[Diocesian Bishop of Ranni Diocese, Marthoma Church]


'And the king was much moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept: and as he went, thus he said, O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!' [2 Samuel 18:33]

The referred scripture portion does not account for a happy scenario. The brave shepherd boy who did not frighten while confronting the Philistine giant champion Goliath is seen trembled and shuddered after becoming the King of Israel. The death of his son was utterly ignoble, inconsolable and beyond any type of solace. We can see a large chain of parents in the world who are grief-stricken for their children. On the very onset, let us array a stream of heartbroken people in the history and right around us sobbing for their children. The foremost among them is the King himself. David, the king of Israel wept profoundly with loud voice. We see here a father fallen to a sheer agony and bitterly grieving for his son. He uttered five times 'My son' and three times he called his son's name Absalom in one breath of a sentence. It was a lamentation with ever-flowing tears and unquenchable grief. In the history of mankind, the deep most heartbreaking cry we heard was that of the son of David, hanged between the earth and heaven, lying on the cross at Calvary, abandoned by all, cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? The son of God bewailed on the cross; O Lord, my words were Your mind, Your words were my deeds on the earth, I am now deserted by all with out even a fine thread of hope, yet why You had forsaken me?

Next one, we see in the scriptures is Patriarch Jacob. He talks to his remaining sons in front of him; I apprehend that you may bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to the grave. In the Hindu Philosophical works we learn about King Dasaradha who died grief-stricken for his children. Dasaradha went to the river bank for hunting, hoping to shoot wild beasts. In the darkness, confused of an elephant drinking water, he being a marksman aimed to the spot and the arrow struck in the breast of a young ascetic while he was filling his pitcher. The parents of the young ascetic, who both were blind, cursed the King that he will die of grief parted from his own son. The curse of the blind parents pursued the king, he fell into its grip and his life slowly ebbed away. We perceive another brokenhearted father in the Mughal dynasty of India. His son Humayun fell sick and day by day his condition grew worse. The Court Physician pronounced that the boy will not see the next dawn. Babar told, my life alone is most precious and I will give my life for my son. He walked around the bed of his son three times, praying to Allah; take my life instead of my son's. To his wide surprise, as if from a dream, his son stood up completely well.

Besides these incidents of the history, we come across many other similar contemporary instances in our own places surrounding us. Many children are missing, drowned, addicted to drugs and lost their life and leaving their parents bitterly grief stricken.

Now let us array the children on the other side who caused the grief to their parents. Recently a top story in a leading news paper was about a son who was sent to a professional college. Instead of studying the basics of engineering, the boy had chosen to learn the preliminary lessons of bank looting and ended up hand cuffed, becoming a professional goonda in place of the wishes and ambitions of the parents to see him as a professional doctor or engineer.

To what direction our education system is heading forward? Have we lost sight of the real goal of educating a child? Why our new generation children travel astray from the noble path? Let us contemplate the basic lapses in our systems:

  1. We do not have well defined goals for education.
    Though the education is basically motivated by a forward-looking expectation to improve our lives to earn a better living, it has another essential function to prepare students to perform effectively in the world as God devise for each, and thereby to assist society to function effectively as well. These both aims are to be simultaneously attained during the period of education and not one after another. The art of education is to be continued to grow as long as we live. Do our educational managers, parents or government are acting with awareness of these good aims of education?

    To emulate our creator is the ultimate motive of education and it leads us to view our co-beings with compassion. If we feel thorny to swallow our tasty food while our neighbor is starving or if we feel a chain on our leg while we see a person suffering on the roadside, it will gauge us as a human. The image of God in us should gleam brightly to our neighbor. The necessary training to step into this victory of humanity should be the preliminary lessons in our schools and universities. We should learn from Sir Philip Sidney for his noble character. Soldier Philip Sidney got fatally wounded in the battle. Being thirsty and painful, a soldier brought him a water bottle. As he was about to drink the water near his lips, he noticed another wounded man with longing looks. Sir Sidney gave the bottle to the wounded man, saying, "Thy need is greater than mine". This world is not for the victorious only, but it is also of those who deliberately loose for others and for humanity. Humanitarianism is initiated by our willingness to loose.

  2. Our contentments are superficial.
    The greatest danger of our civilization is that our satisfaction, happiness and pleasure are shallow. We all look for variable factors for our choices. Wealth is the only criteria even for seeking alliances. Nobody care for the values of life. This attitude is leading the society to an alarming situation of divorces and family breakages. Divorse petitions filed only in the Marthoma Church now exceed an alarming account of one per day. Do our churches are capable to take any positive action to curtail this? As our forefathers had planned and institutionalized the Church, the steps for convention stages, sermons and worships are going on well in good order. Young and learned priests are capable of preparing beautiful sermons and to deliver same with rhetorical excellences. However, do any change for good is happening in our personal life? Do the Church have any bold action plan to take away the sediments and stains?

    Our institutions are reducing to external expressions. As a remedy for this, we are urged to shatter off the yardsticks of the worldly unethical leaderships and the divine standards of God should be witnessed in our individuals, church and the society. The divine benchmarks of God are the pure heart and trustworthiness. God delight with dedication of pure holy heart and not on any external expressions or demonstrations. The external manifestations are the brand of the earthly politics which involves the eye-catching performances excelled in the glamour of the Medias. The people are well moved to this illusionary circle of the modern world. We are chosen, called and commissioned with divine wisdom not to entangle in this mystic crowd.

    A childlike pure heart leads us for our nobility. Jesus had demonstrated the supreme nobility in the garden of Gethsemane. When the Roman soldiers came up to catch Jesus, accompanied by a crowd with swords and clubs, Jesus steps forward and says; "Whom do you seek?, I am He." Children like, candid and honest heart of hearts only can display such a courage and nobility.

  3. Aversion to enduring Light.
    Jesus Christ is the Light of men and in him is no darkness at all. Jesus, the Light is highlighted as the true Light, which illuminate every man that comes into the world. During that time also there was worldly evil light which creates a mystic cosmos of illumination. These malevolent illuminations are non-persistent but sporadic and modern world has fallen to it. Our eyes are turned allergic to continuous light and tuned to flickering light. All the modern psychiatrics univocally agree that many of our youngsters are heading for devastation. After the arrack prohibition, the usage of drugs is increased by forty percent. They had unanimously agreed that the current political leadership do not have the will power to control these evil rampages. Do the churches have any action plan in this dreadful scenario? If we choose to ignore the reprimands and rebukes of Nathan, Elijah or the John Baptist, our society, our politics, our country, all will head towards an awful devastation.

    Modern world is at high speed in search of illuminations and platforms. We see two ladies in search for light, but their ways were miles away. Mother Teresa and Diana: Both of them searched for the light and each passed on in the way in which she chooses to live. Mother Teresa sacrificed herself to light the lamp of compassion and to become the well of water springing up into everlasting life for the most downtrodden. Diana, who lived in the ersatz allure of the wealth and position, had put out the lamp and searched for the light as a butterfly in her life. Light with out life terrifies us; love without light cannot reach out. Light added to love generates life. This was Jesus had offered us. If our innate lamp is not lighted, what is the use of it?

  4. Money is the biggest villain of life.
    The only lesson the modern parents teach their children is to earn wealth and money by any means as money is everything and supreme aim of the life. He is the smartest rogue who ditches anybody to his pit. Jesus accepted hospitalities from rich and poor alike. But any richness of this world could not influence Him. He did not get amazed or attracted to the richness of Zacchaeus. But whole concentration of Jesus was towards the personality of Zacchaeus. One professor had written in his book that the trustworthiness and purity are worthless commodities of modern materialistic world or even of the church.

    Jesus was the poorest of poor ever lived in this world. The manifesto of Jesus of Nazareth can be abstracted as: The life of the son of the carpenter was the confutation of the philosophy of life which connects world and happiness standing as a rebuke to the pampered artificiality of life today.

As a father, David had the entire reason for the ruin of his son, Absalom. We can visualize the oversights of King David as misplaced devotion [AØm\¯v AÀ¸n¨ {i²], delegated responsibility [A\y\p ssIamdnb D¯chmZn¯w] and squandered influence [[qÀ¯Sn¨ kzm[o\w]. All above lapses are attributable to the contemporary parents too. If we do not act in hurry, we propel our children to become professional evils.

Many times, the uneducated people around us teach us many essentials in our life. As an illustration here is an incident! There was a peon in an office who was taking off from job quite often by which he bagged some type of reservation from his superiors. The peon appeared again with a request for two days off to attend the funeral of the husband of his wife's sister. When he resumed duty, the officer laughed in his mind, why this man is wasting his leave? The officer enquired, what he gained by loosing the two days job. The peon answered him that he believe that his presence might have been a bit consolation for the grieved family. The peon emotionally continued! One moment, I looked through the eyes of the bereaved three standing desperate with out any means for even single penny for their living. I have at least the peon's job. I brought the two children with me to my home. Let them live in my house along with my children despite the poverty of my home. The officer could not control his emotion. The uneducated peon taught him a real lesson in his life which he could never get in his university education. Love is not fulfilling one's desires. The deepest meaning of love was learned by the officer that day from his uneducated peon. What we gain by our education and long degrees, if we cannot learn the lessons of compassion? Elderly people of our home also have many essentials of life to teach us, so we should not detain them to storage.

When we move in the course of action of our commissioned responsibilities we may need to face the power of evil who tempted even our Lord Jesus. We are powered to substitute self-pity for obedience. But Jesus became obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. While He was in the course of action of responsibility of the salvation of this entire mankind, He told the mourners: 'stop weeping for Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.' No power of evil can detract me from my charge. Parents are the Supreme of our state of family. The children are the subjects, but they belong to God. Do we act responsible to discharge our obligations in our realm?

Paradoxically, the handcuff or chain is not always undesirable things in our life. We see a youth standing with chained hands in the court of Pilate the governor of Roman Empire. He was bound with the chain and numbered with transgressors for no evil of His own, but for the sake of truth. Pilate asked Jesus; "What is the truth?". Mahatma Gandhi replied in his Intermediate examination that the substance which glitters more than gold is only the truth. In the contemporary world there is no value for truth, it is degraded as the most worthless. St. Paul told that he prefers to wear the chain as a criminal so that the word of God is not imprisoned. This should be the handcuff which our youths should also wear boldly.

[Extract from Devotional Address delivered at Maramon Convention 2006
Original in Malayalam : Translated for LOL by Editor Dr. Rajan Mathew Philadelphia, USA]

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