The missal says today’s readings are about food and feeding — but it seems to me that nothing links them — at least they are linked by nothing. So I have nothing to say and I want to say it three times! Confused? …
Hands up all those who find the first reading insulting? OK, at least embarrassing? No? Well, I do. Water, wine, bread, milk: symbols of all the heart desires and the body pines for — all this ours for nothing? For nothing. But who wants charity? … What’s the catch, God? Because there’d better be a catch; there has to be a hidden cost — nothing is too demeaning. OK, God, lower the price a little, if you must, bring these things within my price range — set it where I can afford — but please leave me at least the dignity of paying a little. Please don’t just give it away. What do you think of me? Do you think I can’t pay? Do you think I’m worth nothing? I am worth something you know. I don’t want your charity. Nothing is just too little. Don’t you know I have my pride?
(move to centre)
Nothing can come between us and the love of Christ. What is there between a work of art and the artist who creates it? If she is very lucky something bridges the gap of creation and the artist sees herself in her work. There are the thumbprints in the clay, the brushstrokes on the canvas, the form of feeling expressed and made visible. The very person of the artist, opened out, expressed, come to public life for all to see and touch and hold. Something stands between the artist and the work and makes it possible for one to contain the other. That something is the medium — the clay, the canvas, the gesture. … We are God’s work of art. A work in whom God comes alive in delight. A work made out of nothing, ex nihilo. The medium of our making is nothing. Nothing stands between us and the love of God made visible in Jesus. The human artist wrestles with the clay, the blank canvas, the marble: encounters it fully and takes the risk that something of beauty will emerge from the medium. God stoops down into nihil, into nothing, and finds us there. Nothing can ever come between us and the love of God made visible in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(move to chair)
“Sometimes,” says a character of Ursula Le Guin’s, “sometimes only too far is far enough.” Sometimes all you have is next to nothing. Sometimes in the face of need, and pain, and hope all you have is nothing. Sometimes only nothing is enough. Sometimes all you can do is take what little you have, raise it in thankful blessing, break even smaller, and … give it away. Sometimes only nothing satisfies.
2 comments August 3rd, 1996