Monday, September 22, 2008

Making the Right Choice

Jesus' question in Mark 10:51 "What do you want me to do for you?" is baffling. Jesus knows everything, moreover the man who is crying to him is obviously blind and needs healing. Why then this question; Jesus cannot be that dumb!

The blind beggar in Jericho (Mark 10:46-52) was engaged in something demeaning. His name is mentioned in the Bible as Bartimaeus, which means son of honor. Though "a son of honor" he was doing the most dishonorable profession of begging in the city of Jericho. When Jesus met him he was begging. His style of begging (like all beggars do) is to catch people's attention by crying loud "have mercy on me" so that they can throw a coin in to his bowl.

He did the same thing when Jesus passed by in the company of a large crowd. This time he did not just cry "have mercy on me" but was more specific because his plea was aimed at Jesus and not the crowd. He cries, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!"
However, it is the plea of a beggar. That is how the crowd who rebuked him to keep quiet took it. He should not nag Jesus for a coin! No beggar should bother Jesus, he has greater things to attend to! However, Jesus stopped, knowing that in that plea there is something more than a beggar's longing for a coin.

The crowd (who earlier tried to stop him) now encouraged him to walk towards Jesus saying "cheer up! On your feet! He is calling you." Probably, they might have thought that Jesus is going to give him a considerable amount.
The possibilities were limited: a donation to a beggar and nothing more. That's all that we can think at the moment. Even Bartimaeus cry was ambiguous. That's what makes Jesus ask him specifically: "what do you want me to do for you?" That is to ask, "Do you want a coin, another donation?" or something else. The beggar's answer was specific: "Rabbi, I want to see". Jesus can do both, he can toss a coin into the beggar's bowl. Any one who has coin to give away can do that. However, Jesus can also do something else; that is to deal with his problem at its root.

Jesus demands us always to make that choice. Do we want Jesus to deal with our immediate, felt needs alone, or work at the root of our problems. A coin or two that Jesus could toss in to his bowl may make him happy for a day. However, dealing with his blindness, the reason for being a beggar will change his stigma of a beggar and bring the honor back to him. Bartimaues made the wise choice and challenges us to make a wise choice in our lives too. Jesus poses the question to us because we are the ones who should make that choice.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Understanding Christian Persecution in India

Tolerance is allowing different viewpoints to exist and thrive without
causing them any harm. It comes from respect and love for the
different views. Tolerance is possible even if the opposite point of
view may hurt our views and may threaten the existence of ours. Often
times we mistake accommodation for tolerance ignoring the subtle
difference between the two. Accommodating is an outcome of tolerance
but need not always be. Usually we can accommodate what we can put up
with but it is difficult to accommodate anything that is not congenial.
The other day while watching the National Geographic channel I came
across a leopard and a young gazelle. The gazelle was just born and
has just been able to stand on its feet. The leopard had it between
its front legs; the young gazelle looked fearless, the leopard was
unconcerned and was looking elsewhere as if he was not interested in
the tender prey. It presented the picture of the peace that prophet
Isaiah had prophesied about when the lion and lamb will graze together.
However, the scenario changed as the young gazelle took to its feet
and ran! The leopard caught the gazelle after short chase and killed
it. As long as the gazelle was not challenging it and was submissive
the leopard was willing to accommodate it. The leopard is not willing
to tolerate a gazelle that will challenge it.
Persecution against Christians in India has to be understood within
this framework. Majority Hindus are tolerant, however, there was a few
were willing to accommodate it and still another smaller group who
were not willing to tolerate or even to accommodate it. Thus two
sections have now turned against Christians in India: those who were
willing to accommodate it have realized that Christian faith is
something to be wiped out and persecution is the best means to wipe it
out. The third group has always been against anything other than their
faith and opposed to it and Christians as a vibrant religious group
was always at the receiving end of their wrath.
Christian persecution has reached a new high these days since those
who were just accommodating Christian faith (the world thought they
were tolerant) and those who were eternally opposed to it has joined
forces against Christian faith. This new scenario makes all those
believe in the peaceful existence of different religious faiths worried.

Turn dire circumstances for the glory of God

The way we face the dire circumstances in our life could lead to the wider glory of God. The story of Daniel illustrates that point well. ...