Pray with India, January 29, 2023

Pray with India, January 29, 2023

Lectionary Selection:  Matthew 5:1-12

Prayers for India

God of all blessings, we thank you for the awareness of our blessedness. We thank you for teaching us with today’s lectionary on Beatitudes what pleasing human conduct is and what it means to do justice, love kindness, and to walk humbly with you. We are grateful that it is not a simple and unthinking application of a rule, but one that would always require a due measure of fear and trembling in discerning what is just, in knowing how to do justice, to love kindness, and what it means to walk humbly with you, our God. Forgive us for not being diligent in addressing situations that are not just and kind. Strengthen us to be courageous to venture beyond our discomfort in striving for the blessedness of justice, peace, and love. We especially lift up every single person in India who struggle to behold and enshrine the values of your Kingdom. Keep them and bless them so that their labors may not be in vain. In Jesus’ name, we pray, Amen.

Mission Moment for India

Walking in the Light of the Beatitudes

The nine beatitudes that open the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew’s Gospel are neither based on individual merits nor could they be easily turned into action programs that seek blessedness by personally working toward those qualities or simply striving to address the underlying causes that produce each of those situations. When read along with Isaiah 61, even those first four beatitudes—being poor in spirit, distressed, demeaned, and persecuted—where the recipients of blessings appear to be passive, would come across as those who are impacted by a social situation produced and maintained by injustice. Thus, the “poor in spirit” need not be understood as internal spiritual poverty or as a voluntarily adopted posture but as the literal effect of involuntary poverty that crushes the human spirit. And there cannot be a precise course of action for humans to become merciful, pure at heart, peacemakers, and to be persecuted for the sake of righteousness, and be reviled for following Christ. What the beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount thus offer is a set of directive principles and values that the disciples could yearn for as they try to heed the call of Christ. The only human possibility thereafter is to imperfectly, flailingly, and failingly attempt to follow Christ with both the awareness of what all the already inaugurated reign of God institutes, reverses, and dismantles and to strive to stay awake and to be together with all efforts of transformation that are in keeping with the values of the Kingdom of God.

Over the years, Global Ministries have accompanied a rich tapestry of partners and projects in India. In their own ways, all these institutions strive to follow the meaning and demand of the beatitudes in many different areas of societal life and with varying modes of involvement. Poverty alleviation through direct help, providing immediate relief during natural disasters and other emergencies, to jobs training and income-generating ventures is one set of interventions attempted by a few of our partners. Attending to the healthcare needs in the remotest of places in India is the vocation of many of our partners, and most of these hospitals are reputed institutions in their respective states in India. A significant number of our partners are engaged in overseeing formal educational institutions of various levels, and many of them provide residential programs for students as a secure vehicle to equip them to break the cycles of oppression. Since Dalit, tribal, and women’s exclusions and exploitations are entrenched in the social fabric of India, most of our partners are conscious of the situation and do strive to evolve programs and interventions with that awareness in mind and with a resolve to envision and realize a more equitable and just society.

The educational scholarships enable many students from historically disadvantaged communities to pursue different tracks of higher education. It is a hope and desire that the scholarship recipients would emerge as organic intellectuals and leaders of respective communities and Indian society in general and give leadership to future rounds of transformations that any society would need to remain livable, with plenty of equal opportunities, vibrant, and forward-looking.

Along with the direct involvement in the lives of individuals and communities, a few of our partners contemplate and work on the questions of democracy, freedoms, rights, interreligious understanding, and growing inequality. The international seminar organized by the Christian Institute for the Study of Religion and Society (CISRS), entitled “Dalits, Religion, and Liberation,” from January 5-7, 2023, at Bangalore, began the process of a critical examination of Dalit Theology’s emergence and evolution through the last 40 years, and Global Ministries have been honored and humbled to be a partner in this major conversation.

Prayer and Mission Moment by Dr. Sarosh Koshy, Global Ministries Executive for Southern Asia

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