Monday, March 31, 2014

Come Lord Jesus, set me free!

Luke 13:10-17
10 Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. 11 And just then there appeared a woman with a spirit that had crippled her for eighteen years. She was bent over and was quite unable to stand up straight. 12 When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, “Woman, you are set free from your ailment.” 13 When he laid his hands on her, immediately she stood up straight and began praising God. 14 But the leader of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had cured on the sabbath, kept saying to the crowd, “There are six days on which work ought to be done; come on those days and be cured, and not on the sabbath day.” 15 But the Lord answered him and said, “You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger, and lead it away to give it water? 16 And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen long years, be set free from this bondage on the sabbath day?” 17 When he said this, all his opponents were put to shame; and the entire crowd was rejoicing at all the wonderful things that he was doing.

The passage talks of Jesus healing the crippled woman who was crippled for 18 years. The setting free of the woman is questioned by the leader of the synagogue who tells the others there that there are six days to help people and the Sabbath being holy should not be used for such things. Jesus notes the hypocrisy of the statement and says that people give water to their ox or donkey on the Sabbath and what then is wrong of helping the crippled woman.

Though it seems an open and shut case of Jesus healing the crippled woman we could also interpret it from the perspective of lent as a case of Jesus healing the woman of the complex she may have had because of how people looked at her. It seems to offer a good case of how we treat people and create a system where children and adults alike are graded in a certain way to suggest what success is and isn’t.

The education system that we have and the way we bring up our children and look at the aged are determined by certain factors in the capitalist system that we are a part of. Children have to fulfill certain criteria right from the time of getting an admission to play school and Kindergarten. This is a system that has been founded on old perspectives of right and wrong. Such systems and grading will make a person shrink inwards instead of coming out and expressing themselves. Such shrinking leads to a crippling of the self and makes a person bends inwards. Perhaps this could have been why the woman was bent over.

The mind to tell the crippled woman that she has been set free could be seen from this perspective. It tells us that the very way we look at people is flawed. It leads to inferiority in people that they do not measure up to our expectations. This makes people quiet, walk with their heads down, stammer while they talk, not look people in the eye, not write and do everything different from whatever is called and understood as mainline and traditional. Parents will only be looking at how many marks their children score instead of seeing what ability they have. They will look to make them what their neighbour’s children are instead of what their children want to be and will always talk of what they are not instead of celebrating what they are. Jesus becomes a graceful and understanding parent, guide and brother to the crippled woman telling her that she is free to do what she wants rather than have the burden of what others want her to be. This burden has loomed over her for so long and it is time to bring a stop to that.

We can use this lent season to understand the gifts of people rather than harping on what they could have and should become. It is a time to stop being hypocrites and become human beings who care. It is also a time when we can turn churches and seminaries into places that accept people how they are instead of having difficult exams and grading systems to check whether they have learnt anything and become what we want them to be. The question that we need to pose here is “What does God want them to be?” rather than “What do we want them to be?” This brings in a change in perspective wherein it does not matter anymore as to what we want but it matters a lot as to what God wants. Such a commitment is necessary in true places of worship and teaching where we not only commit our children and students to God but then listen to and discern God’s plan and wish for them.

The synagogue leader had several six days in the week to make a difference in the life of the woman but he does not do anything. When Jesus does something he quotes the law and tradition. We will have similar instances to deal with when we would want to change the system and people will question us saying that it is against the constitution, syllabus, curriculum and whatever else. Lent brings about a time when we should feel strengthened and emboldened to take a step towards what God wants and not what we want. Truly that will bring about a setting free of those who have been crippled in society due to our wrong methods of looking at them. It will also set us free of our narrow mind sets and attitudes.

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Friday, March 28, 2014

Patriarch Ignatius Zakka I Iwas: The equinox on which the church rode three decades.

The Patriarch of Antioch and all the East, H.H. Moran Mor Iganatius Zakka I Iwas is no more. The Holy Father who lead his sheep for 34 years is now a memory. As funeral service dates and the place of the funeral have been fixed and as people are waiting to be a part of the funeral, in person and online, one must bring grief, loss and confusion into perspective to come to terms with what has happened.

The patriarch did have health issues which were also linked with age but no one expected an end now. So much that many faithful in India are still waking up to the fact that their spiritual leader won’t be coming to India again to meet them and share his love with them. His passing away is a loss in definite terms to everyone who knew him personally, those who saw him from far and those who read and heard about him.

Grief has to have a way of being dealt with and when a national or church leader dies we try to deal with the grief that we have. The Patriarch Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas is and was seen as a spiritual father to all the faithful in the church. The grief we are trying to deal with today is the grief of having lost a father. Seeing pictures of the patriarch in church and even in houses has been a constant for these 34 years. It was the feeling that when you entered the two common and most warm places in your life, your Holy Father was there to greet you. That was a constant and this removal of the constant becomes one of the significant aspects of the grief felt. It is like saying that wherever we went and whatever we did, we could come back to our house and to our church and see this familiar face which would put us at ease.

The loss felt at this point of time is of having lost the person who stood as the symbol of leadership for everyone. He was the sublime face of what is and what isn’t. Losing out on this face and the memories which come with it, make us feel that we have lost something so deep, committed and fixated in our hearts and minds that we cannot replace this with anything else. One has only one father and somehow another face cannot replace this immediately. The throne of the patriarch and the authority of the patriarch go beyond the personality of the patriarch but never the less the personality touches us in more ways than the throne or the authority can.

The confusion for the people is what happens next? Who will be the next patriarch and will that person be able to fulfill all that the Patriarch Ignatius Zakka Iwas has been to all? This confusion adds to the grief of having lost our father. It is the pain of uncertainty coupled with loss that makes grief even so much more hurtful. Many of us have already experienced this with the passing away of our parent/s. This puts us back in time to a place when we lost many things and it took time to get back to our normal lives. This time our mind tells us that we are repeating this feeling in our lives.

There are several things that give us solace and hope at this time though. The patriarch was born in an ordinary family and had an ordinary life style. He joined the seminary like any other youngster who wanted to serve the church. Iraq where he was born and Syria where he then lived went through severe strife and violence. The violence in Syria continues till date. He has had to deal with Muslim Christian tensions which come with living in the same place and having a shared culture but different belief. He had to bear witness to the migration that people in his church had to undertake from their own land. He has watched the schism that affected his church in India. In essence, the patriarch watched not just the best of what happened in the church but the worst of what happened. His enthronement and period as Patriarch went through suffering and violence. But he withstood all of this with utmost sincerity and passion for service. At this time of grief this gives us constant solace and hope. The Patriarch stood his ground no matter what and so will we, because we are after all his followers.

Such problems in his own church did not deter him from being ecumenical. He fostered good relationships with other churches and set forth a great precedent in church relations by coming together with Pope John Paul II to sign a historic agreement of acknowledging the misunderstandings that crept into the churches and looking at the way forward. His straight and up right relationship with various sister churches and with member churches in the WCC showed time and again that he was as ecumenical as a Patriarch could be and one should be proud of that.

His scholarship and academic interest lead him to pen several articles and a study of these articles exposes the openness and just theology of the Patriarch. His article on women in the church is a reminder to the people in the church that God does not take sides and if at all takes sides with the weak in society. His articles therefore become a good resource for further research and study. Perhaps his basic seminary education in Syria and his further education in the U.S. together with his experience as an observer in the Second Vatican Council and his association with the World Council of Churches as one of its president’s gave him the openness to see theology and doctrine as it is instead of seeing it as how he wanted to see it. His wish to have a place of education and research lead him to build the seminary in Syria called the Mor Ephrem Seminary and Monastery at Ma’arrat Saydanaya in Syria, where incidentally he will be buried. It further made him remark that seminary and theological education in the church was very important and hence the church needed theologically educated priests. His love for the Malankara Syrian Orthodox Theological Seminary is well known and his penchant for a system and a framework made him do things in the way that the Indian church wanted it at times. Scholarships in the Patriarch’s name were made available not just to Syrian Orthodox candidates but also to Orthodox Syrian, Marthoma and other Syrian church denominations. I think it wouldn’t be far fetched to say that other sister church denominations made use of foreign scholarships in comparison to our own church members. But we can see this as a good approach that the Patriarch followed in which he chose to give away a scholarship instead of seeing it go waste. The gloominess and vacuum of his departure can be made up to an extend by encouraging theological education and research in the Syrian Orthodox Church in India. We would be honouring the Holy Father by such a distinguished decision and move.

The Patriarch’s passing away on March 21 also signifies a special day, when usually on the 20th or 21st , night and day are almost on equal terms. It is also a day used to calculate the Easter date every year. The Easter date is calculated as the first Sunday after the full moon occurring on or after the Vernical Equinox or Spring Equinox, that is, after March 21. The Spring Equinox signifies that the son is betrayed, dies and is resurrected to attain eternal life. March 21 is seen as important by many religions. The Parsis commemorate it as the beginning of spring and the beginning of the New Year. It is also seen as the time of the fight between good and evil and of good emerging victorious. His passing away at a well placed time could suggest something hope filled to the church suffering from civil war in Syria.

A leader is a leader not just by the position he or she occupies but of what the leader makes of that position. The Patriarch vociferously expressed his expression for his flock. His four visits to India and his numerous visits around the world to meet people in the church were moments of the leader reaching out to his people. This was despite his flailing health and weak knees. Anyone who visited him felt the warmth and hospitality of a human being more than a leader. This raised his stature among the people and attracted people to him. One church member grieved the passing away of the patriarch and reminisced of his experience with the Patriarch saying that he felt a positive energy when he stood next to the Patriarch. His sadness was not just of the passing away but of the thought that he could not experience this positive energy anymore. This positive energy can make people attracted to a leader to the point that they feel assured and confident in the presence of such a leader. The Patriarch managed time and again to become a soothing presence to his people and to those who met him.

The Patriarch managed to bring more people to the church by seeing the change in times. Within the traditional understanding of the church he understood that when ordinary people want to come to the church, the doors of the church cannot be closed completely to them. This may have prompted the Patriarch to accept two churches from South America into the Syrian Orthodox fold. The first number about 100,000 and are from Brazil and the second number a whopping 800,000 and are from Guatemala. Such openness may also provide hope for many others all over the world. Whatever was the reason for the Patriarch to do this, the positive ramifications of this will provide more vigour to the church and prove that the church is much beyond specific race and tradition.

To sum up, the Patriarch Ignatius Zakka Iwas has managed to be a Patriarch and a true Holy Father for all the faithful. His spirituality, theology, and above all humanity have been something which the coming generations can emulate. Even as we grieve, the Holy Father has given us the hope of spring and resurrection. He has made us look forward to the rest of lent with renewed vigour, faith and hope. More than grief, he has reminded us of a new beginning and a fresh start. This is centred on the faith in the resurrection of Christ Jesus our Lord. Go in peace our Holy Father and keep praying for us.

(The author is the small boy in between the then Patriarch Ignatius Yacoub III and the present Catholicose Baselios Thomas I.)

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Jesus healing the paralytic: Moving beyond our paralyzed selves

Mark 2:1-12.
2 When he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. 2 So many gathered around that there was no longer room for them, not even in front of the door; and he was speaking the word to them. 3 Then some people[a] came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. 4 And when they could not bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him; and after having dug through it, they let down the mat on which the paralytic lay. 5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” 6 Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, 7 “Why does this fellow speak in this way? It is blasphemy! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” 8 At once Jesus perceived in his spirit that they were discussing these questions among themselves; and he said to them, “Why do you raise such questions in your hearts? 9 Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Stand up and take your mat and walk’? 10 But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic— 11 “I say to you, stand up, take your mat and go to your home.” 12 And he stood up, and immediately took the mat and went out before all of them; so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”

The story of Jesus healing the paralytic is quite a popular story. The intrigue in the story is increased by the adventurous four persons who help get the paralytic to the roof and then struggle to let him down so that Jesus would see him. The crowd that had surrounded Jesus is neutralized by this very creative way of approaching Jesus. It must have been quite a sight for people then. There are two things which come across to us in this passage. This helps us construct a spiritual basis for lent and takes us through a Lenten experience.

Taking the paralytic up and letting go would have been difficult for the four persons. It is like our talks and prayer to God. We are reluctant to pray and give our needs to God. The four men do the opposite of what we do. They know that they cannot get through the crowd. So they become enterprising and take the man up, only to let him down. After being enterprising and knowing that their enterprise works when Jesus takes notice, they are willing to let go of their friend into the hands of Jesus. During lent are we willing to do the same? Are we willing to accept that lent is a time when we should not only take a commitment to those who are in need of our help? Are we after fulfilling our role, willing to pull back and see God working rather than expressing our over powering ego and saying that we should then be given the honour of doing everything even when we know we are not skilled for that. Our preparation may make us feel that we can have easy access to God because we are closer to God in our own assessment. But we then understand that this is not the case. This is why we need to let go completely, lent or no lent. Letting go completely gives us uncertainty but coupled with faith and belief is the most important and beautiful thing in Christian faith.

Jesus heals the paralytic of his existence in the midst of people who look down upon him. Jesus says that his sins are healed. The healing is misleading because we think that sickness and sin are related. But this is confusing because sickness can’t be related to sin. Rather what this shows is that it is not and if at all, sickness is a corporate responsibility and therefore cannot be pin pointed on one person. What Jesus does through asking him to get up and walk is to tell them that he is fixing their short coming instead of the paralytic’s. Before that he says that your sins are forgiven. This is what the scribes complain about. They bicker as to how and from where Jesus got the authority to forgive sins. But it could also mean that Jesus is offering something greater than healing when he says that your sins are forgiven. But this is opposed by the scribes by their bickering. The paralytic could then not have been linked to his personal sin but rather to the corporate sin that everyone was bound to. It could be that Jesus could have been offering him eternal life which would then give him the courage to get over his paralysis. The scribes deny this to him.

But since the others there try to make that controversial, he says, get up, take your mat and walk. This then brings to an end the way people are going to see him. But the sin of the community remains. The paralytic is given the strength to get up and walk. This was what was denied to him all these years and this is what he now gets through the intervention of Jesus. Even as the onlookers who criticize Jesus and the paralytic stay on, the man on the mat walks away.

Disability is something we like misinterpreting in lieu of the scripture. This becomes so serious that priesthood and lay participation is being done taking into consideration such a framework which is in terms of perfection and the acceptable and unacceptable. Such a notion has dangerous ramifications on the real and true expressions of the church. This becomes a big sin during lent. Since lent is a time when we are trying to work on our short comings and sins, we then should also work on our concept of sin and who is sinning. Any set up which looks into disabled people as people who have in some way sinned is flawed. Jesus tries to go beyond the usual notion by saying that he as the second person in the trinity is capable of saying that the sin alleged and pinned on a particular person is being wiped out by him because he feels that this is unjust.

There is a feeling that lent is a time to become strong internally and spiritually. This internal strengthening sometimes also becomes a strengthening of moral attitudes in our culture. Moralizing like the scribes brings about such comments like who is he to forgive sins and by what authority is he doing it. Churches fall into the trap of thinking that priests and church committees are in the business of saying what is and what is not sin when only God can judge in reality. This means that lent can become a time to be inspired by what Jesus did. He offers forgiveness for sins which have been alleged and labelled.

When Jesus tells the person to stand, take his mat and walk, what he may have meant is to tell the paralysed person to not take this humiliation any more. Give it back to them and which better way than to stand up, take the mat and walk. Jesus inspires the paralyzed person to walk and to walk away after all that the person has had to go through. There is no need to take this insult anymore.

Lent becomes an excellent time for discernment. This is a discernment to accompany those who have been marginalized and then discern and accept the role of God in bringing them to the main stream. The Lenten experience should help us towards this commitment of accompaniment, moving back and then accepting the will of God.

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Monday, March 10, 2014

Lent as a way of healing ourselves of prejudices and wrong notions

Luke 5: 12-16
12 Once, when he was in one of the cities, there was a man covered with leprosy.[b] When he saw Jesus, he bowed with his face to the ground and begged him, “Lord, if you choose, you can make me clean.” 13 Then Jesus[c] stretched out his hand, touched him, and said, “I do choose. Be made clean.” Immediately the leprosy[d] left him. 14 And he ordered him to tell no one. “Go,” he said, “and show yourself to the priest, and, as Moses commanded, make an offering for your cleansing, for a testimony to them.” 15 But now more than ever the word about Jesus[e] spread abroad; many crowds would gather to hear him and to be cured of their diseases. 16 But he would withdraw to deserted places and pray.

We have completed almost a week of the great lent. The 50 day lent observed in the Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church seeks to impart a lesson on goodness in the lives of church members. The lent which also is inspired by the 40 day fasting of Jesus encourages the faithful to fast till noon and follow diet restrictions along with special prayers and helping those in need.

The incident of the healing of the leper found in St. Luke 5:12-16 has a leper who calls upon Jesus to touch him and cleanse him if he so chooses. Choice is critical for our spirituality. This is so because choice decides on whether we end up doing good or bad. Discount sales bring about people who either stand and watch in awe the products which are being given for a discount, or people who stand and watch what other people are choosing or people who grab everything they can, whether it is important for them or not. Choice is important and people choose in different ways. But our choice has high ramifications not only for us but for others. So when the leper asks Jesus to choose he is asking him to make an informed and just choice. Jesus chooses to touch the leper and make him clean.

The conversation between the leper and Jesus can be seen as a symbolism for lent. It is a symbolism of those who we are in touch with, seeking the goodness of the cleanness of lent that we claim.

Lent can be seen in three different ways. Firstly, lent is a time to clean up our act. Many of us are interested in bringing about personal change during lent. Personal piety becomes a way of bringing about this change. But we never go the full distance of righting our wrongs and doing penance for the mistakes we have committed. Perhaps we are being challenged by those who have been pushed away. The challenge is to clean up our act and show that we have indeed become better persons. Jesus brings about a cleaning up act when he touches the leper. It is to say in a way that he has cleaned himself of societal notions of disease and perfection.

Secondly, lent is a time to look at inward beauty. India is still obsessed with women and men who want to look fair. So much that fairness becomes the aspect of looking good or bad. But lent offers a time to know that beauty lies within and not outside. It is therefore not dependent on outward notions of beauty which have been passed on to us by the society we live in. The leper did not pass the test of outward beauty as seen by the society at that point of time. He then becomes an outcast. When Jesus says yes and touches him, he observes the inward beauty of the man with leprosy. Disease as we see it is a construct of a society which thinks it is perfect. This perfection gives the notion of healthy and diseased, strong and weak. But lent offers us a time to think and understand that inward dietary restrictions and piety should lead to the understanding that beauty lies inside and cannot be measured by outward notions of good or bad.

Thirdly, lent gives us an excellent opportunity to cleanse ourselves of leprosy and all bad thoughts. Our effort is towards bringing about inward change. This inward change is in the direction of seeking to clean ourselves of all sorts of competition, perfection, notion of beauty and judgement. So we should see ourselves in the place of Jesus. His courage to make a choice and say yes becomes a Lenten challenge before us. This is a challenge to change so that we accept others as they are, instead of judging them. Lent thus gives us an opportunity to say that our diet restrictions are going to make us refrain from judging and talking about others. It instead gives us an opportunity to work on ourselves so that others may benefit.

Lent therefore is a time to understand this deep presence of God inside us. God’s love for us is unconditional and not based on the fulfilling of certain parameters. Every day of lent should be spent in this understanding that the leprosy in our eyes, and way of looking and understanding needs to be changed and the leper in the story will helps us for that. Let this lent be a time of realization and not self actualization and self praise. Let it rather be a celebration of life where those around us will be blessed and happy by our presence and intervention.

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(Excerpts from a sermon preached in St. Mary's JSO Cathedral, Bangalore on March 9, 2014.)

Saturday, March 8, 2014

"Come on man, be a woman": Turning into a woman on women’s day

March 8th is being commemorated as International Women’s day in all parts of the world. This year the United Nations theme for International Women's Day is "Equality for women is progress for all." It is heart warming to see that many in the church have started writing on the plight of women on women’s day. It shows that there is at least a small iota of hope, however far it may seem to us now.

Women’s day will be commemorated through various ways and means. There will be seminars, protest marches, worships, write ups and interviews of women who have made it big in a man’s world. From the perspective of a woman all of this is very important and provides an opportunity to talk about women’s rights at home, in the work place, with friends and maybe even in church. But what can a man do to feel the intensity of what it means for a woman to be accepted and be given equal rights?

Why not turn into a woman for a day and see what women really face in the world on an everyday basis. I am going to imagine my own life and the various instances and stories of the women I see.

So what do I get to see but conveniently ignore every single day of my life?

6:30 A.M.- My wife gets up and cooks breakfast and lunch while I rest saying that I was up working late.

7:00 A.M. -Wife is at the bed side when our daughter wakes up, reassuring her that her mother is there and asking her to cuddle and feel loved in the coolness of the morning.

7:30 A.M.- Wife brings breakfast to the table and sits with our daughter as I sip coffee and read the newspaper. I do say that it is urgent for me to read the newspaper as I teach about the mass media.

7:50 A.M.- Wife dresses up our daughter and gets ready. In between in all likelihood she has also found time to iron my dress.

8:25 A.M.- We drive to college. This is my first major work for the family in the morning. I drive to college!

8:32 A.M.- Wife takes our daughter to play school as I go to chapel. Since I am working in the seminary, it is important that I and not her is in the chapel! At least this is the lesson we have been taught.

8:57 A.M.- Wife has by now gone to the library for her own reading assignments and I am in all probability standing with colleagues and having a chat before class. I can notice that the loud laughs and confident talks are all by men while women are already sitting at their tables and talking in hushed tones, if at all. Women colleagues will be juggling between house and college work and will have a hundred things on their minds while the men will be having a good hearty laugh on politics in India or the state of roads in Bangalore.

9:04 A.M.- Classes start and one senses the difference between men and women in class as well. When women speak men make sounds, try to shout them down, and largely don’t take them seriously. When men talk, women are expected to listen with awe! The class representatives are invariably men, the discussions are by men and the decisions are also finally influenced by men.

10:55 A.M.- Coffee time and one can notice how men are more confident than women and how women are sitting more quietly and talking much more softly than men. Men on the other hand are confident and all over the place. The laughs and sounds are predominantly male.

1:00 P.M.- The situation in the dining hall is not much different. Men out number women everywhere. The jokes are male, the laughs are male, the food is male, the plates are male and the smell is male. Everything apart from the women themselves are male.

1:40 P.M.- People are walking around the lawn after lunch. The sounds heard are again predominantly male. There are women walking too but the body language of women and men is totally different. Women always seem scared and are looking out for themselves and each other. Men appear carefree and portray a “I care a damn” look.

2:15 P.M.- While walking past the men’s hostel one can hear a variety of sounds. It appears that men are having a good time inside. The same walk past the women’s hostel does not give many sounds. So less in comparison that you start wondering whether there is anyone inside!

4:30 P.M.- The small play ground has several men playing cricket and others playing badminton in the hostel quadrangle. Women are no where to be seen.

Coming back to my own house, my wife would have washed the plates, put our daughter to sleep and is tidying the house from top to toe. I spend time in the class room and office finishing up college work and reach by 5:30 or 6 in the evening. I say I am very tired with the lack of sleep and all the work in college. I never ask my wife whether she is tired.

7:00 P.M.- Any programme in church will bring a host of people. Many would want to speak to the pastor. It is noticeable that people will look with great interest if the pastor is speaking to a single woman. All eyes will be on the woman whether she likes it or not.

9:30 P.M.- Dinner is again ready on the table at home. I am back exhausted and manage to eat some food. I notice that my wife is reading a bed time story for our daughter before putting her to sleep.

An entire day passes and I realise that being a man has given me certain privileges in India. These are ill gotten and undeserving privileges. These are privileges that I should never have got in the first place.

On women’s day we do usually argue that there is no point in having one day set apart for women. But can men be a woman for one day? Just one day? As a son, a husband and father I may wash dishes, look after my daughter, cook at times, take care of the house and share house hold chores and be good to women students and women parishioners. But how often do I involve myself in that? How difficult is it to be a woman? Simple. Be a woman on women’s day.

Our culture brings up boys by telling them “Come on, be a man.” This needs to change. It’s women’s day. Take up the challenge. “Come on, be a woman.”

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