The Journey 363
Read; John 4. Luke 13: 10-20
It is a sad day today for all of us, to all those who claim that they are Indians. A day when we hang our head in shame. A day when I feel angry, hurt and anguished. The reason for this anger and pain, the death of a 23 year old girl, at the hands of some of the most sadistic elements living today in the society. A nation that prayed so fervently for a girl who was fighting a losing battle not only with respect to her health but also the laws of the land and a corrupt system. A girl who at her death bed tells her parents that she wanted to live, but it was fight against hope. I believe we all are in one way responsible for her death. Thus as she lay battling for her life, first in a hospital in Delhi and later in the multispecialty hospital in Singapore, it was millions of Indians also battling not only with the law enforcement agencies, politicians and male chauvinist and misogynist, but also fighting within themselves thinking and wrestling to as to how one could live in this country upholding the dignity of woman, the girl child, thus making every space in the nation a safe place. She leaves with us her pain, her cry for help and her determination to live and fight against unjust systems, the fight against insensitive people. Though dead, her voice cries out "let this not happen to anyone anymore". As the girl was battling for her life, it was baffling and strange that people from all corner were trying to hog the limelight, some by either consciously or unconsciously making derogatory statement, while some in the media acting as if they are the watch dogs of justice and gender equality, abusing power at all levels. There are times in life when some experiences convict you, even when you are far away from those experiences in person. I think the death of this young girl is a tragic experience that we Indians will have to live the rest of our life with the feeling that we all were part of the system that perpetrated this crime. But then rather than being cynical it is imperative that each one us take certain radical decision in our life which will help all of us in the creation of domain both public and personal, where every "space" both public and personal is a space where woman is respected and she is always affirmed for her individuality and identity, and an affirmation not based on gender and her right to live with dignity, where dignity and right to live is not defined by the by the so called male chauvinist or the misogynist that is there in the society and within each one of us.
One of the hallmarks of the ministry of Jesus Christ was that he consciously affirmed the rights of the less privileged at that specific time of history. As we meditate on the theme "Transformed Living" let us meditate as to how Jesus becomes a model to all of us in the creating of new order, a silent revolution so that we all engage in building of family, church and a society, where the dignity and the rights of woman and the girl child is affirmed and respected at all cost. The portion that we shall use for our meditation is from John 4 and Luke 13: 10-20. When we observe the public ministry of Jesus Christ we find that even as he was engaging in a dialogue with the Samaritan woman [John 4] or engaging in a confronting dialogue with the male teachers of the law as they came to condemn and punish a woman who was caught in adultery, he deliberately took the side of the oppressed woman to teach other and also to convict them that he stands for a new order, he stand for a kingdom where gender, race is affirmed and that no one because of his/her gender or race will be discriminated or abused. One of the ways that Jesus affirmed the rights of woman was that he would always do certain things symbolically while encountering woman. Symbols that were powerful, symbols that showed to the world, what he stood for and what his values and focus of ministry was. In Luke 13: 11, we find Jesus touching the woman who was completely bent over, and on another occasion [ Mark 5: 25-33] forcing a woman who was healed because she touched his the cloak, to come in the presence of everyone and declare that she was the one who was healed. In another instance he touches the dead body of the son of widow at Nain [ Luke 7:13] and comforting her and then raising the dead boy to life. On all these occasion Jesus used action like placing hand on the bent woman, giving a woman a place in the centre, touching the dead body, action that were detested, actions that were not socially and culturally and religiously un acceptable. It is in these form of counter actions and symbols that Jesus brought a change in the existing discriminatory laws in the religious and the social life of the Jews. Our Lord teaches us this day that we also can do certain symbolic actions in our own life, in our personal and public space where we consentize others that we stand for the dignity and affirmation of woman, and that we will oppose anything that are discriminatory. With the death of the 23 year old woman, every Indian would be thinking what can I do as an individual to bring about change and transformation in the society and I think Jesus Christ teaches us that let us as individuals in our own free will and in our space and time, do thing symbolically that affirms the right and dignity of women, symbolic actions though small and silent which could be a catalyst for a systemic change and transformation.
Rev. Dr. Joe Joseph Kuruvilla