The Journey 352
These days people across different states in this country have been united by one factor-Pain. Pain of the families in Newton brought about a sense of mystical union between a number of families not only in this nation but people across the globe. But it is not only pain that has the mystical power to unite individuals and families. Even experiences of joy and happiness, victory and loss can also be avenue of uniting people. In this season of advent and other celebrations many individuals and families have brought a new meaning not only to the concept of unity but also to the concept of celebrations and religious observances. It is about all about blending of celebrations. The story of individuals and families who are blending celebrations have been reported by the news agency CNN. December is the time when two major religious observance takes place in this country. Those two religious observances are Christmas and the Jewish festival Hanukkah. The news agency reports about a family in Ohio, Rebecca and Roni Kopelman who celebrates both Christmas and Hanukkah, as Rebecca has Christian roots while Roni is Jewish. For them this time of Christmas and Hanukkah is celebrated as “Chrismukkah”. What Rebecca does during Christmas is the routine decorations of Christmas tree and the lighting of the house, while during Hanukkah, Roni prepares the latke feast, light the menorah each night and also exchange small gifts. For Rebecca and Roni, their family history and background are very important for them and they feel it as an honour in holding on to those history and background which has actually united them. They believe human life should have a shared part in every avenue, including religion. It is not only families like Rebecca and Rony who are celebrating the blending of celebrations in the month of December, but there are lot of other families too who celebrate “Chrismukkah”. Another couple in California that is worth mentioning is the family of Cassie Pham who celebrates “Chrismukkah”. According to Cassie, Chrismukkah represents her relationship at its best where in the celebration there is blend of two cultures and also joining of lives through the different events that take place in the family. In a world where people are getting more and more isolated and also more individualistic, it is important that we need to find some elements of commonality, unity and blending so as to make not only our life but the life of the community a blessed experience. Somehow we all live in closed quarters not bothered about how others live, what is their faith traditions, what are the issues that they go through in their day to day life…...all these questions don't matter to us. And then suddenly a young boy aged 20 goes on a rampage killing small kids and then we ask question….Whey did this happen and what can be done to stop crimes like these…? There may not be any immediate answers, but I think in a long term we need to consciously build our life whereby we learn to blend and be united with other in our community so that there is mutual sharing and learning about each others faith, culture, tradition which help all of us to be more mindful of others, being more empathetic and making our world more wider. What does the Word of God teaches us in the blending of our life with others in such a way that we work for the establishment of kingdom of God on this earth.
We are meditating on the theme “Transformed Living” and the portion that we shall use for our meditation is from Mathew 15: 21-28. This is one of the portions in the Bible where you find a strange reaction from Jesus Christ and that too to a woman who was in desperate need. The woman in need is a Canaanite woman who wanted Jesus to heal her daughter. But the way Jesus addresses her, questions in the initial part of their encounter forces us to raise many questions. In all other portions of the gospel, and in the ministry of Jesus Christ we always find that Jesus was very empathetic to the people who were suffering, the ones who were in need, especially the womenfolk. If that is so why this strange reaction to a woman who was so desperate?. One of the aspects of this incident is the nationality of the woman. The woman was a Canaanite and Canaanites were considered as enemies of the Jews. It was in Tyre that Jesus encounters this woman after he departed from the Jewish territory into the Phoenician territory where Sidonian and Tyrians lived. Thus both the Canaanites and Jews avoided each other and this was the social and the religious custom and observance of the day. Thus we find the woman breaking the customs of the day by approaching a Jew for help. Jesus knew that she was in need and he also wanted to teach his disciples a lesson in the varied and diverse expressions of faith living. He condemns the attitude of Pharisees who only claims to follow the precepts of the Word of God, but their actions are contrary to the teaching of the Word of God [ Mathew 15: 6-9]. On the contrary though the Canaanite woman has no relationship with the Jewish laws she expresses her faith through her action and that is what Jesus commends her for. Here is Jesus also consciously breaking the so called cultural and religious norms of the day to be united with the woman who was suffering and helping her to overcome her pain. Though this was not a case of the blending of religious celebration, it was surely a unity and union of two individuals, Our Lord who understood the pain of others and the woman who was united to the Lord in her search for resolving her pain. What is needed in our life is the attitude of our Lord whereby we are able to build bridges with others so that our life is more and more intrinsically linked to others so that we share and live in union and unity, finding common grounds to work and thus making a difference not only in our life but in the life of the community as a whole.
Rev. Dr. Joe Joseph Kuruvilla