Cats get a reputation for being aloof and uncaring. They are certainly independent creatures. They have their own routines and likes and dislikes, and they want them followed. They each have their own personalities, and others risk a hiss, scratch or bite if they choose to ignore the disposition of the resident cat. They claim their surroundings as their territory, and everyone who comes into it is a guest. Guests are welcome if they follow the rules like don’t rearrange things, don’t sit in my chair, don’t move the food or the litter box. Baxter is no exception to these feline foibles. He claims his space and those in it for his own, and he wants others to recognize and respect his rights for his stake in the world.
That’s all that God is asking as well. “Give me my rightful place in your life and our world.” It’s a message many want to write off. “Find your own space. Get out of my face. Your agenda is one among many. Take your turn when yours comes up. (Christmas and Easter?)” We want God to compete with us for a share in our lives and world. He is welcome to enter into the arena with all the other interests and rights that claim our attention, but there are no privileges of place or person here. Each party takes what he can claim before someone else gets it. It’s a dog eat dog battle for space, attention and importance, and God is just one of the many competitors for a place in our lives.
But God won’t play this game with us. Like cats, God assumes His claim over us. After all, He is the Creator of the world, and we are His children, made in His image, not independent agents on an equal par with the Creator. Of course, God respects our freedom and intelligence, so He won’t force His will on us. However, He also can’t allow us to play god with Him and each other without bearing the consequences for such arrogance and disrespect. God doesn’t hiss, scratch or bite. Rather, He allows us to do those kind of things to each other as a result of our silly competition to dominate others with our ways, our ownership and our egos. When we compete for the limelight, all we see in each other are the blemishes we have—our sins.
God’s claim like a cat’s is total and absolute. “This is my world. I set the boundaries for living in it, and I will not compromise them for your particular whim. But unlike cats, I won’t get my way with physical or manipulative force. I will use a stronger power which often takes longer to be felt. I will love you into doing it my way. When your ways have failed, when your battles to be number one are surrendered, when you can’t take the crazy pace, the isolation of being on top, the unease of seeing others only as competitors, and the senselessness of measuring the meaning of life by the number of wins and losses, then I will be there to forgive you and show you how to start over again.”
Cats seem aloof because they won’t play with us on our terms. They set the standards for feline happiness. God often might appear distant and even irrelevant for the same reason. But divine happiness is shared happiness with all creation, and so God’s standards are finally for our own good. Quit playing games, and give God His space this summer.
Baxter’s Personal Message for All His Readers
I can’t stand the heat, so I am taking a break for the summer from my life and faith lessons. Don’t worry though. I will be back in time for football season with purrs, meows and maybe a few hisses -- if Notre Dame doesn’t turn it around this year. Until then, think about what God teaches us through His many creatures, give thanks for the blessings in your life, and enjoy the summer! I won’t forget you. Don’t forget me and my housemate, Monsignor Statnick. Until kickoff, let us continue to pray for each other.