Friday, April 15, 2011

The parable of the chores

It was put to me that Christians are actually all self centered. The only reason why we do good works is because we want God to give us stuff, ultimately in heaven. Heaven and hell are constructs to make us think we're going to get something, and since we are selfish and want goodies and don't want to be punished we do it.

I think the claim says more about the speaker than about Christians, and so I offer this parable.

Once there was a man who had three sons. One day he called his sons to him. To the first, he said "Empty the dishwasher, for it is full of clean dishes. And when you have done this refill it with this morning's breakfast dishes." The first son nodded and headed towards the kitchen.

To the second son he said "Go forth into the backyard and collect all the sticks which are strewn about there. For it is written in the manual, 'do not run over large sticks with the lawnmower, lest the blades become dull and chipped'." The second son nodded and headed for the back door.

To the third son, the man said "Gather up all the garbage from all the wastebaskets in the household. Gather also the kitchen trash, for it emits a foul odor. Take all these and deposit them in the garbage can and take it to the end of the driveway, where it shall be taken away by the sanitation truck." The third son nodded and began to travel about, collecting trash.

In his mind the first son was thinking "If I don't empty the dishwasher my father shall be angry with me and perhaps even punish me." The second son was thinking "If I pick up all these sticks my father shall reward me richly, perhaps even unto the purchase of that new video game I covet." The third son thought "If I don't take out this trash my father will have to do it. Because I love him I will take this chore upon myself."

Which of these sons is doing his father's will?


I'd say they all are. One more perfectly than the others, of course.

Good parable, Mike! And how's this for a coincidence? Right after reading this, I popped over to Catholic Spiritual Direction, where I read a post dealing with the 'zact same thing, Stages of Love in the Spiritual Life. :-D

Exactly, Christie. Although they all follow the "letter" of the chores the father gave them, one also follows the intentions of the father, who wants their love as well as their obedience.

Lisa, what coincidence? Thanks for posting that link - it's better than my parable, and the site looks interesting.

Good parable! I may use this at my catechism class tonight, and definitely with my sons.

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