By Rev. Fr. M. K. Kuriakose
We are about to enter into another New Year. Most of us will make to another
year. Many will not. No matter some made it to the New Year or not, life
will continue. However, if one is given the option to continue through the
coming year, it will be necessary to think well and plan to enter the New
Year with dedication.
Each person will have his/her own plans for the New Year. In each
profession, people will have their own framing of thoughts as what to be
achieved in the coming year. Many people call it the New Year Resolutions.
Most of the resolutions are material achievements expected in the New Year.
Purchasing/building a new house, car, bike, computer, land, or getting a new
job or changing a job, moving to a new place, getting married, join a new
course in education, and so on. Is that all necessary? These are all human
targets, and indeed we should strive for all possible within the given
Life is much more than the material gain and comfort. Some people don't like
to hear this. We are tempted to enjoy our life to the fullest extent
possible, taking into consideration what we can do materially. If material
gain is not intended for a greater purpose, that gain will not be of any use
to others. We are tempted to make our own life cozy and we hesitate to look
at the needs of others. Thus we end up in a world where we are the center
and the rest of the world is ignored or considered secondary.
This self-oriented perspective has brought danger to others all the time.
Whether it is a person, family, community or church, self-centered
perspective restrict humans to ignore others. All that we need is to change
our perspective. Perspective makes what we are and our contribution to the
community. I suggest some fundamental New Year thoughts:
How much can we understand the will of God in our life? If we are
able to speak with God in our own privacy, “what I do to give glory to you
my Father?” God will give us the answer. Often we ignore that all action we
do have a bearing with God. When we orient our life purpose with human
ambitions and with material gain, we will hardly be able to ask this
question to God. When we have openness to God, we have openness to others
as well. God cannot be approached without others involved in our decision.
Each decision that we make must glorify God.
This is not an easy matter. When we open up ourselves to God, we will take a
different perspective to other churches, religions, communities etc. After
all, we are God’s creation. Human being tried his/her best to divide itself
in the name of caste, color, religion, ethnicity, language, gender and so
on. It is unthinkable today to think beyond one’s own inner core of
affiliation. Once openness is acquired, we will see clearly a purpose of
life for others. Jesus made it clear to us, “whatever you have done to the
least of these is that which you have done unto me.” HG Pampadi Thirumeni (a
departed bishop of Indian Orthodox Church) inspired me in these lines of thought.
God provides us with what we need. We pray, “Give us this day our
daily bread”. We don’t make things on our own; everything is a gift from
God; family, children, riches, education, jobs etc. Use them all with a
word of thanks and remember others who do not have these. God gives us
something not simply for us to be rich in that area. We must look into the
needs of others as well (Philippians 2:4).
The rich in this world try to enjoy that which belongs to the poor. One
needs a house to live in. I still cannot understand why a person makes or
purchases a mansion to live in while his own kith and kin do not have even a
house? I don’t understand why a person buys an expensive car while there are
people struggling to have even a bicycle? I was surprised to see a mansion
of a Protestant evangelist who claimed that God gave him this mansion!! I
have heard him preaching on prosperity and all the money that he gained
through preaching. I am talking about millions.
Another case was that of a preacher who has the gift of healing amasses
hundreds of millions every year and even has built many orphanages all over
the world. When he was investigated by the NBC News, it was revealed that he
was building a waterfront house in California with too many bedrooms for his
family spending more that 3.5 million dollars. There is something wrong there. I do respect that evangelist but I
cannot agree the way he spend money for his own use. All money that we get
is God’s. We cannot use it simply for our good. Some we can use but there
are many who are underprivileged.
We must use minimally our money for our needs and share the rest with
others. I can testify from my own life the way I resisted my doctoral
studies. I found it not essential to me. Instead I could help my parish with
that money to build a church, which amounted to many tens of thousands of
dollars. People who are richer than my family could not give even one
fourth of what we gave to our parish. Many of them built or bought costly
houses and bought expensive cars and other things, spending or borrowing
hundreds of thousands. One time some parish members commented, “you are
simply an idiot to donate to the church like this”. I know many such priests and people who care for others keeping way their own needs or wants. Many
inspired me in that matter.
In the same way I could take a new perspective this year for Christmas. I
did not give gifts to many people as I used to. Many to whom I normally give have enough and don’t need anything from me. This year I could
build a small house for a homeless family in my home place. It was a struggle to
restrain from gift giving but when I thought of sharing, the new idea was
helpful in sharing my resources for an essential cause. I shared this idea
with some of my friends and they understood and helped me in the building in
that house for the homeless.
I hope, wish and pray that some time we will understand our responsibility
as Christians and the need of our witness to the rest of world. Wish you
all a meaningful and peaceful New Year!