepherd and follow their master. The tree that flourishes throughout times of drought is planted near the running waters, taking in God’s love and continually bears fruit that can be shared by all those who pass by.
Acknowledging that we receive everything and are not the source of our own lives, and thus gratefully share all our fruit seems the lesson. What the world would be like if enough live like this! Homeland security would mean people would 1st of all have the security of a home, and enough to eat.