Adam and Eve settled in a Garden called Eden as stewards. The Lord God commanded them, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die” (Gen. 2:15-117). The couple ate and they died; but God loved man and promised, “I will ransom them from the power of Sheol; I will free them from death. Where, O death, are your plagues? Where, O Sheol is your destruction” (Hos. 13:14)? In this study, I am looking at death as a blessing and not as a curse.
Paul the Apostle credited the Lord with having said, “It is more blessed (makarion) to give than to receive” (Ac. 20:35). Our world could not exist without givers. The Church could not function without the generosity of people n fact, life, itself, is sustained by giving. God gave his only Son. Jesus gave His life. And every human being has something to give that others desperately need. The point is that if all of us stop giving then there would be nothing to receive. And when we give, it must not be that which we can spare, even though it too can be profitable, it must be what is dear to us; if, indeed, it is to count.
That summer, conscience went on a rampage. An older gentleman, who felt compelled to tell a friend and me, how he had found peace with God. It was not by confessing a bunch of wrong doings, but by asking for forgiveness and making recompense for past mistakes wherever possible. There was an evangelistic meeting going on. I went to seek help. I got none, not even from the evangelist. All I heard was that I should “repent, trust Jesus, and He will save you.” But from what was I to repent? How could Jesus take care of the things I had not done? I had never committed any of the sins the evangelist was seeking to free people from. The last advice the evangelist gave me was "pray, pray, and keep on praying." It was helpful but that was the wrong advice. The evangelist should have recommended what the old gentleman did. It was then, and only then, that my conscience came to rest. I had to be forgiven by my father, write letters asking for forgiveness from people in Europe and in North America. While a refugee, I had taken some wood to cook a meal. I sent the mayor of that town some money with an apology. There were some other cases I could not deal with. However, where possible, I asked for forgiveness and I made restitution. The result was that I felt jubilant and at peace; and that in spite of my burned face and hands. Ever since that encounter, I found conscience to be an extraordinary guide.
The finger of conscience points only in one direction and that is inward. Conscience is the ultimate judge of what a person accepts, believes or Conscience serves as a screening device, which sorts out as to what is acceptable and to what is His or her entire well-being depends on how well his or her conscience functions. The Talmud says, “The best preacher is the heart (conscience); the best teacher is time; the best book is the world; the best friend is God” (Do. 110). Benjamin Franklin said, “A quiet conscience sleeps in thunder, but rest and guilt live far asunder” (Do. 68).
There are greater gifts than money. There are times when a glass of water is more precious than money (Mt. 10:42). The man who was robbed and left for dead needed a Good Samaritan to help him. This good neighbor did not care what it cost to help a stranger. He even promised to pay for extended care of this unfortunate man (Lk. 10:25-37). What can be more memorable than the boy who gave his five small loaves of bread and two small fish to Jesus, in order to feed a hungry crowd? It would have been much easier to share it with Andrew; yet, Andrew unselfishly revealed that there was some bread available (Jn. 6:8-9). Who can forget Zacchaeus? He was that “wee little man” with the big heart. After he met Jesus, Zacchaeus gave half of his goods to the poor and Zacchaeus restored undue collections four-fold (Lk. 19:1-10). One just wonders, where Zacchaeus found the means to do all that? There also was one leper who came back to give thanks for his healing and he was a Samaritan. To Jesus, that thanks meant more than a purse filled with coins. How disappointed Jesus was when the others did not return to pay homage (Lk.17: 11-19). And to show that one must not be afraid to give, Jesus dealt rather strangely with that Syrian woman from Phoenicia. In a crude way, he told her that it was unfair to give the bread of the children to dogs. She quickly responded, that she was not asking for the bread, but only for the crumbs that the children dropped (Mk. 7:24-30). Those who are truly in need do not ask for much.