Sunday, February 9, 2014

'E' is for Ecclesiastes, meditation on God's Gifts

For today's meditation (and, for me, most day's meditations) we turn to Ecclesiastes, specifically, chapter 4:

ח  יֵשׁ אֶחָד וְאֵין שֵׁנִי גַּם בֵּן וָאָח אֵין-לוֹ, וְאֵין קֵץ לְכָל-עֲמָלוֹ--גַּם-עיניו (עֵינוֹ), לֹא-תִשְׂבַּע עֹשֶׁר; וּלְמִי אֲנִי עָמֵל, וּמְחַסֵּר אֶת-נַפְשִׁי מִטּוֹבָה--גַּם-זֶה הֶבֶל וְעִנְיַן רָע, הוּא.

For those of you not Hebrewaically-inclined:

8 There is one that is alone, and he hath not a second; yea, he hath neither son nor brother; yet is there no end of all his labour, neither is his eye satisfied with riches: 'for whom then do I labour, and bereave my soul of pleasure?' This also is vanity, yea, it is a grievous business.

Then, again, so soon after in verse 11:

יא  גַּם אִם-יִשְׁכְּבוּ שְׁנַיִם, וְחַם לָהֶם; וּלְאֶחָד, אֵיךְ יֵחָם.

or again:

11 Again, if two lie together, then they have warmth; but how can one be warm alone?

(Hebrew and the translation provided by the site)

What does this tell us?

One is the loneliest number. God, Himself, alone, is One ("Here, o Israel, the LORD is One!"), but He, being One, is Three Persons, for the very, very first thing He did was spake (or 'did speak' or 'spoke,' as in: "30 spokes share a wheel's hub" ... or ... not), and the very act of speaking, mysteriously, was Himself, too. His Word was Him, and He is His Word.

For God, there is no separation between what He says and who He is.1

The Second Person of God: the Word.

But, again, at the very, very same time, there was the Communion between Himself, the Speaker/Creator, and Himself, the Word, and this Communion was His Progression (?), His Precession (?) ... I actually don't know what to call Him, the Third Person, so we call Him the Holy Spirit, as if the other Two Persons of God weren't fully Holy and Spirit. They are, and even moreso (?) in the Second Person who has two natures: divine and human.

But, He, the Third Person, is that Communion between Speaker and the Word, between the Father and the Son. He is Love, and He is the Holy Spirit, and every second of every day He sustains us, for without Him in us (the Spirit) we are not even dust, we are nothing and obliviated, annihilated.

God can destroy what He creates, St. Thomas proves that in the Summa Theologica, it's just that He chooses never to do that. Satan, Lucifer, chose to leave God in the beginning, but God never left him. God even loves Satan, the trickster and tester, for if God removed His Love from Satan, even Satan, the most powerful of all angels, then Satan would be reduced to nothingness, nonexistence.

There is no 'opposite' to God. The Devil has no power, except the power God gives him.

Just ask Pontius Pilate that. He got that word first hand, and he heard God's word, that's one of the reasons he ran from the very simple decision to punish this insurrectionist. He knew the score: he was playing with fire.

One of the very, very few people who ever did.

Okay, so God is complete unto Himself, and in that completeness, chooses not to be alone. He's fine with being all in all, and all alone, we cannot add to God nor comprehend Him, but he just chooses not to go that way. There's not 'more' that He needs to add (like the creation, itself) for Him to be complete or to be happy.

But He knows that happiness is not in loneliness.


— ee cummings, 95 poems

And we are the created in the image and likeness of God. He has (is, actually) the Holy Spirit, and we have the spirit within us, the Holy Spirit, indwelling, and our own souls.

Be He is One, and we are several, plural, and diverse.

And so, we cannot rest until we rest in Him, but Who Can Know God?

And so, we know, and we love, in each other, and our happiness is made manifest in each other. In a small perfection when we love and are loved (just as God loves and is adored), and in the fullness of it when we see God in the face of each other, and love each other as God intended for us to love: perfectly.

We are made perfect in God's love when we love perfectly.

That will never, ever happen for most of us (Jesus and Mary the perfect counterexamples of when it actually does work), but Ecclesiastes shows us that even in this imperfect life in this imperfect world where we are but dust, two are much better than one. Being just one is terrible: no man is an island, and in two our faults are exposed (to ridicule, yes, and to correction) and our strengths are treasured, admired, respected, and loved.

Our friend, Qoheleth, also knew the score, better than most ever did or ever will: the dead are better off than the living, for they don't need to suffer this foolishness of life, but even better is the person who was never even born, for they never even have to see any of this vanity, this chasing after the wind.

And if you think that's crazy, you're right.

Except for the little fact that Jesus echoed Qoheleth's words, word for word, as he described the coming end.

But we, the foolish ones, are here, are not dead, and are born and are living, and so, what, then, do we do? How, then, are we to live?

The greatest commandment: love God, and love each other.

The greatest thing you'll ever know is to love and to be loved in return.

So, while we are here, my beloved ones, love one another.

1 The whole 'being your word' thing. There's a lesson in that for some people, like everybody, which Ecclesiastes also points out: guard thy tongue, and do not take an oath, for God is in Heaven, and He suffers not fools. And: it is better to do than to swear to do it. You know: the whole 'two ears, one mouth' thing. Or in Jersey-Eyetalian: "Shaddup you face!"

Yeah, that.

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