The Lilies Of The FieldSaturday, April 11, 2009
The Elysian fields were the home of the blessed in the afterlife of the Greeks. These fields were carpeted with a type of flower the Greeks called asphodelos. Some scholars believe that it is the origin of the English daffodil. For me what is interesting is that the botanical name for the daffodil is Narcissus. The story is that when Narcissus drowned while gazing at his beautiful countenance, daffodils grew near the spot. Certainly not in the water as daffodils hate to be waterlogged. The daffodil is supposed to have a powerful narcotic. Both narcotic and narcissus have the same prefix root.
Yesterday I tried to identify the origin of the biblical term “the lilies of the field.” In my Catholic The New American Bible ( The Rembrandt Edition, beautifully illustrated with Rembrandt’s paintings and sketches) I found this in Matthew 6: 28 – 34:
As for clothes why be concerned? Learn a lesson from the way the wild flowers grow. They do not work; they do not spin. Yet I assure you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was arrayed like one of these. If God can clothe in such splendor the grass of the field, which blooms today and is thrown on the fire tomorrow, will he not provide much more for you, O weak in faith!
My father’s American Society King James Bible is more forthcoming:
And why take ye thought for rainment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to-day is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?
What is interesting is that both bibles mention the grass. We who are botanically literate know that corn, wheat, barley and most other grains are grasses in which man selected the plants that had the larger seeds or bred it for grain size.
We know the story of the angel “flying over” the homes of the Hebrews in Egypt in reference to the Passover. The Hebrews were instructed to mark the doorposts of their homes with the blood of a spring lamb and, upon seeing this, the spirit of the Lord passed over these homes, hence the term "passover".
I found another relevant link. Pascua is Spanish for Easter. The origin of the word is from the Latin pastus or grass. My RAE (Real Academia Española) dictionary further explains that grass was used to break the fast. The Jews use unleavened bread (made from glorified grass?) during the Passover. Furthermore the Jewish feast of Passover is pascua in Spanish.
It is higher mathematics to try to explain to anybody as to how the Catholic Church determines when Easter falls each year. It is far easier to understand that the first Easter happened to fall in Passover. It was because Christ and His disciples had their last supper (not because they would not again break bread with him) but simply because it was the last supper before the Passover began. This was explained to me so many years ago by Brother Edwin Reggio CSC and I like the neatness and the order of that initial synchronicity.
As for the Easter lilies of the field it is mostly a marketing ploy as the original Easter lily is Lilium longiflorum, native to the Ryukyu Islands of southern Japan. The only lily-like plant that grows in the Holy Land is the narcissus. Thus I can safely illustrate this blog with a couple of very nice daffodils from our garden. Rosemary planted these around the early 90s in our outside back lane garden. This is the first time I have ever stopped to smell them. At first I thought they smelled like my kitchen spice drawer. Then I pulled spices out, one by one, and it was mace that most resembled the smell of our daffodils.