Some of you must be familiar with the movie “The Gods Must Be Crazy”. An empty Coke bottle dropped by a passing pilot was found by a man in the Kalahari desert in south Africa and became the source of an international physical comedy. The pilot could never have drempt the extent to which the man’s life in the Kalahari desert instantaneously turned around by this ‘mystical’ object. The movie also upholds the romantic notion that tribesmen are wiser than civilized people in many respects.
As the world tried to to come to grips with the extensive damage wrecked by the Tsunami, rescue workers and reporters on the ground say the earth is still up in arms. Those who survived this event and are still around, including those who have no faintest idea of the devastation wrought by the wave, are wrangling that God has part in it. It looks as if there was a war on between gods of different faiths.
A few fiery preachers from the worst hit areas have shouted shrill: “This happened because the Islamic nations are negotiating with the “Infidels.” However, they had no objection to the fidelity of the “infidels” to their exemplary generosity in coming to the aid of their devastated faithful. It is not the first time that people have accused and denounced the West by day and consumed its bounties by night.
In Sri Lanka, where Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity and Islam have coexisted for long, and sometimes in a precarious balance, there seems to be a shared belief that the primary reason for the tragedy is divine fury directed against a society whose changing economy is feeding and breeding corruption and greed. Many say “It is a lesson from God and a reminder to live the right way.” Some Buddhists who were convinced did not mince their words as they declared, “The carnivorous Christians have killed many animals”, that’s why on the next day of ‘poya’, the full moon day, holy for Buddhists, the angry god has inflicted his punishment. The self-righteous others explained the event saying, “because so many people ate meat and consumed alcohol on Christmas, the angry god sent his wrath early next morning.” Some Christians had their own apocalyptic version wherein they blamed others for the calamity.
However they pretend to have forgotten how some god-fearing Buddhists went around burning down the churches of ‘meat-loving’ Christians to defend the correctness of their version of God. After all, when we compare our virtues with the vices of others it all seems self-explanatory and makes us feel safe to blame others.
The nature has neither mercy nor remorse. While our finite brain is incapable of sorting out the great puzzles of our sad history or that of a complex mystery, we need not waste time naming and shaming the followers of other faiths. This tragedy can help us to remind ourselves what the Lord has said “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of My Father in heaven” (Mt 7:21). In other words, it is not a question of whose faith is right and whose beliefs are wrong that maters; rather it is the type of fruit we bear that proves the type of tree we belong to. It is a question of our faithfulness to the Lord’s teaching at troubled times like these that proclaims lauder than words Whom we belong to.
What does faithfulness mean? Faith is not a misty belief in some other kind of a world. It is a concrete life-commitment to follow Christ. The journey could be more or less easy and it could even be interrupted. Some may feel tired and rest a while: some may believe in the Master, but not repose their trust fully in him as yet; they may not have the courage to take a certain step or to cross certain bridges. Jesus tells us that faith is capable of achieving what looks impossible to human reason. It finds solutions for situations that appear totally and decisively out of control.
Christ can help us to uproot the cultural and religious barriers of ignorance, pride, prejudice, arrogance and lack of desire to do what is within our reach. For us the only faith principle is “Do to others what you expect others do to you” (Cfr. Mt 7:12, Lk 6:31). Only then we would be prepared to hear what the Lord has to say “‘Come, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you took care of Me; I was in prison and you visited Me ….. I assure you: Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did it for Me” (Mt 25: 34 – 40).
If we fail to translate our faith into concrete commitments, we will certainly make Tsunami tragedy a religious comedy as did an empty bottle of Coke in “The Gods Must be Crazy” became the source of a great family comedy.
Author: Jossy DSouza – AMKCPS