Saturday, December 24, 2011

Make way for the best this Christmas

The good is shattered for the best: Joseph is the hero of our Christmas story.
He is engaged to a very pious girl, Mary from Nazareth. So it’s a perfect match. Marriages are made in heaven they say and Joseph and Mary seemed to be a couple carved out by God’s own fingers. Things seem to be alright till this time. Joseph like every young man is dreaming about his future married life, his honeymoon, his new family to be. He hopes and prays when the bad news comes in. Mary is pregnant and the father of the baby is unknown person! A bolt from the blue! Dreams shatter and crumble. O God! This is not right. After being a righteous man his whole life this not a reward Joseph expects, how can God be so unfair! Why bad things happen to good people? There’s no answer to that. Sometimes life seems to be very unfair, while the people who suck off the wealth of others and hoard it for themselves enjoy life, the good people seem to be suffering. That’s what creates atheist isn’t it. Isn’t God responsible for this if ever he exists? Well the answer comes in the form of the messenger angel; Joseph troubled with the thoughts of his shattered dreams and thinking of privately divorcing Mary, rests. Sleeps sometimes seem to do good when you are boggled down by prevailing tensions. The angel in his dreams tells the answer to why bad things happen to good people. The good is shattered so God’s best plan for Joseph’s life maybe unfolded in his life. Here’s the answer for all your troubles and unfair situation you are facing at this moment. The good can sometimes be an enemy of the best. Many people settle for what seems good, they do all to get it and remain mediocre. A teacher wanted to show his student the graves of all the famous people in the world. He took him to a graveyard and showed him some tombs. The inscription on the tombs revealed names that were common and unheard of. The surprised student questioned the teacher that these are the tomb of common people where are the famous people. The teacher replied all the common people had God-given potential to rise above their situations in life to be the best and famous. But they never did! They settled for the good instead for the best. Joseph and Mary’s good future marriage dreams seemed to have been shattered for the moment so that God’s best plan for them and the entire world could be realized through their lives. We remember Joseph and Mary whenever we remember Christ. Moreover when we celebrate Christmas, this wouldn’t have been possible if they had not allowed for the God’s best to be revealed through their lives and settled for what seemed good. Joseph obeys the word of the Lord sent through his angel and accepts Mary as his wife and then the consequent journey to Bethlehem where Jesus is born in a manger. Joseph’ life and Mary’s too is exemplary for all of to imitate. We have to forgo the good for God’s best in our lives. Let’s pray’ ‘Lord disturb our lives; shatter the good in us so your best plan may be seen through our lives.’ Amen.

Friday, December 16, 2011

The ordinary birth of the extraordinary Child- Christmas Christmas is popular all over the world commemorating the events of the birth of Jesus Christ. The Bible tells that God had a concern for the lost humanity. Humanity had lost the Divine touch. God wanted them to realize that they could be connected again to the Divine in them and that’s why the Divine had to become human to point out the Truth. The birth of Jesus was in difficult circumstances. Jesus’ father and mother, Joseph and Mary were in Bethlehem when suddenly the birth pangs came about. There was no place for them to give birth to the child so they found an ordinary cattle-shed where Jesus was born. If Jesus was God sent Son then why the ordinary and difficult birth? Was not God concerned about his Son’s birth? Couldn’t he have provided him a more comfortable place to be born? The answer lies in the fact that God wanted people to discover the extraordinary in ordinary birth of Christ. When we go about in life thinking about how we are ordinary beings, not very important, God wants us to find the extraordinary in us. That extra in the ordinary is the Divine. The message of Christmas is this we may be living in pretty ordinary circumstances but Divinity is within us, we got to realize it, reach it and then stretch ourselves for God given vision for our lives. May this Christmas be a time for that re-discovery. Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Second Alternative

The Second Alternative
Two brothers grew under an abusive, alcoholic father. Their father had been in and out of prison many times. When the children grew one of the brothers became like his father. ‘Like father, like son’. He was in and out of jail many times; he was abusive and alcoholic too. Whenever asked about his condition, he would say, “My father was like me, I grew under him what else do you expect?” His brother though took another path, he became a gentleman, working in a big company, and he was never abusive or alcoholic. When asked about his successful life his answer was no different, “My father was abusive, alcoholic, I grew under him, so I became what I am today what else do you expect.” Friends, in life at every turn we encounter situations, good and bad and the turn-out of our lives depends on what path we choose, React or Respond! Two roads diverged in the woods, and I took the one less travelled by and that has made all the difference.” These words are carved in our memories for eternity by the great poet Robert Frost.
What is Reacting? Reacting is a negative word. It doesn’t distinguish me as a human being from animals. Animals can react not respond. If you beat a dog with a stick it response is limited to two actions: fleeing or making you flee! In the olden times people reacted because till then that was the best option and awareness they possessed so many of our religious books are filled with examples of God allowing reaction. Hark! God is not unjust, but he worked through human beings and their understanding of him. So we have many of the scriptures of the olden times filled with pictures that could be summed up, “Eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth.” In simple language you harm me, I return you with the same limited response, I too harm you.
What is Response? Gandhi was thrown out of a train compartment which was only meant for the ‘white people’. He responded not by reacting but responding with a freedom movement in India which were based on principles of Truth and Non-violence. Jesus said, “If somebody slaps you on one cheek, give him the other.” Strange! But it shows that we as human beings are different from animals. We are given the God given ability to respond to a situation instead of reacting. Response is positive. It’s choosing the second alternative! We have many examples in history of them, Martin Luther King Jr., Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln, Buddha etc.
Conclusion: Choose your alternative from the given: It’s a lousy day vs. It’s a great day, Frown vs. Smile, Dwelling on curses vs. Blessings, Busybody vs. Busy-bee at work place, Treating client, customers and business partners as trash vs. Kings and Queens, Giving self to short term pleasures vs. Being patient for long term benefits, fear vs. faith. I hope we all graduate to choose the second alternative, to respond!