I was there once.


Myself . 

By T. V. Antony Raj
.

My young friend Joe Napoleon and I were talking about hospitals. When I mentioned the name of a hospital in Chennai, he said: “Uncle, I was there once.”

This brought to my mind the friendly exchange I had with another blogger – OneDaringJew, Raphael Gamaroff living in South Africa, born to Jewish parents who as children, in the early 1900s, immigrated to South Africa from the Russian Empire.

Recently, on March 29, 2012, I posted in my blog “Inspirations” an article titled “… before Abraham came to be, I AM” and I ended it as follows:

YHWH stems from the Jewish conception of monotheism that God exists by himself for himself, and is the uncreated Creator who is independent of any concept, force, or entity “I AM that I AM”.

 

On reading my post, Raphael Gamaroff alias bography commented:

Thanks Tvaraj.

Much useful and inspiring information. You asked

“So, when Jesus said ‘I Am’ was it another way of referring to God?”

What do you think? I ask because – I might have missed it – I don’t see any answer to your question, or did you mean to provide no answer?

So, I answered:

Hello bography,

I am just a humble soul, a layman.

The daily gospel readings inspire me so I try to gather a bit more information to aid my understanding.

When I wrote: “So when Jesus said ‘I Am’ was it another way of referring to God?” is a perennial question that could be answered by One Daring Jew like you and others dedicated to the ministries.

In the last paragraph in my post, I have put in gathered information.

‘YHWH stems from the Jewish conception of monotheism that God exists by himself for himself, and is the uncreated Creator who is independent of any concept, force, or entity “I AM that I AM”.’

Since Jesus was a Jew you will know him better than I do. I want to learn more about Jesus and his times. That is why I have undertaken to write a post daily on what inspires me, namely the daily reading from the gospels.

And Raphael was quick to lay the next question:

Tvaraj

You say, “I am just a humble soul, a layman.”

As you know most Jews, Christians, etc. are lay persons. If they are genuine about their faith, their lay status is no excuse to “lay about,” which you obviously don’t do.

If, say, a Christian does not devote a good amount of time to the study of his religion, he is not a genuine Christian. You have shown what a humble layman – and an agnostic (that is what you are at the moment, right?) – can do with his time, effort and ability. And English is only your second language, not so!

But to return to your post, you have laid (tee hee lay-man) out the issue well. There is Jesus who claims to be God (do you agree that he is claiming this?) and there is the Jewish claim of who God is. They both can’t be right, right?

Do you think that knowing which one of the two is true could affect your eternal destiny? But I suppose I should have first asked you whether you believe in an afterlife.

This was my reply to him:

Raphael (aka bogrophy),

About after life? I don’t know… Is there a life after death? This too is another perennial question I find in ‘my’ book of life.

There is an age old adage in my mother tongue Tamil,“மாண்டவர் மீண்டதில்லை, மீண்டும் வந்து வாழ்ந்ததில்லை” (Transliteration: maandavar meendathillai, meendum vandhu vaalndhathillai) meaning “the dead don’t resurrect nor don’t come back and live again.”

About 2 years ago, in India, I became suddenly ill. My elder daughter rushed me to a nearby clinic where I blanked out. She later said that for ten minutes or so I was motionless without any pulse. All, including the doctors, thought I had gone.

I? I was in a limbo, in a pitch-black, cold, singular, silent abyss.

After a while I heard the voice of my daughter, faint and far away, crying her heart out, By and by her voice became louder and I could hear her giving instructions to be careful with my body/person.

I slowly regained consciousness but couldn’t open my eyes as it was excruciatingly bright. Then I saw my daughter’s face, tears streaming down her cheek.

So, from then on, I became conscious of the fact that there is some purpose for my resurrection and coming back to live again. So, from then on

“… I do nothing on my own, but I say only what the Father taught me. The one who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone because I always do what is pleasing to him.”

Now don’t say “The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose.”

Mark you this, Bassanio,
The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose.
An evil soul producing holy witness
Is like a villain with a smiling cheek,
A goodly apple rotten at the heart:
O, what a goodly outside falsehood hath!
( Antonio in William Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice”)

Quick Quiz:

If “The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose”, why would he do that?

(a) to show off
(b) to curry favour with God
(c) to disguise his intentions

My choice would be (b). 

So, I was there once – in limbo, in a pitch black, cold, singular silent abysm, beyond dark, completely black. I try to open my eyes: nothing. I try to move my arms, my legs nothing responds. And then I saw the light and am once again with the living now.

.

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