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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: In and Out (04/30/09)

TITLE: Be Clean In and Out
By ThresiaPaulose varghese


Indian cultural ceremonies and Hindu religious rituals give great importance to coconut. They use coconuts in almost all their offerings and social functions. Coconut has a very symbolic meaning. ‘In and out’ coconut insists the purpose and purity of a perfect offering.

How Can the Coconut be a Perfect Offering ‘In and Out’

The first step of the coconut offering is removing the fiber that covers the it. It is a hard task. We have to use some force to free the inner fruit from the external fiber. Then we have to hit hard on the shell and break it open. It needs more force than the first pace. When e break open the shell or the fruit stone, water inside the kernel flows out.

Now let us suppose our heart is the coconut. It is covered by the fiber of all kinds of desires. We have to take efforts to bring our body and mind as offering to God. The water that flows out is the contrition of our heart and our total surrender to the Omnipotence in purity. We have to strip our heart of all desires and offer the core without the outside fiber. flows out. The fiber represents all the desires and attachments to the outer world. As long as the fiber clings to it we cannot open it. We have to force open ourselves in total surrender. Our heart becomes as pure as the white kernel inside the coconut. Then only it becomes a perfect offering to God. This reminds us the words of Jesus Christ, “The one who wants to follow me has to leave everything, take his cross and follow me.”

Words of Our Lord Jesus About ’In and Out’

Jesus states clearly about our attitude about prayer and offering to God. He points put how hypocrite stand out and show themselves that they are praying. Jesus insists the pure intention of prayer, ‘praying inside and talking to God’. “And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrite; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others…But whenever you pray, go into the room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your father who sees in secret will reward you.”( Matthew 6: 5-6)

Warning about ‘In and Out’ Cleaning

Jesus warns about such hypocritical actions in doing things. For example their purpose in cleaning is only to show and make-believe others. Their real intention is only cheating others. The warning that Our Lord gives to such people is very severe.

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup so that the outside also may become clean.”

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which on the outside looks beautiful, but inside they are full of the bones of the dead and of all kinds of filth. You also look righteous to others, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” (Matthew 23: 25-28)

Cleaning ‘ In and Out’

In my opinion, Jesus, through this warning, is very particular about the pure intention of cleaning. One may have an externally unclean vessel which bore within itself ceremonially pure drink and food but that the inner recesses of the vessel, if unclean, would render the external surfaces also unclean and, therefore, able to impart uncleanness to those who come into contact with it. The vessel should be clean both in and out. Both the intention and action should be clean and perfect. We are really shocked to find Jesus warning the hypocrites so vehemently about their actions ‘showing to be clean outside but really unclean inside’.

‘In and Out’ Lovable to God

Through these words Jesus admonishes us to be pure in our intentions. We have to do things to convince God and not by mere external show to others. We should be clean both ‘in and out’ in all our thoughts, words and deeds.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Jan Ackerson 05/08/09
The coconut is an interesting object lesson.

I was thrown off a bit by your mention of Hindu ceremonies. Perhaps a transistional sentence to indicate where you started to write of the coconut as a Christian symbol would be helpful.

I'll never look at a coconut quite the same way again!