Monday, December 23, 2013

Yet another Christmas

Fiction

Father Joseph was an eccentric priest, according to his parishioners.  His best friend was Thomas, an atheist.  People loved him, nevertheless, because he cared for them with the tenderness of a shepherd who knew every one of his sheep by name. 

Yet another Christmas came and the very active parishioners were in the church building the crib. 

“Is it because Jesus taught us to care more for the lost sheep that you love Thomas so much?”  Chandy asked Father Joseph while they were working on the crib.

“Whoever said that Doctor Thomas was lost?” wondered Father Joseph.  Thomas the atheist was a doctor who gave free treatment to patients who could not afford to pay consultation fees.  People used his services but hated him merely for being an atheist.

“He’s an atheist,” said Chandy.

“Why should atheists be counted as lost?” countered Father Joseph.  “Many of the atheists are far better human beings than orthodox Christians.”

“But you are a priest of the Church and it’s your duty to bring people back to the faith,” insisted Chandy.

Father Joseph looked into Chandy’s eyes with his usual charming but penetrating smile.  “What’s more important: faith or integrity?”

Chandy did not answer.  It was as tricky a question as the one put to the law-abiding Jews by Jesus: “Who among you won’t flout the Sabbath rule if your son falls into a pit?”  Rules are made for man and not vice-versa, Jesus argued.  It applies to religion as well, Father Joseph used to say.  If your religion does not help you to lead a good human life, discard the religion and find your own way.  That was his view.

“Peace is against the Word of God,” said the American televangelist James Robinson in many of his TV sermons.  Even a nuclear catastrophe is justified if it can rid the world of the evil forces, argued Robinson substantiating his view with a Biblical quote.  2 Peter 3:10 says, “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and the works that are upon it will be burned up.”  Robinson argued that the catastrophe would destroy evil and that the true believers would be “raptured” before that. 

People like Robinson were gathering more followers.  Father Joseph was aware of a youth organisation formed in his parish by certain young men who wished radical changes in the society.  They wanted to eradicate drinking (Kerala was the largest consumer of alcohol among all the states in India), premarital sex, excessive use of the electronic gadgets, and so many other “evils”.   Father Joseph was aware of one such group framing charges against him too.  Soon they would present a memorandum to the Bishop to have him defrocked for his anti-Christian views and practices such as befriending atheists and being compassionate towards alcoholics and such people. 

“Is Christmas relevant today?”  Father Joseph was preparing his Christmas sermon.  What would Jesus do if he were to appear in today’s world?   Would he point a finger at the televangelists and their followers calling them hypocrites?


The crib was finally ready to receive the infant Jesus.  The stars were hung.  The decorations looked fascinating.  A lot of glitter and shimmer.  A clay figure of the infant Jesus would be placed in the centre of the crib in the midnight by Father Joseph during the Christmas Mass.  The faithful would sing hymns and recite prayers, and then go home and celebrate Christmas in their own ways, with good food and drinks or whatever.  Jesus would remain a clay statue in the crib, waiting for Judas to come with the custodians of the law.  


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26 comments:

  1. Very Nice, A G+ for ur Post and Have a Nice Day. . . :)

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  2. How true! Is faith important or integrity?

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    Replies
    1. That's one question which has haunted me for years, Pankti.

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  3. Jesus would remain a clay statue in the crib, waiting for Judas to come with the custodians of the law. - The most meaningful line of the story!
    How I wish he didn't remain just the clay statue !

    Well written , Sir !

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    Replies
    1. Precisely, Sreejan. Organised religions reduce great people to mere clay figures and imprison them in cribs...

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  4. So true. Interesting read and very Well written .

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  5. “What’s more important: faith or integrity?”
    Very well written and thought provoking post.

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    1. Thanks, Kiran. In fact, I'm more of a thought-provoker than a fiction writer.

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  6. I wonder how you'd feel when someone wished you merry Christmas. Man is after all a social animal, isn't he?

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    1. I take "Merry Christmas" greeting just as I take a "Good morning" greeting. Part of social formalities and manners. Nothing more.

      But why did my story make you feel that I have something against man being a social animal?

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  7. Merry Christmas to you and yours!

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  8. Nice interesting post and Merry Christmas to you and your blog readers :)

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  9. If Jesus or any other divine being were to visit now....they'd be very sad. What all is happening in the name of religion! Good fiction...great ending.
    Merry Christmas to you!!

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    1. Merry Christmas to you too, Vinaya.

      Any great incarnation today will meet the same fate as they did in the ancient times. People like to keep greatness at a distance, under control.

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  10. Really Nice and lovely words. :)


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  11. This is what I read last week in Sunday Times (South Africa) which was originally published in Daily Telegraph, London, 'George Bernard Shaw, 120 years ago, wrote, 'Christmas is forced on a reluctant and disgusted nation by the shopkeepers and the press:on its own merits it would wither and shrivel in the fiery breath of universal hatred; and anyone who looked back to it would be turned into a pillar of greasy sausages''.

    I am sure GBS was not talking about Christmas in India,

    Hi nice post:)

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    1. GBS's words might as well be applicable to India, Prasanna. Christmas is a more of a business than anything else in India too. Come to Delhi and you will the major markets doing brisk business in Christmas products like stars and Christmas trees. And quite many of the people who buy those things may not even be aware of what Christmas is really about!

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  12. Jesus, Krishna, Ganesha all are lying only as clay or stone statues. People are in the fast lane, consuming and destroying.

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    Replies
    1. But my protagonist is in the slow lane like me, Pattu.

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