(St. Luke 1: 39-56)
This week’s gospel reading narrates the profound encounter between two key figures in the Bible—Mary, the mother of Jesus, and Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist. This passage is commonly known as “The Visitation,” and it unfolds with a rich tapestry of emotions, expressions of faith, and prophetic praise.
The narrative begins with Mary, having just received the angel Gabriel’s extraordinary announcement that she would conceive the Son of God through the Holy Spirit. Filled with awe and wonder, Mary sets out to visit her relative Elizabeth, who is miraculously pregnant in her old age. This journey serves as a symbolic meeting of the old and new covenants, as both women carry children with profound roles in the unfolding plan of salvation.
Upon Mary’s arrival, something remarkable occurs—Elizabeth’s baby, John the Baptist, leaps in her womb at the sound of Mary’s greeting. This event is a divine confirmation of the extraordinary nature of both pregnancies and foreshadows the close relationship that John and Jesus would share in their future ministries. It also underscores the profound connection between the two unborn children, emphasizing their unique roles in God’s redemptive plan.
Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, utters a blessing upon Mary, recognizing her as “the mother of my Lord.” This acknowledgment goes beyond the ordinary, as Elizabeth is moved by the Spirit to recognize the divine nature of Mary’s child. Elizabeth’s words affirm the significance of the unborn Jesus and foreshadow his role as the long-awaited Messiah.
In response, Mary bursts into a song of praise known as the Magnificat—a hymn of gratitude and exaltation that has echoed through the centuries in liturgical and devotional settings. Mary’s song of praise is a powerful expression of her humility, faith, and recognition of God’s mercy. It draws upon themes from the Old Testament, demonstrating Mary’s deep familiarity with the scriptures and her understanding of God’s faithfulness to His people.
The Magnificat reflects Mary’s radical submission to God’s will, despite the social implications and personal challenges she would face as the unwed mother of the Messiah. Her words also resonate with a broader message of social justice, as she anticipates the reversal of societal norms, the lifting up of the humble, and the casting down of the powerful.
The scripture reading serves as a pivotal moment in the biblical narrative, encapsulating the convergence of divine promises, the recognition of the Messiah’s arrival, and the profound expressions of faith and praise by Mary and Elizabeth. The passage not only highlights the miraculous events surrounding the births of Jesus and John but also provides a glimpse into the deep spirituality and prophetic insight of these two remarkable women who played integral roles in God’s redemptive plan.
(St. Luke 1:26-38)
This week’s gospel reading recounts the angel Gabriel’s visitation to the Virgin Mary, foretelling the conception of Jesus Christ. The Gospel of Luke, one of the four canonical Gospels in the New Testament, unfolds the narrative that has left an indelible mark on Christian theology and art throughout the centuries.
The Gospel of Luke places this event in the bustling town of Nazareth, a small village in the region of Galilee, during the reign of Herod the Great. The Jewish people were living under Roman rule, and the anticipation of a Messiah who would deliver them from oppression permeated their collective consciousness.
The Annunciation begins with the appearance of the angel Gabriel to Mary, a young virgin engaged to Joseph, a descendant of David. Gabriel’s greeting, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you,” immediately sets the tone for the divine encounter. Mary, perplexed and troubled by the angelic presence, is reassured by Gabriel’s message: she has found favor with God, and she will conceive and give birth to a son who will be named Jesus.
Mary’s response to this astonishing proclamation is a testament to her faith and humility. Instead of doubting or questioning, she seeks understanding, asking, “How will this be since I am a virgin?” Gabriel elucidates that the Holy Spirit will overshadow her, and the child will be the Son of God, emphasizing the miraculous nature of this conception.
“Let it be to me according to your word,” declares Mary in response, embodying a profound surrender to the divine will. This submission underscores Mary’s role as a willing vessel chosen by God for a sacred purpose, highlighting her exemplary faith and obedience.
The Annunciation holds profound theological implications within Christian doctrine. The divine intervention in human history through the incarnation of the Son of God in the person of Jesus Christ is a cornerstone of Christian faith. This moment marks the beginning of the fulfillment of ancient prophecies and the embodiment of God’s redemptive plan for humanity.
Mary’s role as the Theotokos, the Mother of God, is a central tenet of Christian theology. The Orthodox and Catholic traditions venerate Mary as the Ark of the New Covenant, emphasizing her unique and blessed position in salvation history. Protestant traditions, while differing in their emphasis, also acknowledge the importance of Mary’s obedience and faith.
Mary’s acceptance of her role in the unfolding drama of salvation serves as an enduring example of faith, humility, and submission to the divine will. As Christians reflect on the Annunciation, we are invited to ponder the mystery of the Incarnation and to emulate Mary’s willingness to surrender to God’s plan in our lives.
(St. Luke 1: 5-25)
This week’s gospel reading begins with the introduction of a priest named Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth. The couple is described as righteous and blameless, adhering faithfully to the commandments of God. However, a pitiable situation adds a layer of complexity to their story. Elizabeth is barren, and they are childless. This detail is not merely a biographical note but serves as a crucial backdrop to the miraculous events that unfold.
The passage takes a turn when Zechariah is chosen by lot to enter the temple and burn incense. It is within the sacred confines of the temple that Zechariah encounters the angel Gabriel. The appearance of an angel is a powerful symbol in biblical narratives, often signifying a divine intervention. In this case, Gabriel brings tidings of joy and a promise from God. He informs Zechariah that his prayers have been heard, and Elizabeth will conceive and bear a son.
Zechariah, understandably, responds with skepticism. His advanced age and Elizabeth’s barrenness make the announcement seem implausible. This skepticism is met with a temporary loss of speech as a sign from the angel. It is important to note that Zechariah’s temporary muteness is not a punishment but rather a way to emphasize the sacred and supernatural nature of the impending events.
As the narrative unfolds, Elizabeth indeed conceives, and her joy is expressed in the belief that God has looked favorably upon her and taken away her reproach among people. This mirrors a common biblical theme of God’s ability to bring life and joy even in seemingly impossible situations.
The passage also serves as a bridge between the Old and New Testaments. The announcement of John the Baptist’s birth, the forerunner to Jesus Christ, marks the beginning of the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies. The angel explicitly refers to John as one who will go before the Lord in the spirit and power of Elijah, preparing the way for the Messiah.
This event sets the stage for the broader story of redemption and salvation that unfolds in the Gospel of Luke, culminating in the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It serves as a reminder that God’s plans often unfold in ways that defy human understanding and that faith, even in the face of apparent impossibility, is a central tenet of the Christian journey.
(St. John 10: 22-38)
This scripture unfolds in the context of the Feast of Dedication (Hoodhosh Eetho), also known as Hanukkah, which commemorates the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem. The events described in this passage provide profound insights into the identity of Jesus, his relationship with God, and the nature of the divine-human connection.
The passage begins with the scene at the Jerusalem Temple during the winter Feast of Dedication. As Jesus walks in the temple’s portico called Solomon’s Colonnade, Jews who are eager to know if he is the Messiah surround him. The questioning reflects the anticipation and hope of the people for the arrival of the promised savior. In response to their inquiries, Jesus declares, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30), a statement that carries immense theological significance.
This assertion by Jesus emphasizes the profound unity between him and God the Father. It goes beyond a mere claim of messiahship; it implies a divine identity. In the cultural and religious context of first-century Judaism, such a statement would have been radical and challenging to conventional understanding. The Jews respond by picking up stones to stone Jesus, perceiving his claim as blasphemous. This reaction underscores the gravity of Jesus’ words and the challenge they pose to established religious beliefs.
Jesus, in his response, directs the Jews to the miraculous works he has performed in the name of the Father. He argues that these works bear witness to his divine identity. By appealing to the evidence of his deeds, Jesus invites the people to recognize the hand of God at work in him. This theme of the manifestation of God’s power through miraculous signs is a recurring motif in the Gospel of John, emphasizing the connection between Jesus and the divine.
Furthermore, Jesus engages the crowd in a discourse about the relationship between him and his followers. He employs the metaphor of sheep and a shepherd, portraying himself as the Good Shepherd who knows his sheep intimately and lays down his life for them. This metaphor draws on the Old Testament imagery of God as the shepherd of Israel, emphasizing Jesus’ role as the fulfillment of divine promises.
The passage concludes with Jesus challenging the Jews to consider the nature of his works and their alignment with the Father. He contends that even if they do not believe his words, they should believe in the evidence of the miraculous deeds. This call to faith is a recurring theme in the Gospel of John, emphasizing the importance of belief in Jesus as the Son of God and the source of eternal life.
The gospel reading underscores the importance of faith in recognizing the divine nature of Jesus and the significance of his redemptive work. As we reflect on these verses, we are prompted to consider the evidence of Jesus’ works and the implications of his declaration, “I and the Father are one,” for our own understanding of God and our faith journey.
(St. Matthew 16:13-23)
This Sunday is called “Koodhosh Eetho” meaning sanctification of the church. This is the first Sunday in our church calendar.
The Bible reading opens with Jesus asking his disciples a crucial question: “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” This inquiry sets the stage for a profound revelation about Jesus’ identity. The disciples respond with various opinions circulating among the people—some identifying Jesus as John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets. However, Jesus directs the question more personally, asking, “But what about you? Who do you say I am?”
Peter, often portrayed as a prominent figure among the disciples, steps forward with a powerful confession of faith: “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” This declaration goes beyond perceiving Jesus as a mere prophet or teacher; Peter acknowledges Jesus as the long-awaited Messiah, the anointed one of God.
In response to Peter’s confession, Jesus blesses him, recognizing that this insight was not gained through human wisdom but through divine revelation. Jesus then bestows upon Peter a special role, saying, “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” This statement is pivotal in the establishment of the Christian Church, with Peter symbolizing the foundation upon which the Church will be built.
However, the narrative takes an unexpected turn when Jesus begins to foretell his impending suffering, death, and resurrection. Peter, perhaps still reveling in the divine revelation he received, rebukes Jesus, saying, “Never, Lord! This shall never happen to you!” Peter’s response highlights a common human inclination to resist the idea of a suffering Messiah, preferring a triumphant and conquering figure.
Jesus, in turn, rebukes Peter sharply, saying, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” This stern rebuke underscores the importance of aligning one’s understanding with God’s divine plan, even when it involves facing suffering and challenges.
The passage concludes with Jesus instructing his disciples about the cost of discipleship, emphasizing the need to deny oneself, take up the cross, and follow him. This call to self-sacrifice and obedience reinforces the transformative journey of discipleship, challenging followers to prioritize the kingdom of God over personal desires and ambitions.
This gospel reading, therefore, encapsulates a pivotal moment in Jesus’ ministry, encompassing profound revelations about his identity, the establishment of the Church, and the sobering call to embrace the path of self-denial and discipleship. It serves as a powerful reminder for believers to recognize and follow Jesus not only as the triumphant Messiah but also as the suffering servant who leads the way to redemption and eternal life.
(St. Matthew 5:21-26)
This week’s gospel reading addresses the concepts of anger, reconciliation, and the importance of forgiveness, providing valuable insights into how individuals can live righteous and harmonious lives in the eyes of God.
The passage begins with Jesus stating, “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be liable to judgment'”. Jesus immediately establishes a connection with the Sixth Commandment from the Old Testament, emphasizing the prohibition against murder. However, he goes on to provide a deeper interpretation that extends beyond the act of physical murder. He asserts that not only the act of taking someone’s life is sinful, but even harboring anger and contempt in one’s heart toward another is subject to judgment.
This expansion of the commandment reveals Jesus’ profound understanding of the human condition. He recognizes that hatred and anger can lead to actions that result in harm to others. Therefore, he urges his followers to address the root of the problem by reconciling with their brothers or sisters. In verses 23-24, Jesus says, “So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” This powerful imagery emphasizes the importance of mending relationships and seeking reconciliation as a precursor to worship.
The passage underscores the need for personal responsibility in resolving conflicts and fostering a spirit of forgiveness and reconciliation. It encourages individuals to take the initiative in resolving disputes rather than holding onto anger and resentment. This approach aligns with the core teachings of Jesus, which emphasize love for one’s neighbor and the importance of treating others with kindness and compassion.
Furthermore, Jesus warns that unresolved conflicts can have serious consequences. In verses 25-26, he states, “Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser deliver you to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison.” This cautionary message highlights the potential legal and personal ramifications of unresolved conflicts. It underscores the idea that harboring anger and refusing to seek reconciliation can lead to a cycle of suffering, both emotionally and legally.
These verses have enduring relevance in today’s world. In a society marked by division, conflict, and discord, Jesus’ emphasis on reconciliation, forgiveness, and the management of anger offers a path to healing and unity. The passage reminds us that addressing the root causes of anger and resentment is essential for personal well-being and for maintaining healthy relationships with others. It also highlights the need for a proactive and responsible approach to conflict resolution, advocating for open communication and reconciliation.
(St. Luke 18:18-27)
The passage begins with a wealthy young man approaching Jesus and asking, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” This inquiry is both simple and profound, reflecting a universal human desire to attain salvation and immortality. The rich young ruler’s earnestness is apparent as he addresses Jesus as “Good teacher.” However, Jesus’ response challenges him by stating, “Why do you call me good? No one is good—except God alone”. This declaration highlights Jesus’ divinity and underscores that eternal life is inherently tied to God’s goodness.
Jesus proceeds to list some of the commandments, emphasizing that one must keep them to inherit eternal life. The young man confidently asserts that he has observed these commandments from his youth. In doing so, he reveals his devoutness and adherence to the moral law. Yet, it is at this juncture that the narrative takes a dramatic turn. Jesus says, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me”. This directive is a test of the rich man’s attachment to his worldly possessions and a call to prioritize spiritual wealth over material wealth.
The young man is greatly distressed because he is exceedingly rich and finds it challenging to part with his wealth. In essence, his attachment to material possessions becomes a barrier to his spiritual growth. This response leads Jesus to utter the famous saying, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God”. This metaphorical expression underscores the difficulty that wealth can pose in achieving a close and authentic relationship with God.
The passage concludes with the disciples’ amazement, asking, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus’s response is both reassuring and illuminating. He states, “What is impossible with man is possible with God”. This declaration conveys a fundamental truth about the nature of salvation. It is unattainable through human effort or personal merit alone; it requires divine grace and intervention. The rich young man’s struggle to let go of his wealth and Jesus’ response highlights the human propensity to rely on our own achievements and possessions, often at the expense of our spiritual well-being.
The gospel reading underscores that eternal life is intrinsically linked to God’s goodness and calls for prioritizing spiritual wealth over material possessions. It also highlights the challenges that wealth and attachment to possessions can pose in attaining salvation, emphasizing the need for divine grace and intervention in the process. In doing so, it serves as a timeless reminder that salvation is a gift of God’s grace, available to all who are willing to let go of worldly attachments and follow Christ with unwavering faith and commitment.
(St. Mathew 23: 1-12)
This passage offers profound insights into the teachings of Jesus Christ regarding humility, hypocrisy, and the essence of spiritual leadership. Jesus addresses a multitude of followers and his disciples, denouncing the hypocritical practices of the Pharisees and offering a profound message about the qualities of a true spiritual leader.
This occurs within the larger context of Jesus’ ministry, where he often found himself in conflict with the religious leaders of his time, particularly the Pharisees. In this passage, Jesus criticizes the Pharisees’ behavior, who, despite their knowledge and religious zeal, often fell short of embodying the principles they preached. This chapter is known as the “Seven Woes,” where Jesus issues seven condemnations against the Pharisees for their hypocrisy.
Jesus begins by instructing his followers to obey the teachings of the Pharisees but not to imitate their actions. He exposes the Pharisees’ hypocrisy, describing how they “tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them”. This condemnation highlights the importance of genuine actions and intentions over mere outward appearances.
Jesus also criticizes the Pharisees’ desire for prominent places at banquets and in synagogues. He encourages humility, stating, “For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted”. This verse emphasizes the idea that true spiritual leadership is rooted in service and humility.
Jesus advises against being called “Rabbi” or teacher, recognizing that there is only one true Teacher, who is the Christ. He suggests that titles can create pride and hinder the unity of God’s children. This teaching underlines the value of humility and the equality of all believers before God.
The passage urges believers to be authentic in their faith and not just outwardly religious. It serves as a reminder that religious rituals and titles should not mask a lack of true spiritual commitment. Those who serve with humility and authenticity are the ones who truly exemplify the teachings of Jesus.
(St. Luke 16:9-18)
This week’s gospel reading begins with a parable about a shrewd manager who, when faced with the imminent loss of his job, wisely uses his master’s wealth to secure his future. This parable encourages Christians to be prudent and resourceful in their dealings with worldly wealth. The passage advises that one should use worldly wealth to gain friends, not in a manipulative or unethical way, but by helping those in need and showing kindness to others. This approach reflects the Christian principle of stewardship, where believers are seen as caretakers of God’s blessings, rather than owners of their possessions.
In St. Luke 16:13, Jesus delivers a powerful statement: “No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” This verse underscores the incompatibility of pursuing both spiritual values and material wealth with equal fervor. It challenges individuals to make a choice between dedicating themselves to God’s will and serving the pursuit of worldly riches. The message is clear: one’s ultimate allegiance should be to God, and not to material possessions or personal gain.
In the subsequent verses, St. Luke introduces a new dimension to the discussion. The Pharisees, who were known for their love of money, criticized Jesus for His teachings. In response, Jesus exposed the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, pointing out that they were more concerned with appearing righteous in the eyes of people than in God’s sight. He emphasized that what is highly valued among people is undesirable in God’s eyes. This passage serves as a warning against the dangers of hypocrisy and the shallow pursuit of social status and material wealth. It encourages believers to prioritize genuine righteousness and moral integrity over outward appearances.
St. Luke closes this passage by addressing the importance of the law and the prophetic tradition. Jesus explains that the Law and the Prophets were in effect until John the Baptist, and from that time on, the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached. Moreover, Jesus reinforces the sanctity of marriage, declaring that anyone who divorces their spouse and marries another commits adultery. This stern teaching underscores the importance of commitment and fidelity in relationships and warns against casual or unfaithful marriages.
This passage contains profound lessons on wealth, morality, and the pursuit of God’s kingdom. It calls on believers to use their worldly possessions wisely, choose God over material wealth, and prioritize true righteousness over outward appearances. It challenges individuals to live with integrity, love, and devotion to God.
(St. Mark 2: 23-28)
In this passage, Jesus engages in a discourse with the Pharisees, highlighting important principles about the Sabbath and the greater purpose of God’s law. This passage has profound implications for how we understand the relationship between religious rituals and the heart of faith.
Before delving into the verses themselves, it is essential to understand the context in which this encounter occurs. In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus’ ministry is already in full swing, and he has gathered a group of disciples. The Pharisees, who were religious leaders known for their strict adherence to Jewish law, frequently challenged Jesus and his disciples’ actions.
One Sabbath, Jesus was going through the grain fields, and as his disciples walked along, they began to pick some heads of grain. The Pharisees said to him, ‘Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?’ He answered, ‘Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need? In the days of Abiathar the high priest, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.’ Then he said to them, ‘The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.'” (Mark 2:23-28)
The Pharisees criticize Jesus’ disciples for picking grain on the Sabbath, deeming it unlawful. However, Jesus points to a parallel in the Hebrew Bible where David and his companions ate consecrated bread, which was considered lawful only for priests. Jesus’ reference to this event suggests that there are exceptions to Sabbath rules when human need and well-being are at stake.
Jesus goes further to emphasize that the Sabbath was made for humanity, not the other way around. In saying this, he challenges the Pharisaic interpretation of the Sabbath as a rigid, legalistic observance. Instead, he highlights that the Sabbath is meant to benefit and restore people. It is a day of rest and rejuvenation, not a burden.
Jesus boldly declares that the “Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” This statement asserts his authority over the Sabbath, indicating that he has the ultimate say in interpreting its true purpose and how it should be observed. He is the fulfillment of the law and, as such, can rightly determine its application.
Jesus prioritizes compassion and human need over strict adherence to ritualistic interpretations of the law. This underscores the idea that religious practices should be guided by love, mercy, and empathy for others. Jesus’ statement about the Sabbath being made for humanity reminds us that the core of God’s law is to promote human welfare, not to be a set of burdensome regulations.
(St. Mathew 16: 5-12)
The Pharisees and Sadducees approach Jesus, asking for a sign from heaven to test him. In response, Jesus rebukes them, calling them a “wicked and adulterous generation” and asserting that no sign will be given except the “sign of Jonah.” This sign refers to his impending crucifixion, burial, and resurrection.
In Verse 5, Jesus warns his disciples to “beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” The disciples, initially misunderstanding his metaphor, discuss among themselves the fact that they had brought no bread for their journey. In Verses 6-7, Jesus perceiving their confusion, responds with a series of questions. He asks why they are discussing the lack of bread and then chastises them for their little faith. In Verses 8-10, Jesus clarifies his metaphor, explaining that he was not referring to physical bread but to the teachings and influence of the Pharisees and Sadducees. He uses the term “leaven” to symbolize the corrupting influence of their religious hypocrisy. Leaven is something small added to flour, water, oil, etc. to make the bread rise. It is something, which nevertheless has an important effect on overall lump of dough.
One of the central lessons in this passage is the importance of spiritual discernment. Jesus cautions his disciples to be aware of the corrupting influence of false teachings. This message remains relevant today, emphasizing the need for believers to distinguish between true and false doctrines in the midst of a world filled with conflicting ideologies.
We are living in a multicultural post-modern society. Clash of ideologies like secularism, atheism, radicalism, socialism, Jihadism, religious fundamentalism etcetera are prevalent now in our schools and colleges. This is a challenge for our growing generation. Drug addiction and mental health issues are growing at a faster pace. Our prayer lives are constrained due to addiction to cellphones, television programs, cultural events and other social media influences. Therefore, we need to be vigilant. Our homes and churches should remind the children about the bad influences in the society. We need to teach them the right faith and practices. This starts with early learning within the families, Sunday schools and youth movement programs in the church.
Jesus rebukes his disciples for their “little faith.” This serves as a reminder of the necessity of unwavering faith and trust in God. Instead of worrying about physical provisions, Jesus encourages his followers to place their trust in Him. Jesus refers to the “sign of Jonah,” foreshadowing his own death and resurrection. This theme reiterates the central message of Christianity—the redemptive work of Christ on the cross. Believers are reminded that the ultimate sign from heaven is not a miraculous display but the salvation offered through Jesus.
(St. Mark 13:28-37)
In this passage, Jesus begins by presenting the fig tree as a symbol of the signs that would indicate His return: “Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that it is near, right at the door.” Here, Jesus emphasizes the importance of recognizing the signs and staying vigilant in anticipation of His return.
The central theme of this passage is vigilance and preparedness for the coming of the Lord. In verses 33-37, Jesus admonishes his disciples and, by extension, all believers, to “Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come.” He compares the situation to a master who goes away and leaves his servants in charge, emphasizing that they should always be ready for his return, even though they do not know the exact hour.
This message of readiness extends to every aspect of life. Christians are called to be watchful and to live in a state of preparedness, not just for the return of Christ but also for any moment when they might be called to account for their actions and faith. This parable underscores the importance of living a life in alignment with one’s beliefs and values, regardless of external circumstances.
In John 17:16 Jesus says, “They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world,” He is emphasizing the distinctiveness of His followers. He is highlighting the idea that believers are set apart from the values, priorities, and systems of the world. This separation is not meant to imply a physical withdrawal from the world but rather a spiritual and moral distinction. It means that Christians should not conform to the sinful and self-centered patterns of the world but should live according to a higher standard.
This concept of not being “of the world” is deeply rooted in the teachings of Jesus throughout the New Testament. He often spoke about the kingdom of God and the need for His disciples to live in a way that reflects the values and principles of that kingdom. This includes love, humility, forgiveness, and selflessness. In doing so, they would be a light to the world and draw others to faith.
Another crucial aspect is the element of faith in the face of uncertainty. Jesus acknowledges that no one knows the exact timing of His return, not even the angels in heaven, but only the Father. This uncertainty is a test of faith, challenging believers to trust in God’s plan and providence.
In times of doubt and confusion, Christians are called to stand firm in their faith, trusting that God’s promises will be fulfilled. This parable encourages believers to persevere in their faith journey, regardless of the challenges or the unknowns that lie ahead. It reminds them that God’s timing is perfect, and His plans are beyond human comprehension.
(St. Matthew 5:38-48)
This passage is from the Sermon on the Mount, one of the most well-known and influential teachings of Jesus Christ. In these verses, Jesus imparts a profound message that challenges conventional notions of morality and righteousness. He urges his followers to embrace a radical concept of love, one that extends even to their enemies.
The Sermon on the Mount is found in the Gospel of Matthew and is a compilation of Jesus’ teachings on various aspects of life, morality, and spirituality. In the preceding verses, Jesus addresses the concept of retaliation, introducing the principle of “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” This principle was a part of the Mosaic Law and was meant to ensure that punishments were proportionate to the crimes committed. However, Jesus challenges this principle and calls for a higher standard of response to mistreatment.
In these verses, Jesus advises his followers not to resist evil or retaliate when someone wrongs them. He provides the famous example of turning the other cheek when struck. This action symbolizes a refusal to engage in a cycle of violence and instead invites the aggressor to reconsider their actions. Additionally, Jesus encourages giving to those who ask and not turning away from those who seek help.
The heart of this passage lies in Jesus’ command to love one’s enemies. He contrasts the conventional wisdom of loving those who love you with the radical idea of loving even those who oppose and mistreat you. Jesus explains that by loving our enemies, we emulate the love of God, who causes the sun to rise on both the righteous and the unrighteous.
Jesus’ teaching on turning the other cheek and loving one’s enemies underscores the importance of non-violence and peacemaking in Christian ethics. It challenges the notion of seeking revenge and promotes reconciliation and forgiveness as paths to peace. Jesus points out that when we love our enemies, we imitate God’s love for humanity. God’s love is not conditional but extends to all, regardless of their moral standing. This concept of divine love is central to Christian theology.
Practicing the teachings of Matthew 5:38-48 can transform an individual’s character. It encourages selflessness, humility, and empathy, leading to personal growth and spiritual maturity.
St. Matthew 17:22-27
Tax collectors in Capernaum approached Jesus and His disciples and asked about paying the temple tax. In response, Jesus instructs Peter to go to the sea, cast a hook, and retrieve the money needed to pay the tax. The miracle lies in the fact that the coin required for payment is found in the mouth of a fish, affirming Jesus’ divine authority and providing a valuable lesson.
The passage displays Jesus as the provider of all things. The coin miraculously appearing in the mouth of the fish illustrates that God’s provision is often unexpected, and it can come from the most unlikely sources. This passage encourages believers to trust in God’s divine provision even in seemingly impossible situations.
Peter’s obedience to Jesus’ command is another key aspect of this passage. Despite his initial doubt or confusion, he follows Jesus’ instructions without questioning. This reflects the importance of obedience and humility in the Christian faith. Peter’s willingness to comply with Jesus’ command demonstrates the obedience that should characterize a follower of Christ.
Jesus’ concern about offending others in St. Matthew 17:27 reveals His compassion and desire for peaceful relationships. He chooses to pay the tax not out of necessity but to avoid causing offense. This teaches believers the importance of considering the feelings and perceptions of others in their actions, as long as it does not compromise their faith.
Jesus confronts a similar situation in St. Mathew 22:21. “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s”. Jesus made this statement in response to a question posed by the Pharisees, who were attempting to trap Him with a politically charged question about paying taxes to the Roman government. The Pharisees, known for their religious zeal, who were supporters of the Roman authorities, came together with the intention of putting Jesus in a dilemma.
Jesus’ statement advocates a clear separation of religious and secular authority. By acknowledging that Caesar has his realm of influence and God has His, Jesus implies that there are distinct spheres of authority. This has had a lasting impact on the development of the concept of the separation of church and state, emphasizing the importance of respecting both religious and civil authorities while recognizing their different roles.
The gospel reading emphasizes divine provision, obedience, humility, avoiding offense, faith, and, most importantly, the unquestionable authority of Jesus Christ. This passage reminds us of the miraculous nature of our faith and the profound depths of trust and obedience required to follow the teachings of Jesus. It serves as a powerful testament to the divinity of Christ and the transformative potential of faith in Him.
St. Luke 11:9-20
This week’s reading captures the essence of Jesus’ teachings on persistence in prayer, the provision of God, and the battle between good and evil.
Verse 9 says, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” These words of Jesus emphasize the importance of persistence in prayer. Here, Jesus invites his disciples to approach God confidently, understanding that their petitions are heard. The imagery of asking, seeking, and knocking portrays the idea that continuous and unwavering prayer establishes a deep connection with God. This verse is a call to remain steadfast in faith, knowing that God’s response might not always be immediate, but it is always in alignment with His divine plan.
In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus teaches us to ask for our daily bread. This means we have to ask or pray to God every day to satisfy our needs. In other words, prayer is not a weekly or monthly affair; it is a daily communication with our heavenly father and should be part of our everyday routine.
In verses 10-13, Jesus draws a parallel between earthly fathers and the heavenly Father. He contrasts the willingness of earthly parents to provide good things for their children with God’s infinite capacity to provide even greater blessings to His children. This passage emphasizes that God’s desire to give is boundless, and His provision is beyond human comprehension. It reassures believers that God’s responses to their prayers are filled with wisdom, love, and the understanding of what is truly best for them.
In verses 14-20, the narrative shifts from the theme of prayer to the demonstration of Jesus’ authority over evil. The casting out of the mute demon displays Jesus’ divine power and his role as the conqueror of darkness. However, some Pharisees, unwilling to acknowledge the source of Jesus’ authority, accuse him of casting out demons by the power of Beelzebul, the prince of demons.
Jesus responds with a profound argument, stating that a kingdom divided against itself cannot stand. He explains that if he were casting out demons by the power of Beelzebul, it would lead to the downfall of Satan’s kingdom, which is inherently contradictory. Instead, Jesus claims to cast out demons by the power of God, signifying his divine authority.
St. Luke 11:9-20 encapsulates significant themes of faith, prayer, and authority present throughout the Gospel of Luke. Through these verses, Jesus teaches the importance of persistent prayer and the assurance of God’s provision for his children. The portrayal of Jesus’ authority over evil highlights his divine nature and purpose. This passage resonates deeply with believers, encouraging us to approach God with unwavering faith, embrace His provision, and acknowledge the transformative power of Jesus’ authority in our lives.
(St. Mark 10: 35-45)
In this passage, two disciples of Jesus, James and John approach him with a request: “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask.” Their audacious request is a prime example of human ambition and the desire for power and authority. They seek positions of honor and prominence in Jesus’ future kingdom, positioning themselves above their fellow disciples. However, Jesus responds with a question that challenges their motives: “What do you want me to do for you?” This question prompts them to consider the underlying reasons for their request and leads to a deeper exploration of the nature of true leadership.
Jesus takes this moment to teach a fundamental lesson about leadership and servanthood. He contrasts the leadership model of the world with the model of his kingdom, saying, “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.” In these few words, Jesus upends conventional notions of leadership based on authority and dominance. He introduces the concept of servant leadership, where greatness is achieved through humility, selflessness, and service to others.
To emphasize this point, Jesus draws from his own example: “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Here, Jesus reveals his purpose and mission on Earth – not to wield power and authority, but to serve and sacrifice for the sake of humanity. This act of selflessness reaches its pinnacle in his impending sacrifice on the cross, which becomes the ultimate demonstration of servanthood and love.
This passage from Mark’s Gospel highlights several timeless principles that are relevant in various contexts:
1. Humility in Leadership: True leaders are not driven by personal ambition but by a genuine concern for the well-being of those they lead. They prioritize the needs of others over their own desires for recognition and status.
2. Servanthood as a Path to Greatness: The concept of servanthood challenges the prevailing idea that greatness is achieved through domination and control. Instead, Jesus teaches that greatness emerges from a willingness to serve others and meet their needs.
3. Sacrificial Love: Jesus’ reference to giving his life as a ransom emphasizes the sacrificial nature of love. Love, in its purest form, requires self-sacrifice and a willingness to put others before oneself.
4. Counter-Cultural Values: The passage challenges societal values that prioritize personal gain and power. It invites readers to adopt a countercultural mindset that aligns with the principles of Jesus’ kingdom.
The interaction between Jesus and his disciples serves as a powerful reminder that the path to true greatness lies in selflessness, humility, and sacrificial service. This passage continues to inspire and guide individuals in their pursuit of meaningful and impactful lives, reminding them that the essence of leadership is found in serving others with love and humility.
St. Mary, a central figure in Christianity, whose significance extends beyond religious boundaries. Often referred to as the Virgin Mary or Mother Mary, she holds a unique place in the hearts of believers and non-believers alike. The importance of St. Mary lies in her embodiment of virtues such as faith, compassion, and strength, as well as her influence on art, culture, and gender roles.
We remember and celebrate the Assumption of St. Mary, also known as the Dormition (falling asleep) of the Theotokos or the Assumption of the Virgin Mary on August 15. This is a significant event in Christian tradition, particularly in the Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and some Anglican beliefs. This doctrine holds that at the end of her earthly life, the Virgin Mary’s body and soul were taken up, or “assumed,” into heaven.
St. Mary’s significance as a religious figure cannot be understated. In Christianity, she is regarded as the mother of Jesus Christ, the central figure of the faith. Her unwavering faith and acceptance of the divine plan, as demonstrated by her response to the angel Gabriel’s announcement, serve as a model for believers striving to deepen their relationship with the divine. Her willingness to embrace the unknown and embrace her role as the mother of the Messiah displays the power of faith and trust in the divine.
St. Mary’s portrayal as a compassionate and loving mother resonates with people across cultures and belief systems. Her role as a mother who nurtured, protected, and supported her child in the face of various challenges highlights the universal themes of motherly love and sacrifice. This aspect of her character not only provides a foundation for the veneration of motherhood but also highlights the importance of compassion and empathy in fostering human connections.
The artistic and cultural impact of St. Mary can be seen throughout history. Her depiction in countless paintings, sculptures, and other forms of art has played a pivotal role in shaping the aesthetics and narratives of various eras. From Renaissance masterpieces to contemporary interpretations, artists have drawn inspiration from St. Mary’s enduring qualities, contributing to the rich tapestry of human creativity. Additionally, her story has been a source of inspiration for literature, music, and theater, further illustrating her role as a cultural touchstone.
St. Mary’s significance extends to discussions of gender roles and empowerment. In a historical context where women often held limited agency and influence, St. Mary’s portrayal as a strong and courageous figure challenges traditional gender norms. Her pivotal role in the narrative of Jesus’ life underscores the value of women in shaping significant events and influencing history. As a result, St. Mary has become an emblem of empowerment for women seeking to assert their voices and roles in both religious and secular spheres.
St. Mathew 17: 1-8
The disciples have been walking alongside Jesus, learning from his words and witnessing his miraculous deeds. In this context, Jesus takes Peter, James, and John to a high mountain, away from the bustling crowds and daily distractions. The mountain setting is reminiscent of several pivotal moments in biblical history, highlighting its sacred significance as a place of encounter with the divine.
As Jesus and the disciples ascend the mountain, a profound transformation occurs. The text describes Jesus’ appearance changing before them, his face shining like the sun and his clothes becoming dazzling white. This visual transformation is accompanied by the appearance of two prominent figures from the Old Testament: Moses and Elijah. Their presence symbolizes the continuity between the law (represented by Moses) and the prophets (represented by Elijah) with Jesus, who fulfills and transcends both. The disciples are enveloped in a cloud, and a voice from heaven declares, “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!” This divine affirmation underscores Jesus’ unique relationship with God and emphasizes the importance of heeding his teachings.
The Transfiguration narrative illuminates four key aspects of Christian belief:
The Transfiguration narrative extends beyond theological discourse and offers valuable spiritual lessons for contemporary believers:
Like the disciples who witnessed the Transfiguration, believers are invited to ascend the metaphorical mountain of prayer and contemplation, seeking intimate encounters with the divine. Just as Jesus’ appearance was transformed, believers are called to undergo spiritual transformation, allowing the light of Christ to shine through their lives. The Transfiguration underscores the interconnectedness of God’s plan, urging believers to recognize the continuity between the Old and New Testaments and to embrace the fullness of God’s revelation. The divine directive to “listen to him” encourages believers to attentively heed Jesus’ teachings and apply them to their lives, fostering a deep and authentic discipleship.
Soonoyo Lent is one of the five canonical Lents of our church. We remember and celebrate the Assumption of St. Mary, also known as the Dormition (falling asleep) of the Theotokos or the Assumption of the Virgin Mary during this time. This Lent is observed from August 1 to 15. This is a significant event in Christian tradition, particularly in the Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and some Anglican beliefs. This doctrine holds that at the end of her earthly life, the Virgin Mary’s body and soul were taken up, or “assumed,” into heaven.
The origins of the Assumption of St. Mary can be traced back to early Christian beliefs and traditions. While the Bible does not explicitly describe the events surrounding Mary’s death or assumption, several ancient apocryphal texts and early Christian writings suggest that the early Church held this belief. One such text is the “Transitus Mariae” or “The Passing of Mary,” which describes Mary’s peaceful death and her subsequent assumption into heaven.
The theological significance of the Assumption lies in the unique role that Mary plays in Christianity. As the mother of Jesus Christ, she is revered as the Theotokos, the God-bearer. Mary’s cooperation with God’s plan of salvation and her immaculate conception of Jesus have earned her a special place in Christian theology. The belief in her Assumption is seen as a natural consequence of her unique role in the incarnation of Christ. If Mary bore Christ in her womb and participated in His earthly life, it is fitting that she would be granted a special place in the afterlife.
Moreover, the Assumption of St. Mary serves as a source of hope and inspiration for Christians. It emphasizes the belief in the resurrection of the body and the eternal life that awaits the faithful. Mary’s assumption is viewed as a foretaste of the resurrection that all believers can hope to attain through their faith in Christ. In this sense, Mary’s Assumption becomes a model for Christian believers, encouraging them to remain faithful and steadfast in their journey towards salvation.
When the British thought of giving independence to India, they of course, in consultation with the Indian National Congress leaders, chose August 15 as the day of independence for the nation. In fact, the day was chosen deliberately. This is the day of assumption of St. Mary.
The Assumption of St. Mary is a significant event in Christian theology and devotion. It highlights Mary’s unique role as the mother of Jesus Christ and serves as a source of hope and inspiration for all believers. Through the ages, this belief has influenced art, theology, and liturgical practices, uniting Christians across denominations in their reverence for the Virgin Mary. The Assumption of St. Mary continues to be an essential aspect of Christian faith, reminding believers of the promise of resurrection and eternal life in Christ.
The Gospel of St. John is a profound source of spiritual wisdom and guidance, providing readers with valuable insights into the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. One of the significant passages in this Gospel is St. John 6:47-59, which encapsulates the essence of Jesus as the Bread of Life.
Verse 47 says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. “This verse lays the foundation for the entire passage, emphasizing the importance of faith in Jesus Christ. The phrase “truly, truly” indicates the utmost certainty of Christ’s words. By stating, “Whoever believes has eternal life,” Jesus highlights the centrality of faith in Him as the means to attain salvation and everlasting life.
Verse 48 says, “I am the bread of life. “Jesus’ declaration of being the “bread of life” is metaphorical, revealing that just as bread sustains physical life, Jesus sustains spiritual life. Christ provides nourishment to our souls, filling us with divine grace and love. Just as bread is a staple in daily sustenance, Jesus becomes indispensable for a fulfilled and meaningful life.
Verse 49 says, “Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died.” Here, Jesus references the manna, the bread-like substance that God provided to the Israelites during their time in the wilderness. This comparison is crucial as it highlights the distinction between temporal sustenance and everlasting nourishment. While the manna satisfied physical hunger temporarily, it could not offer eternal life. Jesus, as the Bread of Life, offers something far greater- a spiritual sustenance that transcends mortality.
In verses 50-51, Jesus confirms that He is the divine bread that has descended from heaven. The act of “eating” symbolizes accepting and internalizing His teachings and sacrifice. By partaking in this spiritual nourishment, believers are promised eternal life. Jesus’ reference to giving His flesh as bread signifies His future sacrifice on the cross, where His body would be broken for the redemption of humanity.
Verse 53 says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” These verses have sparked debates and confusion throughout history due to their profound nature. Jesus uses symbolic language to express the significance of having a deep, intimate relationship with Him. The act of “eating His flesh and drinking His blood” signifies an unbreakable spiritual bond and union with Christ.
Jesus is not promoting cannibalism but rather alluding to the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. In the Christian tradition, the bread and wine in the Eucharist represent the body and blood of Christ, and by partaking in this sacrament, believers reaffirm their faith in Jesus and His sacrifice, receiving His grace and promise of eternal life.
(St. Mark 3: 20-30)
Jesus had been teaching and healing people, attracting large crowds that included both supporters and skeptics. The religious leaders, the scribes from Jerusalem, had already started to question Jesus’ authority and were becoming increasingly hostile towards Him.
The scribes accuse Jesus of casting out demons by the power of Beelzebul, the prince of demons. This accusation implies that Jesus’ power is derived from an evil source, rather than from God. Jesus, aware of their thoughts, responds with a rhetorical argument, stating that if a kingdom is divided against itself, it cannot stand.
The Jews understand that God has sovereignty over illness and healing. However, they also believe that ill health is a punishment from God for sin, and that healing is a sign of God’s forgiveness. Healing shows that God has favor on the person.
Although the Pharisees believe this, they cannot allow themselves to accept that Jesus is the Son of God. They believe God could not possibly give authority to a teacher who heals on the Sabbath and does not follow the Jewish traditions. If Jesus’ teachings are wrong, then His healing must be of the same as the pagan sorcerers. This is why they claim His power is from Satan.
Within his response, Jesus introduces the concept of the unforgivable sin in verses 28-30. He asserts that all sins and blasphemies can be forgiven, except for blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. This declaration has perplexed and troubled many readers throughout history, leading to numerous interpretations. One interpretation of the unforgivable sin suggests that it involves a persistent rejection of the Holy Spirit’s work and influence. This rejection occurs when an individual continually resists the Holy Spirit’s conviction, leading to a hardening of the heart and an inability to accept God’s forgiveness.
While the passage raises questions about the limits of God’s forgiveness, it is important to note that Jesus’ statement on the unforgivable sin is not intended to instill fear or hopelessness. Rather, it serves as a warning and an invitation to self-reflection. The Bible consistently affirms God’s abundant grace and willingness to forgive all who genuinely repent and turn to Him.
The passage encourages us to examine our own hearts and attitudes. It calls us to recognize the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives and respond with humility and openness. It serves as a reminder of the importance of repentance, faith, and sincere submission to God’s will. The passage also reminds us to appreciate the good works of people among us irrespective of the calendar date of the incident or their status in the society.
St. Matthew 15:32-39
This week’s Gospel reading begins with Jesus expressing concern for the well-being of the crowd that had gathered around him. Seeing that they had been with him for three days without sufficient food, Jesus’ heart was moved with compassion. This immediate response reflects Jesus’ deep empathy for the physical and spiritual needs of those who seek him. His compassion serves as a guiding principle for us, reminding us of the importance of reaching out to others with kindness and love.
The desolate place where Jesus and the multitude found themselves symbolizes scarcity and limited resources. However, when confronted with this seemingly impossible situation, Jesus demonstrates his divine power to provide an abundance out of scarcity. Taking seven loaves of bread and a few small fish, Jesus blesses them, breaks them, and miraculously feeds the multitude of four thousand men, besides women and children. This miracle signifies that with faith and trust in God, even the most limited resources can be transformed into an overflowing abundance.
A critical element in this story is the act of sharing. Jesus encourages his disciples to distribute the multiplied loaves and fish among the crowd. The generosity of the disciples mirrors the spirit of Jesus, revealing that the act of sharing not only meets physical needs but also fosters a sense of community and unity. By giving what little they had, the disciples participated in the miracle and witnessed the incredible power of God’s provision.
Beyond the physical sustenance, this miracle conveys a profound spiritual truth. Just as Jesus fed the multitude with bread and fish, he offers himself as the bread of life to nourish the souls of all who believe in him. The physical feeding serves as a metaphor for the deeper hunger within humanity, which can only be satisfied by a relationship with God. Jesus invites us to partake in his divine presence and find true fulfillment in the spiritual nourishment he offers.
In a world often marked by scarcity, inequality, and division, this passage reminds us of the transformative power of compassion, sharing, and trust in God’s abundance. It calls us to look beyond our own needs and extend a helping hand to those around us, knowing that even the smallest acts of kindness can have a profound impact. Moreover, it encourages us to trust in God’s provision, even in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges.
Saint Thomas, also known as Doubting Thomas, was one of the twelve apostles of Jesus Christ. He gained his nickname due to his initial skepticism when he heard about Jesus’ resurrection. According to Christian tradition, Thomas was the last apostle to see Jesus alive and is particularly known for his doubting nature.
Thomas’s missionary journey took him to various parts of the world, including India, where he spread the message of Christianity. He is often referred to as the Apostle of India due to his significant contributions to the establishment of Christianity in the region. His ministry, along with the subsequent growth of Christianity in India, has had a lasting impact on the country’s religious and cultural fabric.
St. Thomas Day is observed on different dates depending on the region and Christian denomination. In India, it is celebrated on July 3 each year, commemorating the martyrdom of Saint Thomas. The day is marked by special church services, processions, and various cultural events. The celebration of St. Thomas Day serves as a reminder of the enduring faith and commitment of Saint Thomas to spread the teachings of Jesus Christ. His doubting nature and subsequent transformation into a staunch believer offer valuable lessons about the power of faith and the importance of personal conviction.
Moreover, the establishment of Christianity in India by Saint Thomas highlights the global reach of early Christianity and the immense influence it has had on diverse cultures throughout history. The existence of ancient churches in India, such as the St. Thomas Mount in Chennai and the St. Thomas Cathedral in Mumbai, stand as testaments to the profound impact of Thomas’s ministry.
At the St. Thomas Day celebration in New Delhi on December 18, 1955, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, the then President of India, said, “St. Thomas came to India when many of the countries of Europe had not yet become Christian. So those Indians who trace their Christianity have a longer history and a higher ancestry than that of Christians of many of the European countries.”
There are people who doubt about the apostolate of St. Thomas in India. However, according to the tradition, St. Thomas, one of the twelve apostles of Jesus Christ, came to India in 52 A.D., and landed at Kodungallur on the Malabar (presently Kerala) coast. He preached the Gospel in Kerala, many of whom received the faith. He established seven and a half Churches there: Kodungallur, Kottakkavu, Palayur, Kollam, Kokkamangalam, Niranam and Chayil(Nilackal) and Thiruvithamcode (Arapally, that is, Half-Church).
It is also a tradition that he frequently visited Malayattoor hills for prayer. Later, he moved on to the east coast of India. A fanatic at Little Mount (near Madras) martyred him in 72 A.D. and his body was brought to Mylapore (near Madras) and was buried there. His tomb is venerated until this day. As St. Thomas Christians, let us remember his sacrifices and services for our own salvation with gratitude and prayers.
St. Luke 10:1-16
Jesus sends out seventy-two disciples in pairs ahead of Him to every town and place He intended to visit. This act symbolizes the expansion of God’s kingdom and the significance of spreading the Gospel message to all people. The number seventy-two is noteworthy, as it signifies the universality of Christ’s mission, encompassing both Jews and Gentiles.
As Jesus sends out His disciples, He instructs them to travel with a sense of urgency, like “lambs among wolves.” He warns them of the challenges they may encounter, but He also reassures them of divine protection and provision. The disciples are instructed not to carry any provisions, relying solely on the hospitality of those they encounter. This directive demonstrates the call for radical faith and trust in God’s providence. It reminds us that God’s mission often requires stepping out of our comfort zones and depending on His guidance.
When the disciples enter a town and are welcomed, they are to heal the sick and proclaim the arrival of the kingdom of God. However, if they encounter rejection, they are to shake the dust off their feet as a testimony against the town. This gesture signifies that the disciples have fulfilled their responsibility of offering peace and reconciliation to the people. It highlights the importance of accepting or rejecting the message of salvation, emphasizing personal accountability and the consequences of one’s response to God’s grace.
Jesus cautions the disciples not to rejoice in their authority over demons but to find joy in their relationship with God. This admonition serves as a reminder that ministry and mission should never be driven by personal pride or the desire for power. Instead, the focus should be on humbly carrying out God’s work, recognizing that all authority comes from Him. This teaching challenges believers to examine their motivations and intentions, guarding against spiritual pride and always seeking to glorify God alone.
As followers of Christ, we are called to share the Gospel message with others, to be bearers of God’s love and grace. This passage reminds us to rely on God’s provision, trust His leading, and step out in faith even when faced with challenges. It encourages us to embrace humility, understanding that true power comes from serving others and seeking God’s will. It urges us to share the good news with urgency, knowing that the time for salvation is now.
The liturgical cycle of the Church is marked with both fasts and feasts, in order to ensure that a major portion of our days and time is set aside to remember saving works of God. Therefore, it is fitting that after our joyful celebration of the Feasts of Easter, Ascension and Pentecost; the Church has set aside a Lent period of two weeks, named ‘The Fast of the Apostles’, to honor the memory of the 12 Apostles.
The Apostles hold the highest rank among the saints of the Church. They were with the Lord Jesus all through His time on earth. They passed on the very words and teachings of the Lord down to their followers in the form of oral traditions and written Gospels. They laid the foundation of the Church through their ministry of boldly preaching the Gospel to the ends of the earth. Hence, the place of honor accorded to them by the Church has no equal except for that of the Theotokos (St.Mary).
The Apostle’s Fast begins on June 16 every year and continues for 13 days until June 28. The reason for the Church to choose thirteen days instead of twelve was to honor St. Paul who is also numbered among the Apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Fast of the Apostles ends with the feast of St. Peter and St. Paul on June 29.
After His Ascension, the Apostles had been told by the Lord Jesus to go and make disciples of all nations. However, He also told them to first wait for the promise of the Holy Spirit, and so they spent time in prayer until this promise was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost. After this, the sacred tradition of the Church tells us that the Apostles, as part of their preparation to spread the Gospel message, began a fast with prayer to ask God to strengthen their resolve and to be with them in their missionary undertakings.
Therefore, the Apostles and the early Christians continued to fast after the Lord Jesus’s resurrection so that they would receive the divine power for the daunting task of taking the Gospel to the ends of the earth. In addition, we are called to emulate their example as Hebrews 13:7 tells us “Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.”
This is why the Church handed down this Fast for us to observe. This is a special time for us to remember the life of the Apostles and their teachings, to thank God for their endurance of persecution as they spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the world, and to remind us that we, the spiritual descendants of the Apostles, are called to continue their mission.
St. Matthew 10:5-16
Jesus addresses his disciples before sending them on a specific mission. Jesus had been preaching, healing, and performing miracles, attracting both followers and opposition. As he prepared to expand his ministry, he chose twelve disciples from among his followers, granting them authority to heal and cast out demons. In verse 5, Jesus commands them, “Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans.” This directive initially appears puzzling, but it emphasizes Jesus’ focus on the lost sheep of Israel and his desire to strengthen the faith of his fellow Jews. Jesus wanted to save his own people before saving others. As Christians today, we have a similar responsibility. However, before we get out preaching and serving, we need to keep our own life and our house in order.
In verses 7 and 8, Jesus provides clear instructions for the disciples: “As you go, proclaim the good news, ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons.” These instructions emphasize the practical aspect of Christianity. Our preaching should match with our actions. We need to open our eyes to the suffering of our fellow beings around us and try to help them.
In verses 9-10, Jesus instructs the disciples to rely on God’s provision. They are told to travel with minimal possessions, trusting that those who receive them will offer hospitality and support. This teaching underscores the importance of trust in divine providence and the willingness to depend on the generosity of others. It also serves as a reminder that discipleship is not merely a profession but a way of life that requires detachment from material possessions.
Jesus warns his disciples that their message may face resistance, rejection, and persecution. He tells them, “If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town”. This instruction signifies the disciples’ responsibility to bear witness faithfully, regardless of the reception they receive. They are called to remain steadfast and not be discouraged by those who reject their message, as their purpose is to share the truth, not force acceptance.
In verse 16, Jesus advises his disciples to be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. This counsel speaks to the need for discernment and wisdom when navigating the challenges of their mission. Disciples must be shrewd in their dealings, avoiding unnecessary harm, while maintaining a pure and innocent heart. This combination of wisdom and innocence reflects the balanced approach needed to spread the Gospel effectively.
Christian discipleship involves a sacrificial commitment, embracing both the joys and challenges that come with it.
St. John 6:26-35
In the Gospel of John, Jesus often uses profound metaphors to teach his followers about deep spiritual truths. One such instance is found in St. John 6:26-35, where Jesus speaks of himself as the “Bread of Life.” This passage holds significant meaning and offers valuable insights into our understanding of faith, sustenance, and the eternal nature of Christ’s teachings.
Jesus responds to a crowd that seeks him after witnessing the miracle of the multiplication of loaves and fish. Jesus challenges their motives, urging them not to seek him because of the temporal satisfaction of physical food but to seek the “bread that leads to eternal life.” He emphasizes the importance of prioritizing spiritual nourishment over earthly desires and material needs. This message remains relevant in our present society, where the pursuit of instantaneous pleasures often overshadows the pursuit of lasting spiritual fulfilment.
Jesus declares, “I am the bread of life.” Through this powerful metaphor, Jesus reveals that he is the ultimate source of spiritual sustenance. Just as bread provides nourishment for our physical bodies, Jesus provides the sustenance necessary for our souls to thrive. By equating himself with bread, a fundamental material of sustenance, Jesus emphasizes his indispensable role in our lives. Jesus invites all who are hungry and thirsty for spiritual fulfilment to come to him and believe in him. This invitation extends to all, irrespective of social status, background, or prior actions. Jesus offers a transformative relationship with himself, assuring us that true satisfaction can only be found in him. It requires faith, trust, and total surrender.
Jesus further emphasizes the significance of the spiritual nourishment he provides by stating, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” This statement underscores the importance of engaging with the Scriptures and internalizing God’s Word in our lives. Just as we need physical food for our bodies, we require the Word of God for our spiritual growth and sustenance. It is through studying, meditating on, and applying the teachings of Christ that we experience true spiritual transformation.
Jesus assures his followers that whoever believes in him will have eternal life and be raised up on the last day. This promise signifies the eternal nature of Christ’s teachings and the hope he offers. Believing in Jesus is not just about this earthly life but also about the life to come. This promise of eternal life provides comfort, encouragement, and a sense of purpose for believers as they navigate the challenges of this world.
Pentecost is the birthday of Christian Church. This comes 50 days after the resurrection of Jesus. It commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples of Jesus Christ, as described in the book of Acts. Pentecost traces its origins back to the Jewish festival of Shavuot, also known as the Feast of Weeks. Shavuot was a harvest festival celebrated by the Jewish community, marking the revelation of the Torah to the Jewish people at Mount Sinai.
In Christianity, Pentecost signifies the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples, fulfilling Jesus’ promise to send them a Helper and Comforter. The Holy Spirit is regarded as the third person of the Holy Trinity, representing God’s presence and power in the world. Its arrival on Pentecost symbolizes the birth of the early Christian Church and the continuation of God’s work through believers.
The signs of tongues of fire appearing above the heads of the disciples is closely associated with Pentecost. Fire has long been regarded as a symbol of divine presence, purification, and transformation. It signifies the Holy Spirit’s purifying and refining work in the lives of believers, empowering them with courage, zeal, and spiritual gifts to spread the gospel.
Another important symbol of Pentecost is the ability of the disciples to speak in different languages, enabling them to communicate with people from various nations and cultures. This miraculous event demonstrates the universality of the gospel message and emphasizes the call to reach out to all people, breaking down barriers and promoting unity among groups within and outside the church.
Pentecost serves as a reminder that believers are not left alone in their faith journey. The Holy Spirit continues to empower and guide individuals, equipping them with spiritual gifts to serve others and fulfill their unique calling. It encourages Christians to seek the Holy Spirit’s presence in their lives, inviting transformation and divine guidance.
The celebration underscores the importance of bridging cultural, linguistic, and social gaps, fostering understanding, compassion, and unity. It reminds believers to embrace and appreciate different perspectives, recognizing the universal nature of God’s love. Just as the disciples were emboldened to proclaim the gospel, Christians today are encouraged to engage in mission and evangelism, reaching out to those in need and spreading the good news of salvation.
St. John 17:13-26
This week is sandwiched between two important feasts of the Holy Church – namely Ascension of Jesus Christ and Pentecost. This passage, often referred to as the “High Priestly Prayer,” reveals the depth of Jesus’ love for His disciples and His desire for unity among His followers. The notion of sharing in God’s glory underscores the intimate relationship between Jesus and His followers. Through their faith and unity, believers become partakers in the divine nature and experience the indwelling presence of God’s glory in their lives. It is through this shared glory that believers are sanctified and empowered to live out their calling in the world. In this passage, we are reminded of our role in the world.
Christians are not supposed to live away from the world. Jesus tells the Father “As you sent me into the world, so I sent them into the world (St. John 17:18).” Christians are a sent people. The word Apostle means sent one and the church continues the Apostolic mission by being sent into the world. We have been sent into the world to continue the work of Christ. Christ is made present in the world through our own lives. Christians are the salt of earth and the light of the world. We have to preserve, protect and enlighten the world through our everyday thoughts and actions.
Although we live in the world we are not to live as worldly ones. We have to live like the lotus in a pond, emanating the fragrance and beauty of the plant and not stunted by the filthiness surrounding it. We have to recognize that the world is still in need of redemption. Christ requests the Father that his disciples remain in the world but that they are protected from the evil one (St. John 17:15). We can find solace in the divine protection of God the Father. Our life in the world is filled with hardships and trials. That is why we recite every day in our prayers, “My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth (Psalm 121:2).”
As we prepare for feast of Pentecost let us reflect on our calling with respect to the world. Let us work as sent ones (apostles) in the world while at the same time not becoming tainted with worldliness.
St. Luke 9:51-62
This week’s gospel reading narrates a series of encounters between Jesus and potential followers. The passage begins with Jesus setting his sights on Jerusalem. This represents a turning point in his ministry, as he prepares to face the cross and fulfil his mission of redemption. As he travels towards Jerusalem, he encounters three would-be disciples, each of whom expresses a desire to follow him.
The first potential disciple declares, “I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus responds by warning him that “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” This exchange highlights the cost of discipleship, which involves sacrifice and a willingness to forsake the comforts and security of this world.
The second potential disciple asks Jesus to let him first go and bury his father. Jesus responds, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” This response may seem harsh, but it emphasizes the urgency of the gospel message and the need for immediate action. Jesus is calling this man to prioritize the eternal over the temporal, to choose the living God over the dead traditions of his family.
The third potential disciple offers to follow Jesus, but asks to first say goodbye to his family. Jesus responds, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” This statement emphasizes the importance of single-minded devotion to Christ. Following Jesus is not a part-time commitment, but a total surrender of one’s will and desires.
Taken together, these encounters reveal the high cost of discipleship and the absolute commitment that is required of those who would follow Jesus. Jesus is not looking for half-hearted followers, but for those who are willing to lay down even their lives for his sake. Following Jesus involves sacrifice, urgency, and single-minded devotion.
St. Luke 24: 13-35
This week’s Gospel reading narrates the Road to Emmaus incident. It recounts the encounter between two of Jesus’ disciples who were walking on the road to Emmaus, and a stranger who turned out to be Jesus himself.
The story begins with two disciples walking on the road to Emmaus, discussing the events that had taken place in Jerusalem regarding Jesus’ death and resurrection. As they walked and talked, a stranger joined them and asked them what they were discussing. The two disciples were surprised that this stranger did not know about the recent events in Jerusalem. They proceeded to tell him all that had happened, including how Jesus had been crucified and buried, and how some of their fellow disciples claimed to have seen him alive again.
The stranger listened to their story and began to explain to them from the Scriptures how everything that had happened was necessary to fulfil God’s plan. He opened their minds to understand the prophecies in the Scriptures about the Messiah’s suffering and resurrection. As they approached their destination, the two disciples urged the stranger to stay with them for the night. They sat down to eat, and as the stranger broke the bread and gave thanks, their eyes were opened, and they recognized him as Jesus.
The disciples were overjoyed and amazed that Jesus had been with them all along. They realized that it was not just a coincidence that the stranger had met them on the road. Jesus had come to them in their moment of doubt and confusion, and he had opened their minds to understand the Scriptures and to recognize him.
This Bible passage has many important lessons. First, it reminds us that Jesus is always with us, even when we do not realize it. We may feel lost, confused, and alone at times, but Jesus is walking beside us, guiding us, and teaching us. Second, the story shows us the importance of understanding the Scriptures. We cannot truly understand God’s plan for our lives unless we study the Bible and reflect on His Word. Finally, it reminds us of the power of the Eucharist. Just as Jesus broke the bread and gave thanks, we too can experience the presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist. May we always be open to God’s guidance and may we always recognize Jesus in our midst.
The focus of this week’s Gospel reading is a conversation between Jesus and Peter, one of his disciples, that takes place after Jesus’ resurrection. The passage is often referred to as the “Commissioning of Peter,” and it speaks to the role of Peter and the other disciples in spreading the word of God after Jesus’ ascension.
The passage begins with Jesus asking Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” Here, “these” likely refers to the other disciples who were present with Peter or it can be the worldly pleasures. Peter responds, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus then says, “Feed my lambs.” This statement is a metaphor that means Peter should take care of those who are new to the faith, those who are young in their understanding of God’s word.
Jesus repeats this question two more times, and each time Peter responds with “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Each time, Jesus responds with a command: “Tend my sheep,” and “Feed my sheep.” These commands suggest that Peter is being given a special role in the church, one that involves caring for and nurturing those who follow Christ.
The repetition of the question and response in this passage is significant. It is thought to symbolize Peter’s three denials of Jesus before his crucifixion. In those instances, Peter denied knowing Jesus three times. Here, Jesus gives Peter the opportunity to affirm his love for him three times, thus showing his forgiveness and trust in Peter’s ability to lead the church. Peter’s confession and dedication to Christ led him to die for him. History tells that Peter was crucified upside down by his request because he felt unworthy to die in the same manner as his master. Similarly, all other disciples except St. John died as a martyr for Christian faith.
Peter represents all of us. In our everyday interactions with worldly affairs, we commit sins of varying degrees and going away from Christian teachings and values. Remember, Jesus is asking the same question to all of us, “do you love me more than these?’ True Christian discipleship is not an easy task. It is a life of self-denial and selfless love.
St. John 21: 1-14
After the excitement of Easter Sunday, the disciples of Jesus were a lost bunch. Peter, always a man who liked practical action, comes up with an obvious solution: go back to work. Back to the work he and the others knew so well, that of fishing. The disciples were real professionals. They knew what they were doing when it came to fishing. That was why they went out at night: experience has taught them this was the most productive time. However, on this occasion the result was so depressing. When morning came, their nets were as empty as when they had begun. We can imagine their feelings: tired, frustrated, and hungry.
The simple phrase ‘they caught nothing’ is profoundly evocative. It reminds us all the occasions when we work extremely hard over something and achieve nothing. What we all experience at times like these is the futility of work. Like Peter and his colleagues, sometimes we catch nothing, and find it difficult to understand where we have gone wrong.
So frustrated were the disciples that they are ready to act on the advice of a complete stranger, even though this must have been a serious blow to their pride. Who was the clever fellow on the shore who asked the painful question: ‘Friends, do you have any fish?’ Although the disciples were hesitant at the beginning to follow the instruction of that stranger, they cast their net in to the right side, and this time they really do catch something-153 big fishes exactly. The realisation that it was the risen Jesus who was the mysterious stranger rapidly follows.
We need to understand a delicate theological reality here. Just the presence of Jesus with us on the shore does not guarantee that everything in our everyday life will go wonderfully smoothly. The Christian faith is not that sort of an insurance policy. Frustrations and setbacks, and empty nets will continue to afflict us from time to time. Nevertheless, in Jesus Christ there is a scope for transformation, which is relevant to working life as well as to church life. In this particular incident, change is effected through listening to a word of advice: ‘Throw your net to the right side of the boat’. Christians need to be vigilant for similar words of wisdom. If we are living in a state of close relationship with our risen Lord, we will be surprised at the flashes of inspiration that comes our way every day.
Church all over the world celebrates the feast of “Denaha” on January 8, corresponds to the Baptism of Jesus. The word “ Danaha “ literally means Dawn or Sunrise. It is the day that Jesus revealed himself to the world during the time of his Baptism that He is the Son of God, a new dawn in the life of mankind. In Greek, it is the feast of Epiphany or Theophany, by which God the father revealed the Mystery of the incarnation of His only begotten Son into this world. This is the public manifestation of Jesus of Nazareth as the Son of God, the moment of a different personality in him and his call to be the Messiah.
Prophet Isaiah prophesied about the Messiah, saying; “Arise and shine, for your light has come and the glory of the Lord rises upon you” (Isaiah 60:1). The purpose of this divine manifestation is for the world to understand that the Savior of the World is here being the light of the World, shedding new understanding about our sinful life and how to move away into the direction of divine light with prospect of redemption and eternal salvation. Jesus is the Messianic King as it was revealed to the Wise men (the Magi) who came from the east, as today the Eastern Churches celebrates the Three Kings Day. Besides Jesus is the Messianic King, he is the light of the world who can turn away the people from the darkness and bondage of sin.
Today, when we celebrate the Baptism of Jesus; the Holy Trinity is revealed to the world by this event, as the Heavenly Father’s voice was heard during this occasion saying: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17), and also shown; the Holy Spirit descended upon the Son like a dove. This means that the Christian faith is based on this Trinitarian revelation given to us through the Baptism of Jesus Christ.
Besides Jesus is the Messianic King, who is also the eternal High Priest combined with Levite Priesthood as he got baptized by John the Baptist, who himself is a priest by virtue of being the son of a priest, and thus a connection of Levite priesthood is established by his baptism. This is for the continuation of the priestly responsibility offering prayers and sacrifices done in the Old Testament for the propitiation of the sin of the people, as in conjunction with the apostolic authority bestowed upon them by our Lord himself to absolve sins of the believers in the Church.
John the Baptist testified about Jesus, being the High Priest and the Messianic King, “He will baptize you in spirit and fire” which means; each one baptized into Christ, will have to take the challenge of leading our life in the furnace of faith and being sanctified by the Holy Spirit. Our task in this world is to keep our life sanctified every day the presence of the Lord, closeness to His light; experiencing the Theophany.
His Holiness Catholicos Paulose II Falls Asleep in Christ
With faith in Christ, and in hope of the resurrection, we announce the falling asleep of our beloved Father in Christ, His Holiness Moran Mar Baselios Marthoma Paulose II, the Catholicos of the East. His Holiness passed away on the early morning of July 12th at 2:35AM (IST), at Saint Gregorios International Cancer Care Center, in Parumala, Kerala, India.
At the age of 36, the Malankara Syrian Christian Association elected him as a Bishop of the Malankara Church. On May 15, 1985, he was consecrated to the Holy Episcopacy asPaulose Mar Milithiosand was given the sacred responsibility to shepherd the newly formedKunnumkulum Diocese. His Holiness faithfully shepherded this Diocese for over three decades.
On October 12, 2006, the Malankara Syrian Christian Association at Parumala unanimously elected Metropolitan Paulose Mar Milithios, as the Catholicos Designate. On 1st November 2010, following the abdication of his predecessor, His Beatitude was enthroned as Catholicos of the East & Malankara Metropolitan, asPaulose II, becoming the 8th Catholicos of the East after its relocation to India, and the 20th Malankara Metropolitan, upon the Apostolic Throne of St. Thomas.
His Holiness was overwhelmingly supportive of the growth and vision of our Diocese. Since assuming the sacred responsibility as the Chief Shepherd of the Malankara Church, His Holiness has made more than five Apostolic Visits to our Diocese. These visits included presiding over the enthronement of our Diocesan Metropolitan in 2011, the consecration of churches, and inaugurating the Holy Transfiguration Retreat Center in 2017.
Upon the significant change in His Holiness health, His Grace Zachariah Mar Nicholovos, Metropolitan left for India on Wednesday, July 7th to join the Fathers of the Holy Synod in vigil and prayer at the side of His Holiness. Upon the news of the falling asleep of His Holiness, our Diocesan Metropolitan issued a memo to clergy and faithful of the Diocese informing of His Holiness’ falling asleep.
The Malankara Church has not lost a great father, rather we have gained a great intercessor before the Throne of Christ our God. His Holiness’ example of simplicity, prayer, and humility be an example for all of us.
May the memory of our Bava Thirumeni, His Holiness Moran Mar Baselios Marthoma Paulose II, be eternal!
Go in peace Holy Father, and forever pray unto God for us!
A few pictures taken during his visit to our parish in 2017.
Jacob John – June 5
Sam David – June 11
Maliackal Scaria – June 16
Titus Mathew – April 4
Varghese M John – April 10
Aleyamma John – April 11
March 28 Sunday PALM SUNDAY (HOSANNA)
March 29 Monday
March 30 Tuesday
March 31 Wednesday HOLY PASSOVER (MAUNDY THURSDAY)
April 01st HOLY THURSDAY
April 02nd Good Friday
April 3 HOLY SATURDAY (Remember all the departed)
April 4 EASTER SUNDAY
Holy Qurbana by Fr. Alex K. Joy and Fr. Babu K. Mathew
Morning Prayer followed by Holy Qurbana conducted by Rev. Fr. Alex K. Joy.
Today’s reading reminds us three important things:
Be Watchful and alert
This is about Jesus’s second coming. Jesus said, “Do not be afraid of a little flock”. This is a matter of enough preparation in our spiritual life. We should be aware of this temporary life in this world. This is not our permanent residence. As we are eager about our worldly investment, which may parish one day due to the unstable conditions, but need to concentrate more into our spiritual growth in our life. Our Master Lord Jesus will come any time, even in the middle of the night. Our accountability is most important about; what we do, and how we do in our spiritual life. People always complain that there is not enough time:
No time to go to church, no time for family pray, no time to look after the children’s spiritual
growth, no time to look after family’s spiritual health, no time to listen to other’s cry for help,
The list goes on and on…
Jesus says, invest in our spiritual life. That will count forever, that will reflect in our children and grandchildren and for generations.
Why do we remember our Departed?
This includes our departed parents, grandparents and all our loved ones. When we look at Our Faith, it was given to us by our forefathers, not by books, but by oral transfer to the next generation, as it has been continued for the last two thousand years without much change, even though the outfit had changed but the content remained the same. Our forefathers kept their faith alive and sometimes paid heavy price by their own life, in order to pass it to the next generation. Each parish has its own story on this voyage. Many of the parishes of the Malankara Orthodox Church have a history of more than 1000 years of their existence and their churches were built one thousand years ago, and they had survived by the unceasing prayer and dedication of our forefathers.
Let us not forget our parents and grandparents who brought us up in this faith. They are the one who taught the first lessons of our faith, they are the one who told us the bedtime stories from the bible. When we slept, we had sweet dreams about Jesus, the biblical figures, and about heavenly images. We, their children grew up strong in our faith everyday by their tears and prayers.
Don’t forget our parish members who are departed from us. Our Saint Stephen’s parish started as a small group of 12 members and the hard work and dedication of the initial members made this parish grow as a stronger and bigger one with the enormous grace of God, as we see today. We remember all our departed members of this parish at this time.
What is our legacy to our next generation?
We have to teach our children our faith. We may complain that we have no time, but remember; what we do today for children will count for tomorrow. Bring them to church on time, bring them to the Sunday school on time, teach them prayer, pray with them every day, read the bible with them every day. Let them understand what our faith means to them, what is holy Qurbana to them. It is the sign of the Love of God towards us, toward all mankind.
It is his Body and Blood given to us for our salvation. We pray everyday in our evening prayer, “Thy love for us brought yourself down from heaven, that by Thy death our death is abolished”. This love needs to be shared with our family, our children and to others. This is the love that made us immortal by the Holy Qurbana.
Our departed ones are spiritually active, strong immortal in the heavenly abode, though they are physically in a different realm. They are inseparable part of the Church, being in the Body of Christ. By Holy communion we are become one in His Mystical Body. One day we also will meet our loved ones on his second coming. That is what we are reminding us today, that we are prepared and alert in our daily life.
I want to start with a historic and most tragic event that happened to one of the parishes of our church at the end of the 18th Century. This happened at the Kunnamkulam, Arthat church during the siege of Tippu Sultan. According to the history it was a Sunday morning during the holy Qurbana, Tippu’s army surrounded the church and he demanded the priest to accept Islam. The priest in his vestment refused his order. As a result, the priest was killed at the altar, followed by bloody massacre of worshipers at the church. When Claudius Buchanan, a British chaplain from Calcutta visited Kunnamkulam in 1806, he saw the burnt down Arthat church. Our priests were great spiritual leaders who led the church during many crises like this, even at the cost of their own life. This is one of the examples of our Church’s past history.
Today we remember all the departed priests of our Church. We have heard from today’s reading about the responsibility and moral duty of all the shepherds of his Church and their accountability towards their spiritual vocation. Church is compared to the household of God in which Jesus is the Master who went away for a temporary journey by making his servant in- charge over it, while his master is away. He gave certain clear directives to this charge person:
Give them food; means spiritual food to each and every one of the households to keep them spiritually healthy.
Make them aware of the watchfulness and readiness in their life about the Lord’s second coming any time without warning.
Be accountable on everything he does, because there is a day of judgement.
Priesthood is a divine call in our life to take care of His people and His Church. Jesus called his apostles to take care of his Church and subsequently, the apostolic community organized itself followed by the Pentecost; as the Holy Spirit came down upon them and empowered them. By the power of the holy spirit the apostolic community increased in number day by day and as a result more and more spiritual leaders were appointed by the apostles. In the Pauline epistles we see a clear active three-fold ministry in the early Church, namely; bishop, elders and deacons. Church was organized in this pattern everywhere; both in and outside the Roman Empire.
Let us look at the definition of the Priesthood. As we have heard in today’s reading, priesthood is established in this world by God Himself, in order to keep a constant communication between God and His people. They worked according to the directives received from God, as Moses always prayed to God for direction while he was leading Israelites from the bondage of Egypt through the wilderness of Sinai into the promised land. The absence of priesthood means; the world would be in darkness without having any proper guidance and direction, and may end in complete chaos and destruction. The absence of proper priestly guidance causes chaos and destruction, as says prophet Ezekiel, “They were scattered because there were no shepherd and when they were scattered they became food for all the wild animals” (Ezekiel 34:5). He was talking about the people of Israel.
During the early Hebrew history, the Patriarchs; Abraham, Isaac and Jacob themselves acted as priests, as they followed a covenant relationship with God, and the God was revealed to them as the God of Hosts, later he known as YHWH, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. From the time of Jacob, who was also known as “Israel”. Israel was called by God for a priestly function to the world, purport to make YHWH the Holy one, to be known to the gentile world of idol worship. Israel failed in their function to bear witness to the Almighty God outside their community either by actions or by their indifference attitude. Jesus, the Son of God came down into the World to reconnect this priestly function through the foundation of the Church, the prototype of the Kingdom of God on this earth. As saint Paul says about the Church, “You are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone” (Ephesians 2:19). Church is a divine originated entity with priestly foundation, in terms of its function to the world. Besides, Church is the new Covenant community in the world to spread the holiness of God to others by our witness; in word and deed and life.
The primary duty of the priest being a shepherd is to provide its people with spiritual food; means spiritual nourishments which includes sacramental communion as well as moral and ethical instructions on the basis of Jesus’s teachings. It implies; the liturgical aspect of the Church attributes to the primary priestly function. It is by the sacramental communion we experience the mystical fellowship with the Lord. Jesus said, “Be holy as my heavenly father is holy”. A priest is a spiritual shepherd as well as a source of holiness for others because he celebrates the holy Body and Blood of Jesus Christ at Eucharistic table.
The other important function of a priest is to create readiness among the people about the future. This means the thought of eschatology; the end; the second coming of Christ in his triumphant glory. This eschatological dimension of the Church is to be understood in every worship, as it proclaims at the end as the last part of every eucharistic worship. This is not intended to create fear, rather to create awareness of the end of the age reality and prepare ourselves accordingly. This preparation involves discipline in our daily life, to stay with the holiness of Christ.
The last part is the accountability in priestly call. There is a certain code of conduct to follow for the priestly vocation and that has to be strictly reinforced on a daily basis. Beyond his personal life, his responsibility is not limited to his congregation, but rather, extended towards the society as well, which means; his role being a beacon of change in the society.
At this point I want to invoke the names of two of our great spiritual fathers who recently entered into eternity, namely: Baselios Mar Thoma Mathews ii , the late Catholicos and Geevarghese Mar Osththeos Metropolitan of the Niranam diocese, who worked very hard in serving the Church as well as the community at large. The Mission Society of Malankara Orthodox Church was established by our dear Osthatheos thirumeni for the purpose of serving the poor; the neglected; and the destitute; including the children of the lepers. Baselios Mar Thoma Mathews ii, our late bava thirumeni, was a Social Reformer and a source of light of knowledge for thousands of people, including young men and women, in providing higher education by establishing schools, colleges, ITCs and Teachers training colleges in southern Kerala through his hard work and dedication. Thirumeni being a spiritual leader and an ideal shepherd who took his divine call very seriously with accountability towards his Master, Lord Jesus Christ and also towards the society; irrespective of caste, color or creed. Those institutions still remain as perpetual memory of their spiritual as well as social leadership. Let us remember them and their spiritual leadership in leading us in proper guidance and discipline, to spread the holiness of God with His divine love within ourselves and also towards others with our presence in our word as well as in our deed.
This week we meditate on the event that infant Jesus was dedicated in the Temple of Jerusalem by Joseph and Mary. This has a lot of significance in the life of Jesus, being born into a Jewish family. In the Hebrew tradition every firstborn male child is to be dedicated to God for His service in the Temple, especially born into a priestly family. Jesus was brought up in a Jewish background with spiritual formation and instruction in Holy Scriptures during his childhood. He grew up as an ordinary child, in spite of his Divine birth and the Messianic revelation disclosed to Mary and Joseph, his parents. There are many references in the Old Testament scriptures on this above practice. Hannah is another example who dedicated her child firstborn child Samuel (1 Samuel 1:11).
Baby dedication is a tradition followed by many Churches, and even today it is widely practiced in our parishes. Parents bring their children before the altar and prayed by the celebrant of the Holy sacraments and make offering after the prayer of dedication. This practice, adimaveippu, has been done for the children under 5 years old, mostly takes place at the tombs of the saints, reminding the child about the sanctity of our Christian life and the dedicated saintly Christian life of the saints of the Church.
Adding to the messianic revelation at the time of infant Jesus’s dedication in the Temple, we also see two old people who were longing to see the Messiah for many years by their dedication and prayerful life at the Temple. Today Messiah the savior of mankind is seen by them as revealed by the Holy spirit.
Simeon is one of them, who had been revealed by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ (Luke 2:26). He took the infant Jesus in his hands and said, “Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace”. Simeon was a prophet who prophesied about what is going to happen with the life of Jesus and Mary, his mother:
He said, Jesus is the Messiah who is here to bring salvation to the whole of humanity
And to Mary, he said, “a sword will pierce through your soul”, means she would witness her own son’s crucifixion.
The other person was Anna, an old lady, a widow for 84 years who spent all these years in prayer and fasting night day and night, had the blessing of God to see the infant Jesus, the Messianic King.
Simeon and Anna could see the blessings through the eyes of Jesus at the Temple of Jerusalem.
When we come to the sanctuary of God we could see His glory here, our children too will be blessed to experience this unusual experience, when we dedicate them in the church.
What is the purpose of this dedication?
According to Joyce Meyers, a child Psychologist and evangelist, who holds a Ph.D. in early childhood education, “It is important to minister to the babies in a spiritual environment to increase their spiritual growth”. She recommends a few things:
In Jesus’s early childhood, his parents Mary and Joseph played a very significant role in providing a congenial spiritual environment at home for his spiritual growth. As he grew older we see Jesus, being a young man of 12 years old with lot of scriptural knowledge, arguing and discoursing with the Jewish elders at the Temple of Jerusalem.
Being parents, we often forget our role; duties and responsibilities, toward our children to bring them up in our Faith and to lead in the right direction. We need to follow the Nazareth model; the home of Jesus. Jesus grew up as a child like every other child, and he enjoyed the spiritual experience at the Temple with his parents, which made him a true human being, besides the fact that he himself was the son of God incarnated. He learned his basic lessons of faith in God at home, together with the spiritual values: love and compassion towards fellow beings; respect and care for others; and paining with pain of the pained.
Unlike the other three Synoptic Gospels, Saint John’s Gospel is enriched with theological revelations through the words and deeds of Jesus. He is very particular in his style and content, arranged in such a way for the believers easy to understand the mystery of Incarnation of the Son of God, Lord Jesus Christ. There are many peculiarities in his presentation of Jesus to the world, as he added 7 discourses, 7 miracles and 7 I am statements by Jesus himself. Moreover, he added many dualisms in this 4th gospel: light and darkness, life and death, truth and falsehood, flesh and spirit, things above and below, etc.
The seven discourses are: 1. Jesus and Nathanael, 2. Jesus and Nicodemus, 3. Jesus and the Samaritan Woman,4. Jesus and the sisters of Lazarus, who was raised from the dead 5. Jesus and the paralytic man at the pool of Bethesda,6. Jesus and the Woman caught in adultery, 7. Jesus and the blind man healed.
In today’s reading we note two important points in Nicodemus discourse:
These two introductory remarks bring some pondering about Nicodemus. When we hear that he was ruler of the Pharisee, we need to understand that it was nothing to do with the civil authority, rather; it is connected to the administration of the Temple of Jerusalem, as it was ruled by a council called Sanhedrin. And the special emphasis that Nicodemus came to Jesus by night also needs some explanation. Saint john talks about the concept of Light and Darkness in many places in this gospel. He begins the 1st Chapter with a statement about the Son of God, who was the Word of God who became flesh, “In Him was life, and life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not comprehend it” (John 1:4-5). He attributes darkness to the absence of light; absence of true knowledge of God. Nicodemus’s understanding about Jesus was limited and what he had heard about Him, only as a teacher from God, like other teachers came before Him. His divinity is partially accepted by Nicodemus. Jesus reply to Nicodemus is very crucial for him to clearly understand that Jesus is the Messiah, the true Son of God. Jesus said, “Unless one is born again of water and the Spirit he cannot enter the Kingdom of God” (John 3:5).
Jesus really wants Nicodemus to understand Him better. He saw him as a potential future leader and also, he wants him to know the mystery of the Kingdom of God already initiated by Jesus through his Messianic revelation during his Baptism. Being his disciple and coming close to Him is the only way for Nicodemus to know more about his full spiritual revelation about Jesus as the Son of God. However, few things become big hurdles for Nicodemus to become Jesus’s disciples which made him fail:
Jesus assured that those who are born again into the Kingdom of God would experience both the earthly experience by holy baptism in water and the holy spirit as well as the heavenly experience of eternal life through the sacramental participation in the Church. But we fail to feel the heavenly experience in our worship. Why?
What makes keep us away from the light of God, similar to the case of Nicodemus?
3. What happen when we come to the Light of God?
May the Good Lord help each and every one of us to come to the divine light of God by the power of his Holy spirit.
Today’s reading is about a discourse between Jesus and Nathanael (John 1:43-51), and this is one of many such discourses presented by Saint John to prove the Divinity of Jesus quoting from Jesus’ own words. When we look at this passage we see this as the beginning of Jesus’s ministry by gathering few followers from different walks of life, of them: many were fishermen and some of them were of strong Jewish religious heritage, with Hellenistic cultural background. His first disciples were Simon Peter and his brother Andrew, who were originally disciples of John the Baptist. They joined Jesus by the testimony of John the Baptist saying about Jesus, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). They followed Jesus as they were convinced that Jesus is the Messiah (Christ) whom the prophets were talking about Him hundreds of years ago (John 1:45). It was Philip who introduced Jesus to Nathanael. As the conversation was progressing, Jesus acknowledged the personality of Nathanael “being a true Israelite in whom no deceit”, which made him to open his inner eye to understand Jesus, like the other disciples, confessing; “Rabbi You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel”.
Who is this Nathanael? Jesus had recognized him earlier while he was sitting under the fig tree. What is the significance of the fig tree in this context? What was he doing under the fig tree?
Fig tree is very significant as it gives a lot of shade used as a place of prayer, for study and meditation on the Mosaic Law and Scriptures. Nathanael was seen as a devoted Jew, a man of God who was searching for the Messianic King according to the Holy Scriptures. Jesus noticed Nathanael before he met Jesus. His witness at the end of the discussion is his self-realization of the Messianic Jesus in his life. Jesus assured Nathanael that he would see greater things about Him with the glorious moment in his life, “the moment he will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man” (John 1:51), by which he reminded the experience of the “dream of Jacob’s Ladder” in Genesis 28:12-15. Jacob, being a man of God received the insight of God by this dream and understood that God was revealed to him and he called that place “bethel” the house of the Lord, and later this term has been used for the Temple of Jerusalem. Jesus himself used this word during his cleansing of the Temple (Matthew 21:12). God was with Israel in the presence of the Shekinah glory(cloud) hovering over the Tabernacle during their journey in the wilderness. God did manifest Himself in the Old Testament Israel Tabernacle and Temple. They were “the house of God” (Exodus 23:19, Psalms 116:19). The full manifestation of the Jacob’s Ladder in the form of worship is to be revealed by the Christ, the Son of God Himself later.
Jesus Christ is the Messianic King whose presence opened the Kingdom of God in this world. We have no way of getting to Heaven but by Christ. Being adapted into the Kingdom of God is the universal mission of Jesus, so that everyone is able to enjoy the privilege of the heavenly blessings; as happened to Jacob in the Old Testament during his dream. Jesus Christ is the only link for the humanity to enjoy the heavenly experience on earth. Church, in this world is the only heavenly entity through which this heavenly experience is transmitted to others as it is the prototype of the Kingdom of God on this earth. Each and every person who is baptized into Church, which is His mystical Body of Christ, has the grace of God to enjoy this experience through worship and the sacramental fellowship. The Son of God came down to the world to restore the broken relationship because of the sin of mankind. Roman 5:1-2 says, “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand”. As we enter the main sanctuary of the Lord we dedicate ourselves to experience this heavenly blessing from the atoning altar of the Lord at the time of worship. In prayer, we communicate with God, in reading and hearing God’s word, He communicates with us, and by participating with His holy sacraments we experience the fellowship with God through the power of the Holy Spirit. We are sanctified by the power of the Holy Spirit through remission of our sins every day. And this process is being continued until we reach the fullness of our spiritual life, and to be transformed into the state of glorification, as all the saints of the holy church have been achieved. The holy altar is symbolic of the heavenly realm where we see the Son of God is revealed to us with the angels and archangels in the heavenly worship, sitting at the right hand of the Father. We are blessed to participate in this holy worship where the celestials and terrestrials are joined together in fellowship.
Jesus Christ, being the Heavenly door to the Earth, His cosmic mission is clearly mentioned by Saint Paul, “in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him, to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross” (Col.1:20). Glorification is universal in which every living and nonliving Organisms are involved in the process of salvation, including the heavenly and the earthly. The Heavenly worship on earth is the center of this process of glorification in which Jesus Christ is the hope of this glory for all the living and nonliving. Let us dedicate ourselves in fullness to be a part of this glorious worship.
This week the Church remembers the martyrdom of Saint Stephen. In Greek: Stephanos; means “crown”. He is venerated as the First Martyr of the Early Church and also, he was the first deacon. Saint Stephen is the Patron Saint of our Parish and we commemorate his Feast every second week of January, as his day of Martyrdom falls on January 8. His Feast is particularly important to us since our church was founded on the day of the Feast of Saint Stephen on January 8, 1984.
Let us look into the details of this young Martyr, Saint Stephen, who was only 29 years old when he was stoned to death in AD 34 in Jerusalem by angry Jewish elders for his fiery speech against their hypocrisy and disobedience of God. His ordination is mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles (Acts: Ch. 6). Being one of the seven deacons appointed by the Apostles for the ministry of the Lord among the gentiles, who were men of good reputation among the people and Knowledge and Wisdom of God, Stephanos was the chief among them. Saint Stephen also had a strong Hellenistic Jewish background providing him with thorough knowledge of the Mosaic Law and Old Testament Scriptures, which is clearly evident from in his speech (Acts: Ch.7). The Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, Oriental Orthodox, Eastern Orthodox Churches venerate him as a saint. Though he was young in his age; he was well mature in faith, empowered by the power of the Holy Spirit and inspired by the preaching of the Apostles. He was very serious about his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and, “He did many wonders and signs among the people” (Acts 6:8). It was Saint Stephen who was the moral inspiration for the conversion of Saul, who later became Paul of Tarsus, who had been mentioned being the direct witness of stoning death of deacon Stephanos and the keeper of his clothes and, the one who provided moral support along with other Jewish elders, and thus being partially responsible for that terrible act.
The Martyrdom of Stephen led to severe persecution of Christians in Jerusalem which caused the spreading of the gospel to many other cities outside Jerusalem, as well as throughout the Roman Empire (Acts: Ch.8). Early history tells that almost all the Apostles, and the Apostolic Fathers had the same fate, including thousands of early Christians met with martyrdom for their Christian faith; many were maimed and severely tortured, many were thrown to the wild animals, and still Christianity became more strong and vibrant religion throughout inside and outside the Roman Empire spreading like a wildfire. The blood of the martyrs made the Roman Empire a fertile ground for the fast growth of the Church. The Church mourned every day for their martyred loved ones: fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters. Nevertheless, they kept their faith i stronger in the living Lord Jesus Christ. Saints in the Church provided them with moral strength and the spiritual courage to continue their Christian life meaningful and bear a true witness to others who follow Christ Jesus, and their intercession made them more powerful and thriving, as experienced being one in the Body of Christ, either living in the earthly body or departed into their heavenly abode.
Let the life of Saint Stephen give us meaning for our Christian life: whether in suffering and pain; in persecution and crisis; in sickness and agony; in mental stress and grief; or in loneliness and helplessness, there is the Lord who can give us hope and comfort; peace and happiness, by His constant presence with us.
Let us pray for the intercession of Saint Stephen, our Patron Saint in our daily prayers and may his prayers be with us to give us spiritual strength.
Sunday, December 29, 2019 To Saturday, Jan 04, 2020
Birth of Jesus is considered as the divine intervention in humanity which changed the course of human history altogether. History became His Story in transforming the life of humanity. As we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ throughout the world with happiness, much enthusiasm and hope, wishing everyone a Merry Christmas concentrating on the positive aspect; there is also suffering and chaos in the life of people in Bethlehem, where their young male children under the age of two ,were subjected to the unscrupulous and bloody massacre by the tyrant king Herod when he heard the news from Maggi that there born in Bethlehem a new infant heavenly King, which made him jealous and turned him into a murderer. Attached to this is a suffering family of Joseph and Mary with their young child fleeing 400 miles of a most stressful journey escaping for their lives.
This week’s reading is in the background of the above event and the divine intervention to avoid any harm to the infant Jesus. There are many angelic messages and visions are recorded in the gospels; especially Matthew and Luke, in connection with the Messianic arrival and protecting the young Jesus. In today’s reading; we hear about an angelic intervention to Joseph and Mary to escape to Egypt for the safety of the young child Jesus from King Herod. There are eight such angelic interventions, either through dreams or private appearances, are recorded in the above two gospels: 1 About John the Baptist, the forerunner of Christ (Luke 1:13),2. Announcing the virgin birth (Luke 1:26-35),3. The angelic message to Joseph, the betrothed husband of Mary to accept her with the child in order to protect the Jesus in Mary’s womb (Matthew 1:20), 4. Angelic announcement to the shepherd in Bethlehem regarding the birth of Christ in the manger( Luke 2:9),5.Warning given to the magi not to go back to Herod ( Matt 2:12), 6. Warning to Joseph and Mary to escape to Egypt( Matt 2:13), 7. Angelic message to go back to Israel (Matt2:21), 8. The message to stay in the town of Nazareth in Galilee (Matt. 2:22-23).
It is to remember that Joseph, being a righteous man obeyed the message of God according to God’s command; even at the middle of the night he was ready for the most stressful, long and difficult journey to Egypt; a journey through desert and rather, did not think that he was with the Messiah, the divine child and nothing would happen to them even if they would have stayed back in Bethlehem.
There are occasions in our life that we get signals to keep away from evil; either evil people, tendencies, or actions, but in most of the time we fail to recognize those divine signals or angelic messages coming to our inner hearts. Only people with faith and obedience would understand those interventions and act accordingly. The purpose of Son of God who became man is to make God to be an objective reality in our everyday life. The God Fearing family of Joseph and Mary had the blessing of carrying the divine child Jesus with them to enjoy the peace and happiness even in the midst of turmoil and danger, suffering and stress, homelessness and helplessness. The temporary suffering and difficulties, after all, turned for their safety and wellbeing to stay in a secure place at Nazareth. Being sincere towards our faith in the Lord is very important to understand the divine directions in our life. Family prayer with children is very important factor in every family for a spiritual bond with Jesus, in order to get proper divine guidance in our family life which would enable us keep away from evil trends and aspirations.
We are living in a world where there are many Herodian trends and policies around us, advocated by the secular governments and other self-interested agencies as they are intending for their financial gains. That would lead to the destruction of the traditional families and religious institutions. Legalization of drugs and alcohol in many states in the USA is already causing millions of deaths and breaking thousands of families. We have to understand these evil Herodian forces around us, and especially our young people who are in schools and colleges should be aware of these dangerous forces of evil around you. You need to pray hard and stay with Jesus to intervene with angelic messages in our families to keep ourselves away from those evil and be safe and sound.
Sunday, December 22, 2019 To Saturday, December 28, 2019
Among the four gospels, Matthew’s and Luke’s give a descriptive genealogy of Jesus, and although with slight variance between each other, they still emphasize the same thought that Jesus Christ is the Son of God the Messiah, the Savior of the World. Saint Matthew starts with Abraham (Matt 1:1-17) while Saint Luke begins with Adam. As we read through these two genealogy accounts, we may wonder why do the gospel writers wasting our time to read all the names on the occasion of a beautiful worship? What is the relevance of reading this genealogy story and what is its significance today? When we look into this subject there are three important objectives in the mind of the Gospel writers: 1. To present historic Jesus to the audience 2. To prove the fulfilment of all the Old Testament Messianic prophecies in Jesus of Nazareth. 3. Restoration of the lost paradise of Adam by establishing the Kingdom of God through the incarnation of the Son of God in Virgin Mary, as predicted in the book of Genesis;
The Seed of the Woman crushed the serpent’s head and death has been overcome (Gen 3:15). Any historicity needs important data to determine its authenticity. Those factors include reliable documents such as: inscriptions, monuments, coins, and relics, including all original writings and primary evidences; otherwise, the story would remain as tradition or legend.
Jesus in history connects to the family of Joseph and Mary 2000 years ago, born in Bethlehem with a Jewish heredity. It was the practice among the Israelites to keep a track of their family ancestry and keep their lineage, mostly kept in male lineage. Matthew purposely avoided using the name of Joseph as the father of Jesus, and instead, Mary’s name was used in a maternal lineage. Mary herself was a Levite in the Aaronic line of priesthood, besides she had royal heritage in the Davidic line belongs to the tribe of Judah. Mary’s parents were Joachim and Anne. Joachim was a shepherd-priest and his wife Anne was a daughter of a priest. Mary’s cousin Elizabeth was the mother of John the Baptist. Mary and Elizabeth were cousins. The Gospel writers, especially Matthew and Luke are particularly interested in presenting Jesus of Nazareth as the fulfilment of all the Old Testaments’ Messianic prophecies. After giving the genealogy of Jesus, Saint Matthew gives two references to for Messiah’s birth, as he quotes; “The Virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” which means “ God with us”( Isaiah 7:14) and he also pinpoints the location of his birth by quoting
prophet Micah; “ But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah……out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel” (Micah 5:2). Saint Luke also narrates similar way with respect to the onset and preparation for the birth and Messianic ministry of Jesus Christ by John the Baptist, the Forerunner, quoting from the prophet Isaiah, “A voice of one calling in the desert, ‘prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him………. And all mankind will see God’s salvation’”( Isaiah 40:3-5).The arrival of the Son of God into this world is in the
‘fullness of time’, at the appropriate time. John the Baptist preached the message of preparation for the Kingdom of God, as it was near and everyone need to be purified themselves by way of repentance and turn away from sins; respect human values and lead a life in virtues, in order to get ready to accept the Messiah, the Son of God into their hearts. The third objective is to present Jesus Christ is the Son of God who came down to transform this world and the world order by way of liberation of mankind from Sin and its consequence, Death. The goal of our life in the Kingdom of God is a life without death. The actual reason for the death is sin caused by the persuasion of Satan, the ultimate enemy of mankind who is powerful in all levels of human life, and always
there to make us tempted. Incarnation of the Son of God, the Messiah, made possible the transcendent God eminent for us as Immanuel to keep his presence in our life everyday.
Rev. Fr. Babu K. Mathew
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