Thursday, March 4, 2010

Will I choose right this lent?

Choice is not just a matter of orientation and learning. It is a step which is profoundly and horribly difficult. Yet many think it is a given, a natural. What people don’t think about is that it matters ‘what to choose’ and not just to choose! This is the choice within the choice. We live in a work culture where we are pushed to the edge to make a choice and yet the choices we are given may not be the choices that are to be made.

The first Sunday inside of lent invites us into the world of Jesus in which being clean outside was as important or more important as being clean inside. Luke 5:12-16 gives the story of the leper who bows down before Jesus begging to be made clean. Jesus in turn is put in the predicament of bowing to societal pressure to clean on the outside. In the pressure situation of making a choice, he makes a choice within the choice. Although he could have well made the leper clean with a word, he chooses instead to stretch out his hand and touch the leper and say, “I do choose. Be made clean.” What is the difference, one may ask? Touch, touch.

Even today society has failed to engage with our scripture. In our rush to attain holiness we observe lent and pray, saying the magical words, but forget to observe the choice of making the magical touch. We abstain and think of what we should not, rather than getting involved and asking what we can? Lent could well be the time to reach out and touch rather than recoil into our shell.

We are a culture obsessed with celebrities. We crowd around film stars and even try to touch them. What is it that we hope for in the process? Are we going to be transformed in any way or is it just curiosity of what someone may feel like? Maybe we have made touch a weapon to touch when and where it is unwarranted and have conveniently forgotten our mandate to reach out and touch. Kerala has made touch an art through ayurveda with people flocking to the state for a divine massage. As Keralites fall head over heals to touch celebrities and guests the state is peppered with those who have even forgotten what it feels like to be touched (in the real sense of the word). God, it is so difficult to choose, and to choose right.

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