Read: Luke 2: 41-52, John 10
You are mad...These are the word that we sometimes use, and use it so randomly without understanding the deep and lasting consequences on others. Everyone goes through bouts of anger, depression and other emotional and mental upheaval that impact very negatively in the life of others. As this nation is discussion on gun control, a good number of people are also discussing a subject that we take it for granted and are sometime least bothered. The mental health of individuals. Just as we spend millions to revitalize our physical health, the issue of mental health is also of utmost importance. The issue of mental health came to the fore, when questions were addressed as to what made a 20 year old, to go to a school and then cold bloodedly kill innocent young kids. Was he and his family suffering from some form of mental health issues? What was the issues at home and what was the problem that his mother was facing while racing these kids? We do not know. But people started taking more a serious note when another mother wrote a blog about the erratic and suicidal behavior of her school going son and asked the world to help her. A mother who did not know how to go about with a son who was always getting angry, throwing tantrums and threatening to kill himself and the mother. These behavior made the mother to write a blog that has now gone viral and several news agencies have reported about her blog. Liza Long is a writer based in Boise and it was she who through her blog describes the agony and fear that she goes through daily as she deals with her son, and the need to discuss and take seriously mental illness. Liza Long describes some of the behavioral disorder that her son is expressing and her inability to cope up. She write that one day when he was asked to wear the school dress code, he began abusing her with vulgar words and told her that in America he also has rights. On another occasion she had to call the cops when he suddenly pulled out a knife and threatened to kill her, just because she asked her to return the library books that was overdue in school. Much worse was on another occasion when he threatened to jump out of a moving car, and she had to literally hold on to her son tightly, with the fear that he will jump any moment. Liza Long cries and appeals for help, not knowing whether her son has ADHD, or autisms spectrum or any other behavioral disorder. She is scared as to what is going to happen tomorrow, especially in the light of Sandy Hook shooting. Her blog went viral and now the son is being treated for mental illness. I think the story of Long is not isolated one. I understand that this sort of behavior occurs in most of our homes and parents are scared to talk about mental health issues leave alone address it. Even when we go through depression or other emotional outburst we fail to see that we need help and we tend to hide our emotional and mental issues. There also people who subtly hide their mental and emotional issues sometimes even in the garb of spirituality by showing extreme sense of commitment through involving in spiritual activities or by expressing some high emotional spiritual fervor. This make us to ask the question as to what is the relationship between mental health and fullness of life or eternal life that our Lord gives to us.
We are meditating on the theme “Transformed Living” and the portion that we shall use for our meditation is from Luke 2: 41-52 and John 10. In John 10, Jesus describes his focus in ministry where by he underline the basis of his ministry– which is his relationship as a shepherd and the sheep. The shepherd who helps the sheep to find green pastures, having an intimate relationship with them and protecting them from the forces that destroy them. It is through this relationship that Jesus communicates that He has come so that we can all have fullness of life [ John10:10]. It is to this goal that Jesus want to lead all of us in life—to truly experience life in its fullness. How do we experience that fullness of life when a person come in relationship with Jesus Christ. In the old testament-it is the word “shalom” that is equivalent to the term fullness of life. In the old testament perspective shalom or fullness of life means living ones life fruitfully in four dimension of living. The first dimension is related to ones relationship with creator God, secondly one relationship with his/her fellow human beings, thirdly ones relationship with this wonderful world and finally one relationship with oneself. Thus according to the Old testament concept, an individual can experience shalom or fullness of life only if he/she has a qualitative relationship in all these four areas of ones life. It is in this perspective that we find in Luke 2: 52, when Jesus goes back to Nazareth and submits himself to his parents, Jesus experiences growth in relation to wisdom, stature and also in his relationship with his Father and his fellow human being. This is what the model Jesus gives us. If we need to experience fullness of life, we need to develop all these shalom areas of life or the areas of growth that Jesus wants us to grow. But unknowingly as we live today, we have not at all taken seriously these wide facets of living fully. Though some of us have taken our relationship with our creator God seriously, the rest of the areas like our relationship with our fellow human being, the world are all not even thought of. The nourishing of our intellectual areas of our life, the emotional need of our life nor our social needs are not taken seriously and as a result you have a number of individuals who are reflecting the sickness that is present in their mind. Let us therefore take seriously our life in a comprehensive manner so that every aspect of our life are taken seriously and thus we move forward to experience life in all its fullness. It is only then can many of the social deviant behaviors can at least be controlled or channelized.
Rev. Dr. Joe Joseph Kuruvilla