PERSPECTIVES LEAD US TO PERCEPTIONS
An elderly man with a young companion was sitting at the entrance of his village. A traveler, who was looking for a place to settle down, stopped by and asked the elder what kind of place that village was. The elder in turn asked the traveler what kind of a place was the village he came from. The traveler replied that the village that he left behind was a terrible place, full of selfish people with no social sensitivity and compassion. The elder then told the traveler: “Well, I am sorry to say that this village is no better than the one you left”. Being disappointed, the traveler moved on looking for a better place to settle down.
After sometime, a second traveler came by and asked the elderly man the same question “What kind of place is this village? Would you recommend this village for me to settle down?” The elder asked the second traveler too the same question which he asked the first traveler: “What kind of place is the village that you have left behind?” The traveler replied: “The village that I left behind is a beautiful place, full of loving people and caring people, very welcoming and hospitable people”. The elder then said to that traveler: “This village is an equally nice place, with loving and caring people. You are most welcome to stay here”.
After hearing those encouraging words of the elderly man the traveler went inside the village. The younger companion who was with the elderly man watching all the while, asked him : “How could you say to one traveler that this village is a terrible place and people are selfish and unwelcoming the strangers and then moments later to another traveler the same village is a beautiful place and the people are loving and compassionate?. The elder replied “What a place is like depends on how one looks at it. That the first traveler had a negative outlook in life, is clear from the way he described the village he left behind. Since he was unable to see any good in the village he left behind, most likely he will not see anything good here as well. The second traveler had, in contrast, the eyes to see beauty and goodness around him which is evident from his description of the village that he had left behind. He will most likely find goodness and beauty in this village as well. Perception is largely a matter of perspective.
The world is mixed with good and evil. There is nothing absolutely good or absolutely bad. Only in heaven we will have everything good. We must give up negative way of looking at things, persons and events. Let us try to see positively and appreciate things, persons and events. “It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness”.
When we read the infancy narratives we see people of different perspectives. Jesus, the Son of God was born in a manger, in the midst of the animals. In this, God became feeble, unprotected, and unnoticed. We read in the gospel according to Luke, “And she gave birth to her first born Son and wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn (Lk 2/7).
Two types of people came to know the birth of the Messiah. The Shepherds through the Angels (Lk 2/8-14) and the Magi from the east through the appearing of the star (Lk 2/1-2) came to know the birth of Jesus. They left everything and wanted to see the Messiah and came to the manger in Bethlehem. They saw the Messiah in the weak and feeble child and blessed God and went back joyfully. These two are one type of people, who are positive in their perspective. They saw something beyond themselves and so their perception was positive.
The second type is Herod, the great, who was ruling Jerusalem under Roman Empire. When he heard the Messiah is born in Palestine, “He was troubled”. He was afraid that the Child, which was feeble and weak, would be a threat to his thrown, his future, and his plans. He became violent and killed all the children in Bethlehem who were two years old and under (Lk 2/16). He could not see something beyond himself. He is the personification of the people who are negative in their perspective and so their perception will always be negative. Let us pray may the new born Jesus of Nazareth wipe away from our hearts negative attitudes which destroy ourselves and others and to give us positive attitude that we may grow more human and more divine so that we may become a source of blessing to everyone we encounter.
I wish you all a very happy Christmas.
Most Rev. Dr. M. Devadass Ambrose
Bishop of Thanjavur