We do know how the Church categorises the Widows. Here today I share the plight of a Woman, Mercy our Mother, who became a Widow in 2003. She then chose to live on in her flat in Mumbai even as she had two Sons and their families in the US and one married daughter in Dubai. This Woman if encouraged by all should have led a fruitful and joyful old age even though a Widow. She worked hard alongside her husband and raised 4 children ably on the honest income of her husband….
This husband perhaps had a premonition that he was close to being taken away from his earthly family. So the night before he passed away, he went lovingly to his wife, embraced her and expressed his gratefulness and happiness that she was a loving and faithful wife who stood by him in good times and bad and helped raise his 4 children to be upright and capable of standing on their own two feet. Early in the morning at 5am on July 1, 2003 he passed away peacefully.
How then did these 4 children get so Divided as since then, not be there together as a family to address the issues or cries of this old Widow. There should not have been any problem if the Son entrusted with the duty of being there for this Mother had come and taken her to his house in Boston to live with and as family. She had her Green card made by this very Son and had the advantage of Health Insurance in the USA. Today she is forced to live on the money sent by this Son and she feels acutely lonely when she is sick and hence is not keen to go to good doctors or Hospitals. Repeated emails to the Son that she needs the love and DIGNITY of being a Mother, fails to elicit any response as back home in Mumbai the Counselor Mother counsels other families, but fails to ask her own daughter and son-in-law as to why this Widow is frequently ill. Nor is the family obedient as Pope Francis rightly reflects that the right place for the OLD is not in homes away from the homes of their children, but with their children and family. As the Church counseled a Widowed Mother of her own sound mind can only nominate ‘one’ as her Inheritor which has to be rightfully & mutually accepted, the Counselor failed to get up to counsel this Widowed Mother to go and live with her Son and family.
If the Son and his wife do not want this Mother in their midst, then it is decent and the right thing to inform this Mother instead of telling her not to accept monetary assistance from her daughters. So not only is this Mother not wanted in his house, she is then forced to live on the ‘living expenses’ sent by her Son through his in-laws in Mumbai. We all know that when we have our own income we can decide on what we can and would like to spend….so when one is not in charge of one’s money or income then one is forced to live ‘as and how’ is decided by others. This is undignified to the just and lacks justice. So be it buying good quality food or spending on cabs or on good doctors or keeping a maid or a Nurse to help …..all these are decided for her by her Son who lives in the US….Can he see her cries or her needs, pains and anxieties? Can he be there to lend his shoulder to share her sorrows as she cries or cried at the death of her Elder Son or the deep Divide in the family?
I do not believe in co-incidences and it was then not surprising for me to see that after our younger child was diagnosed with Cancer early in 2016, my Mother too landed in the hospital after a month as I came to Chicago to help in the treatment and recovery of our daughter. So then now the question of who would go to Mumbai to help the Mother arose. Can I be divided physically and be there in two places? Is it only the duty of the eldest to be responsible for the parents ..? It is normal that if one member is sick, the family discusses and arrives at conclusions for the best of the Mother and family. There should not have been any confusion. The Son should have known that it was his duty to go down to help this Mother whom he went and left alone in Mumbai knowing fully well that he had a job in the US and his children were having their education in the same country. Who did he think would come and help this old Widow as she fell sick or had other many Needs daily as Elders have, around the World?
What emerged was an ugly battle of who would go down..? For them to even think that I should leave this child who was battling Cancer and go down to Mumbai to help this Mother, is hardness of their hearts. …….Should I be blamed for being in Mumbai for 24 years and taking on the care of my parents as their two sons were in the US..? It was then just taken for granted that I would continue to live on in Mumbai and go about taking care of these Parents as I did, as the Church taught. It was my understanding that there was no need for my brothers to leave their jobs or incur the time and expense of long distance flights to travel to help our Parents in Mumbai, when I lived close by. So even as they sent some financial assistance, I know that my own husband contributed because I was raised up by my Parents and I sure had my sense of Duties and Rights in perspective. No one had to tell me that if someone was sick, be it my Widowed Mother or the Widowed Mother of my husband, to be there to give a helping hand to get them back on their feet. The Church taught me as it does all its followers around the World…
I do not know what teaches this Syro-Malabar Church for I have not been for Mass in any of these Churches because I was Baptized in a Catholic Church and I find it beautiful and meaningful ever since I ‘converted’ to hear and obey. So often I would tell our families that I am a Christian now cause I choose to be so, not because I was just Baptized. I am petrified in chaotic circumstances or traffic or unruly behaviour. But when we have such organised system being taught by the Grace of God meant for me and all, I can see the Light that Jesus shows amidst these situations.
I see the beauty and the reality when we have an opportunity to live in an organised society such as here in the US where people are taught to have considerations for others and we see this in the well laid out system of roads, infra-structure, traffic regulations etc. Where does this Discipline come from? I know it comes from the Church where centuries back obedient people lay down the LAW and pursued to make it better for one and all, based on the Bible and the Ten Commandments. When we come from a land where the traffic is unruly and totally chaotic leading to deaths of not only innocent travellers or pedestrians, we also know how many critically ill patients lose their lives because even an ambulance is not allowed to proceed by the lack of morals or ethics of its citizens. Humanity fails..!
I am truly grateful because this land of US enabled our daughter to be saved in an emergency because she could be reached to the hospital in minutes …..and a delay could have cost her – her very life. I know my friend in India lost her husband who died in her arms in a cab, stuck helpless in horror in a traffic snarl as she was taking him for emergency treatment. Who is to be blamed for this lack of awareness be it for patients or for Women, Widows or children? Why was there no conversion when Saint Thomas had stepped on the shores of Kerala 2000 years back? This lack of Conversion today costs my own family even as all are Christians…but some far too ‘Superior’ to follow Jesus to ‘Serve’ as He commanded.
I know it made a difference to my life because my Father chose and rose to hear and obey this Man Jesus. He did not seek to focus on the nationality, skin color or the language that this Man spoke….but what He spoke touched his heart as it does mine daily. As it touches Mankind anywhere as they are ready to SEEK and receive His Guidance ….The Light in our daily lives…
So it is sad to see that these many Hearts in my own family have such hardness as not to see or feel the pain of this Mother Mercy in our midst. For even if she does not know, I do know that she has property in Kerala which my parents did not use because it’s proceeds were left to the many Needy in their own families as my Father earned enough for his own family. So being a generous Christian he helped when voices asked, be it from his own family or the family of his wife Mercy. I do know that her very own flat in which she lives commands a good price to meet her needs, be it a maid or a nurse or her travelling or medical expenses. Why should then she feel the humiliation in a neighbourhood which sees her suffer alone and then derides the Christians for not knowing to be a family..! It is indeed a poor example to be and malign the name of a Man who laid down His Life to teach Humanity the fruitfulness of a Heart filled with LOVE.
Sp pray with me folks as I pray and try to help this Mother to know that she does not have to feel humiliated for she does not owe her Son this flat for he has not helped her in her old age. She has the freedom to sell it and put the proceeds in her name and she can then choose to live in a retirement home or with her children, but in DIGNITY as she meets her own expenses. This suggestion was shared to all the family but there is as usual a DEAFENING SILENCE. Why push money on this Mother if you do not find her worthy to live in one’s family – as FAMILY or even be heard? Repeated emails to all – to tell this Mother the truth so that she will be ready to do the needful has as usual met with NO Communications..!
Does that mean that even though this Mother is not found worthy as a Mother or a Widow to have a Right to live with her family, her flat is wanted as a ‘Right’ to a younger Son and his family?? Here I have to share with the Readers that there is no such LAW in Kerala or elsewhere that the property of the Parents have to go the Sons….. If the son id forced not to offer shelter to his Widowed Mother, then the Mother has a Right to know this Truth and take decisions to live with any of her children – of her own money to have that DIGNITY in life which is so important for any Christian….any Humanity!! Does this Mother have to feel humiliated to live off her sons-in-law? No, she can be told the truth that she will live off her own money for her daily expenses and so she will have that Peace and love for which Mother Mercy desperately craves as a Christian and after her time the proceeds could go to all her grandchildren or by their decisions be forwarded to the Church. Why have her DIE in misery and then have the flat be contested and disputed to be left unattended…when it can be put to Good cause, lest its negligence falls on my Parents’ Souls..or the Souls of the children for failure to obey the Church instituted to help Mankind as we live in families and communities.
‘Stewardship’ of money, talents, etc. is an important consideration when we learn that what we do or fail to do – both have consequences and impact on the coming generations. If we have love in our Hearts as does Jesus to teach us, then we will live as He teaches and also SHARE His Teachings with one and ALL in Words and ACTIONS. It is an ongoing Discipleship…
The untimely death of Mother Mercy’s Son & our own child -” The right to private property – 3″
“As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God’s varied grace” (1 Pt 4:10).
What identifies a steward? Safeguarding material and human resources and using them responsibly are one answer; so is generous giving of time, talent, and treasure. But being a Christian steward means more. As Christian stewards, we receive God’s gifts gratefully, cultivate them responsibly, share them lovingly in justice with others, and return them with increase to the Lord.
Disciples as Stewards
Let us begin with being a disciple—a follower of our Lord Jesus Christ. As members of the Church, Jesus calls us to be disciples. This has astonishing implications:
- Mature disciples make a conscious decision to follow Jesus, no matter what the cost.
- Christian disciples experience conversion—lifeshaping changes of mind and heart—and commit their very selves to the Lord.
- Christian stewards respond in a particular way to the call to be a disciple. Stewardship has the power to shape and mold our understanding of our lives and the way in which we live.
Jesus’ disciples and Christian stewards recognize God as the origin of life, giver of freedom, and source of all things. We are grateful for the gifts we have received and are eager to use them to show our love for God and for one another. We look to the life and teaching of Jesus for guidance in living as Christian stewards.