MY UNDERSTANDING OF GOD IN VARIOUS STAGES OF MY LIFE
The initiation into Christianity through baptism was not just putting me into the fold but the introduction to God, when my mind was not capable of comprehending even the ontological aspect of myself.No sooner did I become capable of grasping the things or persons around then the various idols of gods were thrashed into me. Having their pros and cons, these idols have influenced my lifestyle a lot. Hence I will delve into my past and present to bring out how my understanding of Gpd has evolved.
When I was 3 or 4 years of age, my parents taught me not only to join hands and close the eyes and thus nurturing the seed of faith but also God who was like a hulk, huge in form dwelling beyond the sky. Here, unconsciously or unintentionally I was introduced to god for whom we were just tiny creatures. God, who was beyond my reach. Hence whenever I joined the hands or closed the eyes I could not create any fatherly image rather an image of a giant before whom I was standing like an ant.
When I was more or less 5 or 6 years of age, I came across God who captivated my little mind and left me marveled and amazed.In my catechism classes too I was taught that God created everything. God said, “let there be and it was.” Just like the magician who lifted his hat and lo behold there was a rabbit out of nothing.The creation story, story of Abraham and Isaac, story of Moses etc motivated me to join the classes on the regular basis. Here God became answer for everything that was in the universe. HE became most powerful and almighty. HE was the only creator and hence the gods of people of other faiths were false. They were not gods.Slowly the understanding transformed into such a strong belief that I thought; only Christians worshiped true God.
As I started my schooling, during the same period of time I was introduced to the policeman god or the watchman god. Who kept constant watch over me, so that I never do anything wrong. And if I did I would be punished.To certain extent it helped me to be a good boy. Especially to be away from stealing, telling lies, speaking ill of someone. This concept had certain moral and ethical influences on me. At the same time I had developed fear for if I had done something wrong which was not pleasing to Him then I would be punished. By this time I had also developed the concept of heaven and hell. Hence I would be sent to hell if I had broken the 10 commandments.
As I grew and became more mature boy, my understanding of salvation became rigid. I do not quite distinctly remember how I developed the understanding that only Christians would get salvation. On the Day of Judgment all the others would be doomed for they did not recognize the only savior; they have been worshiping false gods and idols. I would be saved for I was a Christian chosen by God.
The dhobi and Paracetamol
GodWhen I reached to my teenage, the understanding of loving and caring God did developed. Nevertheless the image of prodigal father had great impact on me. My god was a forgiving God hence I did not have to worry for whatever I did, HE would surely forgive me. HE would wash away my sins and make me as white as snow. HE would not allow me to be a strayed. If I did so HE would bring me back and accept me.Another image I developed was that God was always there to help me out in my difficulties and troubles. Hence I would run to Him whenever I had problem. HE would work a miracle and do away with it. When there was no problem I did not require him. In my happy time neither I disturbed Him not HE would poke his nose. So God became like paracetamol tablet when I had headache I would take it and my pain disappeared.
God of all
When I came to high secondary school, I had privilege to have friends from all major religions, Hinduism, Jainism, Islam and Sikhism. These friends had contributed a lot to change my images of racist god to God of all. Though I did not know much about theses religions except the names of Gods and Holy Scriptures, all I knew for sure was that God was and is one. He loved/loves everyone equally irrespective of cast creed and colour. Neither I nor they had any problem sitting with each other and having food and water. We participated in religious festivals and at times in the rituals.Thus I came to realization of indiscriminating God who manifested himself in different ways according to the different cultures.
God working trough Agents
Earlier I used to question God for all the havoc, upheaval, chaos that was in the world. Today I have realized that it’s me who has to work for peace and harmony.God has unique ways to call each one of us for different tasks. It was my working with Gurjarvani [centre for communication] on a vocation movie, where I heard God calling me to be his instrument among the poor people of south Gujarat. I had gone to south Gujarat to give some shots. There I came across the tribal and their challenging lives. They were totally unjustly treated and deprived of basic human rights. I saw God working there trough some committed and dedicated Jesuits for the empowerment and well being of the tribal. I really saw God slogging and laboring for the just and equal society.God is not just for the reach people but also found dwelling with those who required the basic necessity for a good dignified life. Hence I felt the urge within, God calling me to labour with him.
After joining the society the concept of God changed drastically. Now HE did not remain dwelling outside but within me. HE became a friend who was always with me in all the circumstances whether I was happy or sad. The sharing did not remain one way traffic rather it became reciprocal. The desire for mutual companionship is fulfilled in HIM and perhaps a common bond of love. In HIM I find freedom of choice, accountability, truth and forgiveness. This friendship becomes tactual in the Eucharist when I receive the Holy Communion.God manifests his love to me through all people and to people through me. Today God has become part and parcel of my life.
After coming to JDV and attending the classes my understanding has not changed but my faith in God is been purified and has become more strong. Even today God remains loving, caring and friendly to me. Specially learning the different idols I realized that how I had been worshiping them. The course on the Indian religion has helped me to broaden my understanding of different religion and appreciate the richness of each one of them. Simultaneously it has helped me to understand my religion in much better way.I do not necessitate any proofs to believe in God nevertheless reason does play a role. The God I believe in his very much active in each one of us and not passive, God who loves every human being equally. God who is unique thence likes to manifest himself in unique ways to all of us.To conclude, god is love and we all are embodiment of love. Therefore God manifests himself through all of us when we love each other. When we love each other we become fully human and fully alive.