Text: Matthew 28: 16-20
Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
In the field of education we have a phenomenon called the Pygmalion Effect. Before we explore what it means let us explore the myth of Pygmalion. It is said that Pygmalion was a Sculptor from Cyprus. He was not interested in any woman in his country and therefore delayed his marriage. Finally he decided to make a statue of a woman with all love and creativity. He invested all hopes and aspirations into it. Once when he kissed the statue, the lips became warm and the lifeless form breathed life. So the Pygmalion Effect challenges the grading of a student as intelligent, average or below average. It supposes that if we expect a student to do well despite his/her poor academic record, chances are great he/she will rise to our expectations. This approach is also useful for managers and team leaders who with their positive expectations and encouragements can transform their team to do wonders.
We are meditating the very well known passage which is popularly called as the Great Commission. Jesus commissions the 11 disciples on a mountain in Galilee. It is said that when they saw him, they worshipped him, but some doubted. When we look at the people we refer as disciples, their inconsistency strikes us the most. James and John said they wanted to be on Jesus’ left and right when he came in his glory. At Gethsemane, when Jesus asked Peter, James and John to pray along with him, they dozed off. During the crucifixion they all deserted him. Peter denied him thrice. When the news of his resurrection was around, they chose not to believe it. Even when fellow disciples said they saw Resurrected Christ, Thomas chose to doubt. To such a group of men with huge inconsistencies and failures, Jesus says “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Jesus is investing his expectations on a band of so called ‘losers’. But by the help of the Trinity these 11 losers change and transform the history of the world. They rise up to the commission laid down by their Master. Not only that, he also assures his presence to the end of the age.
Personally when I look at myself and evaluate my call and commission, I am aware that with all my internal contradictions and failures, I do not fit the bill. When I was ordained and commissioned to the Northeast, the thought troubled me, whether I was ready for something so challenging. But I realized that God does not call perfect people to do His work. He makes imperfect people perfect in the journey of doing His will. He also assures us his presence and guidance.
My dear friends, we live in times where negativity has become order of the day. In this fast and competitive world, where 95 and 96 is also average, there seems to be no place for ordinary people. One of my friends doing M.B.A. confided that “This is a cruel world. You have to be extraordinary and different to be in the race. Ordinary people like me have no chance of survival.” We live in times where we need to prove our worth or else we are good for nothing. What does one do? Where does one go? What is the purpose of life? My dear friends this passage is a testimony where our Saviour used very ordinary people to do extra ordinary things. There will be many people who will question our worth and integrity. But take heart. Our creator has created us for a purpose; He has invested his expectation on us. He has called us to do great things. Are we ready to rise up to His expectations?
Roshen George is from Vashi Mar Thoma Church. I happened to know Roshen through my association with Navjeevan Centre Mumbai where I volunteered for nearly 2 years. The imprint of Roshen in the lives of the Children of Navjeevan Centre is very unique and distinct. He initially volunteered to be a house brother at Navjeevan to mould the lives of the children. He also taught children maths and science. I realized his presence and guidance was an inspiration for children who were in search for role models. But who is Roshen? What is his past? After his twelth grade Roshen decided to do Engineering. After venturing into it he realized that he was not meant for it. He failed in many subjects, got back log after back log. His self esteem took a beating, he started to venture into the realm of addiction. He lost track of his life becoming a headache for his parents and a matter of ridicule and scorn for the people who knew him. He decided that he is no good and plunged into despair and depression. It is at this time that Rev Kurien George was the Director of Navjeevan Centre. He was renowned as a counselor par excellence. Roshen’s parent’s in their countless effort to help Roshen out, also approached Rev Kurien. Achen called Roshen to Navjeevan and Roshen too very reluctantly went tired of the many efforts of people to straighten him up. But when they first met, Reverend asked him what he is good at. This was a much unexpected question. He had come to believe he was good for nothing. But strangely he said he loves mathematics. Reverend assigned him the task of teaching math for the children of 9th and 10th statndard of Navjeevan Centre. He was not used to being given responsibilities. But he took this one up. He dedicated himself to teach the children. In the meanwhile Rev Kurien engaged with him and helped him to deal with his problems of addiction and failure. Through prayers, fellowship and new sense of responsibility, Roshen was slowly being transformed. Roshen confided with me “It is these children who have changed me, they taught me how to pray, I learnt the love of Jesus observing their life, and therefore I will live for these Children. I will help them in their faith journey.” This was not a momentary decision. Even today, Roshen is the mentor of the boys at the Halfway home of Navjeevan Centre at Vashi. He is a role model and a brother to them. A person who was deemed as a failure and a headache was touched by the Love of God. He was endowed with expectations that he lived up to. This ordinary man did extraordinary things because Rev Kurien used the Grace of Jesus to transform him. The transformed became the transformer. Remember, when people write you off and discard you as a failure, Jesus invests expectations on you, believes in you and transforms you. Are you ready to live up to it?
Rev Merin Mathew
Mar Thoma Syrian Church