Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of March 17, 2008
God sows his love with wild abandon
But when we miss this generous gift, we cannot share it with others
Bishop David Motiuk
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
Unlike farmers, God sows his love, mercy and forgiveness in almost a carefree, even wasteful way, says Ukrainian Catholic Bishop David Motiuk.
And those who have experienced this excess of God's love must share it with others.
Motiuk, the bishop of the Edmonton Ukrainian Eparchy, is a farmer's son and speaks from experience.
"If you grew up on a farm or planted a garden, you know that we (farmers) do things rather painstakingly," he said March 8. "We don't just throw out the seeds to the wind and offer a prayer and hope for the best. We prepare the soil and we plant the crops, taking care to plant each seed just so - not too much, not too little, not too deep, not too shallow.
Lord sows with love
"(But) our ways are not the ways of the Lord and the Lord's ways are not our ways," the bishop said. "The Lord's ways are filled with overabundance. He sows his love, mercy and forgiveness in almost a carefree, even wasteful way."
The hurt, hostility and lack of peace we are experiencing at home and abroad are in one sense "because we have failed to recognize the excess, the overabundance of God's love, of his mercy and his forgiveness acting in our lives. And because we have failed to experience it ourselves, then how can we share that with others?"
Motiuk spoke on Experiencing God's Overabundance: An Eastern Perspective at the Catholic Conference. Nearly 30 people attended his talk.
The bishop used passages from Scripture to illustrate the Lord's excesses. One was the Marriage at Cana, where the host runs out wine. Jesus changed water into wine to save the host from embarrassment. Rather than making one or two litres, he made six stone jars containing 80 to 120 litres.
"That's a heck of a lot of wine!" exclaimed Motiuk. "An overabundance. So Christ just doesn't meet us with our immediate needs and say, 'I hope that's enough.'"
The miraculous catch of the fish is another example. While Christ is inviting the disciples to come and follow him, he realizes that the men had been fishing without luck. So he convinced them to go back into the water and try again. They caught so many fish their net was bursting.
The same happened when Christ fed 4,000 people by multiplying a fish and a loaf of bread that a young person had donated.
"They collect the leftovers and there are 12 baskets," exclaimed Motiuk. "So Christ goes to the excess. Not only does he satisfy our need, whether it's hunger, whether it is love, forgiveness or encouragement, he bestows upon us an excess."
Let it go
The parable of the lost sheep is another example of this excess. "Again, being a farmer, I'm not sure that I would have gone after the lost one," Motiuk said. "I probably would have said okay I lost one, I have 99 left. I better build a stronger fence because one got out.
"But no, Christ in his excess, in his love, this wasteful love, walked around in search for the one lost sheep."
Ukrainian Catholics and Eastern rite Catholics in general respond to this excess of love, mercy and forgiveness by sharing with the needy, but also with some excesses of their own. Their churches are an example of overabundance.
You experience "sensory overload" as soon as you walk into a Ukrainian Catholic Church, noted Motiuk. "Man, is this busy! There are a lot of things going on that are vying for your attention. When you walk in your eyes are immediately engaged."
Apart from their huge domes, churches display icons everywhere. St. George's Church in Edmonton is so covered with art, visitors have asked if there are icons in the washroom.
"You see the beautiful, flowing vestments of the celebrants," noted the bishop. "Your ears are engaged because you hear all the movement all around you and most of our services are sung, so you hear either the lay-led responses or the four-part choir."
Your nose smells the burning of the candles or of the incense. And during the Divine Liturgy one is constantly crossing oneself, kneeling, sitting and standing.
"There is so much that's going on," exclaimed Motiuk. "You have prayers that speak to this overabundance, to the experience of the joy of salvation."