Slim-to-none

With the Twins celebrating their second month with us, and their increasing physical, tangible, auditory (and occasional olfactory) presence in our lives, I am spending more time thinking about their future. And having come to the recent conclusion that Faith is a gift from GOD, I find myself praying that GOD will give them lots.

Of course, when I started reading the Bible – I mean really reading it – I at first enjoyed reading about the “stiff necked and hard hearted” Israelites. Very much of a “I’m glad I’m not like them” point of view. More reading and that opinion shifted to “how could they be so, so, obtuse?” They had GOD with them every day and every night. My good friend, Bugs Bunny, might be inclined to say: “What a maroon.”

Readers of the Divine Office might recall “Do not harden your hearts as at Meribah, as on the day of Massah in the desert.” (Psalm 95)

Thankfully, I have grown over time (being late to the party and a slow learner notwithstanding) and I have come to the conclusion that “stiff necked and hard hearted” applies to this generation as much as, if not more than it did to those ancient wanderers. So much for being able to point my finger at others. But, why are some people so full of faith and others so bereft? We all have ten toes, why not the same amount of faith?

Those given an abundance of faith we call saints, and some of those the Church officially recognizes. Then the lukewarm hoi polloi. Continuing down the sliding scale, we get to those that were not gifted: the slim-to-none. It wasn’t too long ago (not long enough) that I would have put myself in that third bucket. Then, as I have shared elsewhere in these pages, I woke up and smelled the coffee; hopefully I have progressed up, past the lukewarm.

But, how about my loved ones? I don’t have much difficulty in accepting that people I will never meet don’t believe, and therefore won’t be saved; but what of those that I care about? I would guess my family is a fair cross-section of humanity, and considering how they spend Sunday morning, I won’t be seeing very many of them on the other side of the grave. (A great man of my past (Reverend Joe) once said that regardless of whether I got to heaven, or hell, I would be surprised by two things: those people who were there, and those who weren’t.)

It just isn’t fair!

I completely accept that faith is a gift from GOD that is unequally distributed. So, I know people that are in the race to get to Heaven with their shoelaces tied together (that used to be me, but no more). I know people that are given just one talent, and I might know some that have been given two, or five talents. And, I appreciate that, “For to everyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.” (Matthew 25:15-29) But, when it comes to faith, this seems to me to be stacking the deck.

If the servant who was given five talents (lots of faith) goes to heaven, what of the servant who buries his one talent? Maybe the parable was less about the gift, and more about what we choose to do with the gifts we receive?

But, for those that are not given any faith, how can they be held accountable for not believing?

In my “day job” (which is, of course, at night) I interact with about a dozen others. And, they spend a reasonable amount of time talking to each other, about, as you would guess, things not at all job related. In the past, when the topic turned to religion, I have turned a deaf ear. That would mean either cranking up the music in my headphones, or leaving the room. My co-workers are not kindred spirits, especially when it comes to religion.

Over the past few weeks, I have turned off the music and stayed in the room, and have bitten my tongue. A saint might be able to engage in the discussion, but I am no saint, so I keep my mouth shut. I do listen. And, I am amazed at their opinions. It’s not a matter of seeing two sides of the same coin. It is not that the world is wearing bifocals (Paul Newman as Butch Cassidy). I simply don’t understand how they can reach such different conclusions, have such different opinions. It would be easy to say they are ignorant; but I am certainly no rocket scientist (although, “brains,” too are not given out in equal measure).

Since I do believe I do hear Jesus standing at the door to my heart, and I do believe I am trying to open the door to my heart, I have to ask: “Why me?” Why do I hear Him knocking, and so many others do not? Perhaps I got five talents worth of faith? Perhaps.

But, as I hold these two brand new bundles that have been entrusted to me, I ask myself how I can help them grow close to GOD. If they have been given very little faith, how much can I help? Yes, I do lose sleep over this.

I also pray more.

Revelation 3: 15“I know your works; I know that you are neither cold nor hot.* I wish you were either cold or hot. 16* So, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. 17* i For you say, ‘I am rich and affluent and have no need of anything,’ and yet do not realize that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. 18I advise you to buy from me gold refined by fire* so that you may be rich, and white garments to put on so that your shameful nakedness may not be exposed, and buy ointment to smear on your eyes so that you may see. 19 Those whom I love, I reprove and chastise. Be earnest, therefore, and repent.j  20 “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, [then] I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with me.*

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