Monday, January 30, 2012

Stand for Life!

This Christmas vacation I had a great time at home.  Spent most of the time with my family talking and catching up on a lot of things. During one such chats, my mom told me something about her youngest brother’s family which made me admire them. Since I was born and bought up in Jharkhand, I was away from my extended family and there is very little I know about my cousins, uncles, aunts etc.  I’ve been to this particular uncle’s place only once in my life and don’t think have met them more than four times and hence knew very little about them. They live in a very small village in north Kerala. They have an elder daughter and a younger son.  When my aunt was carrying the boy in her womb, she fell sick. The doctor she consulted prescribed her medicines without considering the fact that she had a growing foetus within her. She was cured, but due to side effects of the medicine, the child inside suffered. It was found that the child would have serious physical deformation. This was a shock to the family which was surviving with limited means and was struggling to make their ends meet.  Everyone suggested that the child be aborted.  Considering the hardship that would follow, my uncle also was of the same opinion. But my aunt didn’t want to take the easy way out. She wanted to bring her son into this world and she did. Now he is in school, studying in standard tenth. Yes, he was born with many deformities. Yes, the family had to go through many difficulties, but the family is so much happier. And guess what, now he is the apple of his father’s eyes who can’t imagine living without his son. All this because his mother didn’t choose the more convenient option.

But that’s not always the case. On 25th Nov 2011, tragedy struck a family in Melbourne. A mother was carrying twin boys in her womb. Towards the later stage of pregnancy it was found that one of her baby boys had congenital heart defect that would require years of operation, if he survived at all. She took the decision of putting an end to the life of the sick foetus which was 32 weeks into his life, just six weeks before he could see the world. This decision in itself was unfortunate, and was made even worse when in a terrible mistake, instead of injecting the sick foetus, the healthy one was injected who died in the womb. The sick twin was also terminated in an emergency operation.  In a span of three hours, the two lives which were growing silently and protected within their mother’s womb for 32 weeks came to an end. Her friend said, “She went to the hospital with two babies and now she has none.” The mother, who had already named her boys, lost both of them. Her womb which was thriving with life, now lay barren.  A decision and a human error brought the dreams of the entire family crashing down.

For many, abortion is pro- choice, it’s a right for them to chose. But for me it is the most heinous crime possible, it’s killing a being who, leave aside defend, can’t even cry for help. It killing a child in the place he is most secure- the mother’s womb.  It’s turning the cradle of life into a graveyard. It surprises me that for many, the foetus within the mother’s womb is just a lump of tissues which has no life, which feels nothing. Many are of the opinion that life begins only after the child is born.  How wrong they are was proved by an incident and a photograph taken way back in 1999. Julie Armas, after suffering from two miscarriages, conceived for the third time and was desperate to bring forth a life into this world. During the 14th week, an ultrasound scan left the parents devastated. The baby boy inside was suffering from Spina Bifida – a condition which left the spinal cord exposed after the backbone failed to develop. His parents could have decided to abort him, but they didn’t. They decided to go for a surgery. The surgery took place when the child was 21 weeks old. At one point of time during the surgery, the child’s hand came out of the womb and when the doctor touched it, he squeezed the doctor’s finger as if thanking him for the help. This moment was captured by a photographer who was documenting the surgery. 

Though there are different versions of what happened that day, but since then this photograph has been a sign showing the world that life exists inside mother’s womb, that life exists from the moment of conception, that inside a mother’s womb is not a lump of tissues but a life waiting to be born - a living being just like you and me. “You created every part of me; you put me together in my mother’s womb....When my bones were being formed, carefully put together in my mother’s womb , when I was growing there in secret, you knew that I was there – you saw me before I was born. The days allotted to me had all been recorded in your book, before any of them ever began.” (Psalm 139:13-16)

The reason why one has to make this choice of whether to allow the child to be born or not can be many: from the fear of taking care of a deformed child all through their lives to a way to cover up a ‘mistake’; from the feeling that the family may not have the resources to raise the child to the thought that ‘we aren’t prepared for a child yet’; from the fact that the child might be a girl to the feeling that it would be a stumbling block to the parents’ career. Whatever be the reason, if ever we come across such crossroads in our lives, let’s not suggest/support/take the convenient decision, an easy option to choose to end an innocent life so as to make ours better. Let’s decide to stand for life. No matter how difficult it is, it would be overcome by the joy of bringing forth a life into this world, by the sight of seeing him smile, yawning when he is about to sleep, trying to fix his gaze on you; by the sound of hearing him cry, making noises which don’t mean anything, speaking his first words; by the feeling of hugging him when he cries, holding his tiny little fingers; by the chance of getting to know a completely new person;  by the blessing of giving an opportunity for God’s creation to see His beautiful world.

“Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name, welcomes me.” – Jesus (Mark 9:37)

Stand for Life! God Bless!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Sign of Contradiction

A couple of months back, KFC opened its first outlet in Vijayawada, right opposite to my office. Great news! I actually came to know about it even months before it opened. How? I was just walking in front of the building under renovation and saw Colonel Sanders framed picture hidden in a corner. One look at it and I knew what was coming. In any ordinary day we come across so many signs, symbols, logos which say it all – bitten apple, leaping panther, golden arches, Colonel Sanders, the tick mark etc, etc ,etc. They all stand for something. A look at them and we associate in an instant what they stand for. One of the most common sign that I come across is the Cross.  Do you know what it stood for? It stood for death by crucifixion – the most painful and also the most shameful death. It was a sign of death, of torture, of pain, of agony, of humiliation, of abandonment. But Jesus forever changed what it stood for. This very sign of shame changed into a sign of sacrifice, of obedience, of redemption, of courage, of forgiveness, of peace, of grace, of hope, of love. 

Everything that Jesus did was in contradiction to the normal practices, social settings, religious rituals, human logic. When He was an infant Simeon prophesised about Jesus saying, "He shall stand as a Sign of Contradiction." (Luke:2:34) And He did. Christ has been a Sign of Contradiction throughout.

When any king would have been born in a palace, Jesus - the King of Kings was born in a dirty manger;

When others would have chosen the most luxurious houses to stay, he didn’t have any place of his own;

When others taught eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth, He taught “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5:44);

When others would shun outcasts, He accepted them; when others stayed away from lepers, He touched them, hugged them, healed them;

When others didn’t want to be associated with tax collectors, prostitutes, sinners, He spent time with them, walked with them, helped them, forgave them and showed them the right path;

When others wanted to stone a sinful woman to death, He stood by her and gave her a new life;

When others would select the most qualified people to be their followers, He called the outcasts, the illiterates, the powerless to be His first twelve disciples;

When others would command their disciples to respect them, He washed their feet;

When others looked for power, riches, wealth, He said “Seek first the kingdom of God and everything else shall be given to you.” (Matthew 6:33);

When others would hold grudge against others and would not forgive even once, He said forgive seven time seventy;

When others would become furious if they are accused for anybody else’s slightest mistakes, He, who committed no sin, took upon Himself the sins and wrongdoings of everyone who ever lived or will live on earth;

When others would want their desires, wishes, will to be done, He said “Father, not mine, but let your will be done.”(Matthew  26:39) ;

When others would curse those who hurt them even in the slightest possible manner, He prayed for forgiveness for those who tortured Him, chastised Him, killed Him;

When others, in order to be victorious, would want to kill their enemies and defeat them, He became victorious by sacrificing Himself and facing the most painful death;

When others would die and perish, He rose up the third day and said “I will be with you always, till the end of ages.” (Matthew 28:20);

When others would talk about love, He showed what true love is.

He truly was a sign of contradiction. In my life also, He stood as a sign of contradiction. He still does. When I was running away from Him, He came all the more closer to me; When I felt all alone, He was there with me; When I kept on hurting Him through my sinful life, He forgave and hugged me; When I was drowning deep in addictions, He lifted me up; When I denied His love, He loved me more and more; When I was leading a wretched, meaningless, miserable life, He came and changed my life for the good; When I was afraid to open my mouth in front of a few people, He made me speak in front of hundreds; When I had no one besides me, He stood by me every second of my life and He still does; When I’m surrounded by troubles and worries, He gives me courage; When things go wrong and I’m restless, He fills my heart with a peace that is beyond my understanding,  When I’m filled with anxiety and tension, He puts a smile on my face; When I think that nothing is going the right way, He says, “Don’t worry it will all be fine.”; When I forget Him, go away from Him, He still remembers me and brings me ever close to Him; When I lead an ordinary life, He inspires me to lead a meaningful one and asks me to be a sign of contradiction.

Lets know this Sign of Contradiction personally and lets, through our lives, try to be a sign of contradiction.

“Let no one reproach you, because you are young. Be a model ... in the way you speak, act, in your love, your faith and purity of life.” (1Timothy4:12)

God Bless!