Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Journey 346

Read: Mathew 1: 18-25
              Becoming a fool or being called a fool. For some people both statements are derogatory and humiliating. Recently two Indian students Tanya Thakur and Aditya Thakur sent legal notice to Indian Press Council Chairman Justice Markandey Katju, asking him to apologize for his comments that he made in a seminar that 90% of Indians were idiots. But Justice Katju immediately replied to the students clearly stating that his point of arguments.  According to justice Katju when he said 90% what he meant was not a mathematical figure but an opinion that a large proportion of Indians were fools and he reiterated that he did not mention any community, caste or sect and hence there was no need for the two students to feel defamed. He went further to quote that when you look at India’s history some of the famous discoveries that human kind had ever made were made by Indians. He recalled that the decimal system in mathematics was an invention of Indians.  To understand the significance of the decimal system one needs to understand context of that time. The Romans who had great civilization were not comfortable with numbers above 1000 since they expressed their number in alphabets [ V for 5 or X for 10]. There was no single alphabet expressing number above 1000 and hence to write 2000 the ancient Romans had to write the alphabets MM and if it is 5000 they would write MMMMM. Thus if they had to write 1 million they would have to write the alphabet M a million times. How ridiculous. But see what Indian ancestors did. They discovered the number 0 and hence to write 1 million they only had to put 6 zeroes after number 1. Remarkable. Another major contribution of the historic past was the plastic surgery that was invented by Sushrut about 2000 years ago and also about the town planning that could be found in the Indus Valley Civilization where you had streets, covered drains and also sewage system. He also said that before British came to India, the country was prosperous and that that India’s share in world trade in 1700 was about 30% while at the end of British rule it fell to 2%.  Hence in the light of all these looking at the present scenario and history of the country he feel that there is widespread castiesm, communalism and superstitions in the mind set of people that is actually driving the progress of the country backwards. He brought to the notice the rampant evils that is prevalent in the present Indian society like honour killing, dowry deaths, female foeticide and the vote banks politics that is all making our country backwards and also in the process making us all look like fools.  What Justice Katju wanted to see in Indians was the development of a rational, scientific and questioning mind. But what Justice Katju said was right that there are times not only Indians, but even other behave like fools, because emotions precedes logical thinking. But there are many people in the society who make themselves “fools”. It is these fools who have actually contributed to the welfare and the progress of the society. Albert Einstein was considered absent minded and stupid when he was young, while Edison was considered to be abnormal because of his so called learning disability. The list goes on...One of the truths that the Word of God expresses is that God always uses the foolishness of the world to shame the wise. Thus you find a number of people who consciously become fools not only to become the instrument of God’s purpose but also to teach the world that when we are ready to become fools for God that is when God truly uses us for His glory. In the advent story also you will find some people who were ready to become fools for the Lord.
                  We are meditating on the theme “Transformed Living” and the portion that we shall use for our meditation is from Mathew 1: 18-25. This portion describes the birth of Jesus Christ our Lord. Whenever we describe the birth of our Lord, unknowingly it is the role of Mary or the sacrifice that Mary did is what is highlighted in the birth narrative. The commitment of Mary, the sacrifice that she underwent, the song of praise that she renders even when she is going through the most severe predicament in life is what is talked and meditated on. But we often forget that behind the sacrifice of Mary, stood a silent but a strong man– Joseph. Since the Word of God is silent about the personality of Joseph other than this portion and the portion in Luke 2, we often tend to take the role played by Joseph as a take it for granted attitude. But if we understand the social, cultural and religious context of those times, we will be able to see how Joseph consciously made himself a fool for God so that he becomes an instrument in God’s hand. When Joseph knows that the woman with whom he is betrothed is pregnant, he plans to divorce her quietly without bringing any disgrace to her. But then the angel of the Lord convicts him about Mary being chosen as God’s handmaiden and that is when he decides to accept Mary as his wife. But then he had to answer a lot of questions from his family, his society, his religious community and so on. Joseph does not think about these questions and then boldly goes ahead with what God had communicated to him. Here is Joseph who is also ready to put in the back burner his dreams about his marital life, ready to be a channel in God’s hand and thus ready to be a fool. It is because there were people like Joseph who was ready to be a fool that we find, the birth of our Lord becomes a reality. There are times in our Christian life when we may have to become a fool for the cause of the gospel and for our Lord. If that is what is our calling and God’s plan for our life, let us boldly proclaim that we are ready to be fools for Christ , and for his Kingdom, but then not plain fools!

Rev. Dr. Joe Joseph Kuruvilla