Here is an incident (though perhaps a little silly one) from a short film, which captures a great essence of an aspect of our society…
A college girl, is giving her Viva (oral) examinations.
When the professor asks her a particular question, she goes into a deep thinking-recollecting mode.
The professor gives one or two clues to help the girl to help her answer it.
But she still fails to get the answer.
Seeing her desperation, the professor, noticing also a tear or two in her eyes, out of compassion says, “Do not be too worried! Please don’t cry!”
The girl, who had come to the exam with heavy make-up, quickly composed herself and said, “No Sir! Don’t worry, I will not cry!
>> After all, I can’t allow my tears to spoil this heavy make-up, that I have applied, with much difficulty and care!!”
Well, this incident might sound a bit funny or slightly bent towards exaggeration..
… but it still does capture an important trend that is constantly on the rise in our societies today: A Cosmetic-Culture!
This Cosmetic-Culture is not merely to be considered in connection to the cosmetics or items of make-up.
>> It is in fact an increasing trend that seeks to make inroads into every aspect of our life… social, political, economic.. or even religious…!
Cosmetic-Culture could be described as a “tendency to project entities/things with an external beauty and with a greater visual appeal, without necessarily ensuring the actual quality from within!”
The presence of Cosmetic-Culture can be seen in various strands of our living…
Socially (in communities, families, nations etc), there is a lot of discrimination on the basis of colour, language, caste etc…
…but the “cosmetic-culture” presents the society in such a way, that everything seems to be fine and all are living in unity and happiness!
Politically, there is a great deal of hidden agenda, back-biting and differences in ideologies among the political parties or groups…
… but the “cosmetic-culture” covers-up the ‘evil intents’, causing many of such “opposing” parties to join hands and to be seen as being united, for their own selfish interests!
Economically, there are enormous cases of poverty on the rise, in different parts of the world and people missing out on even the basic essentials etc…
… but the “cosmetic-culture” puts a mask on all such “stark realities” and gives an impression as if there is only growth, development and prosperity!
The Gospel of the Day presents Jesus sharply lashing out at the “Cosmetic-Culture” existing in our religious practices, with a clarion call to do away with such “hypocritical” trends and tendencies!
Continuing His prophetic denunciation of the practices of the religious leaders of His times, Jesus comes down heavily on the Pharisees and Scribes by comparing then to “white-washed tombs”
“Woe to you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like white-washed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness!” ( Mt 23: 27)
Tombs of Palestine, in the time of Jesus, were painted with a lime paste or whitewash, at the start of the year.
There was a two-fold purpose to this:
1. It would helps in easy identification of the tomb, so that it could be avoided
2. It would help in the beautification of the tomb, so that it could be admired
Jesus likens the Pharisees and the Scribes to these white-washed tombs…
>>> Just as the white-washed tombs would clearly hide the decayed stuff within…
… these religious leaders, by the external shows of piety, would hide their decayed character of deceit, falsehood, duplicity and fraud!
>>> Just as the white-washed tombs would look wonderful on the outside, but would be full of filth and disgust inside…
… these religious leaders, would impress all with their strict ritualistic-practices, but would be full of dishonesty, falsity and deviousness!
They had probably mastered the art of being “Cosmetically-Cultured” – projecting themselves with an external beauty and with a greater visual appeal but without ensuring the actual quality from within!
This then is the danger to which we are exposed to…
… Is my spiritual and religious life also “Cosmetically-Cultured?”
> I may be known to be exemplary in my prayers and a role-model in my strict following of Christian practices…
… but is it just a “cosmetic” to hide my inner vices and to cover-up my sinful tendencies?
> I may be appearing to be a very a charitable person in extending a lot of material help in many causes…
… but is it just a “cosmetic” to conceal my hidden agenda or a means to boost my ego and inflate my pride?
> I may be considered as a very social person – always jovial, cracking “many” jokes and being a “happening” person…
… but is it just a “cosmetic” to mask my inner-wounds and pains, to veil my own complexes or to trigger opportunities to gratify some of my desires?
Our generation is gravely exposed to this “Cosmetic-Culture” and perhaps many of us, knowingly or unknowingly, become proponents of the same.
A generation which focusses only on the peripherals of life and fails to give consideration to the core and inner dimensions is bound to doom!
A quotation by a modern-day American politician goes thus:
“If you look at great human civilizations, from the Roman Empire to the Soviet Union…
… you will see that most do not fail simply due to external threats…
… but because of internal weakness, corruption, or a failure to manifest the values and ideals they espouse!”
It requires the power, grace and strength in the Lord to become counter-witnesses to this “Cosmetic-Culture”
As Christians, our beauty in life ought to spring forth from an integrated life of faith!
>> The deeper that one is united with Christ…
… the lesser will be the dependence on “external shows” and greater will be the harmony and attractiveness of one’s life!
>> The stronger that one is in the faith in the Lord…
… the lesser will be the wanting to be “flashy on the outside” and greater will be the level of true charm and pleasantness
May our Blessed Lord, help us in our efforts and desires “to beautify our life not just with an outer show, but with an inner glow!”
God Bless! Live Jesus!