The Lenten Musings 41
Read: Luke 15: 11-32
If we observe some of the news that comes from India, it is unearthing of corruption almost every day. Corruption at all levels and at all fields. Lust for money seems to unite people from all fields of life whether politics, dramatics or church. But as news agencies beams incidents of corruption at the highest corridors of power, there is small state in north east India, that is creating small ripples in history. Nobody seems to notice this state or the leader who leads the state. Elections was held in three northeastern states of Meghalaya, Nagaland and Tripura. One of the unique aspects of the election result is that the Left Front has come to power in Tripura for the fifth consecutive term. This is mainly because of its chief minister Manik Sarkar. Looking at the lifestyle of the chief minister one may wonder, whether such a person still exist in Indian politics. He could be considered as one of the poorest chief ministers in India. In the affidavit that he submitted before he contested the elections, he has revealed what his true wealth is. In 2008, Manik Sarkar had Rs. 16, 120 as cash and bank deposits while in 2013 it got reduced to Rs. 10,800. He donates his salary as chief minister to the party fund and in return, the party pays him Rs. 5000 as allowance. His wife Panchali Bhattacharya, is a retired government officer and according to her affidavit, she has around 24 Lakh in bank deposits, while having about twenty two thousand rupees in her hand. The chief minister does not even have a house. He had inherited a small house from his mother in 2009, but he donated that too to his kin. Whenever he has to move around for his official duty, he uses the official vehicle, while his wife uses a cycle rickshaw to travel though quite often she prefers walking by foot. It is said that till last month, the chief ministers wife washed her clothes by herself, but after she has undergone a heart surgery, the doctors have advised her from doing any hard labour. When others in teh political and religious field is trying to further their financial assets, you have chief minister of a state who has no interest in doing so and on the contrary dedicating his life for the party and people. I think Manik Sarkar is a model and a person who can critique all the politicians especially the so called Marxist leaders in Kerala, the religious leaders of today who are trying to build an opulent style of living. Here is a leader whose true wealth is in his people and in dedicating ones life for the service of others. I think it is in this context that we need to ask ourselves the question as what our true wealth in life is? .
In Luke 15, we find three beautiful parable that Jesus mentions. In the third parable, we find a beautiful story of a family where you find three different characters having three different perspective of life. All of them show what life is all about and what their true wealth and assets in life is. It is the father in the parable who teaches us what is true wealth in life is. When his younger son stakes claim to his share, though the father is distressed at the attitude of the younger son, he willingly gives away his riches to his son, knowing well that the riches actually does not belong to him at that particular time and phase of his life. But, his father valued his son more than his riches. Later when the wayward son returns, the father is overjoyed to receive him. The father covers the son with the best robe and puts a ring on him. He knows the value of son returning back to his home. The son has learnt a lesson in life as to where true wealth lies. Not in riches, not in enjoyment in life but in relationship with his loving father, living in a home where you have wonderful relationships. But when the younger son comes, the elder son is upset. Upset because, his brother had spent all his share of property and now he has come back again. With his return, he knows that all that was legally his, is once again going to be divided. He is upset that he is going to be poorer again, but his father teaches him that it is not in riches that one should put ones focus and objective in life. The brother who was dead has returned and one needs to rejoice in having his brother back. Wealth to be understood in terms of relationships gained not lost, true wealth understood in having more and more qualitative relationship, true wealth understood in terms of giving up for the other. We have leaders who leave a legacy of amassing wealth in the most unholy means and leaders who have no guilt nor shame in preaching from roof tops about doing service to the poor, but lead a life style that is contrary to what has been preached. Hence you have people from all sections who are also tempted to live a life where focus is to amass wealth. Let us praise God that we still have leaders in India like Manik Sarkar who shows through his life what commitment is, what true ministry or service is and what should be true assets in life. Let us ask this lent what our true assets in life is?
Rev. Dr. Joe Joseph Kuruvilla