Father Peter Clarke

From the Diocese of Bridgetown

Monkey Business! By Fr. Peter Clarke, OP

Monkey Business!  By Fr. Peter Clarke, OP

A cat can look at a king and a king can look at a cat! Two priests can look at two Barbadian Green Monkeys and two Barbados Green Monkeys can look at two priests! Why not? Who's to stop them?

Fr. Clement and I were in the chapel chanting the Evening Prayer of the Church, with God very much on our minds and in our hearts. Taking turns to sing the verses of the psalms allowed me to raise my head and look around. Behold! Before my very eyes were two very special monkeys - Barbadian Greens – sitting cozily on a branch like two lovers!

They were looking in our direction. Did they find beauty in our singing? Or did they consider we were not worth a second thought? Should I repent of admiring monkeys when I should have been caught up in praising God? Did God deliberately send them at that time, to that place? To catch my attention? To set me thinking that perhaps we humans weren't the only ones who pray!

I have every reason to believe these monkeys were praising God – precisely by being true to God-designed selves. He Himself declared that everything He made was good. Pope Francis beautifully asserts that God loves everything into existence! They are praising God when they steal my mangoes and bananas – even though at such times I find it impossible to praise them.

And what is more, these monkeys could never for a single moment cease pleasing God, praising God.
Inevitably our Barbadian Green Monkeys would find a place in the magnificent choir being on to praise of God by the young men surrounded by flames in the fiery furnace:

Bless the Lord, all the Lord's creation: praise and glorify him forever! Bless the Lord, angels of the Lord, praise and glorify him forever! Bless the Lord, heavens, praise and glorify him forever! Bless the Lord, whales, and everything that moves in the waters, praise and glorify him forever! Bless the Lord, every kind of bird, praise and glorify him fo Bless the Lord, all animals wild and tame, praise and glorify him forever! (Daniel Ch. 3.58…).

All these songster could indignantly reply, "You don't need to tell us. We've always been doing it. We can't stop doing it. It just comes naturally to us."

It's mankind with its free will that needs to be told, "Stop messing up people. Stop messing up God's world, our home, the home of all creation." There are those who need to hear, need to act upon, this now desperate pleading,

Bless the Lord, all the human race: praise and glorify him forever! Bless the Lord, faithful, humble-hearted people, praise and glorify him forever!

And no wonder! Man alone has the freedom to choose whether to protect and enhance God's creation or to ravish and ruin it. There are the people who don't consider themselves accountable to man or God as to how they treat this wonderful world which is home of all creatures. Among them are even some who are truly pious and outstanding for their good works. Yet they do not recognize a morality that obliges them to take responsible care of God's Wonderful World…its environment, it ecology.

Pope Francis, together with many others, is sounding the alarm bells. This generation more than any other, through its self-centred consumerism, is callously destroying the very environment in which they and the entirety of mankind live (including their own darling children and grandchildren)! They are hastening the extinction of the very resources upon which life itself depends. About this they are in a state of vigorous self-serving denial! None of this expresses praise to God!
Thank you Lord for bringing these two Barbadian Green Monkeys into my prayer-life. In their way, simply by being themselves, they have caused me to realize that all the time, in every deed and situation, I must be true to my God-given humanity as a steward of creation and never as its self-absorbed bossy-bully!
Strong is my temptation to embrace these Barbadian Green Monkeys with the Sign of Peace and Fellowship. Perhaps not! One of them might bite my nose off! Would you blame it?

Peter Clarke, O.P.

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