Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Journey 360

Read: Luke 15: 11-32
             I am sure you all had a wonderful celebrations of Christmas yesterday, with gathering of family and friends, along with traditional Indian cuisines. One of the hallmarks of celebration of Christmas is the exchange of gifts. Gifts that symbolizes our love and our care to the giver. That is why children love Santa one of the symbols of Christmas celebrations, because in a mythical way Santa gives them the gift that they want most desperately. It is in this context that one of the news item written by Hannah Furness in news agency The Telegraph caught my attention. A survey was done recently as to know what will be the present or gift that children would want the Santa to give them this Christmas and the answers surprised the people who undertook the survey. The gifts that the children wanted varied. The gifts that were most sought after were live reindeer, pet horse, car, dog and other animals, while some children went a little far fetched imaginative by asking for moon, a time machine, while some even wanted Eva Longoria, snow and so on. I pad and I phones also was on the list. But what was the most strangest and cute need that the children expressed and one which topped the list was not these material things. The need or the gift that topped the list of the most wanted gifts for Christmas from children of British parents was that they wanted a “Dad”.  Along with “dad” they also wanted a new baby brother or sister. Children in Christmas asking Santa that what they need most in life is their dad or they wanted an addition in their family in the form of a sibling. Does this survey highlight anything about the needs of our children or is it just a need to the children of the British parents?. I think it does. Behind the joy of every celebration lies the fact that there are individuals or children who would want to cry out and shout to the world that these celebrations sometimes are meaningless until my life is truly blessed with a gift that is truly a blessing and what can be a bigger gift to our children than giving them the love, care and support from parents especially dad. The exchanging of material gifts during Christmas may be important but more important  is in strengthening of our bonds of our family that makes any celebration especially Christmas more significant and more meaningful. Hence this season can we do some introspection in our life so as to check whether we truly strengthen our family relationship so that we don't reach a state in our family life where our children are forced to ask imaginary individuals like Santa that they need a “Dad”.
                We are meditating on the theme “Transformed Living” and the portion that we shall use for our meditation is from Luke 15 . Many authors have referred this passage not only as the story of the prodigal son but this is also referred as the story of a loving father. What make the character of the father in this parable so powerful and a paradigm for many of the parents especially father’s of today. In an Indian context where rule and authority of father is sometimes seen as unquestionable, the father in this parable is very different. When his youngest son ask for his share, there is no arguments between the father and son that usually occurs in an Indian home. “ Don't you know, I struggled hard to earn this kind of money and how dare you ask your share, don't you have any shame”…..dialogues like these or various other kinds can occur in any family when a son who is hardly in in his teens gathers courage or become so audacious to ask for the share of his property. But the father in this parable does just the opposite. He grants the wish of his youngest son. What does that reflect of the father. Was he not concerned of his son’s future and was he not worried and angry that his money or his financial empire that he built so painstakingly being wasted by a son who has no concern for the feelings of the father nor the hard work that he had put all these years to raise his son and also make the family financially sound?. But here is a father who allows his son to take a risk, a father who allows his son to explore the wide world and personally evaluate as what is greatest treasure in this earth. The son feels that the greatest joy and treasure in life is to enjoy life with all the money in hand, life to spent in the company of friends and tasting the good things of life. A life where there is no boundaries, a life where you don't have someone to dictate over you just like your dad and mom. But in the end of the son’s adventure with life, he realizes that the greatest treasure was not in a life lived without any boundaries nor a life where you don't have any one to correct you, on the contrary a life is wonderful when there are boundaries, when you have a dad who is there to correct, but more lucky if you have a dad who gives you the freedom to explore the world, find out the truths of life by yourself, risk your life so that hard truths of life are learnt daily. I think the father in this parable was ready to help his child to understand that the true value or gift that you have in this world is your family. Your parents, your children or ones family as a whole. But somehow today we as parents or dad do not allow our kids to live independent lives, lives where we help them to sometimes risk their life so that they learn valuable lesson in life. For many of us parents we tend to be very over protective and even after our kids have got married and settled down we still have no qualms in meddling in their life. This Christmas season let us give our children not only gifts but also give them the true value of what it means to be in family, where they have the freedom to explore, the freedom to be oneself, the freedom to risk so that through all these exercise the true and greatest gift that God gave to us “The family” is truly understood by the next generation.

Rev. Dr. Joe Joseph Kuruvilla