17 September 2008

On Cathy

She's the mother cat that lives outside. Fixed long ago, but she had two litters and one of her daughters still lives with her: Big Paw. But Cathy is the one who did it. Anastasia, you probably want to stop reading here. I walked outside the door and there it was. A bird. Dead. She'd left it on the doorstep, one of her infamous cat offerings. Now, I'm not squeamish about the ones she EATS, but it the useless death that tears at my heart. She obviously wasn't hungry. When hungry she will meow to high heaven until someone comes and comments on her offering, and then she will proceed to devour it. But there was no devouring the little sparrow. It lay there, an offering unused.

I wondered if people aren't too often like cats. We act as though GOD needed the sacrifice. It's the other way round, folks. WE need the sacrifice. From that death can come life. But only when that life is taken, received, and used. How often do we see the offering of our Lord running in the wrong direction? It's not GOD that needed that offering. It is we.

In the garden already animals died that Adam and Eve might be clothed. Vegetables wouldn't do in the Garden as they wouldn't do on Cain's altar. Life is in the blood. And we need that life. We live from the blood. So the offering of our Lord isn't first and foremost about the Son giving Himself to the Father as it is about the Father giving us the Son so that we can LIVE in Him. WE need that blood, not God. And how it must grieve Him when the gift of the Father, the sacrifice of His Son, is left unappropriated. When the life that He reaches us is rejected. When the pardon that is in the blood is regarded as unnecessary and unneeded and even unwanted. Like Cathy's abandoned sparrow.

Our Father gave us His dearest treasure, His beloved Son. And He gave Him to us that we might find life through His death, pardon through His blood, healing through His body. Folks, let's never dream that HE needed that somehow; WE needed it. Thus the Holy Eucharist remains in the world; His body and His blood, His sacrifice; present to give us His pardon, His life, His love. Yes, He loves us that much.

Poor Cathy has it all wrong. If no sparrow falls to the earth apart from the Father, then the sparrow is a gift given her not to play with, but to be thankful for and nourished by. Silly cat to think that it came from us or that we needed it.


Anastasia Theodoridis said...

Well, I'm glad I did not stop reading there, as the rest of it was an excellent read!

But please consider converting Cathy and Big Paw into indoor kitties. I have a link on my blog to helps on how to accomplish this. You'd be doing her and all those birds and other creatures a big favor.

Lutheran Lucciola said...

Wow, this is so appropriate for some people in my circle, holy cow. Thank you. Can I link to it, or put on my blog with your link and credit of course?

William Weedon said...


Help yourself!


Sadly, I think they're both way too old and set in their ways. We live right by the interstate and our previous outdoors cat was struck after only two years or so (as was our previous dog). We're amazed that these cats have made it so long outside. Not only escaping the cars, but also the coyotes!

Anonymous said...

Wow, Pastor Weedon. I'm not really connecting with this.

We have domesticated cats, dogs, etc. and yet they still have an underlying primal instinct so that even though a cat (or dog) are well fed their brains tell them to hunt. I'm forever chasing bunnies and other critters out of my fenced yard before I let the pooch out but once in a while I miss one and voila, the pooch does what pooches do. Nothing "silly" about it. All creation is, after all, groaning to be set free.

Of course, if people kept their cats indoors (which I did when I had cats) they wouldn't be killing birds.

Sorry, but I find human cruelty much more egregious. Just search the net or read the paper and the pain and suffering humankind causes the rest of creation are far greater than the occasional bird killed by a cat, which really has no choice in the matter -- unlike man, the "crown" of creation. I know you were using this as an example on "sacrifice" but I don't think it really fits.

Past Elder said...

I do.

It shows how it is not just Man that is fallen, but all Creation -- meaning, in turn, that Cathy's behaviour is not distinct from Man's, and even though Man may make better choices, in the end he has no choice in the matter either, he cannot by his better choices escape this fallen condition than Cathy or than he can, as Walther put it, choose to wake from the dead, as without Christ dead we truly are, breathing or not.

The good news is, in the new heavens and the new earth, we, Cathy and all Creation will be free of this!

Anonymous said...

The good news is, in the new heavens and the new earth, we, Cathy and all Creation will be free of this!

We are most certainly in agreement on this, but I don't see the animal world as being entirely in the same situation. Strictly speaking on the "natural" level, animals of course don't "sin" nor do they act out of the same motivations that humans do.

More than likely, had dogs and cats not been domesticated they would hunt out of necessity only. Wolves and lions, being biologically locked in to specific dietary needs generally only kill because they need food to survive or in the contest to secure mating rights (male lions will, after all, kill the cubs of a lioness so that she is capable of breeding again).

It's not a matter of making "better" choices. All species have been endowed with unique and specific needs and abilities and human beings make choices every day that dogs, cats and other living things don't by nature have to deal with and don't engage in.

When I adopted my dog from a rescue shelter this Spring the stories of human abuse of so many of the animals there made me want to weep. However, thanks be to God smetimes human choices also result in the betterment of the world at large (like all the faithful staff and volunteers at that shelter who literally love those abused animals back into trusting them), but imperfect it will be until the Lord comes again.

Anonymous said...

Pastor Weedon,

It seems that sacrifice can run in two directions. The Israelites made sacrifices to God as he required. I, as a parent, in raising my children, make sacrifices for my children for their good. It seems that God the Father,in giving His only son, made a sacrifice for us. Jesus sacrificed His life for us so that we might have life. Am I getting this?

I am still stuck on the idea of a sacrifice to someone. If Jesus didn't make a sacrifice to God, then what does that say about Jesus making payment for our sins, taking our place in punishment, paying our debt? What does all that mean? I thought that for Lutherans we speak about the atonement in both ways, not one or the other.

I'm sorry if this is too many questions. I have been hopelessly confused by this topic for a while. One day I think I've got it and then the next it is all a muddle.


Dennis Peskey said...

I fear you may have misinterpreted Cathy's actions. Since you did not provide her with an allowance, the car keys (or permit her access to your new bike), she did what only mother cats can do. She went out and captured supper for you and brought this gift to your doorstep.
If the bird were for herself, she would have eaten the carcus where she slay the bird. By positing the corspe on your doorstep signifies the delivery of a meal for you. Strange how love works in a fallen creation but this is all mother cats know and can do.

Anonymous said...

"I wondered if people aren't too often like cats. We act as though GOD needed the sacrifice. It's the other way round, folks. WE need the sacrifice."

Indeed. Similarly, I always chuckle at a favorite prof's quip about the term Eucharist: "I never have been able to figure out what God has to be so thankful for."

I know, I know! Naomichi Masaki only gave a thin smile too...:-)

Don Kirchner

William Weedon said...


Sacrifice at its heart just means "gift." So, yes, the gifts do run in both directions. And our Lord did GIVE to His Father that perfect obedience which all humanity owed Him and which none had ever given. It was a pleasing sacrifice to His Father and it is that perfect obedience of our Savior which He reaches us as our own for us to hold to by faith. But the primary thrust is always a W not an M. The gifts start from above and flow down to us, and we give in response to what we've been given, and He gives again, and we give again, and so on. The M way (where the gift originates with us and causes His mercies to flow to us) is the essence of idolatry.



What a wonderful way to see it! I'll think better now of her little offerings. :)