- I am not a believer in coincidence. I believe that we
are all gifts to one another. Like Christmas packages beneath the tree,
the velvet bowed, glittery gifts, are those that first attract and draw
attention to themselves. It is naturally assumed, in man's narrow thinking,
that the more ostentatious the wrappings, the better the contents! And
indeed they may contain anything from fools gold to a hard, cold, multi-faceted
- Discarded, beneath the boughs, are the packages wrapped
in string and brown paper, newspaper, or butcher paper, with the message
written in crayon. What value this? In a world saturated with materialistic
wonders, of yachts, exotic getaways, luxury vehicles, designer clothing,
upscale exquisite cuisine, and vacation cabins, who has time for the
cheap, the tawdry, the common junk of life? Or so it's advertised.
- Missed in the tinsel, gala laughter, and selfishness
of it all, was the lump of clay with a tiny palm print, the special rock
found on that trip, a collage of magazine pictures, or the valuable necklace
made from macaroni! Missed was the one of a kind, the irreplaceable gift
of oneself given in an act of love. Missed was the time, the effort, the
thoughtfulness and excitement in the preparing and giving. The gift and
the giver are left in the discarded refuse as the guests move on to a laden
table with nary a thought to those outside the gate starving, ill or forgotten.
- "The line separating good and evil passes not through
states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either---but
right through every human heart---and through all human hearts. This line
shifts. Inside us, it oscillates with the years. And even within heats
overwhelmed by evil, one small bridgehead of good is retained. And even
in the best of hearts, there remains....an un-uprooted small corner of
evil." Gulag Archipelago, vol. 2, "The Ascent".
- In our seeking out of the titled, the moneyed, the popular,
the recognized, the talented etc., in seminars, gatherings, special musical
presentations, academia, or political visitations; how often do we pass
by and miss the gift, the genuine giver or gift right beside us? I am
reminded of a visit here in New Hampshire of Senator Liberman. Surrounded
by an army of handlers, and security personnel, the news media jostled
to get a photo or a statement. Done up like a pet nanny goat off to the
fair, he wore an air of pretentious, condescending affability , enjoying
the star status. He gave a cursory nod and remark to an elderly couple
protesting the war and was off to a special interview and adulation from
party members inside the headquarters. Watching it all, I couldn't help
thinking of the real story here. The elderly couple. She an 82 yr. old
activist and he, a World War II veteran and prisoner of war. They, both
the gift and the giver. Inside, need was also missed, as scripted answers
and autographs were given. My attention was drawn to a bedraggled, ill-clothed
man taking advantage of the distraction and stuffing his pockets with donuts,
cheese, and cookies at the snack table. What story here I thought? His
fifteen minutes up, the good Senator was whisked out the back door and
as I turned, so too the hungry man, with only a few crumbs left on the
table. I smiled and thought, good for you.
- "As societies grow decadent, the language grows
decadent, too. Words are used to disguise, not to illuminate, action: you
liberate a city by destroying it. Words are to confuse, so that at election
time people will solemnly vote against their own interests." Belivers
of the lie; you hear those calling into the media, proclaiming stridently,
that because their family has always been Socialist, Democrat, or Republican,
well by God, that's what they would always be! Labeling of far right,
far left, all Muslims are terrorists, damn immigrants, ship'em all out,
sort out the pieces later, nuke the whole place, compassionate conservative
warmongers, bleeding heart liberals; on and on it goes. One is quite taken
aback by the venom of it all.
- "Operation Enduring Freedom, we're on a Crusade,
those not with us are with the terrorists, tell those for peace to go live
with Saddam, I'm losing my patience, or damn traitors!" Everyone in
the whole conflagration claiming that God is on their side! We are informed
that box cutting carrying, religious fanatics, on their way to paradise
with dozens of virgins awaiting their arrival are convinced that they are
in the right! Palestinians with bombs strapped to their bodies claim they
are right, with Israel retaliating with tanks and bombs claiming God is
on their side. The religious right on the home front, meanwhile holds
prayer breakfasts, bombs Afghanistan and asks God's blessing for victory
in liberating Iraq with 'Shock and Awe' missiles! Little wonder that perverseness
and chaos reigns throughout the nation.
- Lost in the fanaticism of it all is the first question
(smart alecky) asked of God...Genesis 4:9 "Am I my brother's keeper?"
Now the definition of "Keeper", according to Strong's Hebrew
dictionary means "to guard, protect or attend to" (someone or
something). In this case, Genesis 4:9 is referring to the guarding, protecting
and attending to someone. "Guarding" refers to "looking
out for one's best interest--to take care of keeping someone from harm,
theft, injury, loss, or anything that is not in the best interest of the
person's welfare." It requires watchfulness. The person(s) doing the
guarding takes the well-being of that which is guarded seriously and personally.
He/She that lacks awareness or skill regarding guarding is not sensitive
to loss or injury. "Protect" refers to "covering or shielding
from exposure, injury or destruction". When "protecting' keep
in mind that we are responsible for protecting everyone, not just certain
individuals, friends, or important persons. If someone is being wicked
they are not deserving of protection and shielding. Just so, you don't
kill or annihilate hundreds of thousands or maybe millions, in seeking
out vengeance of the one! Hatred is a blinding attitude. Not only is it
blinding, but it is a Self-Inflicting Blindness. If a person (or nation)
succumbs to hatred, they willfully sacrifice awareness. One cannot refuse
the truth without suffering the consequences. First John 2:1 says, "But
he that hateth his brother is in darkness and walketh in darkness, and
knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness has blinded his eyes."
You cannot be blind and be a good keeper. "Am I my brother's keeper?"
confirms Cain's blindness. One cannot be a good keeper or mindful of other's
welfare when they harbor malice, bitterness, unforgiveness, jealousy, envy
strife, variance, emulation, etc. If one professes kindness, concern,
a lover of humanity, a peacemaker; yet harbors any of hateful attributes
within him/herself, better that they not add hypocrisy to the lot by marching
- In all these public supplications of God, I have not
heard it asked, "Who is my neighbor?" In Luke 10:25-29, we see
a young man, being a lawyer and perhaps looking for the "loophole"
in the law asking Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?" Christ relates
to him the Parable of the Samaritan. The Jewish community at this time
viewed Samaritans as a mixed breed of people, and would have nothing to
do with them! In this parable we see "a certain man went down from
Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his
rainment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead."
- Both the priest and the Levite passed the injured man
by on the other side having more important things (in their estimation)
to attend to. The priest and Levite represent the written and sacrificial
parts of the Law. The law was never designed to save man. Both the priest
and Levite were repulsed by the sight of this man and passed by him. The
Law has nothing to give, but demands all from you. The Samaritan had compassion
on him, and went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine,
and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care
of him. (verses 33,34). He did not pass by on the other side. Jesus closes
the parable by asking the young attorney, "Which of these three do
you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?"
The expert in the law replied, "The one who had mercy on him."
Jesus told him, "Go and do likewise."
- The phrase "Good Samaritan" is used to describe
any person who goes out of his way to help another. The largest recreational
vehicle club in the U.S. is termed the "Good Sam Club" from its
ideal of members helping one another. But the parable says more than, it's
good to help someone in need. The parable is also about excuses. About
self-justification. About letting oneself off the hook.
- Who is my neighbor? We might, and do, interpret this
as the Jews of this time did. It typically was meant meaning "one
who is near", in terms of members of the same people and religious
community. The Pharisees tended to exclude "ordinary people"
from their definition. Jesus gave many of his teaching in parables. Parables
are stories told to make a point. They aren't actual history, but they
capture true-to-life details in such a way that hearers' identify with
the elements of the story and can grasp the spiritual lesson. There was
no actual Good Samaritan that Jesus is referring to.
- The lawyer began by asking for a definition of "neighbor"
in order to justify limiting his love to his fellow Jews only. Jesus doesn't
define "neighbor" in so many words, but his story makes it clear
that our neighbor is whoever has a need. It doesn't matter WHO they are!!
To love our neighbor as ourselves knows no self-satisfying limits. It
takes in Muslims, Hindus, Arabs, Jews, Blacks, Whites, Asians, Native Americans;
all cultures, all creeds, all religions and those with no professed beliefs.
Paradoxically, we are in this parable the priest, the Levite, the Samaritan
and the wounded beaten man. Depending on circumstances, or situations
in all of our lives, we can recognize how many times we too passed by on
the other side hurrying off to vacation, some affair or to meet an important
personage. Many of us in our beliefs, our class, our ethnic background,
or our disabilities, have suffered the labeling of the despised Samaritan.
Still multitudes, in our own communities, in our own nation; and in famine,
war ravaged, dictator controlled countries, represent the beaten, robbed,
stripped man left for dead!
- In our narrow minded, learned bigotry; let us not condemn
or label all Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Jews, Palestinians, Blacks,
Whites, Asians, Mexicans, et al., because of the perverse, distorted,
sadistic actions and messages from the few. It is no great accomplishment
in our limited circled lives to claim a love for all humanity. No cost
in this! Easy to care for or love those who praise us, or are like minded
in our shared interests. Easy to love those who agree with all we say,
and never debate or challenge us to a deeper awareness. Easy to love
the attractive, accepted, gifted, and able-bodied. The true test comes
in loving the unlovable, the untouchables, the wounded, the discarded,
the stranger of foreign lands and ancient cultures.
- You will never teach or reach the man/woman with one
book! In writing or speaking forth, one risks the venom and wrath of many
people; compartmentalized in their own philosophies, religious zealousness,
or intellectual snobbery! None of us are not so stoic, that we don't
all suffer hurt from the accusations, labels, indifference, or hard heartiness
of these people; purposed and convicted that they are the keepers of all
wisdom, knowledge, and learning. We all of us, have experienced this in
our personal lives, and have certainly seen it acted out on the global
stage! Many a battle, many a vision, many a great accomplishment has been
thwarted or derailed by such persons. If we are to be about our gift giving
of one to another, we cannot let the spoilers influence our work. We have
the obligation to not answer in kind or return hatred for hatred. In a
world immersed in jealousy, hatred, anger, greed, pride, selfishness,
murder, rage and chaos; the keepers, the protectors. the peacemakers,
of the brotherhood of humanity, must be the light, the salt and the proclaimers
of truth. Brush off the naysayers and keep moving! There's no time for
- People are like packages beneath a Christmas tree. People,
are also like sheep, easy prey for wolves in sheep's clothing, taken
in by the aura or credentials of the personage at hand, those with the
most strident voice, lofty ideals or future promises of happily ever
after. It is simply a time to not be duped or deceived by those done
up in gilded wrappings, or in imposter's attire. You will know them by
their fruits. Some are all foliage with no fruit. The fruit of other's
lives, their works, their words, their deeds; are withered, tasteless
and worm eaten! One can not profess God's blessings or leading, when one
is about planning the annihilation, suffering and mayhem of innocent people;
our neighbors, our brothers! Whether one professes to be Christian,
Muslim, Pagan, Agnostic or anything else; they have no claim to goodness,
kindness, compassion, or love of their fellow man; if they condone killing,
meanness, hatred, maiming or annihilating any part of humanity! Self defense
is another matter, as is going to the rescue of a person in crisis. Peace
and Love will not be found tied in crimson satin ribbons or floral velveteen,
but in plain brown wrappings tied with string; just like you and me! Peace
be unto you.