Monday, March 24, 2014

FREEDOM, FAITH AND FELLOWSHIP

FREEDOM, FAITH AND FELLOWSHIP


                           A talented teacher used to start his class by stating a story and raising a query to arouse in the students an interest in the subject of study. The students of the school admired his style of teaching and listened to him with ardent attention. They answered his questions with innocence and he listened to them with patience.
                           Once he had to teach them about the struggle for freedom led by the leaders of the nation. He narrated a story to introduce the concept of freedom, liberation and independence. “A prisoner had to spend several years in prison. After years of painful confinement within the prison bars, he was released. Returning to his native village, he saw a man selling caged birds to customers passing along the road. He saw the scene and rushed to the man. He purchased the caged birds by paying all the money he had with him. Then he opened the cages and let the birds fly high in the sky and return to their nests.”
                           After telling this story, the teacher asked the children, “Now tell me, why did he buy the caged birds and let the birds free to fly in the air?” The students thought deeply. One of them replied innocently, “Sir, it was because he needed only the empty cages!” The teacher was lost for words.
                           A train is free only so long as it stays on its track. Once it is derailed, it loses its freedom for a meaningful movement. Voluntary sacrifice of personal rights is the basis of true freedom and a peaceful social life. In his epic poem, ‘Paradise Lost’, John Milton (1608-1674) depicts the devil’s distorted vision of liberty through the words of Lucifer after he is cast from heaven to hell, “Better to reign in Hell, than serve in Heaven.”
                           But in the Christian concept, true freedom is a kind of voluntary bondage. It is obtained only in outright obedience to Almighty God and the filial fellowship with His children. The Psalmist declares, “In my distress I called to the Lord; He answered me and set me free” {Psalms 118: 5}.
                            Jesus said to those who believed in Him, “If you obey my teaching, you are really my disciples; you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” {John 8: 31, 32}. “If the Son sets you free, then you will be really free” {John 8: 36}.
                           St. Peter advises, “Live as free people; do not, however use your freedom to cover up any evil, but live as God’s slaves” {1 Peter 2: 16}. St. Paul identifies true freedom as a generous gift of God - liberation from the clutches of sin and Satan. “But now you have been set free from sin and are the slaves of God. Your gain is a life fully dedicated to Him, and the result is eternal life” {Romans 6: 22}.
                           St. Paul exhorts us to preserve our freedom: “Freedom is what we have – Christ has set us free! Stand, then, as free people, and do not allow yourselves to become slaves again” {Galatians 5: 1}. He adds that the gift of freedom should promote the spirit of love, service and charity, “You were called to be free. But do not let this freedom become an excuse for letting your physical desires control you. Instead, let love make you serve one another” {Galatians 5: 13}.  
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© By: Prof. Dr. Babu Philip, Darsana Academy, Kottayam-686001, Kerala, India ( Former Professor, Cochin University of Science & Technology, Fine Arts Avenue, Kochi-682016, Kerala, India), Prof. Mrs. Rajamma Babu, Former Professor, St. Dominic's College, Kanjirappally,  Leo. S. John, St. Antony's Public School, Anakkal, Kanjirappally and Neil John, Maniparambil, Ooriyakunnath, Kunnumbhagom, Kanjirappally, Kottayam-686507, Kerala, India.
                         For more moral stories, parables and anecdotes for students, catechists, teachers and preachers, kindly visit our web-sites:
                         This is Story No. 316 in the second site. Please click ‘Older Posts’ at the bottom of a page to read previous stories and click 'Newer Posts' at the bottom of a page to read newer stories in these sites. Please click on a word in the 'Story Themes' to read stories on that theme.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

THE GOLDEN LEAF

THE GOLDEN LEAF


                          The jack fruit tree (Artocarpus heterophyllus) is a large, gorgeous evergreen tree with smooth, shiny, glossy, oval, leathery, and dark green leaves. Jack fruit is the largest edible tree-grown fruit in the world. The fruits are very popular in India and throughout South East Asia. Its flesh has a fine flavour resembling a combination of apple, pineapple, mango and banana.
                          The evergreen leaves of a young jack fruit tree lived in harmony till one of the leaves showed signs of changing its colour. Its colour slowly changed to golden yellow. It did not realize that the change was a result of withering, a symptom of inevitable aging. But the foolish leaf became boastful and told the green leaves that its golden hue was special sign of its superior status. But some of the more intelligent green leaves observed the withered and dried leaves lying at the bottom of the neighbouring trees and concluded that the colour of the haughty leaf was an indication of an impending fall. They conveyed the message to the golden leaf but it was blind with pride and laughed at the other leaves.
                          One day, during a stormy night, the leaves trembled with the wind. The golden leaf lost its link with the tree and fell down helplessly. It was carried by the wind and it landed at the base of the tree. Lying there, it looked at the young, healthy and green leaves on the tree. The leaves appeared to dance in delight, possibly laughing at him, seeing his fatal fall. The withered leaf sadly withdrew into itself, silently accepting its final fate. It was slowly disintegrated in the soil to become manure for the tree.
                          King Philip of Macedonia had appointed a servant in his palace, with the duty to meet him every morning and greet him with the words, “Philip, remember that you must die.”
                         'Death' is the Damocles' sword for all mortals. Death often appears unexpectedly. At every moment of life, we must be prepared for this impending end. Life is short and all worldly riches and luxury have to be left behind when we die. They give only a temporary joy. Sinful indulgence in worldly pleasures may lead to everlasting agony in a hell of horror.
                          Death is the universal equalizer. Everyone is equal before death as death comes to all - great and small {Job 3: 13-19}.
                          At his deathbed, Alexander the Great instructed his close associates to leave his hands hanging free on either side of the coffin during his royal funeral procession. That was to teach the world that he could carry nothing with him on his final journey.
                          We fail to realize this truth till we reach the last moments in life. We waste a major share of our time, health and energy to amass fame, wealth and glory. In the parable of the rich fool, God says to the rich man, "You fool! This very night you will have to give up your life: then who will get all these things you have kept for yourself?"{Luke 12: 20}. Let us save our riches in heaven. Jesus taught us, “Provide for yourselves purses that don’t wear out, and save your riches in heaven, where they will never decrease, because no thief can get to them and no moth can destroy them {Luke 12: 33}.
                           There is a meaningful hymn sung at the home of the dead during the funeral rites of the Syro-Malabar Catholic church. In Malayalam, the words are:
“Maranam varumoru naal; Orkkuka marthya nee.
Koode porum nin, jeevitha cheythikalum.
Salkrithyangal cheyyuka nee, alasatha koodathe.”
The hymn may be translated as follows and sung in the same tune:
“Death will reach you once,
Bear in mind, mortals.
Actions done by you
Come along with you.
Do good deeds and be ready
Do not be lazy.”
                           Man’s way leads to a hopeless end while God’s way leads to an endless hope. Let us plan ahead for the unavoidable departure from this world. Let us remember that it was not raining when Noah built the Ark.
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© By: Prof. Dr. Babu Philip, Darsana Academy, Kottayam-686001, Kerala, India ( Former Professor, Cochin University of Science & Technology, Fine Arts Avenue, Kochi-682016, Kerala, India), Prof. Mrs. Rajamma Babu, Former Professor, St. Dominic's College, Kanjirappally,  Leo. S. John, St. Antony's Public School, Anakkal, Kanjirappally and Neil John, Maniparambil, Ooriyakunnath, Kunnumbhagom, Kanjirappally, Kottayam-686507, Kerala, India.
                         For more moral stories, parables and anecdotes for students, catechists, teachers and preachers, kindly visit our web-sites:
                         This is Story No. 315 in the second site. Please click ‘Older Posts’ at the bottom of a page to read previous stories and click 'Newer Posts' at the bottom of a page to read newer stories in these sites. Please click on a word in the 'Story Themes' to read stories on that theme.

Friday, March 21, 2014

THE LEAKING LIQUID

THE LEAKING LIQUID


                                A teacher of the final year class of a school was dear to all the students. But he had a bad habit which was known only to a few of his friends. He used to enjoy alcoholic drinks regularly.
                                In his last class he gave his students important instructions about preparing for the final examination. The students had come that day with gifts for their beloved teacher. They presented their gifts to the teacher, one by one, after the class. One of the students was the son of a large shop selling all types of expensive liquor. The boy approached the teacher with a large packet with several small holes. The teacher was happy to see the packet, which he expected to contain some exquisite liquor. He accepted the packet with joy and thanked the boy.
                                He carried the packet very carefully in his car, keeping it close to him. After driving some distance through a busy street, he felt that a liquid was leaking out from the packet. He assumed that the bottle of liquor was accidentally opened or broken during the drive, spilling the liquor. He was terribly upset and was reluctant to waste the liquor. Due to heavy traffic, he could not stop the car there. So he collected the leaking liquid in his left hand and licked it with lust. The taste was unfamiliar. But he presumed that it was some special liquor that he could not taste so far. Reaching a convenient spot, he stopped the car and opened the packet in a hurry. He was surprised to find a nice little puppy in the packet. He realiZed with horror that the liquid he licked was the puppy’s urine!
                                Addiction to alcohol (alcoholism) has ruined the life of millions. The Holy Bible warns that drunkards will not possess God’s Kingdom {1 Corinthians 6:10; Galatians 5:19-21}. It is stupid to get drunk {Proverbs 20:1, 23:20, 23:29-35}. Wine has been the ruin of many {Sirach 31:25-31}. We must abstain from this harmful habit and pray for God’s grace to transform the alcoholics in our society.
                                Drinking alcohol, smoking, chewing pan, abuse of drugs, watching immoral pictures etc. are sinful pleasures that destroy our health, peace, purity, character and life, leading to physical, mental and moral disease and death. Alcoholism distorts the personality, destroys domestic life and initiates sinful anti-social activities. Alcohol appears to dissolve problems and worries for a while, but they later reappear in bulk. Since alcohol causes addiction it should be avoided. Let us avoid all harmful habits.
                                St. Paul asks, “Don’t you know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and who was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourselves but to God; He bought you for a price. So use your bodies for God’s glory” {1 Corinthians 6: 19, 20}.
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© By: Prof. Dr. Babu Philip, Darsana Academy, Kottayam-686001, Kerala, India ( Former Professor, Cochin University of Science & Technology, Fine Arts Avenue, Kochi-682016, Kerala, India), Prof. Mrs. Rajamma Babu, Former Professor, St. Dominic's College, Kanjirappally,  Leo. S. John, St. Antony's Public School, Anakkal, Kanjirappally and Neil John, Maniparambil, Ooriyakunnath, Kunnumbhagom, Kanjirappally, Kottayam-686507, Kerala, India.
                         For more moral stories, parables and anecdotes for students, catechists, teachers and preachers, kindly visit our web-sites:
                         This is Story No. 314 in the second site. Please click ‘Older Posts’ at the bottom of a page to read previous stories and click 'Newer Posts' at the bottom of a page to read newer stories in these sites. Please click on a word in the 'Story Themes' to read stories on that theme.

A FATAL BITE

A FATAL BITE


                        Around 50,000 people are reported to die of snake-bite every year in India. Now a polyvalent anti-snake-venom-serum is available in most of the Indian hospitals. This antiserum (antivenom) counteracts the poisonous venoms of the four most common poisonous snakes of India –Indian cobra (Naja naja), common krait (Bangarus caeruleus), Russel’s viper (Daboia russelii) and saw-scaled viper (Echis carinatus). Victims of snake-bite can be saved if brought to hospitals without delay.
                        A person was walking along a bushy passage in an Indian village when he accidentally stepped on a poisonous snake and was bitten by it. He cried aloud. People rushed to the scene and carried the victim to the main road expecting to get a vehicle to carry the victim to the nearest hospital. Meanwhile some of the villagers spotted the snake. They threw stones at it and then beat it with sticks till it became motionless and apparently dead. They quickly transferred the snake into a briefcase and entrusted it to the persons who accompanied the victim to the hospital. They hoped that the treatment would be more specific and effective if the type of snake was known by an examination of the dead snake. On arriving at the hospital, the patient was shifted to the casualty room. The briefcase carrying the beaten snake was placed near the door of the casualty. The doctor informed that he would examine the specimen after examining the victim and administering the essential treatments to save the victim’s life. The bystanders were anxiously waiting outside, actively discussing the tragedy.
                        A thief was wandering through the hospital hoping to steal some valuable belongings of the patients. The briefcase placed near the casualty door caught his attention. When no one was noticing him, he snatched the briefcase and swiftly moved out of the hospital. Reaching a lonely spot, he opened the suitcase expecting a fortune. But unfortunately, the wounded snake gave a sharp bite on the hands of the thief and wounded him. He cried aloud, but there was no one in the isolated spot to hear his cry. He fainted, fell down and met his death without receiving any medical care.
                        Stealing is specifically prohibited in the Scriptures: “Do not steal” {Exodus 20: 15, Deuteronomy 5: 19}. “Do not steal or cheat or lie” {Leviticus 19: 11}. 
                        Solomon teaches us, “Wealth that you get by dishonesty will do you no good, but honesty can save your life” {Proverbs 10: 2}. “Robbery always claims the life of the robber” {Proverbs 1: 19}. “It is better to have a little, honestly earned, than to have a large income gained dishonestly {Proverbs 16:8}.
                        St. Paul asserts, “The love of money is a source of all evil. Some have been so eager to have it that they have wandered away from the faith and have broken their hearts with many sorrows” {1 Timothy 6: 10}.
                        The commandment against stealing prohibits dishonest business practices, cheating, evading of taxes, refusing to repay debts, plagiarism and keeping unauthorised property.
                        We take every effort to preserve our treasure on earth. We waste a major share of our time, health and energy to amass fame, wealth and glory. Jesus advised us, “Provide for yourselves purses that don’t wear out, and save your riches in heaven, where they will never decrease, because no thief can get to them and no moth can destroy them {Luke 12: 33}. “No one can be a slave of two masters; he will hate one and love the other; he will be loyal to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money” {Matthew 6: 24, Luke 16:13}.                                       
                         Money may fetch us amusement, but not happiness; a bed, but not sleep; books, but not brains; a car, but not safety; companions, but not friends; education, but not wisdom; flattery, but not respect; food, but not appetite; a house but not a home; luxuries, but not culture; medicines, but not health; ornaments, but not beauty; a violin, but not music. Money is like sea water; the more we drink, the thirstier we get.
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© By: Prof. Dr. Babu Philip, Darsana Academy, Kottayam-686001, Kerala, India ( Former Professor, Cochin University of Science & Technology, Fine Arts Avenue, Kochi-682016, Kerala, India), Prof. Mrs. Rajamma Babu, Former Professor, St. Dominic's College, Kanjirappally,  Leo. S. John, St. Antony's Public School, Anakkal, Kanjirappally and Neil John, Maniparambil, Ooriyakunnath, Kunnumbhagom, Kanjirappally, Kottayam-686507, Kerala, India.
                         For more moral stories, parables and anecdotes for students, catechists, teachers and preachers, kindly visit our web-sites:
                         This is Story No. 313 in the second site. Please click ‘Older Posts’ at the bottom of a page to read previous stories and click 'Newer Posts' at the bottom of a page to read newer stories in these sites. Please click on a word in the 'Story Themes' to read stories on that theme.

BEAUTY AND UTILITY

BEAUTY AND UTILITY


                              One evening, a thirsty deer was feeding in the forest. He was happy to see a pond nearby. He bent down to drink the water. Looking into the clear and still water, he could see his reflection. The sight of his attractive and alluring antlers made him proud and happy. He then noticed his long, thin and skinny legs. Sadly, he said to himself, “These legs are so ugly and do not match my majestic and appealing antlers.” Suddenly he sensed the approach of a wolf.

                              The stag ran at top speed, knowing that the wolf was fast chasing him. He suspected that other wolves in the pack would have spotted him and joined the race. His long and slender legs helped him to run at a great speed. He ran with all his might and reached much ahead of his predators. But unexpectedly his antlers got entangled in the branches of a bushy tree. He tried but could not free the antlers from the branches. He pulled with all his strength but all his efforts were in vain. Finally he made a frantic attempt and luckily could release the antlers just before the wolf could reach him. He made another frantic run for his life and could fortunately outrun the wolf.

                              Reaching a safe spot, he turned back and found that the predators had given up the chase. He sighed with relief and thought how foolish he was in praising his pretty antlers and cursing his ugly legs. Gratefully regarding his long and lean legs,with great appreciation, he remarked, “These legs are really lovely. They saved me while the dangerous antlers would have caused my death.”
                              Appearances may be deceptive. All that glitters is not gold. "Charm is deceptive and beauty disappears..."{Proverbs 31: 30}.

                              The Lord said to Samuel about Jesse’s son Eliab, “Pay no attention to how tall and handsome he is. I have rejected him, because I do not judge as man judges. Man looks at the outward appearance, but I look at the heart {1 Samuel 16: 7}.

                              St. Peter advises, "You should not use outward aids to make yourself beautiful, such as the way you do your hair, or the jewellery you put on, or the dresses you wear. Instead your beauty should consist of your true inner self, the ageless beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of the greatest value in God's sight" {1 Peter 3: 3, 4}. 
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© By: Prof. Dr. Babu Philip, Darsana Academy, Kottayam-686001, Kerala, India ( Former Professor, Cochin University of Science & Technology, Fine Arts Avenue, Kochi-682016, Kerala, India), Prof. Mrs. Rajamma Babu, Former Professor, St. Dominic's College, Kanjirappally,  Leo. S. John, St. Antony's Public School, Anakkal, Kanjirappally and Neil John, Maniparambil, Ooriyakunnath, Kunnumbhagom, Kanjirappally, Kottayam-686507, Kerala, India.
                         For more moral stories, parables and anecdotes for students, catechists, teachers and preachers, kindly visit our web-sites:
                         This is Story No. 312 in the second site. Please click ‘Older Posts’ at the bottom of a page to read previous stories and click 'Newer Posts' at the bottom of a page to read newer stories in these sites. Please click on a word in the 'Story Themes' to read stories on that theme.