Get Into Character This Lent
by Fr. Jerry Kurien Kodiattu
Character is a very important aspect of an individual and helps in the
spiritual life of an individual. A person with integrity and character
shows good leadership skills and can always be an inspiration to others.
But one cannot say that one is born with good character. Rather one imbibes
good character through several ways, one of them being through experience
and prayer. We get to see characters of integrity and sincerity in the
bible, history and in our day to day life. Lent becomes a time to identify
these characters and try to get into the character we have identified.
A lent with character is not only with food restrictions but is with
certain ideals which identify a person as working for common people, the
poor, sick, needy, children and women. We have characters we can take from
and become because this becoming is a God inspired process of spiritual
growth. In the book of Esther we read about Esther a woman who was
courageous enough to reveal Haman’s treachery to the King. She moves beyond
the usual barriers and gets into the character that God prepares for her.
St. Ephrem was a church father and doctor of the church who got into the
character of making women teachers in the church. Bishop Anthimos
writes "Ephrem was a promoter of women folk – from silence to dignity of
their own. According to Jacob of Serug, the whole aim of Ephrem's teaching
was a new world in which men and women would be equal. Moreover, he calls
Ephrem as the second Moses for women because Ephrem took the revolutionary
step of forming a women's choir (may be the first in the history of
Christianity) and many of Ephrem's hymns were written exclusively for
women's choirs. To him, Ephrem founded the women's choir in order to teach
the Edessan Christianity right doctrines, made women teachers in the church
and thereby promoted women folk from silence to the dignity of teacher.
Thereby, "Ephrem presents his church with a new sight of women uttering
proclamation". St. Ephrem took it upon himself to fulfill the very
difficult role of being a church father with a difference with perfection.
Can we also get into the character presented to us by God whereby we do
things which we never thought capable of us and which people around us
never thought possible?
is an ordinary woman but she has kept an entire state in limbo because she
has been fasting from November 4, 2000 for repealing of the Armed Forces
Special Powers Act (AFSPA). Recently the court quashed a case of attempted suicide
against her. She is free but still fasting. How on earth can we compare the
fast or diet restrictions of fifty days in the church to the fifteen year
old fast of Irom Sharmila!? She has been playing her character as God
wanted it in the hope that anti people laws will be repealed and people can
have freedom in their own land. She dreams of a future where the government
and people will work and live together instead of fighting each other. Irom
Sharmila’s will power has given her the nick name “Iron Lady”. How many of
us could fast for a common cause and personalize a problem like Irom
Sharmila has done?
Romans 12:2 says “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by
the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will
of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Character is God given
but it has to be discerned and fulfilled by us. Character is also what we
receive within us and what comes out from within. It is courage, will and
hope that God has great plans for us and for that we have to get into the
character that God has chosen for us. 1 Samuel 16:7 says “But the LORD said
to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature,
because I have rejected him; for the LORD does not see as mortals see; they
look on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.”
Let this lent be a time to get into character. This is not what we have
necessarily done before but what God is backing us to do now. It is not
available character but character that we are reaching out to and making as
our own. It is the character that is waiting for someone to take and act
upon. Are we ready? Amen.
Fr. Jerry Kurian
Jerry Kurian Kodiattu
Lecturer, Department of Communications
United Theological College, Bangalore-46
Malankara World Great
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