27 September 2006

Rats squeaking at stars

St. Vincent de Paul: 1 Cor 1.26-31 and Matthew 9.35-38
Fr. Philip N. Powell, OP
St. Albert the Great Priory

How do the foolish shame the wise? How do the weak shame the strong? How do those who are nothing reduce to nothing those who are something?

We are art. Made things. Like paintings in color or sculpture in shape and size or music in speech or poetry in both our lyric complexity and sometimes in our doggerel simplicity. Being made things, we have a Maker. Creatures have a creator. And having a Creator means that we have a relationship with something or someone more complete than we are, in fact, fully complete, completely actualized, Pure Act in a gratuitous relationship with our unactualized potential, our still to be perfected gifts. If we know that we are 1) creatures, that is, made, and that 2) we are imperfect but perfectible, then we cannot boast before God. We cannot hold ourselves, haughty and ridiculously puny, before Him Who made us and boast about who we are, what we’ve done, why we did it, and where we are planning on going next.

Mice can roar at the sky and claim to move the clouds, but rodents squeaking at stars are just rodents squeaking at stars.

Whoever boasts, should boast in the Lord. Boast in the Lord. Not in power. Not in noble birth. Not in human wisdom. Not in strength. Boast in the Lord’s power, His kingship, His wisdom and His strength. Because “it is due to him that you are in Christ Jesus…” It is His power, wisdom, and strength that gave us righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. Nothing you did or can do, nothing I did or can do, and nothing we did together did or can do together will accomplish our redemption or complete our righteousness without our Creator. We are art. Made things. And we are made holy by the One Who made us.

When you brag of your good deeds, when you brag about your academic accomplishments, your athletic prowess, or your artistic genius, when you brag without giving thanks to God, you brag as one whose strength is weakness, whose power is poverty, whose wisdom is foolishness. You brag about empty deeds, pointless accomplishments, useless prowess, and abused genius. You have done nothing. With God, you have done everything!

So, what’s there to brag about but that we are fatally loved, killed in repentance and made new again, made more perfect, by a God who gave us His wisdom in His Son? What’s to brag about but that His Christ looked out over the troubled and abandoned crowd and was moved with pity, touched by compassion for them and gave them for the ages laborers from the master of the harvest? What’s to brag about but that the weak in Christ are stronger than strength, more powerful than power, more regal than any king, wiser than any created wisdom, and loved by God to death and life again and forever?

The foolish shame the wise by praising God for His wisdom. The weak shame the strong by praising God for His strength. Those who are nothing reduce to nothing those who are something by praising God for His creation and for their creaturliness. When we boast w/o praising God for our excellences, we boast like the mice who claim to move the clouds. We are rats squeaking at stars.


  1. Actually, rats have such poor eyesight they almost certainly can't even see the stars.

  2. Narwen,

    Then my point is even better made!

    Fr. Philip