Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Gandhi and Christianity

God’s kingdom is within us

I was impressed by the article by Anil Netto “God’s will or man’s will” (Herald,March 19) where he related the advice by Mahatma Gandhi to Christians.

The writer compared Tony Blair and George Bush to Gandhi,but I feel it would be more relevant for us to compare our own actions and attitude,as Christians, to those of his.

Gandhi's advice to Christians should make us ponder on ourselves as the followers of Christ.

Gandhi, a staunch Hindu had understood and practiced Christianity better than many of us as, he recognized that love is central in Christianity. Applying this love in the world around him even caused him his life.

The following words of Gandhi,as quoted by Anil Netto, bear very special significance to all mankind especially Christians:

The Kingdom of God is within us and that we can realise it not by saying, ‘Lord, Lord,’ but by doing God’s will and work. Therefore if we wait for the Kingdom to come, as something coming from outside, we shall be sadly mistaken.”

Today most of us indulge in all sorts of activities like fasting,abstinence, meditations, offering masses, holding mammoth prayer sessions and so on, imploring the Kingdom of God to come to us to heal us from all ills. We wait for the Kingdom of God by carrying out all these rituals but fail to appreciate that His Kingdom is within us.

For us Christians, the Kingdom of God, is the love of Christ burning within our hearts, ready to be shared with others around us – our spouse,parents,children,priest,BEC members,colleagues,friends,the poor and needy, the sick and dying,the oppressed and even our enemies.

Gandhi realized this love of God within him and readily shared that love with the millions of downtrodden in India. He saw God in the poor and the suffering and become one with them.By doing so,Gandhi has demonstrated himself as a better Christian than many of us,who are still waiting for the Kingdom of God.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Let's be more open in our plans for the future

Decline in Christian Education worrying

The article “Decline of Christian education” by Prof Dr.Tarcisius Chin (Herald,Feb.26) was very comprehensive and thought provoking for us, Malaysian Christians.

It is really sad that we have lost almost everything that we had achieved over the decades in Malaysia with regards to not only Christian but secular education as a whole.

To some extent our present predicament is due poor planning and lack of foresight on the part of our leaders in the heydays. Why didn’t our local clergy and lay educators take pains to continue with the system set up by their foreign predecessors?Was it because we were less committed to Christ than the foreign missionaries?May be if we had been more open and transparent in our dealings with the government,things would not have gone this far.

With the decline in education as whole, we are also witnessing deterioration in even the basic universal human and moral values. Issues related to greed, sex, corruption, violence and discrimination based on ethnicity and faith that were frowned upon in the sixties are now becoming accepted norms. Our children are exposed to the strong attraction of a misconceived culture that is prevalent in today’s world. This culture contradicts every established principle of all religions.

There is an urgent need to address this issue before it gets irreversible. Malaysians in general need to be nurtured on good spiritual and moral values. The schools seem to have failed miserably in this respect as far as Christians and other non-Muslims are concerned.

It is therefore left to the parents, the church and the lay Christian community to take over the task of attracting the new generation to be engaged in learning the values and traditions of their faith. There appears to be a degree of complacency among us due to failure to appreciate the gravity of the situation.

As priests, clergy and the parents, we must first be convinced ourselves that our role is pivotal with regards to the religious education of our children.The future of our faith in this country depends solely on our commitment to educating our children today.

The Church must take this seriously and set up a task force at the highest level comprising experts from all sectors to tackle this problem urgently. Our actions and plans for the future must be more open and transparent, if we do not want the future generation to regret our deeds today.

Let us not be bogged down with minute technical and ritual details of our faith when, at large, basic human values are at stake.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

The meaning of Lent

Ashes - reminder of our mortal bodies

We have just celebrated Ash Wednesday with fast, abstinence, prayer and imposition of ashes on our foreheads.

When I was a boy, I still remember the words the priest uttered when imposing the ashes on my forehead – “Remember man that thou art dust and unto dust thou shall return”. These words of my priest were so meaningful that I still remember them by heart and repeat them to my children, who like many of the youngsters today, hardly appreciate their significance.

Those days not many of us were able to attend mass on Ash Wednesday. Sometimes we were not able to even fast because of school or work related activities.

The imposition of ashes reminds us, despite our social status, that we are all mere mortals and our physical bodies would perish one day. Reflecting on those words of the priest makes us realize that greed for material comforts is indeed foolish. In fact it is more important to cultivate the love of Christ that is within each and every one of us, which will bring everlasting rewards from God.

Today we leave our jobs and take leave to fast, abstain and receive the ashes without fail, but does the significance of the act really touch us in any way? Many of us don’t even know what the priest is saying or doing. We receive the ashes because it is a trend which we have to follow.

This is the reality of the fast moving world today, to follow the trend without knowing the meaning of our actions. If we don’t we’ll be left behind.

Dr.Chris Anthony