Friday, May 20, 2011

Lessons from The Little Red Hen

The Little Red Hen had a strong work ethic.

She is not to be confused with Chicken Little, who thought the world was ending because an acorn fell on her head. That poultry-character ran up and down the roads telling everyone that the sky was falling.

No, I'm talking about the Little Red Hen. She was in the mood for some bread. She asked all of the farm animals if they would be willing to help her to make it happen. Gather wheat. Grind the wheat. Mix the dough. Knead the dough. Shape and bake the dough. Nobody was interested in helping.

But when the bread began to bake, the aroma of fresh warm bread filling the air, suddenly there were animals everywhere. Who would like to help me eat this bread, the Little Red Hen asked. Suddenly, she had takers. Everyone wanted a piece of the bread.

I always thought The Little Red Hen seemed a bit bitter. She told the lazy animals that they had not helped prepare the bread. And now, they could not eat the bread.

I thought she could have given them a lecture and then cut them a slice anyway. Make it a teachable moment. But that's just my opinion.

The whole story of The Little Red Hen got me to thinking.

In almost every parish, there are a handful of people who do 90% of the work. But the priest doesn't say, only those of you who helped me in this work may partake of the Eucharist. No. He holds up the Lord Jesus Christ and tells us to come. Eat. Taste and see. The Lord is good.

And sometimes, he reminds us that we are to do better next time. We are to remember that this moment of nourishment is so that we can have all that we need to do the work of God. To plant the seed. To harvest the crop. To offer back the fruit of our labor. And then to come to the table and share in the Bread once more.

So that it can keep going like that. So that we can keep growing like that.

It reminds me of two verses. Together, they make up the teachable-moment lecture. Proverbs 10:5 says A son who fills the granaries in summer is a credit; a son who slumbers during harvest, a disgrace. Luke 10:2 tells us that The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.

There is so much to be done.

Many will say that they are doing the work. They write and speak and blog and twitter. I, too, have said this to myself - and to God. Lately, I am realizing that a lot of people want to work in this corner of the field. This is the primo job in the minds of many on-fire Catholics. And that is good. But it is not good if that same writer, speaker, blogger, tweeter is unwilling to work in the other areas of the field. In the U.S. (unlike many other places in the world), there is something very appealing about sharing the Gospel with the masses. Americans like the platform. (In some countries, the platform gets you killed. Suddenly the primo job is not quite as appealing.)

I'm no different from other Americans. I like having articles out there. I like getting reader feedback. And a handshake after a talk. And an invitation to come back next year. But things are shifting for me lately. I still feel that God has a work for me in this corner of the field, but more and more I am realizing that it is not at the exclusion of other parts of the field. Other rows. Other fields. And perhaps even other seasons and crops.

It's time to expand the work. Share more of me. Use muscles I haven't used in a while. It's time to do the tough work, the behind-the-scenes work.

Who would like to help? The Little Red Hen asks.

Send me.


  1. I pray that we both find what this is that we should be doing.God bless-Sharon

  2. Wonderful and thought-provoking words here.