Thursday, June 21, 2012

June 21: Fifty Pounds, Pity Him, Faith

"I was only going to say," said Scrooge's nephew, "that the consequence of his taking a dislike to us, and not making merry with us, is, as I think, that he loses some pleasant moments, which could do him no harm.  I am sure he loses pleasanter companions than he can find in his own thoughts, either in his mouldy old office, or his dusty chambers.  I mean to give him the same chance every year, whether he likes it or not, for I pity him.  He may rail at Christmas till he dies, but he can't help thinking better of it--I defy him--if he finds me going there, in good temper, year after year, and saying 'Uncle Scrooge, how are you?'  If it only puts him in the vein to leave his poor clerk fifty pounds, that's something; and I think I shook him yesterday."

Once more, I turn to the voice of Scrooge's nephew, Fred, for the text of my post this morning.  As many of your may know, Fred, along with Bob Cratchit, seems to me to be the moral compass of the book.  Fred just says wise things consistently.  He has no dark motives.  He isn't waiting for his uncle to kick the bucket in order to collect some huge inheritance.  In fact, I'm pretty sure Fred knows he doesn't stand a chance of getting any of his uncle's fortune (which is substantial).  The only person Fred hopes will profit from Scrooge's demise is Bob, who has suffered patiently and longly (is that a word?) as the old bastard's clerk.

Fred doesn't worry about money.  Even when confronted by Scrooge with the fact that Christmas is not a profitable venture, Fred sticks to his beliefs, inventorying the non-material benefits of the holiday (charity, compassion, goodwill, etc.).  Money just isn't a high priority for Fred, and Scrooge doesn't get it.

I wish I could say money wasn't a big priority in my life.  Well, I could say it, but it wouldn't be true.  At the moment, money is a big priority in my life.  Or, rather, lack of money.  However, this post will not be one of those I-don't-know-how-I'm-going-to-pay-for-my-car insurance/water bill/groceries/property taxes/mortgage posts.  This post is about faith.  The kind of faith that Fred has.

Fred doesn't worry about money, as I said.  He's kind and considerate, generous with his friends and family.  He loves his uncle, despite his uncle's best efforts to the contrary.  He has the kind of peace that comes with a total faith and trust in God.  Yes, I'm going to use the "G" word.  The only way Fred can be so calm and...nice is for him to have a strong faith in God.  (For those of my disciples who are atheists or agnostics, you may substitute "science" or "humanity" or "Kentucky Fried Chicken" for the word "God."  As long as it's something you really believe in.)  With that kind of faith, worry never even enters your mental vocabulary.

Let me share a little story about faith that Marlene T. Elias tells:

Beirut was in the midst of a horrendous war, shelled and bombed relentlessly.  Many were homeless.  Mother Teresa heard of retarded children left behind to die.  She approached President Jamail of Lebanon to ask permission to cross the Green Line to rescue them.  He told her it was too dangerous.  "If the war stops, may I go in after them?" she asked.  He agreed, though he knew it was impossible.

She gathered her nuns around her in the Chapel and prayed all night.  Suddenly the noise of the bombing stopped.  She rushed to call President Jamail.  "May I go for the children now?"

He not only allowed her to go, but sent several Red Cross trucks, personnel and equipment with them to rescue the children.  They found 64 retarded children, half-starved, crying.  They cleaned them up and got them aboard the trucks.  As they crossed back over the Green Line, the shelling and bombing resumed.

That's the kind of faith I'm talking about.  The kind of faith that can make Scrooge give Bob fifty pounds.  That can supply money to pay my bills.  The kind of faith that can stop a war.

Saint Marty wishes he had that kind of faith.

Money wasn't a big priority for her, either 

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