THREE FRIENDS - WRITTEN AND ILLUSTRATED BY FR. TONY MOON, CHILDREN'S MOMENT ON MATTHEW 25:14-30 - ST. AUGUSTINE OF CANTERBURY EPISCOPAL CHURCH
I want to tell you a story today, a story about three acorn friends that grew up together to become large oak trees.
These three acorns became fast friends—even as little acorns. As little acorns, they didn’t know that they’d spend their long lives together, and become even greater friends than they were as little acorns. The little acorns settled into the ground, and soon sprouted a tender green shoot out the top, and tiny tendril roots out the base.
Season upon season passed, year upon year, and the three acorns grew from little saplings into small trees and then turned into a triangle of trees: one here, one there and the third one, there. Most trees grow slowly, and these trees certainly did. That slowness is not a bad thing… they took their time becoming tall, mature trees. They learned a lot along the way of many, many years of growing and maturing, too. They learned a lot about growing up.
They were always near people… they got to see friends talking; children playing; and picnics on blankets spread beneath their limbs. Generation after generation grew up beneath their limbs… Parents would bring their children to come play under the shade of the leaves of the three oak tree friends. Those children grew up and became parents themselves. And their children played around these three tree friends, eventually growing up, and having children themselves. Getting to silently watch people all these years, the old oak trees grew wiser and wiser.
Late one fall night, their limbs rocking rhythmically to a cool breeze, a dark figure came near and stopped directly in the center of their tree triangle. He dropped to his knees, as if to pray, but instead, this man started digging, scratching at the earth with his hands.
The hole he dug was not deep. He then brought a small tin can from his coat pocket, and dropped it in the hole. He covered the hole, disguised his recent activity by scattering dirt and leaves over the hole, and was soon gone.
Months passed, and the secret in the ground remained undisturbed. The three tree friends wondered from time-to-time what might be in that little tin can that lay buried between them.
It was early one spring afternoon when the stranger returned, searched around a bit, and heaved a huge sigh of relief. He quickly uncovered the can. As he stood to leave, he was met by someone else. The three tree friends could hear a bitter conversation between them. Soon, the can was handed over to this angry person.
“I thought you’d invest it!” she said. She was so angry, she seemed a little out of control.
“I…I…I didn’t know how! I’m no good with money at all!” the man stammered.
“At least I didn’t lose what you’d trusted me with.”
“But, I wanted more, and you gave me nothing!”
Turning to what seemed to be an assistant, she barked,
“Give this to the one who made me the most money.”
And you…” spinning back to man who was now bent over sadly, her finger pointing like a knife,
“You, you will have nothing! Go on—get out of my sight!”
The three oak friends stood silently for the remainder of the evening and most of the next three days.
In their silence, they thought about friends talking, children playing, and picnics on blankets spread beneath their limbs.
Their tree bark absorbed those feelings of joy and love, and they cherished them. The old oaks mourned when humans treated each other poorly, because their tree bark, of course, also knew human anger, aggression, and greed.
These tall witnesses stood, and wept.
Finally, the silence was broken when one of the oaks said, “So he wasn’t good with money…”
Quite a while passed when another of the oaks said, “I heard that there were others who managed money quite well.”
Again, some time passed, and the third tall witness wondered out loud, “Why did they not help him?” … “Why did they not help him?”
The next questions arose from the three friends all together, as with one voice:
“And, who will help him now that he has nothing?
…Are we not in this life together?”
And so, this concludes our story of three little acorns who grew up to be three tree friends. They saw something strange happen beneath their limbs when a man buried a can full of money there. And then they saw something even stranger happen when people were mean to one another.
This story is based on our Gospel lesson for today where Jesus is teaching about loving one another, caring for one another, and helping each other when we are in need. This is what Jesus did during his time on earth, and this is what Jesus wants us to do, as well!
~ Fr. Tony Moon, St. Augustine of Canterbury Episcopal Church
Various Clergy and members of St. Augustine contribute to authoring the blog on a variety of topics.