Tag Archives: pharisees

What to give up for Lent?

Having seen What Lent is, I give You some Very Sweet Answers to Questions like ‘What to give up for lent,’ etc. At the age of 67, with More than 40 of them spent in Serious Reflection, You would find my Answers Very Different, and See that They Make Sense!

First of all, Lent is Not about giving up a few Things.

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From the Time of our Lord Himself, we know that the Pharisees had ‘Observed the Sabbath’ “Meticulously.” [You will note that I have put the word Meticulously in double inverted commas. That should tell You something! These Pharisees had kept the Sabbath according to ‘their’ rules and standards, which Jesus saw through, had not found them up to the mark, and for which He berated them. But that is another story.]

To continue, besides this regular observation of the Sabbath, the Pharisees had Fasted Much, had given 10% of their Earnings to the Temple, (Calculate that! 10% is a Goodly amount!), and spent much time in studying the Scripture, (again, after their ‘own’ way, of course).

Let us Stay with the Pharisees. In spite of these their way of life, We Know that our Lord was Not Impressed with them. He had chastised them time and again. Matthew allots practically the whole of his 23rd chapter in Condemnation of the Hypocrisy of the Pharisees.

So Holiness or Advancement in Spirituality is Not about Giving up things, Nor Taking up things like Fasts and such!

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A very famous retreat centre in India calls for its participants to give up smoking and drinking as practically the steps to be followed in that place. But there was Not Enough of an Emphasis on A ‘Change of Heart’ there. And the results are Not all that they could have been.

Then We have the Famous examples of Giving up Chocolates.

External changes like these can bring about, at most, External changes in their turn, like a little Better health due to giving up smoking, or a Slimmer body due to lesser Carbs.

It is like removing a Glob of dirt from the Wind shield, or Filling up the Tyres, both of which are Useful, by the way, – While the Engine is Smoking! Most probably You would be left standing on the spot in spite of the Wind shield having become clearer, and the Tyres having had their fill.

We have to Address the Root of Problems, and Take Care of Basics first. Giving up a few things for Lent is Not of Much Use!

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Only Surface level Preachings on Lent are being presented. Before We go further, We have to see How Repugnant even this sort of Lent is taken to be, at least in some circles.

The goodly people of the South Americas, Pope Francis’ own soil, So dread Lent, that they ‘Top themselves Up Full Well’ before beginning this Religious exercise. As under: A mere glimpse of the ill-famed ‘Carnivals.’

South American Carnivals

This is a good example of what happens when Attention is Diverted to what to give up for Lent, etc. This sort of mentality seems to create a Fear, as the Carnival evinces. For all that, the Carnival is more than a bit of Debauchery. And it Astonishes me that the so called Leaders of the church have nothing to say about it. As You know, the picture I have given is one of the more Modest ones! Well.

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Here are things I say You Need NOT give Up!

Let me put it in another way: Do Not Over Fast. You are Not in a Competition of Fasting. And Do not do it because ‘Jones’ is doing it.

In this regard, an Anecdote from the life of St. Don Bosco. One night the devil came and took the good Priest on a round of their institution. The devil wanted to show him Where-all he was succeeding in gaining his victories. One of the places they visited was the Dining hall. The Saint was astonished, and asked the devil how People could be sinning there. The devil simply said that he invited people either to eat too much or too little. In Both cases they ended up Not being able to do what they were supposed to be doing!

Making my list a short one: You Need Not Give Up Sex! As I have shown earlier, The Real purpose of Lent is to become ‘Other Centric,’ — Concerned, Caring and Loving Human Beings. …You cannot take these my words as License for All-out Orgies of the Flesh. Always remember that All Efforts at Self Control go in Your favour and Your Advancement.

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FOR LENT, DO GIVE UP:

APATHY, WASTE, The UNNECESSARY, and LETHARGY.

The One, and thus the Most Important commandment being that We Love, the Greatest Sin is its Opposite: Apathy! Apathy is Mankind’s Greatest Sin! The Human Race – and that Includes our Religious Leaders, – Simply does not Care!

I give You below a piece of ‘Rangoli,’ as it is known in North India, and ‘Kolam’ in the South. Let us call it an Artwork made on the ground using coloured powders.

Kolam/Rangoli

Below is the House of the Young Girl who made that for us. It is the Thatched house.

Gomati's house a

But Scant months ago, This is what it had looked like, as in the photograph below.  The family, consisting of Five members, had been living in this for more than Six months before it got repaired.

Gomati's house b

And Below is How Christians of a certain parish (Not that they were too different from Others) celebrated Christmas.

N'coil Christmas

Many say: Why  do You care if They want to Spend. But I Know that the Watchman in the church shown here is paid a measly rs. 3,000 a month. On the Other hand, Rs. 2,50,000 might have been spent on electrical lights, flowers, the sound system and crackers, in One night, to ‘celebrate’ the Birth of One who chose to be born on Hay.

IF the Watchman, and Other Staff had been paid Equitable and Living Wages, (they are ‘Church’ staff, after all!), and IF this little girl’s house, and those like hers, had been repaired by these ‘Holy’ Christians, would I not have kept my mouth shut? As it is, Observing these sorts of In-Equalities and Opposites, I have a Pain in my Stomach. And shall We say God Alone Knows What HE is Thinking?

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And So, for Lent, Do let us give up

APATHY, WASTE, The UNNECESSARY, and LETHARGY.

04 Religion – Our Relationship with Other Humans

Most of Our Time is spent in Relationship with Other Human Beings! This is True whether We take the Family or the Work-Space. And this Accord follows certain Lines. Even Our ‘Recreation’ is governed by Our Mindset on this Interconnection with Others.

For instance, I know an Oldish gentleman who used to play Football (Soccer). Below his knee he has quite a number of Scars. He says he got them during his ‘Football days!’ Opposition players would not ‘mind’ Trampling down on the legs of their competitors. …There’s a Relationship for You!

Women, Almost a Total Half of the Human race, are said to have No Souls, No Rights, and are seen as ‘Playthings;’ and as ‘Support’ for heroes in movies. Worse, Woman has Acid thrown at her, is Raped, and is made to ‘Answer’ for these attacks, as if She is Responsible for them. As per its definition,  All this makes for Very Bad Religion!

IMP Acid attack victims

Slavery, Forced Labour, Child Labour, Not Paying Equitable Wages, Unjust Working Hours and Conditions, All spring from the Mindset which believes that Some Humans are worth Less.

Those who have come to Power by the use of Money or Numbers, as in the case of the ‘mafia,’ choose to think ‘Nothing’ of Others. politicians, judges and the police, who often misuse the Authority bestowed on them by the Citizenry, seem to think that People are there to ‘serve’ them.

The List can be Very Long. All Established Religions state what is Right and what is Not. The Sad part of it is that in some cases, it is held that some things are Ok if done to Others, but which should not be done to one’s own!

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In Practice, We see People practicing Love, the Most Harmonious kinship possible. We would find that MOST People are Ready to Help, Ready to Reach out a Helping Hand, whatever their Doctrine. 

Religion is Not what pastor W says, nor what bishop X does; not even what guru Y or mullah Z Suddenly announces one day, even if it becomes a trend.

The pharisee at right in the picture below was saying to God: “I Fast Two days a week, and I give You a Tenth of All my income.” (Luke 18:12). Evidently he thought God did not Know that! Haha! He must have ‘prayed’ too, and a lot, I am sure. But Jesus was Not Impressed by the pharisee.

Christ gives the pharisee’s example to show just How this man had Failed. The pharisee had completed All the Rituals, but, like Most of his kind of his age, had been Lacking in his Concern for his Fellow Man.

The Pharisee and the Publican

Image from: http://www.lookandlearn.com

In Conclusion, True Religion is that which Holds, and Teaches Us, among other things, to Have a Healthy and Positive Relationship with Our Fellow Human Beings.

[This article is part of a series on ‘Religion.’ To go to the Next one, please click here. …To go to the First of this series, please click here.]

Love, Social Affairs, and the Priest

Can the Priest involve himself in Social Affairs? After all, they say that Religion and politics should not mix.

I am a Christian, a catholic Priest, and this my post is directed More at Christians, though I believe that Everybody will profit by what I present here. Before speaking of the Christian Priest, let me give some Random examples, particularly from Other Religions.

Enough of Hindu Sadhus are in politics today. After all, Real politics need not be an enjoyment of the world. We see many Muslim religious leaders as heads of State in the world. And Buddhist monks, in particular, by their Immolation, etc, have been involved in the Social lives of their People.

Let me come to Christianity. Years ago, when I was in Bangalore, in one of the Franciscan monasteries, I saw the words on a plaque on the wall: “God So Loved the World, THAT HE GOT INVOLVED!” A Bold paraphrase of John 3.16. But is it not the Truth? After all, Involvement does not mean debauchery!

The Lord said to Moses, “I have heard My People Cry.” Exodus 3.7. He hears, and He Acts. That is being One with the Lives of the People. It was a Political involvement, where the ruler is interested in keeping a Whole people as Free or Cheap Labour on the one side, and their Freedom on the other.

Image

In the picture above, We see a couple of Indian Shepherds. Their sheep are carrying their special colours for easy identification in case other herds are close by! An adult animal can be sold for about rs. 5,000 or more today. If We think these People are Rich, We shall have to correct Ourselves. Just look at their clothes and the thickness of their arms.

For a Person like this,  the Loss of a Single Goat or Sheep can be Costly. Christ knows this. That is why they were given the Parable of the Lost Sheep. Matthew 18:12-14. As Many of them were Shepherds, the Jews knew the Value of Each Single animal.

A Small bit of Jewelry in the form of a golden coin would be something Very Big for Poor Women. Christ knows this, and Uses the Loss of a Gold coin as an Example.

Before we come to more of the Teachings of Christ, let us remind Ourselves of the Leaders of Jewish society of that time. Though the romans were ruling Israel then, as far as the Jews were concerned, they had their Sanhedrin, their priests, the pharisees, the sadducees, and the scribes.

It would indeed be too complicated to speak in detail about each of those mentioned above. The priests did not have much of a voice; but the high priest(s) made up for that! They were in the forefront in calling for the death of Jesus. The pharisees had set out to live the ‘law’ in its fullness, and had become quite a vociferous and influential group. All these groups were political in effect if not in name. Although a religious party, the sadducees were more important as a political force. The scribes used to make copies of their Holy Books, and thus had become experts in it, knowing much of their law. Hence they were consulted.

It is insisted that the Sanhedrin, their religious council, looked after things religious. But the whole life of a Jew was governed by religion! What he/she could or could not do, what and how much they had to offer, how far they could travel on a sabbath… were all decreed. And all the groups I have mentioned above had a say in it.

Time and again Jesus is shown as condemning these religious leaders, who were, in effect, those to whom the People listened. We find whole chapters and more allotted to this subject.

Many of the Elderly in Society were not taken care of. They had a ‘quaint’ law in support of it. They could offer what might have been needed for the care of their Parents, etc, to the Temple, and this practice was called ‘Qurban,’ meaning ‘Offered’. By this, the offerer did not have to look after his Parents, got a good name as having made an ‘offering,’ and at the same time could enjoy the products himself. Jesus Expressly Spoke against this. Matthew 15:3-6.

These teachers of the law and the pharisees would offer even a tenth part of the smallest earnings. For instance, the crop from the smallest sized vegetable and spice garden. When the Common People neglected to do this, these so-called ‘leaders’ not only criticized them, by looked down upon the People. Jesus Notices all these things, and Speaks against these religious leaders. Matthew 23:23.

The ‘priestly class’ would not help somebody even if they were wounded, and fallen by the road side. The very mention of this ‘class’ in the negative role in the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37) shows that Jesus is at least indirectly castigating them.

Jesus Healed! He told His Disciples to continue this Ministry.

The Jews had it that they should love their Neighbours and hate their enemies. Matthew 5:43. In this had sprung the question as to Who All were to be considered Neighbours. And Christ says that Each and Everybody is a Neighbour, to be Loved, to be Cherished and Helped as necessary.

It is not as if these pharisees, etc, were not praying enough. Oh, they were doing that all right, doing it even at street corners! But Christ castigates all these because they are not ‘Concerned about the People’.

John the baptist was killed because he told the ruler that he was wrong.

Paul finds out that somebody is living with his step mother. And Paul Publicly Condemns it. 1 Corinthians 5.

There is a question of Sharing of Property. Ananias and Sapphira err in this. Peter takes them to task, and that too, Very Drastically Indeed. Acts 5:1-11.

All the Above are Examples of How the Lord Himself is Constantly Concerned for His People. And How the Leaders of the Early Church Lived and Behaved in the Same Way.

The last three years of Jesus’ Public Life were not one of Dry Preaching. Jesus was concerned about the Complete Well Being of the People, Body, Mind and Soul. If the Priest does not Emulate the Lord in this, he fails.

If a Priest were to seek public office, that would hinder him from spending time in Announcing the Word of the Lord, as to What is Right and What Wrong. As such, a Priest has to Avoid public office. But he Can, and he Should, Raise his Voice, Loudly Indeed, where the Well Being of the People of God is concerned.

You cannot be Holier than the Lord.

‘Playing’ politics

We have to Appreciate our Cartoonists! They bring out, in a few Strokes, Realities of Situations! Yet the whole process is both Time consuming, and Exhausting! My Salutations to them. Yet, this post is about…

'Playing' politics

The Chief Minister’s chair and Arvind Kejriwal

politics is considered a Dirty word. That is why most People do not even keep abreast of its happenings.

politicians would like to keep their’s a ‘closed’ circle. Competition is Intense, and promotions up the rungs are hard fought, with even Murder thrown in. But all who enter it are supposed to know its ground rules: Take money, Make money, Do Not forget to Distribute it among your Seniors, and above all, Do Not Upset the Apple Cart. And the Horrible thing is, that people slowly start believing that things are Supposed to be Thus.

In the Bible, this is what the Prophets were supposed to do too. Though of course, the prophets were not too interested in money. The run-of-the-mill prophet was satisfied with the attention he was getting.

That was what the pharisees, the ‘seniors’ in the business of ‘running’ the People at that time and in that place, expected of Jesus too. And that was Why He said:

“You think Being the Man of God is like a Children’s game: If one group sings a happy tune, the other group is supposed to Dance, and if it is a sad tune, the others are expected to Mourn. But I am NOT going to speak according to what you ‘Like’ or Want. You shall get what you NEED.”

The above paragraph is NO translation, but it will give Us the Real meaning of Christ’s words in Matthew 11:16-17.

Actually We do live the Way Christ did! If our child wants Fast Food all the time, are we going to give that? If a Child wants too many sweets? If the Class wants Jokes, Tomfoolery and Nothing else?

It is time to go back to the CM’s chair. Arvind Kejriwal had the Courage to tell the political class that he was Not going to Dance to their Tunes.

Whatever our Early politicians might have been, the present fellows just want money. They are not satisfied with looting the Tax money. They see that business houses are ready to give Big Money to get the freedom to put whatever prices they like, and to escape Taxes, etc.

The political class does not want the examination of its practices, its doings. The Jan Lokpal bill would have given the Citizen the right and the tools to question any and every politician, judge, police officer and official. Which of them would have wanted that?!

And Arvind Kejriwal was not ready to ‘Play’ politics of this sort. Mahatma Gandhi had refused to enter politics. Arvind is the Modern Mahatma! Oh, He will be Back. Because, We, the Thinkers and Citizens who only want the Weal of India, want Arvind back, even as the Prime Minister of India, for a Long time. We of the AAP Salute him. And History will remember him.