Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Read: Mark 6: 14-29
                         What is the price of the head of a dead soldier? This is the focal point of talk between two nations India and Pakistan, as they discuss insensitively a grave justice and human rights issue of callous act of Pakistan of beheading an Indian soldier. This incident also is viewed by ordinary citizens as they try to grapple with a stark reality as to how  a government is fumbling when tackling issues of ordinary soldiers who protect the country and its borders, as they serve in some of the most tough terrains in the world. All these happens ironically on a day when India celebrated its 65th Army day. What a day to be proud of and what  a day it will be when the politicians and other senior officers are going to lay wreaths and other floral arrangements in the memory of those soldiers who sacrificed their life for the country. These tension arose when it seems that Pakistan planned a pre meditated attack on the Line of Control on the Indo-Pak border resulting not only in the killing of two Indian soldiers but also beheading of one soldier. The beheading of Lance Naik Hemraj has brought about total disgust and anger not only at the action of the Pakistan army but the common man is also fuming at the inaction of a government who seems clueless as to what to do, even as the grieving family members of the dead soldier is observing protest and fast to get back the head of the martyred soldier. Though the incident of beheading happened on January 8th, the only noteworthy action that Indian authorities and the political system did was only to lodge a strong protest against it counterparts in Pakistan. But yesterday for  the first time since the incident happened, the Prime Minister has been talking tough.  The Army chief has also issued clear warning to Pakistan stating that the beheading of the Indian soldier is unacceptable and unpardonable as it is barbaric and defies all logic and also violate rules of engagement in war. He added that India reserves the right to retaliate at a time a place of its choosing. Thus the war of words have begun and may be one could see heightened tension being created in the coming days in the relationship between both the countries. This could also be fuelled by some of the partisan politics that could be played by some of the political parties who may want to derive political  mileage out of this horrific event. But what about the family members of Lance Naik Hemraj as they run from pillar to post not just to get the head back of their family member but also to redeem their dignity and the right not only of a dead soldier but also of the whole family. It is disgusting to see how people who protect us are left in a lurch when  a need comes and one needs to beg and plead to leaders in authority for implementation of justice and human rights. We live in a world where we sometimes have to be mute witnesses to such gross injustice leaving us hurt, angry and totally disgusted at our political system.
                            When we look at the Word of God, we can find similarity of the beheading of Lance Naik Hemraj, similarity in the way injustice prevails and how rulers who are supposed to rule with justice become pawns of dictatorship, and thus bringing reign of injustice and oppression in the lives of people.  It is in Mark 6: 14- 29 that we find the incident of injustice and parallel to the beheading of the Indian soldier. The portion shows the unjust rule of King Herod. A corrupt ruler who was only interested not only in furthering his autocratic rule and but also furthering his own selfish interest and lustful passions. He had married Herodias, his brother wife which was against the law. It was John the Baptist who had the guts to tell Herod that what he was doing wrong and that as a rule and king he was supposed to be model and supposed to rule with justice that is applicable not only to the common man but to the king also. But being a coward and weak in judgment, though Herod wanted to kill John, he never had the guts to do it. He finally gets the opportune time when on a banquet hosted on his birthday, the daughter of Herodias danced and won his heart. Herod promised her that he would give whatever she demanded even if it meant half of the kingdom. So strange of a King who is willing to give half of his kingdom to a young girl just because of the way she danced. In this very gesture one can understand the prudency and integrity of a King and the values that he subscribes to his rule of the kingdom. The girl does not seek any reward but goes to her mother to seek advice as to what to seek and the mother cunningly knowing the mind of the king ask her daughter to ask for the head of John the Baptist on a platter. And thus the life and ministry of John the Baptist is cut short by a king whose interest lay only in furthering his own selfish and lustful passion not only of the flesh but also of power and authority. One of the dangers that can beset all of us as Christians is our lust for power, authority and passion of the flesh.  It is this unbridled craving that lead us to break all rules and our focus is only furthering of our own selfish interest. When this happens we may not be concerned as to what happens to our colleagues in ministry, nor our welfare of our neighbours nor the ones who are suffering. The beheading of soldier and John the Baptist points not only the callousness of the people in authority but also of those leaders in authority or people who are concerned only about furthering one's own selfish interest, least concerned about the pain and suffering of those people to whom we should be actually be indebted to. Let us pray that our Lord gives us the grace and the strength to rise above selfish feelings and interest and live a life where we are genuinely involved in the welfare of others.