Tuesday, April 18, 2006

An MoU with Jesus - Dr. John Dayal

The following was published in the Indian Express chin of newspapers on 17th April 2006

Road Jesus trudged

John Dayal

Sacrifice endures, faith abounds

I am a convert. Not in the sense that the newly enacted Freedom of Religion Bill in Rajasthan would perhaps like, for I was born to Christian parents, and they in turn to parents in the Faith. But as someone who spent a quarter of a century or so outside the practice of organised religion, my return was a coldly deliberated choice, fulfilling internal needs not fully met by professional excellence or civil society involvement.

That is where the conversion takes place, the realisation of a certain unidentifiable thirst (it would be pompous to call it a thirst for spiritual sustenance). The miracle follows in the next realisation that there is, after all, a model at hand to give this thirst and hunger both an identity and a fulfilment. What made Jesus different, for me, was that he offered himself as the Sacrifice, flaunting as weapons nothing more that a driving love that prayed forgiveness even for his murderers. That is something new in civil society. Something one can practise, possibly, in challenging injustice and inequity.

The four Gospel writers - John, Mathew, Luke and Mark - would not win Oscars for screenplay of the Passion of Christ. And visiting Jerusalem can be disappointing at first if one expects Via Dolorosa to be road dozens of miles long, and Golgotha to be a high hill atop which three crosses would make dramatic silhouettes as the sun suddenly turned dark. But short and twisting as it still is, there is something overwhelming as one walks in the footsteps, the last footsteps, of the young Carpenter from Nazareth who taught a new love and a direct relationship with father God. It is easy to see in the jostling crowds Simon, perhaps an unwilling aid in carrying part of the cross, and Veronica, with her comforting towel to wipe the blood and sweat. On Via Dolorosa, theology is physical, and faith abounds.

One does not have to go to Jerusalem to trudge up the tragic track. Via Dolorosa exists in everyday life, and seeks Simons and Veronicas even on the streets of New Delhi. And the Empty Tomb reminds the world that Jesus kept up his end of the Memorandum of Understanding he signed with us. It was this MoU that I signed 15 years ago as I rejoined the Church. It is this MoU that I celebrated yesterday, on Easter.


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