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September 29, 2020 Tuesday 10:27:34 AM IST

Brotherly!

Reflections

We are the Children of God  and willingly accept even the less fortunate people we meet as our brothers and sisters.

Alfredo was an orphan in Mexico. Every day he used to go to the gates of an orphanage and watch children playing and having fun inside the campus. He desired to be one among them. However, he knew he had nobody to recommend him for admission at the orphanage. One day, mustering strength, he went inside asking to see the director who was a priest.

When the priest saw Alfredo he was shocked. Alfredo looked horrible as his face was contorted. Regaining his composure quickly the priest asked him about the purpose of his visit. Alfredo said he was an orphan and would like to be admitted in the orphanage. His parents and other family members had died in a fire and he was the only one who survived the catastrophe, he said.

The priest was willing to admit him as it was a deserving case. However, he alone could not take the decisionto admit Alfredo as the tradition was to get the approval of all the members of the orphanage before a newcomer was granted admission. Hence, he convened a meeting of all the inmates and presented the request of Alfredo before them. He said if they approve of Alfredo’s admission, then they would be duty-bound to treat him as their own brother. After admission, if they mistreat him because of his facial deformity, it would be very painful for Alfredo, he added.


The priest then explained to them what had happened to Alfredo and how he ended up on the streets. When the children gave their approval, the priest brought Alfredo into their midst. When they saw Alfredo for the first time they were stunned and didn’t know what to say or do. After a few awkward moments, a boy stepped forward, caught hold of Alfredo and said, “You will be my brother.” Slowly others also came forward and embraced him and accepted him as their own brother.

Years ago an American company made a telefilm based on the story of Alfredo. In this telefilm there is a scene in which the inmates give a dinner in honor of Alfredo. In this scene Alfredo looks entirely different from the previous scenes. While he looked shabby and horrible in the earlier scenes, he is shown with a charming personality with his teeth cleaned, hair trimmed and his torn and soiled clothes replaced with new colorful ones. Moreover, he has a beaming smile which melts away his ugliness transforming him into a charming boy.

Alfredo became a new human being within hours of his arrival at the orphanage. The thought that he was with a group of boys who are like his own brothers made him forget his ugliness. Moreover, their love and total acceptance gave him hope of new life filled with dreams.

We know we are all brothers and sisters since we are the children of God. However, we are reluctant to acknowledge this in real life, and hence we tend to treat others very often as outsiders, and not as our brothers and sisters. The children at the orphanage had the heart to accept Alfredo as their own brother even when he looked ugly and repulsive. But we, even with all our education and wisdom, fail to see the less privileged among us as our brothers and sisters.


Russian novelist and short story writer Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910) is considered to be one of the greatest authors of all time. One day while he was taking a stroll he saw a beggar who was looking at him with pitiful eyes. Immediately Tolstoy reached into his pocket but it was empty. Knowing not what to do Tolstoy apologized profusely to the beggar saying, “Sorry my brother. I have nothing to give you now.” “You have given me more than I asked for,” said the beggar with a heartwarming smile. “You have called me brother!”

Though the beggar was begging for money what he needed at that time more than money was love and recognition. He was begging to be recognized as a person worthy of affection and love. That is what Tolstoy gave when he called the beggar “my brother.” That is what the orphans gave when they accepted Alfredo as their own brother. Yes, the beggars we meet on the streets as well as the orphans like Alfredo we come across in our life are truly our brothers and sisters. The moment we begin to acknowledge this we begin to become the true children of God and genuine human beings.


Jose Panthaplamthottiyil

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