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Let children come to me
  By Rev Sam Koshy T. (Elanthoor)  
  WHO prevented the children from coming to Jesus? Will they be prevented from coming closer to Him? Is it paining Christ that our children are kept away from Him due to the prevalent culture? If so, the purpose of this study is to know what pains Christ.

Christ is the divine path in the pursuit of complete godliness and complete humanness. It is the same path that leads to godliness and manliness. What pains Christ is that the children are kept away from this path. What every Christian starts from the time of baptism is this marathon race. We are responsible for preventing the children from pursuing this journey to attain godliness and humanness.

Children grow into godliness through worship in the church. This is why baptism of the child, i.e., bringing the new-born to the church for the first time, is a sacrament. Albert Schweitzer says in his autobiographical noting that though he did not understand all that was said in the church during his childhood days, it helped him cultivate a sense of awe and wonder about our life and our quest for survival.

By not bringing the children to the church from the very early age, we are not only depriving them of the opportunity to know about life and the journey to godliness but are also throwing them to materialism, greed, and malformation.

The church should become our second home. At least one-third of the seating space of the church should be reserved for children. God will rejoice over this.

We come to know God through the word of God. The thrust of the reformed church is also on the sacred word of God. I recently got acquainted with a five-year-old boy - 'Vattakkottayil Thomas' of Pathanapuram (son of Dr. Sam and Dr. Selin). He can recite verses like Issiah: 54: 7-17, Psalms 1, 121 and 91. He learned them from his grandma who recited verses for him daily.

When children learn Biblical verses by heart, the verses penetrate into their mind. In the process, they imbibe the essence, language, meaning and style of the divine words. What pains Jesus is that our children do not care to learn by heart the verses, though they learn by heart many other things.

It is the participation in the holy sacraments that makes the children understand the mystery and experience the wonders of divinity. It is through these sacraments that they feel the magical experiences of life. These get painted in different hues in the minds of children. What understanding of life and its complexities can a child have if he has not attended a wedding, a baptism or a funeral? It is such children who remain ignorant of life situations, though they may be familiar with the Internet, use mobile phones and enjoy cartoons etc. It is this action of ours, keeping away the children from attending and participating in the holy sacraments that is paining Christ.

Children grow into maturity through activities like sports and games. Playing is a must for a child to grow into a complete human being. It gives the child various experiences like making friendship, breaking friendship, winning, losing, working in groups, working as a team, getting alienated from a group, joining hands to form a team etc.

These are reflections of life and these happen in real life also as one grows. It is through these childhood activities that children realize their innate strengths, weaknesses and USP and learn to observe rules, remain within the boundaries, to have aims, strive to win, adjust with others, appreciate others, reconcile with others etc. Christ is certainly pained to see that the children are glued to TV/Video/Computers and they do not go out and play, which is a must for growing as good human beings.

Children grow as normal human beings by doing their household chores themselves. Eating food without hard work is sin. Washing clothes, cleaning the house, doing gardening, helping in the kitchen, hosting and taking care of guests, buying household goods and groceries, keeping the account of money being handled... all these make the child grow into a mature human being.

Willingness and patience to do work, whether a boy or a girl, is a must in one's growth as a mature human being. Many highly qualified professionals are impatient and frustrated and fail in their married life, mainly because they pursued only studies and were devoid of the above normal basic things of life in their childhood.

In the Bible we have references of Jesus helping his father in his carpentry work. Christ is pained that children are reared up without involving them in the day-to-day household chores and responsibilities.

We grow into human beings through relationships. We imbibe human qualities from our friends and relatives. It is not easy to maintain relationships. But such relationships give us a lot of strength and courage.

Mary's journey -- taking Jesus to her relatives, traveling through the rough desert and hilly terrain -- should be a challenge for us. If we consider our relatives and friends as a hindrance and not up to our standard and remain away from them, we are certainly moving towards isolation. The main reason for today's increased psychological problems is the absence of good healthy relationships. It is through good relationships that we grow as good human beings.

Jesus always says: "Let the Children come to me". It is His pain through all the ages that children are not allowed to go to Him. Jesus is concerned that the children should grow enriched in divinity and humanity. His pain is for all those children who remain at the back of the church, instead of being in the front, the children who do not attend the sacraments of wedding/baptism but attend only receptions and parties, children who are addicted to SMS, e-mail, chatting and do not read the word of God or learn by heart the verses, children who are smart and who excel in studies but do not share any household work and responsibilities, children who are isolated from their relatives and friends and drifts tragically into solitude and frustration.

When we take the pain of Jesus as our pain, we will grow in Christ. Let us revive the child in us and also renew our children. Change is must and is most needed.
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The writer is Vicar, Mar Thoma Church, Kuwait. The article, which originally appeared in Malayalam in the Sabha Tharaka, was translated into English by Elizebath Philip, a member of St. James Mar Thoma Church, New Delhi.
 
   
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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