Vanity?

Vanity. I’ve chased the wind with Rumi, the sufis and other eastern mystics. And, all the while wisdom, with the same eloquence, lay between the dusty pages of my Bible. Ecclesiastes advises that regardless of position, wealth and life-style, the paths lead but to a dusty death. One may harvest and collect into barns; but someone else lives to enjoy it. So. Eat, drink and enjoy all the gifts and time that God has given. Live with integrity, thankful to the Lord. Not seeking any reward, for who can know what lies beyond the grave?

Someone may question if it is not too near to heresy of some kind. But, I say, I do not quote The Holy Bible to support idle claims. As the joyful recipient of the new wine, I say, the old wine of the Law still nourishes many who draw from it to invigorate their spirituality. Even the one who gave us the new wine was himself born into the old law – never for once changing as much as a stroke of it. All of his life he was subject to the law. For the first 30 years he was obedient to his devout parents and adhered to what he was taught. He subjected himself to the baptism of sinners, only to fulfil all righteousness. He affirmed the two most important commandments; making them the corner stones of his teaching. He assumed the imagery, language and pedagogy of the prophets that preceded him. He saw himself as a Jew, a person of the law given down from Moses. He accepted the law, but, asked his followers to go an extra mile in the spirit of the law. He was aware of the structures rising to constrict worship into an observance of statutes. The soul was being squeezed out of that special relationship between God and his people.

God the Son, assumed human nature to re-establish that special link with us. He told us that a strict discipline of the law had been necessary for a people given to arrogance, and stubbornness of heart. The hearts with a tendency to become hearts of stone. He came not to destroy the law, but to fulfil it, making it subject to a heart of flesh and blood. To make himself understood to his generation he used the tools that simple folk could relate to; in a language that they were familiar with; images that resonated with them.  When he said Lazarus could be seen in the bosom of Abraham, it made an immediate connect with people brought up in the tradition. God was a compassionate patriarch who rewarded the righteous. But, in line with the psyche of the time God was also the dispenser of justice, that could banish souls to a furnace, like chaff. Where there is also gnashing of teeth etc. Jesus had foreshadowed this with utterances such as “some would have ears but could not hear; eyes but could not see”. He used metaphors to dress his message, and explained the meanings to his close disciples only. He knew he was here for a time. He needed,then, to make provisions for generations that followed; to emerging world views and attitudes. So. he promised his disciples that he would always be with them as the Paraclete and source of wisdom. So, the words uttered to Adam, the prophets and believers down the centuries,  will ever remain fresh and relevant to humanity.

One thought on “Vanity?

  1. Epilogue

    Jesus taught and performed miracles, but most of all he practised what he preached. He taught us to be perfect as he himself was. As a child, he remained obedient to his parents, growing in stature and his faith. During his public life he celebrated with all levels of society, the Pharisees, sinners, tax collectors etc. Apparently he enjoyed all of this with the blessings of his father. In obedience to the Father, he also accepted the horrors of his passion – with a spirit of indifference.
    He discerned God’s way, from the other; living with integrity, with no fear of consequences, rewards or punishments. He talked about hell and heaven because that is what the fathers spoke about; in terms that his people were familiar with. If God the Father lived in serene harmony in heaven, the alternative had to be sulphurous fires, gnashing of teeth, darkness and cries of anguish. The metaphor fits a soul that turns its back on God and suffers perpetual aridity and parched thirst for a drop of the living water that nourish the living. The chaff, removed from the grain, receives the end preordained for it.
    How much different from the soul that lives its life with integrity and fear of the Lord! Being a child of God, the soul returns to its beloved. From its very infancy the child has intimations from its source and its joy. He/she is tutored alike by nature and by truth in the knowledge of good and evil. With some the gift of discernment grows manifold; with some it is smothered out by attachments and unwholesome desires. The one that hears the voice and keeps its commandments at once finds the alpha and omega.

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