The Eye Will See What
It is Destined to See
Sabbath Day Sermon, Saturday 16 Match 2002
There was once a rich man and he had two daughters. One was shallow and fickle and had little love for her father, but she knew how to cajole and flatter him and so make him buy her expensive presents and fill her purse with spending money.
The other was warm and kind-hearted, though pensive and reticent, and loved her father dearly. But she hardly ever asked him for anything.
"Yet there must be something which your eye desires to see," would insist the father. To which the daughter would invariably reply: "The eye will see what it is destined to see, father."
After a time, this repeated rhetoric of his daughter's irritated the father. And one day, in a fir of anger, he said to her: "Very well! Let me now show you what your eye is destined to see."
Precisely at that moment, a beggar came knocking at the door asking for alms. "Here!" Said the father to him. "Take my daughter. I do not want her."
"What will I do with your daughter?" protested the beggar. "As it is, I can hardly subsist on the alms I receive."
"God will provide," said the father curtly, as he pushed his daughter out of the house, and closed the door decisively behind her.
The beggar stood irresolute for a while, waiting to see what the girl would say or do. But the girl said nothing, and when he started to move on, she followed him without a murmur or protest.
When they had walked a little way, the beggar, moved by the girl's plight, suggested that she ride the old half-starved donkey he was leading, and so save her feet from the rough dusty roads. But the girl assured him that she didn't mind the rough dusty roads, and was quite happy to walk alongside of him.
So they walked and walked, begging their way from door to door, and much to the beggar's astonishment, at every door they knocked they were met with kindness and given generous quantities of food and clean fresh water to drink, as well as a small coin or two into the bargain. Whereas, before the girl had joined him, he was frequently turned empty-handed from many a door at which he knocked, and by the end of the day the contents of his alms sacks barely sufficed to fill the emptiness within him.
Small wonder then that he attributed this sudden change of luck to the presence of the girl beside him, and as the day wore on, he felt more and more kindly disposed towards her.
At noontime they stopped to rest under the shade of a tree by the roadside, and anxious to put the girl at ease, the beggar spread the contents of his alms sack at her feet, and invited her to eat her fill whilst he rested. But the girl refused to touch the food unless he joined her, and insisted moreover that they share every morsel equally together.
The beggar was deeply touched by this gesture of true comradeship, and a protective feeling for the girl which fate had so suddenly and so strangely thrust upon him, now began to possess him.
When they had eaten and rested, they took to the road again, and by late afternoon they reached the foot of a hill which overlooked a prosperous looking town. The hill was not steep, and as the girl was now very tired and could hardly keep on her feet, the beggar took her on his donkey to the hilltop where she could rest for as long as she wished without being exposed to the eyes of the passers-by.
There he made her as comfortable as possible, and when he had tied his donkey to a stake nearby, he slung his alms sack on his back and went down the hill to investigate the "begging" possibilities of the new town, promising to return before nightfall.
The girl was only too thankful for a little rest and privacy. Her feet were sore from trudging the hot dusty roads, and her head ached from too much exposure to the sun. But the cool evening breeze which played softly over the hilltop soon lulled her into a long refreshing sleep.
Towards sunset she awoke to the loud braying of the donkey who had broken loose of his stake and was straying widely over the hilltop, cropping contentedly at the tufts of grass which grew sparsely here and there.
The girl ran up to him and led him back. She then picked up a stone and tried to fix his stake more firmly in the ground. But she seemed to have chosen a soft spot, for at the first hard hit of the stone, the stake disappeared into a hole, and though the girl pushed her hand deep in to recover it, she couldn't find it. Intrigued, she kept digging deeper and deeper into the hole in an attempt to recover the stake, but all to no avail.
In the end, her fingers met a hard object at which she pulled and pulled, and when she finally succeeded in dislodging it, she saw that it was a large earthenware jar and its neck was hermetically sealed with mud.
Eagerly, she knocked off the neck of the jar and tipped it over the sackcloth on which she had been resting. A cascade of gold coins and precious stones came tumbling down, winking and glinting at her like sparks of fire in the red rays of the setting sun.
The girl gazed at this treasure trove in awe and wonder. Then, lightly, almost reverently, she ran her hands over the shimmering pile, probing it were her fingers here and there as is to make sure of its solidity and genuineness.
For a long time she sat thus, silent and pensive, contemplating her newly found riches. Then she drew a corner of her sackcloth lightly over them, and waited for the beggar to return.
He returned as he had promised, shortly before nightfall. And his alms sack was bulging with the bits and pieces he had succeeded in begging for their supper: there was bread and cheese and an onion; a head of salted fish, a few pickled turnips, and a handful of dates and peanuts.
Cheerfully, almost jovially, the beggar spread this meagre feast before the girl, and as they sat side by side sharing it together, he recounted to her his impression of the new town and its inhabitants: "On the whole, they seem to be a pretty decent lot," he said contentedly. "For at every door I knocked I was given a little something, and spoken to with kindness. You'll see for yourself when we go on our first begging tour tomorrow. And if you like the place, too, I see no reason why we shouldn't remain here for as long as we can beg a living."
The girl listened to him without interruption. And when he had finished speaking, she said to him lightly: "Tell me, my friend, what would you do if you suddenly came into possession of 1,000 rials?"
"I would feed one beggar for a whole year," said the beggar unhesitatingly.
"And for 2,000 rials you would presumably feed two beggars for the same period of time?" again queried the girl.
"That is so," affirmed the beggar.
The girl was silent for a while, then she said: "What if it were 5,000 rials?"
"For 5,000 rials," said the beggar, "I would go to the place where all the beggars gather together once a week and feed them all."
A longer pause here ensued, then the girl again resumed: "But supposing it were much more than 5,000 rials; say, ten, twenty, fifty, a hundred, or even a thousand times more, what would you do?"
This time the beggar's answer was not so readily forthcoming. He pondered the question a long while, then said: "For that much money I would build a home where all the beggars in the land could come for free to eat and rest and wash themselves clean from the dust and sweat of the road, whenever they felt the need."
A soft sigh of contentment from the girl indicated her full approval of this charitable idea. "And would you vow, before God, that you would do all this, were you indeed to become so rich?" was her next eager query.
"Before God, I vow I would," affirmed the beggar; then added on a more realistic note: "But how am I ever to likely fulfil such a vow? Will my eye ever see such riches?"
"The eye will see what it is destined to see, my friend," said the girl quietly, and shifting her position slightly, she drew back the corner of the sackcloth on which they were resting, and revealed to the beggar her treasure trove.
The beggar gazed dumbfounded at the glittering pile. Then he turned to the girl and said: "These riches are all yours. You found them. So dispose of them in any way you like; and if you wish to leave me now, and set yourself up in a home of your own ..."
"We shall set up a home of our own together," interposed the girl, "and we shall share these riches together, in the same way that we have shared the alms we have begged together."
"But you are now richer than any King's daughter," argued the beggar, "and the handsomest and richest princes of the land would feign ride over each other for the chance of wooing you. Why then should you want to link your destiny to mine? In the final count I am only a beggar."
"Before God we are all beggars," countered the girl. "And for that matter, what was I but a beggar the day my father thrust me out of the house and you readily took me on? But since it is God who reduces the rich to beggary, and raises the beggars to riches, who are we to refute the riches He has now so generously bestowed upon us?
The beggar had no ready answer to this, but the girl could feel that he remained unconvinced. It was only after a long earnest talk which took them far into the night, that she finally succeeded in demolishing, step by step, every social barrier he attempted to raise between them.
And so, hardly able to realise that they need never ever go begging again, the beggar and the girl curled up on their sackcloth and went to sleep.
Next morning they were up with the crowing cock, and when the sun had flooded the hilltop, they rode their donkey to the town below, and treated themselves to the most gorgeous feed money could buy. They then spent the rest of the morning exploring shops, and would up in the marketplace where they bought themselves everything that took their fancy.
After that, they went to look for the Mayor of the town and informed him of their wish to buy the hill which overlooked the town. The Mayor, anticipating the customary amount of haggling and bargaining over such an important deal, named a pretty high price. But the beggar neither haggled or bargained. He paid the price named, and walked out of the Mayor's presence the rightful owner of the hill where fate had led them.
The way was now clear before him to proceed with the fulfilment of his vow. And, since "money is the prompt executor of all plans and projects", as the saying goes, before many moons had passed, a Beggars' Home such as has not precedence in East or West, rose proudly on the hilltop - a haven of peace and security for the hungry and naked, the old and ailing; and its fame spread far and wide into the land.
And so, the years came and went, bringing much more happiness to the beggar and the girl who now became his wife, and many more blessings in a houseful of sons and daughters.
What of the father and his other daughter? She had made a rich marriage and lived in opulence in a palatial home. But her riches brought her no real happiness, for she was unable to bear a child. And though she went from doctor to doctor, in the hope that they would make her fruitful, it was all to no avail. In the meantime the husband who, like every man of substance was anxious to have a son and heir, was getting more and more impatient and threatening to find himself a more fruitful wife.
As to the father, ever since he had turned his daughter over to the beggar, his fortune began to desert him: his health failed, his friends cold-shouldered him, his business declined, the money lenders refused to extend him any further credit, and ruin finally stared him in the face.
It was then that he thought of appealing to his rich daughter for help. But all the help his rich daughter could offer him was a room in the basement of her palatial home, and a meal at the table of her kitchen staff. This made him feel thoroughly humiliated, but having no other choice, he accepted the offer.
After a time, however, he felt he could take it no longer. "My daughter treats me like a beggar," he thought, "but begging for begging, I'd rather take to the road." So at break of dawn, one morning, he slung over his shoulder the small bundle of his belongings, and walked out of his daughter's palatial home.
He had no fixed idea as to where he would go, but he was anxious to leave his hometown far behind, so as not to be embarrassed by old friends and acquaintances when he went begging from door to door. He therefore turned his back on his hometown, and walked and walked.
After two days and two nights on the road, for he was old and ailing, and had to make frequent halts by the roadside to recover his strength, he fell in with a group of beggars who were heading for the Beggars' Home, and gladly followed in their wake.
From his hilltop, our old friend the beggar saw him arrive. But he gave no sign of having recognised him. Nonetheless, he received him kindly along with the others, and when he had offered him food and made him comfortable, he went to his wife and quietly told her that her father was reduced to beggary, and had come to seek shelter in their Home.
The wife immediately got together a festive meal, and invited her father to it that evening.
Passive and resigned, the father entered her presence without recognising her, for she was partly veiled and surrounded by her sons and daughters.
His eyes travelled slowly round the rich apartment, and when they finally came to rest on the festive board, he broke down completely, and said: "I never thought my eye would ever see again such an abundance of riches."
"The eye will see what it is destined to see, my father," said the girl, thus declaring herself to him.
At that, the father hid is face in shame and confusion. There he was all for getting up and taking to the road again, but the daughter wouldn't let him.
"I have long been telling my children of their grandfather," she said, leading her young brood towards him, "and now that he has come, they are not likely ever to let him go."
Thus evil was repaid with good, and a child sat not in judgement of her parent.
"And [Yah'shua/Jesus] sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, "If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all." Then He took a little child and set him in the midst of them. And when He had taken him in His arms, He said to them, Whoever receives one of these little children in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me, receives not Me but Him who sent Me."" (Mark 9:35-37, NKJV).
"Another parable He put forth to them, saying: "The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field, which indeed is the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches"" (Matt.13:31-32, NKJV).
The message of the story which I have shared with you today is that the things which are worthwhile and everlasting have small beginnings and are built upon submission, humility, and perseverance. The paths which Yahweh sets us on are usually not at all what we expected but we can at least choose -- as I have always taught you -- how we respond to them. For what is most important to us is that we accept uncomplainingly the lot which God has given us, and within the limitations He has set for us, that we do all that we can to bless others and bring glory to His Name.
We will be judged, finally, for what we did to others and how we helped lessen their load in life, and how we sought to guide them to eternal life. If our life has been consumed with selfishness and self-interest, our reward will be nothing. For it is written:
""When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right hand, 'Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.' "Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?' "And the King will answer and say to them, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.' "Then He will also say to those on the left hand, 'Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.' "Then they also will answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?' "Then He will answer them, saying, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.' "And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life"" (Matt.25:31-46, NKJV).
The choice, as ever, remains ours. To serve others or serve self. May we be like that daughter who was rejected by her father, and like the beggar into whose wretched world she was thrust, and simply act righteously, obeying the commandments, is my prayer. Amen.
This page was created on 15 March 2002
Last updated on 15 March 2002
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