Saturday, February 11, 2017

My Heart is Moved

To the man, he said: "Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree of which I had forbidden you to eat, "Cursed be the ground because of you! In toil shall you eat its yield all the days of your life. Thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to you, as you eat of the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face shall you get bread to eat, Until you return to the ground, from which you were taken; For you are dirt, and to dirt you shall return." Genesis 3:17-19

In those days when there again was a great crowd without anything to eat, Jesus summoned the disciples and said, "My heart is moved with pity for the crowd because they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat. If I send them away hungry to their homes, they will collapse on the way, and some of them have come a great distance." Mark 8:1-3

One does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God. Matthew 4:4B

Where are you?  Who told you?  Why did you do such a thing?

The Lord God is incredulous.  He has given Adam and Eve eve-rything.  There were not Ten Commandments at this juncture…just one.  The Lord said, “Everything is yours but do not eat from this one tree.” 

However, the Lord God knows something is up.  He seeks to gather the facts.  Those who compiled the Book of Genesis must have realized that God knew all things even before finding Adam and Eve cowering naked in the Garden.  The serpent.  The temptation.  The free will.  The eaten fruit.  The Lord also knew that when they violated the One Commandment (I am the Lord your God. Listen to Me.) that they would be banished. The punishment affects their relationship to everything.  To life, they are now mortal and will be dust.  To food, they must work the ground for their bread.  To God, they will no longer be in a relationship. They were dominated by the force of ego and looked to use their plentiful resources for themselves.

Jesus was motivated by the opposite force: empathy for the other.  If Jesus was motivated by selfishness, he might have just picked up his tent and gone home, leaving everyone to fend for themselves. Empathy and pity spurred Jesus and those around him to take care of the needs of others, not of themselves.  

Where are you?  Who told you?  Why did you do such a thing?

My first boss after coming out of graduate school was a Fordham graduate named Gerry.  He was running a small-town charity in the Mid-West.  These two sons of New York, 700 miles away from their birthplaces, found common ground.

On his office wall, Gerry posted the Rotary International Four-Way Test.  Rotary is not a religious organization so this test is more ethical than sectarian.  It asks, "Of the things that we think, say or do: 

  1. Is it the TRUTH?
  2. Is it FAIR to all concerned?
  4. Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?"
Gerry lived this philosophy as an employer, a father, husband, and neighbor.  As the members of that local Rotary Club were the town’s business leaders, you could feel business conducted differently than in say New York or Las Vegas.  They ran their businesses, the community, and their families upon these four pillars.  The business leaders went to different churches on Sunday but these four rocks connected their faiths and their honor to each other.

Too bad that the Rotary Four-Way Test was not nailed to the trunk of the Tree of Life.  Maybe before Eve took a bite, it would have reminded her of the consequences of her actions upon others. 

What guides you to a life of service in your personal, business and community activity? 

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