Today’s society calls us to parade the riches. I have seen it and felt the need of it everywhere. The advertisement media too has played a big part in developing this culture in me. Modern life teaches me to seek attention, gain attention and finally, to retain attention. Often this show-off is sustained with consumerism. And, both these habits are perfected in today’s economic vironment.
Years ago, when I got my first ATM card, I knew it only as a key to operate my Savings Bank Account from remote locations. It went on like that for years. Then, late in the evening in a shop, it all changed. Wanting to purchase a woollen blanket, I ran short of money. The salesman asked me if I was having an ATM card and if there was money in my bank account. Surprised, I told him ‘Yes’ to both these questions. That day consumerism planted a little flag in my heart. After all these years of shopping, I have understood one truth: I buy many things simply because I have a means to buy them. Consumerism had understood that truth far before me!! That’s why they have given me access to shopping malls and credit cards.
Practitioners of lent has a different calling. One word that comes to me here is frugality. Simply speaking, frugality is a sparing culture. Frugality is saying ‘No’ to different trivial urges that pop-up in a shopping mall. Frugality calls us to keep economy in the use of recourses. But why be frugal? The interesting objective in frugality is not frugality in itself. Frugality is only a means to something more profound: fraternity. Fraternity is all about brotherhood...the quality of being a brother of another man. Only when we combine frugality with fraternity, will the synergy emerge. One cause of Christian Lent is to develop fraternity through frugality. Simply said, when a Christian home gives-up on the essentials and write a cheque on charity, that is the essence of lent. So, as frugality ends in fraternity, Lent takes a deep meaning... a holy meaning. Beyond the season of Lent, it becomes a habit to the living.
There is another dimension to frugality. Today, I would like to make my frugality ostensible... visible. Christianity teaches the opposite. The visible dynamics of frugality should be fraternity. If frugality is the driving force behind fraternity, then, only fraternity should be visible, not frugality. Those who parade frugality in public are as poverty stricken as those who parade riches.
A song says, ‘Let the world know we a Christians by our love’. It is as simple as that!!