Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator
I would imagine that most of you, like me, think nothing of striking a match to light the stove or a candle or to get a warm fire started in the fireplace. Those who smoke usually carry a book of matches or a cigarette lighter with them wherever they go. Unfortunately, this modern convenience has dulled our sensitivity to the issue of fire and its place in the pre-industrial revolution world. Using kindling and flint or a stick and a string are skills that a boy scout may still learn, but I know that I would be lost. I might, like the people of old, guard against the probability that an oil lamp might be extinguished by a sudden draft by putting the light under a bushel basket or under the bed, two practices very much in vogue at the time of Jesus. However, while these actions protect the flame from being doused, they thwart the very intention of the lamp in the first place.
Modern people do the same sort of thing when they refuse to use the good china, when they place unopened gifts in the bureau drawer, when they practice anyone of a myriad of habits that protect rather than employ the object in question. St. Mark uses this familiar example to make the point that the present moment is far more important that dwelling in the past or looking ahead to the future. If you have ears, you ought to hear. You never know. You might lose the gift of hearing tomorrow.
No one would offer the thought that we shouldn't have some plans for the future. Prudence dictates that we be prepared. However, even this can become obsessive. Our treasure is a heavenly thing; our efforts need to direct themselves to its preservation rather than living in darkness at the present moment.