Showing posts with label Sunday Mass. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sunday Mass. Show all posts

Friday, October 28, 2011

10% Extortion

How important is God to you?
Do you deem it important to honor Him with the first fruits of your increase/income? Or do you just think tithing is a one way to keep the church off your back?
Do you have a pastor who pesters you to part with more of your money so that the overheads of the church is met?

While Christianity in India has a long history of evangelism and has roots that can be traced back to the Apostles, the past decade or so have seen an explosion of missionaries visiting India to spread The Good News.

I know churches that works with the lowest of the low and strives to make a truly wonderful change amongst the community it works with. Thatched roofs Churches where the faithful gather to hear the Word of God and the pastor does not have a mic but the congregation still picks up every word he says. 

I recently met a pastor, an American, who has been nagging his church members to give 'generously'.
So what's wrong with the picture here?
Here's what-
- The pastor, sponsored by the mother church in the US, earns in a month, probably the equivalent of what a middle class family would earn in an year.
- He stays with his Wife plus 4 kids in a very expensive home in an exclusive neighborhood, besides all the other material trappings that a upper middle class family should possess.
- He insists that his church members pay for the electricity and other overheads of the church. Generously.
- While he quotes scriptures to prove his point and urge his church members to fork out the extra rupee, I remember the famously quoted line: 'Even the devil can quote scriptures'.
His ruse is that true Christians need to support the church financially so that the church can spread. Image that comes to my mind: Like the tentacles of an Octopus.
Now, I don't have anything against missionaries who have put their western way of life on hold for the Indian toilet, but I do find it a huge insult when we have missionaries who come, start churches in a air-conditioned hall of a building and expect us to meet their electricity and living expenses.
While none of the members have voiced out their concerns and their reservations, what I need to understand is why the dear pastor cannot forgo his so generous salary if is truly concerned about the rising overheads.
While much of the US has already been invaded by televangelists, the many wolves in sheep clothing have now turned their sights on India. An emerging market.

Do we really have the right attitude towards God?
When we insist church members to tithe generously, isn't it against the true spirit of giving out of free will?
Why do we let church leaders manipulate the scriptures for their own will?
Does giving money absolve you and complete your duties towards God?

A good family friend of mine, 'donates' a certain portion of their time every week towards bible study. Although they cannot afford to give 'generously', they consider this as their way of offering their talents to the Almighty.

After growing for nearly 2000 years, Christianity has now taken a beating in the past decade because of it's dubious practitioners.


Saturday, April 23, 2011

for my sins.. He got the Kiss

Part 1 
A five part series dissecting the last moments of Jesus and its relevance on our lives

Today, as the planet mourns the passion and death of Jesus, do we really understand what He went through?
Watching the Mel Gibson movie 'Passion of the Christ', I am moved and painfully reminded about the kind of trauma and death that He went through.

Christians around the world declare their undying love and confess that Jesus died for them. Their sins.
But do we really know what those sins were?
Are we really confessing our undying allegiance to Him or are we just as cocky as Peter was, until he denies Jesus three times before the cock crows?
Are we pagans who pay lip service?

Dissecting His passion, Jesus knew that he was sent for the sole purpose of dying for the sins of all humanity. His destiny to be the sacrificial lamp was defined right at the dawn of the humanity, when man fell into sin.
Born of the virgin Mary, He became Flesh of our flesh, Heart of our hearts.
A King born to the lowest strata of the Jewish society, His childhood and life on earth shows him how he was the model son to his earthly parents. Parents who nurtured Him. Never arrogant that He was God, He loved His mom and adored his earthly father just as much as He did His heavenly Father. How many of us can boast of being as humble as He was, fully God and fully human.

The movie revolves around the final hours of Christ Jesus.
It shows us the trauma that He went through, completely aware that He has to be persecuted, tried and crucified, He is pained. He wishes that this does not happen to Him, but obedient even to death, He wants His Father's will to happen. Betrayed by a kiss, to die a death that He wanted to save all of us from.
How many of us would let down his/her own life so that someone else would be saved? How many would do this willingly? Not many, I presume.

There are a dozen plots in this beautifully made movie, devoid of any of the corny dialogues and drama that most contemporary blockbusters are known by, this movie gets beneath the skin of its viewer every time they watch it. Some are moved to watch it again and again, and some are too wimped up to see the gory details of how He suffered for our sins.

Starting with his final moments of earthly freedom at the garden of Gethsemane, He sheds tears of blood traumatized by the enormity of his task ahead. Satan, the quintessential smooth talker tries to talk Him out of His purpose, but Jesus rises to quell all temptation and any thought of backing down. Looking through the six odd minutes at the garden, we see how staunch His resolve is. It looks just too easy to our eyes that have seen a million corny movies where the protagonist is shown to have the resolve to defeat all of earth.
But are we really strong enough to squish smooth talking satan in our lives?

Every Sunday, Christians confess, profess and sing their allegiance to Christ. They partake in the Holy Communion and after the service, they gather to gossip about what they did the past 6 days. Not that I discourage socializing but is gossiping, fellowship? On the way back, they curse at the next motorist who cuts them off. Throughout the service their minds wander, making a mental note of what they will need to do after mass and/or looking at that fashionably dressed 'uncle/aunty'. All in a vain attempt to please God by being physically present, we think that our mere presence will please Him.

Pastors encourage this by not correcting the wayward congregation, for fear that they may withdraw their membership and thereby a steady source of income. Theft is common in some churches. So much so that a church that I go to, reminds their members to carry their bags, valuables and other mentionables with them to the altar, lest they be stolen when you return 4 minutes later.

We falter when our egos are bruised. I've lost way too many friends who've stopped talking to me since their egos have been bruised.
We fall for the false pretension that our wealth will see us through the dry spells of our life.
Coveting for your neighbor's car, spouse, children, wealth, peace and every possible thing that you can think of. We are suckers to our neighbor's lives.
We are even jealous of those who work hard to earn every penny. We want all the good things in their life without any of the bad things.
We want our bosses to recognize us for every bit of good work we do, but not punish us if we goof up.
We are indignant at the co worker who works hard to get ahead and stay ahead. But we won't go the extra mile to work smartly ourselves.
We expect our co workers to stand in awe of us every time we are at work, but make a goof up and you don't want to be made an example.
We want our children to be the best in everything they do. Because you were not. We even want our children to be like the neighbor's children.
We want our parents to be an ATM, spewing out money with no expectation of accountability.

I could go on.. but the point here is, are we really ready to be obedient to His will and patient to His purpose?
Are you?


Saturday, June 12, 2010

Give! Get Rich

A survey that studies trends of charity in India showed that the wealthier you got, the lesser you gave to charity.
The reason why the rich don't give to the poor is because of that section of the society that the poor depend on.
Its not always been this way though..

Charity in India has long been a milch cow.
Widespread corruption and the general unwillingness to punish the people who misappropriate charity has led to a general scepticism of Charity as a concept.

How can you blame the poor for remaining poor.

Every time we have a natural calamity, the Prime Minister's Fund open up and so does a dozen other 'Relief and Donation funds'. Good Samaritans donate out of the generosity of their hearts or because of the personal grief of the tragedy. However just a small fraction of all this will eventually reach the benefactors, if any. That all the money will end up lining the pockets of the 'Trustees' is India's shame.

'Let the left hand not know what the right hand gives' is a saying that transcends many religions.

However in a ritual that is repeated every at Mass every Sunday, I still see 'members' of wealthier churches flaunting their Gucci and Valentino purses when it is 'Offertory time', and when the Alter boys/volunteers start collecting the tiths, that's when the well heeled Ladies and Gentlemen dig deep into their bags and wallets for the smallest available denomination they can spare.
Some of them will even do a quick math to think if they need might need the money for parking on that day. Suddenly it becomes a battle of whether I 'pass' the bag or sacrifice the 'parking charge'.
And when the alter boy nudges the bag, you take a quick look with your peripheral vision to make sure you don't have any one staring down at your purse/wallet, you fish real quick pick the smallest coin dispensable and in a maneuver that will make a pick pocket blush dispose off the Rs 2 coin in the bag, while making sure that you put the hand deep inside the bag so as to give the illusion of pious offertory but actually to make sure no one sees your pittance.

Well, I've got news for all of you!
God does not need your Rs 2.
He created you. He created everything else. And 'He owns all the sheep in all the hills of the world'. Though this is just a metaphor, this is the Truth.

I find it absurd that we think we are paying/bribing Him (depending on what your need/reason is)
Doesn't He own the air we breathe. Not all the wealth in all the world can build another Earth, yet we try to save and hoard.

We hate the words 'Give' and 'Charity' in the same sentence.

'Give and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down and shaken together, and running over, shall men give unto you. For with the same measure that you give shall be measured to you again..'
Luke 6:38

When we have been promised abundance in return for generosity, why are we so reluctant? Is it because no matter how wealthy we get, our soul remains poor?
Lets learn to give out of our heart. True Charity begins in your heart. Lets get rich


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