There is a mature horse chestnut tree in the grounds of Mabbsonsea Manor. Five years ago, it was given a severe pruning, and for the next two springs, the pesky squirrels ate all the sticky buds. The tree still produced enough leaves to stay alive, but no flowers survived. I tried telling the pesky squirrels, “No flowers = no nuts.” They paid no attention. This year, the twigs must have grown thick enough to support the weight of a pesky squirrel, and once more the ground below is littered with half-developed flowers and leaves. The pesky squirrels are almost human in their short-termist, destructive greed.
Yesterday, I had to make a link between the stories of the Good Samaritan and the Creation. (The Boys Brigade had made short films re-telling the stories, which we showed in church). I’ll give you a moment to make the link . . .
What I came up with is that the beautiful, good Earth God made is like the man who’d been beaten up and left for dead, with people passing by and refusing to help. We’re so addicted to burning oil that the melting of the polar ice is a good thing for us because it makes the polar oil reserves more easily (and cheaply) accessible. Never mind rising sea levels, increased flooding, droughts, food shortages and refugees. As long as we can keep heating our buildings in the winter, cooling them in the summer, driving, flying, eating lots of meat, clear-cutting forests, mining, polluting, and generally sitting comfortably. Let the poor foreigners suffer if necessary – we can always make a donation to Comic Relief as an offset.
The trouble is that the story tells us that the poor foreigners are our neighbours and God wants us to love our neighbour as ourselves. In fact, in the story, it’s the poor foreigner who saves the beaten up man. Maybe it will only be as we rich & powerful Westerners start treating the poor foreigners as our brothers and sisters that we will realize that we are the ones who need help – we are the ones who need salvation. A few words from 1 John: “How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help?” (3.17); “Those who say, ‘I love God’, and hate their brothers or sisters are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen.” (4.20).
We can be better than the pesky squirrels. Don’t forget: No flowers = no nuts.