Instead of hand-outs wouldn’t it be better not to have any poor?
Instead of locks wouldn’t it be better not to have any door?
Childish questions, yes. But I’ve been wondering did Jesus’ lilies
Set gates up, or hold out a petal for food? But perhaps they were sillies.
They raised banners—their faces—high and marched over the hill
(But they carried no slogans, they were only playing at drill).
Wouldn’t it be grand if there were no poor and no food-clothes donors,
But all were rich and strove in friendly strife for poverty’s honors—
Marching to the City of Love, to the Beloved’s palace,
Sweeping the steps with their eyebrows to force him to show his face?
And he sitting in the Diamond Hall welcoming everyone—
And his feet white as mountain snow and his face shining like the sun.
From such a world I would never wish to be absent for long—
Men and women and children like lilies of the field, full of song.
A picture of a beautiful ideal world, full of bite because it is so unrealizable.
To the worldly wise the vision of a world capable of being saved and blessed will always appear childish and unrealistic. The lilies representing the beauty of nature never hold out petals for food, that is, they never beg.
Yet Francis is preaching a radical new reality where ideal vision can be part of the human world. As Paul says, “For we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness.”. (I Cor. 1: 23).
To insist on this holy folly the vision is deliberately childish and exaggerated.
The central image is the lilies of the field, the lilies of Jesus where the simple beauty of being outshines all earthly glories. And it raises of course the question, is the vision really so silly? Isn’t the potential for the vision of innocence always there, given by grace, if we are able to accept it?
A paradisal vision which can haunt the mind.