Tag Archives: Christianity

“O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” so that we can “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!”

Published in “Messenger” 21st December, 2014

Birth of ChristAdvent, derived from the Latin term Adventus – “Coming”, according to the rubrics it is a preparation for Christmas. The prime focus is on preparing ourselves as worthy mangers where Christ could be born and also anticipating His Second Coming during the end times. According to the social and economical standards imposed on a man living down to earth, it’s the season to crack the codes on how to manage his salary and bonus along with the expense of gifts and clothes. Each liturgical year we dance the same drill, welcome Christ during Christmas, Crucify Him during Lent and rejoice that there’s Easter so that we have some sort of hope to cling onto till next Christmas.

Christians, one thing the world knows us for is the extravaganza of our celebrations. Be it Christmas, Easter, Weddings, Church Feasts, etc; we teach people how to celebrate large, every thread of our clothes oozes with pride and glory. Clergy, Religious or Laity we are honoured to call ourselves Christians, because we have created an impact in various fields of the world like Science, Astronomy, Law, Economy, Sociology and many more. We are trend setters, we create history. And by the way in doing all these we are suppose to follow Christ.

The important guest of Christmas who is suppose to be deep-seated in our lives throughout the year is Christ. True that we welcome Him with all honour and glory during this period of time, but what happens in between this Christmas to next Christmas in our lives? Has He been successful in making a difference in our lives? Or has He just become a passive guest whom we have invited and He talks whatever He wants but His opinions doesn’t matter to us and we choose to remain the masters of our own will, so called self imposed persons. Is any teaching of Christ included in our New Year resolutions? The perennial teachings of Christ need not be imprisoned within the boundaries of Faith or Religion. It is a Way of Life, a standard of living and indeed Christ Himself is our trend setter. Unfortunately we are clouded by our celebrations and forget the Spirit of the Teachings of Christ.
The Lord’s Prayer is one quintessential teaching of Christ. In itself it is the Gospel in a nutshell, the lifestyle of a person who wishes to follow Christ. I thought of taking this prayer to analyze the meaning of Christmas, because this prayer was taught by the person whom we are ready to welcome. In other words this prayer The Lord's Prayeractually tells us what we need to do to welcome Him. It is also the first prayer a Christian learns and continues to recite/ merely mumble the words in countless rosaries and endless masses. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us that the prayer has seven petitions, which is also reflected in the pleading gesture we assume when we recite the prayer. It is a universal prayer which could be prayed by anyone irrespective of their faith.

Thankfully Sts. Luke and Matthew decided to incorporate this treasure into their Gospels. This model of prayer provided by Jesus Christ is enriched with the themes of Equality and Dignity, Social Concern and Responsibility of each human person, Peace and Justice and most importantly the establishment of the New Jerusalem on Earth which is only possible through you and I. This prayer not only teaches one how to pray but also teaches one how to live their prayer. For this article, I take the first three petitions of the prayer.

Our Father, Who art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy Name. – At the beginning of the prayer, Jesus shakes conventional traditions. Pompous of “Chosen Ones”, “Privileged People” are eliminated. Everyone is brought to ground zero. Rich or poor, Master or Slave, anyone reciting this prayer pleads to a common Father. He’s not only my or your but “Our” Father. It shows that each one of us is equal and dignified persons and we have the right to plead to our Father. The prayer continues with words like “us” and “we”. These are reminders for us to shed off our self-centeredness. One cannot pray for oneself without praying for the others. We are not individuals in front of God, but a community. What I pray should not only benefit myself but also my brother. The name of a person is not a mere noun, it is the identity of the person. It is something sacred to that person. Our wish and action should be to glorify God’s name and not to disgrace our Father’s name with our conduct. We plead that God’s name be hallowed but this responsibility is on our shoulders. People should not identify you as a Christian by the Cross you wear around your neck or by your clothes, but by the way you live, the way you react to people and situations in your life. This in turn will glorify the name of God. Failing to do so will lead to the defaming of God’s sacred name.

“Thy Kingdom come.”We plead that God’s Kingdom should come. A kingdom where no one has any problems, no one knows what suffering is, a complete fairy land? Jesus never promised a Disney Land for anyone. There’ll be suffering, you’ll continue to have problems but the beauty of this kingdom you’ll be living in is that even though you are suffering you know that you will find a solution; you know that your suffering is temporary. Because your brother is there to comfort you, your brother is there to give you a hand to come out of the hell-hole you are in. Though we are created individually, we are created for each other. I am my brother’s keeper. When will this kingdom come? Again, though we continue to plead for it, it is our responsibility to establish this kingdom now. We find for opportunities where we could earn more, get more recognition, feel important in the eyes of the world, and trample/use another to fulfill our ambitions. This world that you please now, will not be your advocate at the Second Coming. How many opportunities have we missed where we could have helped another or made a difference by voicing our opinions? The first thought that crosses anyone’s mind in these situations is how will I survive after speaking the truth? What will happen to me if I stand against wrong? We are the ones responsible for the delay of the coming of this kingdom and we love to play Adam by pointing fingers at God or other obvious people who do wrong.

“Thy Will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.” – God’s will is not only that man avoids evil but also performs what is good. This calls the followers of Christ to be Active Christians. Who themselves will fulfill God’s will by ‘Doing’ His Will. How many times have I chose not to do what is right because my pride and ego is more important to me? “Only because I need to put you in your place I will not help you? You deserve to suffer!” We are self appointed judges in today’s context. We’ve mastered the skill of judging so well that we are competition to God who is the Ultimate Judge. Today, the biggest fear of a person is confronting himself, confronting his weaknesses. “I like to hear good about me, if you find anything bad in me, it’s not my problem. You have to accept me the way I am. I do what is right according to me. I know better.” In our world of ideas each of us are self acclaimed scholars, we know better than others. It is not we who have to change but others. One should be bold enough to face the reality of themselves. Yes, I am selfish! Yes, I am jealous! I am hot tempered! To do the will of the father, one should realize how one’s weaknesses become obstacles in fulfilling the Will of God. Make straight your ways before leading others in the straightway. If a person preaches or writes about morals and how the society should establish God’s kingdom but not put his words into practice, he becomes a mere clanking gong. You should walk your talk to be an example to others.

CrucifixionEvery Christmas we welcome Christ and each second of our lives, in our homes and work places we don’t miss an opportunity to Crucify the same Christ by not following His teachings. Ironically, each day at least once, we recite the “Our Father” and don’t realize our own hypocrisy. So this Christmas are you really ready to welcome Christ? Are you willing to take the risk of welcoming this revolutionary teacher?

“All my life I have known the truth and I have known right from wrong. Most of us do. To know the truth is one thing. To live it … to create the kingdom of heaven on on earth is another. How many times in a man’s life does he do things that are repulsive to his morality in order to exist? How I have admired those few men in this world who could stand up for their convictions in the face of shame, torture, and even death. What a wonderful feeling of inner peace they must have. Something that we ordinary mortals can never know.” – Leon Uris, Exodus

Contextual Theology – Encounter with God, Right Here and Right Now!

Amidst a crunched, crazy schedule, I thought I should take some time to write this post on Contextual Theology. This is a vast area of theology which was covered in approximately 4 hrs. at the Theologate under the Module – Emerging Trends in Theology. Today I sat for the examination of this module and I thought of sharing some of the preparations I made with regard to a certain aspect of this branch of Theology.

Okay, so you’ve read the title. If you surf across the web, you’ll find tons of theological definitions on what Contextual Theology is. For me  hard meat boiled, Contextual Theology is an Encounter with God, happening Right Here and Right Now. And no, I’m not talking about Prayer (for once 🙂 ). Instead of mystically rising to heaven and trying to understand God, you bring Him where you are, to the current context you are in. And Contextual Theology is by no means Inculturation.

In order to Contextualize Theology, our lecturer presented us with Stephen Bevans’ Models for Contextual Theology. At the last minute when I was preparing for the paper I went through my notes on the different models. Geezzz that left me with a headache and nothing else at all. I couldn’t wrap my head around all these models. I didn’t have the book, so it was like searching for something in the dark. So as usual, I sought my friend who helps me out with crisis like this. Mr. Google, of course!

Following is a summary (almost a summary 😉 ) of the six models, with information gathered from the web. For a detailed explanation, I have included some references below only because I hate spoon feeding every little thing…

I love analogies. And if you find your head twisted with these models, turn to the analogies presented by Bevans, it’ll definitely make your life lot easier.

1. Translation Model

Analogy Bringing seeds to plant in a native ground.Translation Model

You take the seeds you have go to another country or city to plant them. In this model, you reveal the core message of the Gospel in a completely new setting. That is, you proclaim the Gospel to those who have never heard of it nor knows that it exists, a completely new cultural, linguistic or historical context.

When you’re taking the Gospel message to a foreign community who speak a foreign language, obviously you have to face the problem of Linguistic Translation. You can solve this problem with two approaches,

  1. Accuracy / Consistency – Translate the original message to the new language, where each word of the original is an absolute match to the new language word that is parallel to the original word.
  2. Comprehensibility and Relevance – Strain out the gist of the original message and give it to the people in your words.

Then again, you can’t mess around with God’s Word. Though Bevans prefers the second option, he says that you cannot compromise with the first option when it comes to the Gospel. True that! What if someone interpreted it wrong?

2. Anthropology Model

AnalogyWatering the seeds already in the ground so that they will sprout. Anthropology Model

You’re land that is in another country already has some seeds sowed in it, so you only have to water them so that they can grow. In this model, there is a vague understanding about the Gospel in the context. So it’s not completely new! In this the primary focus is on the our common friend, the Human Being. This model upholds and reveres culture and the members of that particular culture.

3. Praxis Model

AnalogyConstantly weeding the garden and learning to be a better Gardener. Praxis Model

Okay so the seeds are sown, plants have come up, now you have to tend the garden and make it a better place. In this model, it assumes that Christianity has a stand or say in a particular context, so it’s not completely new or alien to the culture. Since Christianity is already established, you judge your cultural values in the light of the Gospel tradition. This model focuses on Action.It presents a cycle.

Action - Reflection - Action

4. Counter – Cultural Model

Analogy Weeding and Fertilizing the soil so the seeds can be planted. Counter-Cultural Model

At the first look of the analogy, I personally thought “Errr isn’t that the same as the earlier model??!” Well yes and no! The term Counter – Cultural means being different from and above culture. Yes, you engage with the culture but your fidelity lies to the Gospel. It calls for a radical change in the culture. It is similar to the Praxis Model but this model takes a prophetic stance. This model’s focus is on the Gospel. It emphasizes the difference between the Gospel and Culture.

5. Synthetic Model

Synthetic Model AnalogyCross-Pollination

This is my favourite part of gardening. A hybrid of two plants. This model presents a process of Dialogue. It is a dialogue with a pool of people having different viewpoints. This model is closest to the Gospel, where in the Gospel also we see how different views are brought together through dialogue and forms a true synthesis.

6. Transcendental Model

AnalogyI cultivate my own garden in the hope that another will be inspired to cultivate their own garden.

Don’t get carried away with the name of the model. In this I become a role model to another. It’s pretty much the same approach I follow with my posts. You share your own religious experiences based on the cultural, historical and religious settings that you come from. In this model, one has to be cautious on how to identify authentic theologies of individuals. In order to be authentic theology, it should be inline with the teaching of the Church.

Transcendental Model

So there you go, the six models of Bevans’ almost in a nutshell 🙂

I am a “Catholic Christian”! :S

I’m sure many of us had to face questions like,

So what’s the point in transforming such a simple question into a Blog Post?? Well let me explain the beauty of this question and answer, then you’ll see how important it is to pay attention to the slightest details.

Generally when anyone used to ask me this question, I used to say, “I’m a Catholic, Roman Catholic“. (And if you think that it’s the James Bond tone, then you’re absolutely right :D) But then recently when a colleague in office asked me if I was a Catholic or a Christian, then I told her that I’m a Catholic….but then later on, it kept ticking in my mind. What’s the difference??

Well I don’t wanna get into the Hierarchical differences of the Catholic Church and the other Christian Churches. Well if you go down that lane, there’s clearly a difference, but that’s not my arena for this post. I’m trying to deal with the normal usage of the terms, based on the path of the literal meanings of the word.

The term Catholic, refers to Universal right? Okay, now that’s fine! Moving on to the next option given within the question, Christian, now that in simple terms, Follower of Christ. So now tell me, am I a Catholic or a Christian? Interesting eh? Unless we give some thought to the silliest questions of this sort, you don’t realize how meaningful and important the question could be. Or what impact you could create with your answer to the one who’s asking you.

Now let’s analyze the answer… If you’re a Catholic should you be a Christian? Not necessarily… (Please read above paragraph) Duh!! Of course you have to!

Okay, now the second part of the analysis… If you’re a Christian should you also be a Catholic? Hmm… now that’s a tricky one… Let me think..Naaah, you don’t HAVE to be Catholic as such if you’re willing to remain in the same well and not willing to reach out to check out the other stuff outside the well. But if you want to leap from Local to Universal, then you better think of being a Catholic. (Once again, I’m NOT talking of the Churches. I’m ONLY talking of the Terms!)

Now let me rephrase myself.

You : “Are you a Catholic or a Christian?


Me : “I’m a Catholic Christian!” 🙂


Oh boy, I hope I said it first! Oh and if you think you’re a Catholic Christian too… What are you waiting for?? Spread the word around…