Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Elbow Macaroni

When a man knows how to change and repair a tire on a car, he possesses knowledge which is a good thing to have.  He can also profit by selling his ability to a neighbor who gets a flat tire. It could even become a business venture and result in an entire occupation of repairing tires and even cars. With the money he receives he could do some very “nice” things for himself, buy a TV or a boat, or pay for tuition for himself or his children and provide food and shelter for them.  All of these would be good results. Or, if he wished, he could invest the money, earn interest and savings for his future retirement.

On the other hand, he might take his knowledge and perform repairs for his neighbor without charging him for them. This could be considered a charitable act.

Or even more, he might teach his neighbor how to do it himself so that the neighbor himself might be able to teach others how to do it.  This is what teachers do. They pass on to children, students and others what they themselves know, thus enabling the student to use the knowledge in future life, for profit or for the profit of others. By doing the latter, teachers have the elevated joy that being a good teacher allows one to experience.  The good reputation, the high one experiences from the united efforts of others, and satisfactory remuneration, plus summers off, can sustain many but not all in such a profession. Dissatisfaction with parents, administration and indocile students sometimes makes us believe that we have been given a bum deal, and we complain bitterly.

It can be like that with man’s relationship with God.  One picture that often comes to my mind, don’t ask me why except that it was probably my Mom’s favorite offering, is elbow macaroni. That’s how I view myself, as one piece of elbow macaroni.

To begin with, I am like a hollow empty tube. At conception, all I had was my existence, not obtained through any efforts of my own. For the next nine months, everything I was to possess was given to me from my mother. Food, oxygen, minerals I needed were all supplied through the umbilical cord, and wastes, and toxic gases were eliminated through the same conduit until nine months later I emerged into the light of day. Everything I was to possess came to me through the care by others. As I grew, my parents, siblings, friends and ultimately teachers were to provide me with what is termed my knowledge. With these gifts I began to fill up my empty tube from end to end.   But I initially inserted a cork in the far end in order to keep all my gifts for myself.

But when I did, I filled up and couldn’t receive any more. My “tube” was constipated. Only when I removed the blockage, could I start passing on to others my contents, and make room for more incoming to me. That seems to be my purpose, to let the gifts I receive pass on out to others.

Especially important in this is for me to acknowledge the gifts received from God, ie. all the others, as ultimately the gifts from God and to return them to God as praise for all God has done. Also to be remembered is that when one of these “gifts” are given to others, they are at the same time given to God within the other. As Jesus pointed out, “Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.'[Mt. 25:40]

For us to take credit for all the good we say and do, is to entirely miss the point. It would be like Muhammed Ali after winning a fight and saying, “I AM the greatest!”, instead of, “Blessed be ALLAH, the Giver of all good gifts!”. This is best illustrated when we consider the meaning of the term “grace”.

The word "grace" comes directly from the Latin, "gratia", but let us first look at its most ancient definition in Hebrew:
          1. from "chen"(noun)
                   - a  quality which arouses favor; it may lie in
                      external appearance  or in speech;
                    e.g., "to find favor in the eyes of God and/or man";
                             "one who manifests kindness and compassion
                              in rendering aid;
          2. from "chanan"(verb)
-to show favor, used of men; an attitude which is proper toward the needy, the poor, the orphan and to any who are in distress.
                             - The act of giving gifts;
                             -Used for Yahweh's acts of benevolence,
                               source of ALL good  
    -Especially creation [everything from    
     nothing], and forgiveness [friendship from
Next in its use in the New Testament Greek:
          1. from "charis"
                   - it is closely and fundamentally identified with the
                     entire "good news" and is a key word
                   - it is what Christians wish to each other in
                     greeting or in departing( as in a Christian
          2. from "charizesthai" (verb)
                   - to give freely as a favor;
                   - with God as the giver, the object given is Christ
Profane use (not a "bad" use):
           1. from "charis" (noun):
- attractiveness( as in the word "charm"); the quality that wins favor;
                           - good will of God(grace)both as  something
                           given and something received and something
                  Derivatives: from Greek (Χαρις)[charis]
                         -"charity" the giving of gifts
                         -"charisma" A sign of being gifted
                          -"charismatic" Possessing great gifts
                          -"eu charis tia"- the greatest gift
                   Derivatives in Latin of "Gratia" ("thanks, grace")
                   -gratitude, grace, thanksgiving(as in 'eucharist')

 So, we are meant to be pipelines to others and not barrels to be filled. All good gifts come from God to us in order that we allow those gifts to pass through us to others. Thus, as with  Muhammed Ali, we point to Allah when we win, for God is the ultimate source of all that we have been given and we can scarcely take credit for ourselves when we help others.
When we take all the credit for what we have or do, we constipate our pipe.  God (within each of us) gives to God
( within everybody else) through us. Thus should be our life and our prayer.                                               
                                                                                  Charlie Mc