Devotional Articles – Transformation

TRANSFORMATION

By V. Rev. K Mathai Core Episcopa

VRevKMathaiCoreEpiscopa

Very Rev. K. Mathai Cor-Episcopa

In God’s creation story there is an interesting point to notice and to think it over. God said, “It is good” after creating the universe – sky, earth, water, sea, plants, trees, animals and so on. But He said no comments about the man and woman, He created. Instead, He blessed the male and female saying, “Be fruitful and increase in number, fill the earth and subdue it.” [Genesis 1:18] The reason may be this: The man and woman are not perfect, but they have the possibility left in them to grow into perfection, even to the last day of their life. That means, we should not underestimate and condemn a person as bad man or woman. There is always a chance for a person to change and grow in good character; there is goodness inside, because God’s image is within him/her.

We can make a person to look good or bad. There are two factors that lead people to the possibility of becoming a good one or a bad one. They are, 1. Love: 2. No Love. Love can awaken the source of goodness in a person. By loving the person whom we think he does not deserve our love will bring positive changes in that person’s life.

It is the great lesson that the resurrected Christ taught us for example that His disciples deserved some rebuke and scolding from Him because they behaved thankless and rude to Him. Jesus lived with them for more than three years and defended them against the critics and justified their weakness and shortcomings. Yet they left Him alone and ran away to save their life when Jesus was in trouble. One of the disciples betrayed Him. They turned to be thankless and without loyalty. They knew that they were wrong and feeling fear and guilt while they were sitting in the closed room. It was at that time the resurrected Jesus appeared to them. Instead of complaining and criticizing them Jesus said to them, “Peace be with you.” The love towards them really transformed their lives completely. Then they decided that they would stand for Him forever even if they have to give up their lives. Jesus showed so much love and trust in goodness of their hearts. That trusting nature of Christ would be the reason for Him to influence the whole world.

Jesus always looks who we can be, rather than who we are. Then He will transform individual life by being with them, like changed water into wine.

The problem with us is that we do not have sound mind and attitude to trust others. Trusting may not be acceptable for practical thinkers. Jesus Christ put His trust in Peter and changed him, entrusted to him the key of the Church. The history teaches us that Jesus was not at all wrong by trusting Peter and His other disciples. Later, the world said about them “The men who turned the world upside down”

Lesson:
Reprimands and punishments may make people obedient but in their hearts they may nurture a grudge. Only the people who love and trust others unconditionally can bring out the goodness in them and make them change their mind and lives. We make big mistakes when we guess and form certain negative opinion about others. Sometimes our opinion may be right, sometimes wrong. Our opinions may have been formed out of certain incidents in the past. We may say such people may not change. We may be criticizing with the intention to make them good. But this negative approach may not work.

What is the right way?

When dealing with children, parents should be aware of implications of scolding them. Many a time, issues can be resolved with a look or stance. Here I give an example story of Ryokan, a Guru and Spiritual Consult, for our attention and understanding. One day the mother of his nephew complained Ryokan about her son, “He does no work, squanders his father’s money in wild parties and is neglecting the estate. If he does not reform, we will be ruined.”

Ryokan visited his nephew who was genuinely pleased to see him. The two of them had spent many happy hours together. The young man knew why his uncle had come and braced himself for the scolding he was sure he would receive. But Ryokan said not a word in rebuke, the whole day. The next day morning when it was time for him to go, he put on his garments and then said to his nephew: “Will you help me tie the thongs of my sandals? My hands shake and I cannot do it.”

His nephew helped him willingly.

“Thank you,” said Ryokan. “A man becomes older and feebler day by day. You remember how strong and robust I used to be?”

“I do,” said his nephew, thoughtfully. “I do indeed remember how you used to be.”

It was the moment of truth for him. He suddenly realized that his mother and all those who had looked after him had become old and that it was now his turn to look after them and to take on the responsibilities of the household and the community. The boy gave up his dissolute life forever.

Rude way of reprimands and punishments may not be fruitful, even though we may do it sometimes, depending the seriousness of the matter. Advice wrapped in love may be very effective.

Devotional Articles – The Kingdom of God

THE KINGDOM OF GOD

By V. Rev. K Mathai Core Episcopa

VRevKMathaiCoreEpiscopa

Very Rev. K. Mathai Cor-Episcopa

‘For indeed, the Kingdom of God is within you.’ [St. Luke 17:21]

As per today’s scripture reading, we have the discourse of Lord Jesus Christ with His disciples, upon occasion of an inquiry of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God that is, the kingdom of the Messiah, which there was great expectation, should appear.

The Pharisees asked Jesus, ‘when the Kingdom of God would come on earth?’ Answering to this question Jesus said, the kingdom of God does not come with observation, it has already come in the world. Kingdom of God had commenced in this world through Jesus Christ who is the king of the kingdom. Jesus had told, whoever had seen me had seen My Father, God. But Pharisees could not realize that Jesus is the Son of God and Messiah whom they were expecting for centuries. Kingdom of the Messiah was to be a spiritual kingdom, and not temporal and external. At the birth of Christ, the wise men from the east, forecasted by seeing a special star in the heaven that a divine king is born in Judea. They came in search of the new born king, met Him in manger of Bethlehem and worshiped Him.

Kingdom of God is a spiritual reality present within the Christian believer and within community of the Church. “Within you” can also be translated “among you” or “in your midst”. The Kingdom of God is not a future entity to go after the death, but it is a present experience while we are living on the earth. Where there is Jesus Christ there is heaven.

 According to the Holy Bible there are six conditions to enter into the Kingdom of God.

  1. Desire to serve the people especially the poor. [Ref: St. Matthew 25:34-35]
  2. New Birth or renewal or repentance. [Ref: St. John 3:3]
  3. Tolerance when crisis comes [Ref: Acts 14:22]
  4. Faith and love [Ref: James 2:5]
  5. Consistency or firm standing on the faith and principles. [Ref: St. Luke 9:62]
  6. Humility [Ref: St. Matthew 5:3]

Due to limitation of time for the sermon I would like to limit our detailed discussion only on the first point in above conditions.

Desire to serve the people especially the poor. [Ref: St. Matthew 25:34-35]
The cited scripture reference is concerning the second coming of Jesus Christ, the Last Judgment and the end of the world. We have here a description of the process of the last judgment in the great day which talks of the separating between the sheep and the goats, and the dialogues between the judge and the persons judged.

When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left. The godly are like sheep – innocent, mild, patient, useful: the wicked are like goats.

Then the King will say to those on His right, ”Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world For I was hungry, and you gave Me to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; I was naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.”

Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? ‘When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, the least of them, you did it to Me.’

Contextually I would like to witness you that there are many people in the world who are in same pathetic situation as Jesus described who need our sincere support and help in their helpless conditions. During my mission in Kerala I came across many such people in Vazhoor who needed sincere help from us. Their cry and tears was really a heart opening scene for me.

Jesus Christ was always seen as a service minded divine person, having mercy upon the sick, hungry and all the people in the community who were in need, not only poor but also generous rich. Serving those in need is a part of divinity. Wedding host in Cana (St. John 2:1-10) was possibly a rich man. Still He was the Lord of mercy there taking care of their needs. He is looking after every Godly while sitting in the right side of His Father in heaven. So being His disciples, we cannot and should not close our eyes towards those who need our help and support to sustain life.

In order to do noble deeds we need to have noble thoughts in our hearts. Noble thoughts become noble deeds as word became man, Jesus Christ.

Glory of the Kingdom of God does not strike men’s fancies, but affects their spirits, and its power is over their souls and consciences. The kingdom of God will not change men’s outward condition, but their hearts and lives. When it comes it makes those humble, and serious, and heavenly that was proud, and vain.

Devotional Articles – The Feast of the Cross

THE FEAST OF THE CROSS

By V. Rev. K Mathai Core Episcopa

VRevKMathaiCoreEpiscopa

Very Rev. K. Mathai Cor-Episcopa

As per our Church liturgical calendar, today, September 14 is the day of the Feast of the Cross [Sleeba Perunaal] of which we commemorate the cross used in the crucifixion of Jesus. It is also called as ‘The Exaltation of the Holy Cross’.

After the resurrection of Christ, the Jewish leaders buried the cross somewhere, so that the believers of Jesus would not make it an idol of worship. According to legends that spread widely, the True Cross was discovered in 326 by Queen Helena, the mother of the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great, during a pilgrimage she made to Jerusalem. The Church of the Holy Sepulcher was then built at the site of the discovery, by order of Helena and Constantine. Thereafter, every year September 14th is honored as the day of the feast of the Cross.

However, the gospel reading today is from Luke 21:5-28, where Jesus Christ talked to His disciples about the sign of the end of the world, and the destruction of the City of Jerusalem including the Temple of God.

Now I invite your attention to a question, ‘Why should we go to Church or what are the reasons for us to go to the Church?’

We all habitually go to Church on Sundays with the family. We were taught by our parents to do so. As per the commandment given to Moses, the forth commandment is to observe the Sabbath day.

The reasons for us to go to the Church:

  1. God invite us to His house:
    Firstly, God desire us to come to His house. Church is the house of God. Jesus said it on the Palm Sunday that, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations.’ [St. Mark 11:17] We go to Church for prayer and worship. It is God’s commandment to do it.
  2. Promises of blessings: 
    Psalmist had written, ‘Blessed are those who dwell in your house. They shall praise you unto the ages of ages.’ [Psalm 84:4-5] The blessings are the help and strength to go through the valley of tears.
  3. Our Lord Jesus Christ is an example for regularly going to the Church:
    We ought to attend on the public worship of God, regularly. Gospel witness that, ‘He came to Nazareth where he had been brought up. And as his custom was, he went into the Synagogue on the Sabbath Day and stood up to read.’ [St. Luke 4:16] The scripture given to Him to read was from the book of Isaiah and actually it was the scripture predicting the ministry of Christ on the earth. He went to the Church frequently and preached there. He honored the festival – Passover.
  4. The Apostles had been very good example:
    Disciples of Jesus regularly attended the Synagogue worship and hourly prayers. After the ascension of Christ, ‘They worshipped Him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy and were continually in the temple praising and blessing God.’ [St. Luke 24:52-53] Also we read in Act 3:1, ‘Now Peter and John went up together to the temple at the Ninth hour of prayer’; then Peter healed the lame man sitting and begging at the gate of the temple named ‘Beautiful’. It was during this occasion that Peter said to the lame man, ‘Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you, In the name of Jesus Christ rise up and walk.’ And the lame stood up and walked with them and entered into the temple and praised the Lord God. Our Church also had prescribed us to pray seven Hourly Prayers.

Therefore, in short, it is important and unavoidable for us to go to the Church, the house of God, because it is the Commandment, there is promise of abundant blessings, Jesus Christ showed us example through practice and also the Apostles became model. For the believers in God, this practice of going regularly to Church had been there from Old Testament period through today.

Poetry Collection of Rev. Fr. Dr. C. P. Varki

POETRY COLLECTION OF REV. FR. DR. C. P. VARKI 

By Rev. Fr. Dr. C. P. Varki,  Psychologist

 

Rev. Fr. Dr. Paul C. Varkey

FOREWORD

Each poem of Rev. Fr. Dr. C.P. Varki is written with a candid end goal, which fit in our tradition, and so it should be for a wider audience. As each poem edifies a satirical message worth more than pages of an article or a sermon, they are to be considered as part of sincere participation of the author in a social and spiritual community.

The underlying central theme of most poems is the honest emotion against hypocrisy, which involves the deception and pretense of having a virtuous character or publicly approved attitude. Society thrives on lies and mass accepts them as so dear without knowing the consequences. Lord Jesus Christ rebuked and condemned religious hypocrisy. As per scripture, hypocrisy is an evil of conflict and division that rises from the evil within the heart. The poems expresses zeal for virtues what the author want to say from the heart in the best way possible choosing the fewest words in which to say it.

Many times, in general, what the authors are trying to say and how the reading/hearing audience interprets it may vary and so constructive criticism may not be taken so seriously. Your sincere comments are well appreciated. [EMail: cpv2732@hotmail.com]

POEM 1

REALITY AND ILLUSION

(Folk Music Rhythm)

Poem Collection1

 

 

Repentence, A Golden Key

REPENTANCE, A GOLDEN KEY

By V. Rev. K Mathai Core Episcopa

VRevKMathaiCoreEpiscopa

Very Rev. K. Mathai Cor-Episcopa

The reading of Evangelion (Gospel) during Holy Liturgy on Sunday after Denaha is St. Matthew 4:12-22. We come across two central themes in this scripture reference – a call for repentance of sins and recruitment of disciples. These are the two fundamental requisites for the growth of the Kingdom of Heaven. St. Matthew usually used Kingdom of Heaven, while other evangelists used Kingdom of God that is the same as the former in meaning. The targeted audience of St. Mathew’s gospel was mainly the Jewish community who never took God’s name (Kingdom of God) in vain based on God’s commandment, so he used the Kingdom of Heaven, which is synonymous to the other. Kingdom of Heaven/God is the sphere where God reigns; repentance is the acknowledgment of God’s rule.

John the Baptist and Jesus Christ started their public ministry with a powerful message of REPENTANCE. “And so John came, baptizing in the desert region and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” [St. Mark. 1:4, NIV] Jesus proclaimed, “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.” [St. Matthew. 4:17, NIV] His call was not addressed to the nation as a whole like that of in the Old Testament, but it was personal to each individual. Repentance is a golden key to Heaven, while the recruitment of disciples meant to prepare people how to use the key to open the door. When Peter confessed that Jesus was the Son of God, Jesus promised him ‘keys of the Kingdom of Heaven.’ [St. Matthew. 16:19]

The first man in the Holy Bible to call people for repentance was Noah. Because of his righteous life he and his family were secured from the destruction by flood. Later on, many prophets stood firm for God calling people for turning away from their sins. A long line of such men of God may be presented here, as Isaiah [Isaiah Chapter 1], Ezekiel [Ezekiel Chapter 18], Jonah [Jonah Chapter 3], Joel [Joel Chapter 2] and Jeremiah [Jeremiah Chapter 31].

  1. According to New Testament, Salvation was unconditionally given to many known sinners who repented.
  2. An adulterous woman who was brought to Christ for judgment and punishment was released due to her repentance.
  3. The publican who admitted that he was a sinner while praying at the temple was accepted, where a Pharisee boasting of his self-righteousness was denied by the Omniscient God [St. Luke 18].
  4. The repented prodigal son was welcomed back to his home with a great celebration [St. Luke 15].
  5. Peter who shed tears for betraying Jesus was redeemed [St. Luke 23].
  6. The thief on the right side of the crucified Christ prayed and confessed at the last moment of his life was immediately allowed to be in Paradise with Christ [St. Luke 23].
  7. There are many more examples to cite. We wonder how powerful and beneficial the repentance and tears are!

 

What is repentance?

  1. The Greek word for repentance is ‘Metanoia’ which means after-thought, perception afterwards and change of mind. Spiritually, it means a conversion of life, a change from wrong to right, a change in outlook, a change from sin to sainthood. As sin is a departure from God (as Adam ran away from God), the repentance is an arrival to Him. When prodigal son’s sin of disobedience distanced him from his father, his repentance brought him closer to mend the broken relationship with the father. [St. Luke 15:18-20] He got a changed and better vision of life. In St. John’s gospel and first epistle the repentance is stressed as the “new birth” meaning a turning away from sin to God by the exercise of faith and baptism. [John 3:3, 1 John 1:9]
  2. Repentance is reconciliation with God. When sin disputes with God, repentance makes peace with Him. God says, “Return to me, and I will return to you.” [Malachi 3:7] The prodigal son, who reconciled with his father, said, “Father, I have sinned against Heaven and against you.” (St. Luke 15:21]
  3. Repentance means spiritual awakening. A sinful person is unaware of his state of spiritual life. The Bible says to the sinful, “that now it is high time to awake out of sleep.” [Romans 13:11]. Looking at this context, repentance is spiritual awareness and return of a person to himself, the return of one’s self to its original sensitivity, the heart to its fervor and the conscience to its work. It is rightly said about the prodigal son that he “came to himself” [St. Luke 15:17], meaning his return to a state of alertness, to his correct thinking and spiritual understanding and respect towards the values of his family he once scornfully discarded.

 

 What are the privileges of repentance?

  1. Repentance makes you eligible for forgiveness of sins and eternal life. If sins are regarded as the spiritual death [Romans 6:23, Wages of sin is death], forgiveness is the transfer from death to life. St. James 5:20 says, “Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.”
  2. Repentance resulting from the divine act inside a person causes to form a new heart in him/her to obey God Almighty. God says, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you…and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.” [Ezekiel 36: 25-27] Prayer and submission are required for the divine intervention.
  3. The true repentance gives the power to forsake sins without returning to them. It leads us to a life of purity and closeness to the Lord who is holy and glorious. “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” [Psalms 51:17]
  4. The heaven rejoices over those who repent [St. Luke 15:7], and a great wave of joy is flooded in their homes, as evident in the repented prodigal son’s family. [St. Luke 15:22-27] Sin kills real joy of personal and family life while repentance brings it alive.

What is the practical side of repentance in Orthodox Christian perspective?

The church invites every one for repentance through confession. A true confession should have all the attributes of repentance as explained above. The church fathers were very mindful of the necessity of repentance/confession. St. Anthony said, “Ask for repentance during every moment.” St. Basil, the great Cappadocian father said, “It is good that you do not sin. If you do sin, then it is good that you do not delay repentance. If you repent, then it is good that you do not return to sin. If you do not return, then it is good that you know this is with God’s help. If you know, then it is good that you thank Him for the state that you are in.” Amen.

The Sacrament Of Baptism

THE SACRAMENT OF BAPTISM

By V. Rev. K Mathai Core Episcopa

VRevKMathaiCoreEpiscopa

Very Rev. K. Mathai Cor-Episcopa

Since the beginning of Christianity Baptism has been considered and practiced as an essential means of Grace and Salvation. This article mainly deals with two topics – necessity of baptism for salvation and genuineness of child baptism.

 

A. THE NECESSITY OF BAPTISM FOR SALVATION

 

Baptism is an initial step to eternal life and it is the last commandment of our Lord, Jesus Christ. When commissioning his disciples for a world mission, Jesus said to them, “Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (St. Mathew 28:19). Also, He said, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved” (St. Mark 16:16). To Nicodemus, a Pharisee and a member of the Jewish ruling council, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the Kingdom of God unless he is born of water and spirit” (St. John 3:5). These instructions emphatically given by Jesus show how inevitable the Sacrament of Baptism is for the salvation of mankind!

The early church followed the Lord’s command and practiced it in their church life.

  1. On the Day of Pentecost those who assembled in the upper room and spectators believed in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour. Immediately, St. Peter called them for baptism, and said, “Repent, and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins” (Acts 2: 38). Three thousands were baptized on that day though it was a hard and tedious task that took a long time to complete. If baptism had not been of great importance, the Apostles would not have administered it. They would have said to the crowd, ‘brethren, since you have accepted faith, you have attained salvation; go now, this is enough and God’s blessing will be with you.’ Instead, they took time to baptize the whole crowd of believers.

  2. The Ethiopian eunuch believed in Jesus Christ hearing the Words of God from the Apostle Philip. In the end of the Apostle’s speech, the eunuch asked Philip to baptize him immediately, which the Apostle did. The eunuch went his way rejoicing (Acts 8:36).

  3. Saul of Tarsus (later St. Paul), after being called by Jesus in a vision, and believing in Jesus as the saviour, was baptized to wash away his sins. He heard the call for baptism, as the Biblical text indicates, “And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized, and wash your sins away, calling on his name” (Acts 22:16).

  4. The Jailer who guarded Paul and Silas in the prison at Philippi, happened to believe in Jesus Christ and was baptized immediately with his entire family without delay (Acts 16:23).

  5. Lydia, the dealer of purple clothes, believed and was baptized with all her household (Acts 16:15).

  6. When Cornelius accepted faith in Jesus Christ, St. Peter baptized him. When Peter was speaking the Holy Spirit came upon the hearers of the Word of God. Then Peter said to the people there, “Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water? They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have. So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 10:44, 47).

B. GENUINENESS OF CHILD BAPTISM

Child baptism is a disputed subject among the Christian denominations. The traditional churches, such as Catholic, Orthodox and Marthoma, practice infant baptism, while some protestant groups deny it for children. The protestant insist on the necessity of confession of faith prior to being baptized. They base their argument on the Lord’s words, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved”, (St. Mark 16:16). They say that faith is essential before being baptized, and children are not capable of accepting faith and understanding what goes on in baptism.

However, the traditional churches insist on baptizing children based on the following reasons:

  1.  In the early church both adults and children were baptized. The baptism in the New Testament was mainly in reference to the baptism of the grown up. The adults were baptized only when they believed in Jesus Christ, according to the Lord’s Words “He who believes and is baptized will be saved” (St. Mark 16:16). But, children are baptized based on the Lord’s Words “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven” (St. Mathew 19:14). The church still keeps practicing both adult and infant baptism.
  2. Baptism is given to children because of a concern about their eternal life. Our Lord Jesus said, “Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God” (St. John 3:5). Therefore, how can we prevent children from baptism since the Lord had not exempted them based on the age?

  3. Baptism is an initiation into the membership of the church and thus as the part of the Body of Christ. By becoming a part of the Body of Christ through baptism, children are given the opportunity to practice church life and Sacraments, through which they derive God’s grace in their lives. Thus we prepare them practically for the life of faith. If we exclude them from the church life, we will be depriving them of the means of grace and faith.

  4. Regarding faith children are still far from doubting, inquiring and reasoning which adults do. They accept every thing in faith without rejection or resistance. Nothing passive deprives them of the Kingdom of God. Baptizing them conforms to the principle of “Free Salvation” which the Protestants believe in and strongly proclaim.

  5. If faith is a pre-condition for salvation and say children are of no faith, what will be the destiny of the children not baptized? Will they be saved without baptism, according to the Lord’s words, ““Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God” (St. John 3:5)? The question remains without answer.

  6. In the Holy Bible there are implicit references to the baptism of whole family members regardless of the adults or children. Several examples can be cited for and they are given below:
    1. The baptism of the Jailer of Philippi, to whom St. Paul and St. Silas said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved – you and your household” (Acts 16:31). This means that the jailer’s belief would be the first step which would lead his household to salvation. The subsequent verses (32-33) say, “Then they spoke the Word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house…then immediately he and all his family were baptized.” The words “he and all his family” indicate that children also are included.
    2. In the case of Lydia, the dealer of purple clothes, “she and the members of her household were baptized..” (Acts 16:15).
    3. St. Paul said “I also baptized the household of Stephanos” (1 Cor. 1;16).

    It is unreasonable to think that all those families were without children. Further, the Holy Bible did not mention that there were no children among those who were baptized on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2).

  7. Baptism of children was practiced since olden times as evident from the letters exchanged between St. Augustine and St. Jerome. They had a strong disagreement on the origin of the soul whether it is born with the human being or it is created in human after the birth. St. Augustine said it is born with the human being, whereas St. Jerome said it is created after. St. Augustine said, if the soul is created, it means that it does not inherit the sin of Adam. Why then do we baptize children? St. Jerome could not give an answer to this question. This is a credible reference to the practice of infant baptism in their life time of fourth century AD.

  8. There is no single verse in the Holy Bible forbidding infant baptism.

  9. A child is baptized according to the faith of his/her parents. This principle is well evident in many examples in the Holy bible:

    1.  Circumcision is a symbol of baptism. The circumcised became a member of God’s people. God said to Abraham, “You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between Me and you. For the generations to come every male among you who is eight days old must be circumcised…” (Genesis 17:11-12). The child of eight day old does not understand about the covenant between God and Abraham. They have no idea about the membership to the community of God’s people. Undoubtedly, babes knew nothing about the covenantal relationship with God; however they were circumcised according to the faith of their parents. By the faith of their parents, their also received the privileges of being the members of God’s people and became eligible to inherit the blessings promised by God to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
    2.  The crossing of the Red Sea was another symbol of baptism. According to St. Paul, it was a baptism in itself. He says, “…that our forefathers were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. They were all baptized into Moses in the clound and in the sea” (1 Cor. 10:2). The passage through the Red Sea was the salvation for Israel from the servitude of Pharaoh. It foreshadowed the salvation of the baptized from the servitude of sin, Satan and death, as the Apostle puts it.

      The sea was crossed by grown up people. They were aware of God’s promise to Moses the Prophet; they knew how hard their servitude under Pharaoh was; they understood how they got saved from it and crossed the sea (i.e. baptism). But what about the children who were carried by the mothers or fathers across the sea? The children were certainly saved from servitude and were baptized according to the faith of their parents although they were not aware of what was going on.

    3. A third example strongly points to the salvation of the children by the faith of their parents is the protection given to the first-born of the men (children) and animals of Israel from the rage of angel in Egypt. According to the commandment of God, Moses asked all Israelite families in Egypt to slaughter a one-year old male goat or sheep and put the blood on the sides and tops of the door frames of their houses. God told them through Moses, “When I see the blood, I will pass over you” (Exodus 12:13). The blood of the Passover lamb was a symbol of the blood of the Lord Christ by which we obtained salvation. St. Paul says, “For indeed Christ, our Passover lamb has been sacrificed for us” (1 Cor 5:7).

       Again, a question is asked – what was the role of faith of the children in their salvation through the blood of the Passover lamb? How far did they know about the covenant between God and Moses? No doubt, the children knew nothing, but they were saved from death by the faith of their parents in the power of the blood of the Passover Lamb and their obedience to what God told them to do through Moses.

       However, those children of Israel, who were circumcised, and saved by the blood of the Passover lamb and saved by crossing the Red Sea, knew the meanings of all these events when they grew up. In their childhood they received salvation freely through the faith of their parents who believed in God’s promises and covenants with the people, and when they grew up they accepted their parents’ faith as their own.

  10. Children are capable of realizing divine presence and receiving God’s grace. Example cited is the scene of the visit of Virgin Mary after the angel Gabriel’s message to her relative Elizabeth who was pregnant for six months. When, Mary greeted Elizabeth “the baby leaped in her (Elizabeth’s) womb” (St. Luke 2: 40). Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit; the fetus of six months in her womb also was filled with the Holy Spirit.

Looking at all these reasons the infant baptism is genuine and supported by the Holy Scriptures.

Praise, Petition and Repentance

PRAISE, PETITION AND REPENTANCE

By V. Rev. K Mathai Core Episcopa

VRevKMathaiCoreEpiscopa

Very Rev. K. Mathai Cor-Episcopa

 

“Which kind of prayer do you need to practice more often – praise, petition or repentance?”

 

This is a question people ask very often. There are differences of opinion about the form of prayer to practice more often. The Pentecostal group insists on extemporary prayers only in all occasions, public and private, and they don’t like any written prayers. Other protestant groups may use short version of written prayers with more emphasis on extemporary ones. The Orthodox churches put more emphasis on liturgy and worship that the forefathers practiced and handed down to us for use. The Orthodox liturgy is filled with praises, petition and repentance. First, let us look at the definition of prayer.

 

We need them all. The Lord’s prayer is an example of the liturgy with right combination of praise, petition and repentance (St. Matt. 6:9-14).

  1. “Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be Your name” – honor God as holy and worship Him.
  2. “Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” – surrender to the rule of God’s will.
  3. “Give us this day our daily bread” – petition for our daily needs.
  4. “And forgive our debts, as we forgive our debtors” – repentance and asking forgiveness for sins.
  5. “And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” – Petition for grace and guidance for us as the children of God to live a holy life as our Heavenly Father being Holy.
  6. “For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever” – the awareness of God’s kingdom, glory and power, should lead us to praise and worship Him.

 

Why is emphasis on praise and worship?

  1. Praise and worship is angelic in nature because angels in Heaven are always praising God, saying “God is Holy.” The prophet Isaiah depicts his heavenly experience vividly in his vision: “And one cried to another, and said, Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory” (Isaiah 6:3). The four living creatures each having six wings and full of eyes sing the song ‘holy, holy, holy Lord God Almighty who was and is and is to come!”, and they sing day and night without ceasing (Rev. 4:8). In worship we join with the heavenly beings to glorify God. In Orthodox Holy Qurbana the chief celebrant says, “Whom all the heavenly orders, divisions and hosts adore, angels and arch-angels, cherubim and seraphim, thrones and lordships invisible and innumerable, laud and extol with voices unceasing and with tongues ineffable, giving utterances to Thy triumphant glory, praising, shouting, crying and saying” Then the congregation responds, “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of hosts, who fills heaven and earth with his glory. Hosanna (praise) in the highest, blessed is He who came and is coming in the name of the Lord God. Glory be to Him in the Highest.”
  2. The Lord is worthy of praise and worship, because He is the creator of all, Father who loves the world and there is none above Him. The creatures and twenty-four elders give glory and they kneel down in front of the throne of the Lord saying “You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things and by Your will they exist and were created” (Rev. 4:11).
  3. We ought to worship him because “all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord” (Num. 14:21). “The Heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament shows His handiwork” (Ps. 19:1).Petition is a request or memorandum to an authority for something. Prayer is not always just asking favours only, but it is included in the worship. Jesus has given us the privilege to ‘Ask, Seek and Knock’ at His door of grace for blessings (LK. 11:9,10). Therefore, do not need to be shy of asking, seeking and knocking.

Repentance is the state of being sorry or regretful of the wrong doing, without which there is no acceptance before the Holy Lord. Come to the Lord not with the pride of the Pharisee, but with the humility of the Publican who had repented and returned to his home with forgiveness (Lk. 18:9).

 

Why do we kneel down when pray?

 

The Lord’s Prayer ends up with “Yours is the Kingdom, and the Power, and the Glory forever, Amen” (Mtt. 6:13). “Heaven is Your throne and the earth is Your feet”. God is worthy of honor and we should kneel down to kiss His feet. Not only that all the creatures and elders in Heaven always kneel down in front of the throne of the Lord (Rev 4:11). We all need to kneel down when pray except the physically disabled.

Devotional Message of Sunday Before Pentecost

DEVOTIONAL MESSAGE OF SUNDAY  BEFORE PENTECOST

By V. Rev. K Mathai Core Episcopa

VRevKMathaiCoreEpiscopa

Very Rev. K. Mathai Cor-Episcopa

(For the 16th of May, 2010, the 6th Sunday after the Easter or the Sunday before the Feast of Pentecost)

Gospel reading for Holy Qurbana: St. John 17:13-26 The St. John’s 17th chapter is well-known for our Lord Jesus’ high-priestly prayer. The whole chapter is devoted to Christ’s prayer.

The subject the prayer of  Jesus were:

  1. For Himself at the face of the Cross
  2. For His twelve Disciples for joy, divine protection, and sanctification
  3. For all believers who have already believed and those in all generations and all nations yet to believe in Him

The Evangelion for Holy Qurbana comprises of the Lord’s prayers for His twelve Disciples and the universal church. The New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) of the Bible was used for reference purpose.

 

I. THE PRAYER FOR THE TWELVE DISCIPLES:

Finally, the last day of Jesus’ life on earth had come. He knew that He was going to be arrested and crucified soon. His time with His twelve beloved Disciples was only a matter of few hours. Then, He prayed for them on the eve of His departure from this world. He prayed for them for three reasons:

  1. They were God’s gift to Christ, and now the gift was to be returned to the Father by the Son, v 9-10;
  2. Jesus was glorified in them by bringing them to the knowledge of God; by reflecting the power of Christ’s character in their faith then and all through their lifelong service, v10;
  3. He was concerned that they would soon be left without any guidance and protection as scattered sheep without a shepherd.

Therefore, the Lord prayed entrusting them to the Father and asking Him to give them three-fold divine gifts to strengthen them and fulfill successfully the ministry given to them.

 

  1. The prayer for their joy Jesus prayed for the Disciples, “… now I am coming to you (Father), and I speak these things in the world so that they may have my joy made complete in themselves. I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world” (vv13-14). The world hated them not because they were wrong or criminal but because of their loyalty to Christ, and their refusal to accept the values and standards of the world; they were not of the world; they were different in their vision and values of life. Jesus knew that they had numerous challenges to face ahead in their mission; they had to ‘battle against the storm and struggle against the tide’ and face even death. So, Jesus prayed for them that the Joy of Christ in bearing the cross be filled in their hearts to rejoice in suffering. In practical life we may face troubles when we honestly adhere to true Christian principles in life. But Jesus asks us to be joyful in taking up the cross of trouble for the truth. We are asked to rejoice for we are not left alone at the time, and He is with us supporting the one end of the cross we carry. Besides, He always prays to His Father for us, when we go through the way of cross. The Pain and suffering for His sake will be compensated by the joy and victory of the Easter.

  2. The prayer for their protection Jesus prayed not only for their joy, but for their safety from the evil one who would tempt them to derail their intended mission of life. The prayer says, “I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one.” (v 15). He said, “They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.” It is a prayer for their protection in the world where the power of evil reigns. The Bible gives us the descriptions of the existence of evil and all the troubles it brings into human life, especially the believers in this world. The evil force always works against the power of God. The power of evil tries to lure men and women out of the right way into the wrong way, as it did in the lives of Adam and Eve, Job and Jesus. There, Jesus Christ stands as the sentinel watching over our lives with His prayers to protect and guard us from the assaults of the evil one. Also, He taught us to pray daily to “..rescue us from the evil one” (Mt. 6:13).Then, a question may be asked as to why we fall in spite of Christ’s prayer and protection? Jesus always prays for us and offers us His grace to keep us safe. Yet we fall so often because we try to live in our own terms and strength without seeking His divine grace, and ignoring His ever-abiding divine presence in life. Conforming to the worldly standards and values to please all, ignoring cardinal Christian principles is like Pilate’s washing of his hands to satisfy the crowd. Such a policy or action will end up in the crucifixion of Christ – Christian principles, resulting ultimately in disappointment and failure. God said to St. Paul “My grace is sufficient for you” when he prayed God to remove a thorn and a torment by a messenger of Satan in his flesh (2 Cor 12.9). God’s grace is all-sufficient. 3. The prayer for their Sanctification. Jesus prayed to the Father, “Sanctify them by your truth, your word is truth” (v 17). Also He prayed that, “… for their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth” (v 19).
  3. Thirdly for their sanctification. The Greek verb for ‘sanctify’ is hagiazein meaning to ‘consecrate.’ To consecrate means to set apart, make holy, separate, bring into God’s use. Hagiazein essentially indicates dual senses, (a) set apart a person or place for a special task, and (b) equip the person or place set apart, with the necessary materials and ornaments, qualities of mind and heart and character to make the person or place fit for the special task called for. For example, a church is consecrated for the special task of worship and spiritual activities. It has to be furnished or equipped with necessary things before its consecration. It has to maintain a cordial atmosphere for spiritual growth. God called Jeremiah and consecrated and appointed him as a prophet to the nations (.Jer. 1:5). God asked Moses to “Consecrate the sons of Aaron and sanctify them that they might serve in the office of the priests (Ex. 28:41). Jesus selected the twelve men, separated them from the world (sanctified) and sent them as Apostles (v 14). To be the president of a country, the person who has certain qualities and character should be elected by vote. Election itself is not enough. Elected person should be equipped with abilities for effective functioning of the office. Since God is holy, the person who serves Him also must be holy. At this time I remember what Barnabas Thirumeni said in a sermon, ‘you cannot be as perfect as God is; but you can be Godly.’ The person must have divine wisdom and spiritual qualities- the sense of call of duty and commitment and Godly character of love and righteousness. He has to be set apart from the worlds’ values and standards of life and lead a life of Christian principles and morality.

 

II. CHRIST’S PRAYER FOR ALL BELIEVERS:

 Jesus also prayed to God – “I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one” (V 20). Actually this prayer is for the Disciples and the believers hearing the Lord’s sermons, but also for those in all generations and all nations yet to believe in Christ through the Disciples’ word. Certainly, this is a prayer for every one of us. There are certain lessons to learn from this prayer:

  1. This prayer reveals Christ’s real character of His unshaken confidence in God and in His disciples. The Lord knew that the twelve were only a few to carry out the mountainous task of supernatural nature. They were given the authority to “Go…and make disciples of all nations; baptize them…, and teach them…” (Matt 28:19. He knew that they did not fully understand Him well who He was at the time; He knew that in a short while they would abandon Him when He needed them the most. Yet Jesus had a great confidence in the same feeble-minded men that they would work for the Kingdom of God on earth even at the expense of their lives. That is what He said in the prayer “… on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word” (v20. His prayer for them never went unanswered. Applying this to individual life, God puts His trust on us and has given us His divine plan of life and His grace to fulfill what God intended us to fulfill by witnessing through love, peace, patience, longsuffering, joy and self control. Christian life is a life of discipleship conditioned by the love to one another, bearing the cross and steadfastness in faith. No body is excluded from God’s trust, and each one is given according to the measure of his or her ability. We are the medium for God to work out His will and plan in this world. God depends on us, as He depended on the twelve disciples to promote His Kingdom on earth.

  2. This is a prayer for unity, as it says, “The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one.” (v 22-23). As the prayer indicates, the unity is based on the personal relationship with God through Christ. Unity is made possible by those who believe and maintain personal relationship with Christ. When the persons believe and accept Christ as the Lord and saviour, they become ones with God through Christ as ‘He and His Father are one.’ Thus they become children of God and all are spiritually related each other as brothers and sisters. As the Son’s (Christ’s) relationship with His Father was based on His love and obedience, the basis of the unity among people is our love and obedience to God. Those who love God sincerely will or should definitely love others, because to love one another is the Lord’s commandment. Love brings us responsibility, as it was given to Peter who said to the Risen Christ, “Yes, Lord, I love you” (Jn 21:15-17).
  3. The purpose of love and unity among men is to witness that God loves and cares for all people in the world through Jesus Christ. But, now it looks as if causing divisions and disunity in society is more natural than making peace and unity. Also, it looks like it is more human for men to hate rather than to love. However, it is the divine will to make peace because “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God.” (Matt 5:9). The hatred and disunity within the church and between the churches will only result in presenting an unreal Christ and a distorted Christian faith to the world. It is our individual duty to demonstrate divine character of love and peace with others for the Glory of God. Then, the Christ’s prayer, “they may all be one” will be meaningful to us.

Here is an example of air refresher made by the company known as Glade to kill foul smell in the houses or offices. On one of the air refresher containers made of Lilac plants and flowers, the company wrote the slogan “Provided by the nature, captured by Glade.” Similarly, God has prepared and provided every thing for our salvation, joy, protection, sanctification and unity, but we need to seize the God-given opportunity and provision to live a victorious Christian life and be useful to others as well.

True Discipleship and Apostolate

TRUE DISCIPLESHIP AND APOSTOLATE

By V. Rev. K Mathai Core Episcopa

VRevKMathaiCoreEpiscopa

Very Rev. K. Mathai Cor-Episcopa

Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost – July 27th, 2008

[Main theme: St. Mark 6: 7-13]

 

The gospel reading for next Sunday, the eleventh Sunday after the feast of Pentecost, is from St. Mark 6:7-13, which describes Jesus calling in and sending out His twelve disciples for a great mission. The gospel passage contains the following details:

  1. Jesus called the twelve to him
  2. He sent them out two by two with authority over evil spirit
  3. He gave them necessary instructions to be observed during their mission work – (a) take nothing except a staff, (b) take no bread, no bag  and no money with them, (c) wear sandal, but no extra tunic, (d) stay in the house where they are received and accept their hospitality, (e) shake the dust off their feet when they leave the city which did not receive them and listened to their message,
  4. The message to preach was repentance
  5. The duties to perform were (a) driving out many demons and (b) healing the sick by anointing them with oil.

 

The disciples Jesus called were ordinary men, but their assigned task was extraordinary. They were men “with a nature like ours” (James 5:17). Being with Jesus they were trained, educated, transformed and empowered with divine authority and then sent out two by two for the mission.

 

The twelve disciples had two-fold functions: (1) be with the guru (master) and (2) be an Apostle (one who is sent) to work for the master. In St. Mark 3:14 it says, ‘Then He appointed twelve, that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach, and to have the power to heal sicknesses and to cast out demons” (OSB). As it was mentioned prior, the disciples were common people for an uncommon calling. The common people like us who live with the Lord will be transformed and can perform uncommon task.

 

In this weekly devotional address I present to you the theme of discipleship. To explain the subject effectively I suggest discussions based on two questions: (1) Who is a disciple?; (2) How are we to become true disciples of Christ?

 

1. Who is a disciple?

 The Greek word for disciple is “Mathetes” which literally means a learner or a student. In the Sermon on the Mount, we read “When He (Jesus) was seated His disciples came to Him. Then He opened His mouth and taught them.” (St. Matthew 5-7). The Twelve Disciples learned many things by hearing what they heard from Jesus, their “Good Teacher” (St. Jn 3:2), seeing what Jesus did during the ministry, and imitating what Jesus showed them through life. In other words, they were always with Jesus hearing, seeing and helping Him.

 

According to the Holy Bible all Christians are disciples of Christ. “Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.“ (St. Matt. 28:19-20, NIV). Thus, a believer who believes in Jesus Christ as the Lord and savior and is baptized in the name of the Holy Trinity, and follows the teachings of Christ and His Apostles is a disciple.

 

2. How are we to become true disciples of Christ?

 We become true disciples by obeying His commandments. “Teach them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Mtt.28:20). Then the question is what the commandments are.

  1. By definition a disciple is a learner (Mathetes), and therefore a Christian should study the Word of God, not just for intellectual exercise, but to practice in life. Discipleship is a way of living. Jesus said, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.” (St. Jn. 8:31, OSB). We have to search for the sources of wisdom to spiritually edify our lives, such as1. The Holy Bible,2. Teachings of Holy Apostles,3. The sayings and teachings of the fathers and the teachers of the church whom we respect,

    4. Any other.

     

    It is said, ‘even if it should be a word coming out of the mouth of a sinner, it might be spiritually beneficial.’ An example is cited from the life experience of a highly venerable church father in fourth century known as, St. Ephram.

    One day a woman looked at St. Ephram and stared at him so hard and for so long that he became embarrassed. He asked the woman why she was staring at him so long. Answering the question she said to him, ‘It’s natural that I should look at a man, because woman, when she was created, was taken from the body of a man. But as for you, you ought to look at the ground, because you were taken from the soil of the earth.’ The saint considered the woman’s words as a useful spiritual lesson, and from that time onwards he trained himself to look at the ground when any woman looked at him.

  2. “Love” is another commandment for the disciples to obey. Jesus said, “A new commandment I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another” (St. John 13:34-35, NIV>). Love is not just emotions or lust. True love is demonstrated by being patient, kind, rejoicing with truth, trustworthy, hopeful, persevering, and never failing. It is not the real love to be jealous, boasting, be proud, rude, self-seeking, easily angered (hot tempered), keeping record of others’ wrong doings, and be delighted in evil (see St. Paul’s song of love in 1Cor. 13:1-8).It is easy to love those who love us. Our love may be in the tone of ‘you scratch my back and I will scratch yours.’ Jesus asks “If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? …Do not even pagans do that?” (Matt.5:46-47). The Divine standard of true love is the love of enemies and praying for the persecutors. By doing so, we become the sons and daughters of God, and will “be perfect as the Heavenly Father is perfect’ (Matt 5: 44, 48).
  3. A disciple is a person of prayer. Jesus was the perfect example of the prayer-filled life. He prayed not only at the time of joy, peace and honor, but before the cup of pain and suffering as well. At Gethsemane Jesus knelt down and prayed “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me, yet not my will, but yours be done” (St. Luke 22:49, NIV. To the sleeping disciples there, Jesus said, “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation” (LK 22:46, NIV). Jesus taught His disciples a prayer when they requested, and that prayer is “Our Father, who art in Heaven……”, which is usually known as the Lord’s Prayer, but really a prayer for Christ’s disciples. It is a true model of prayer showing all aspects of the perfect prayer and worship, such as glory and praise to the Heavenly Father, God’s Will to be fulfilled in and on earth, petitioning for our daily bread and other needs, forgiving each other and submitting ourselves to God.We may complain about the length of prayer and worship. But the complainers may spend any amount of time after the worship talking and socializing without any complaint. We may plan fun-filled programs demanding to cut short the time of prayer and worship to attract and satisfy people ignoring the importance of prayer and worship. But we should know that there is nothing more powerful as prayer. There is a saying, ‘More things are wrought by prayer than the world dreams of.’
  4. Discipleship involves determination, commitment and priority for God in our lives. Jesus said, “And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.” (Luke 14:27, OSB). Here cross represents pain and sacrifice. As a disciple we need to be willing to sacrifice little bit of our comfort and luxury for the sake of our Lord. Giving up of our bad habits and sins is a great sacrifice we can make for our Lord who loved us unconditionally and died for. To find time for prayer in the midst of busy life style and schedule is sacrifice of a bit of our time for God. To share a portion (10%) of our earning for the church and poor is a financial sacrifice. To bear personal inconvenience for the sake of our family and other people is a sacrifice. Sacrifice is not just doing only big things, but little things for others in our daily lives as well.In other words, we need to be a sacrificial lamb within our call of life and capacity, as our Lord became a sacrificial lamb for the whole world including each one of us. Without sacrifice of others we would not have become who and what we are now, and the world would not exist without. We enjoy all the benefits of our forefathers who made sacrifices in their lives for us: our parents, political leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, social reformers like Martin Luther King and the scientists who sacrificed their time and life to invent new things for the betterment of the community and the world at large.

 

Christian church grew out of the sacrifices of martyrs and forefathers. Indian Churches prospered out of the blood of St. Thomas. It is said “The blood of the martyr is the seed of the church.”

 

There are many other qualifications of discipleship and Apostolate to be mentioned, but because of the length I conclude here. Are you a true disciple of Christ?

Devotional Message of First Sunday After Pentecost

DEVOTIONAL MESSAGE OF FIRST SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST

By V. Rev. K Mathai Core Episcopa

VRevKMathaiCoreEpiscopa

Very Rev. K. Mathai Cor-Episcopa

 

The gospel passage selected for reading in the Holy Communion is from St. John 6: 26-35. Especially V. 35 which says, “I am the bread of life.” is worthy of our attention.

 

Jesus said “I am the bread of life” (V.35). He also said “If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world” (V.51).

 

Jesus asked his disciples, Peter and John, “Go and make preparations for us to eat the Passover.” (LK 22:8). Jesus said, taking bread in his hands at the Passover table, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me” (LK 22:19). He also said, taking the cup, “The cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you” (LK 22:20).

 

All these statements of Christ shown above, point out to the one central theme which is Divine Liturgy.  Obeying the Lord’s command the Christian church faithfully and with utmost respect has been doing it without any break from the first century A.D. The Divine Liturgy in our terms is known as Holy Qurbana or Holy Communion.

 

Holy Qurbana is one of the sacred Sacraments, one of the spiritual means to eternity. It has the deepest spiritual effects on life, and offers four-fold benefits to the faithful partakers of.

  1. Those who take in Holy Qurbana, the body and blood of Christ, are entitled to be abiding in God. Jesus said, “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in Me, and I in him” (Jn 6:56). It is a state of life together with God, and a privilege of an intimate relationship with the Almighty.
  2. The partaking of Holy Communion is an act of grafting, as it is done with the trees to bring out a new brand of tree for more yields. A specific tree of better quality is grafted with another tree, which remains in its stead capable of producing more fruits. It may be called transplantation. In animals the process is be called “cloning.”
  3. These terms and methods of “grafting” and “pruning” (cleaning) have been already explained in the Holy Bible even before the modern scientific inventions have come forth. It says in St. John 15:2, “He (God) cuts off every branch in me (Christ) that bears no fruits, while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” St. Paul in Romans 11:17, says, “..and you (Christians), though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive, do not boast over those branches.”
  4. Spiritually, grafting means that the weak and sinful human nature shares the power of the divine nature through the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ made available in Holy Qurbana. The objective of the spiritual grafting is abundant Christian life and to bring forth the fruits of Christian character and witnessing.
  5. By receiving Holy Communion a faithful is eligible for three-fold blessings: Salvation, Remission of sins and Everlasting life. Salvation is a free gift. Remission of sins is obtained through repentance and confession at the time of Holy Communion. St. Johns Says, “and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). It promises everlasting life.
  6. The Holy Communion is a renewal of our covenant with God. St. Paul says, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, do this whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me……you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes ” (1Cor. 11:24-26).

A covenant literally means a coming together, signifying a mutual undertaking between two parties or more, each party binding himself/herself to fulfill the obligation. Here the parties of the covenantal deal are God and men. In Holy Baptism we have individually committed to God agreeing to live under His lordship. At the time we have said, “I accept Christ and forsake Satan and his forces.”  The same agreement to live under the lordship of Christ is renewed every time we receive Holy Communion.

 

Do you really remember and believe in this when your partake of the Holy Qurbana?
The next section deals with how should we make preparations for Holy Communion?  Due to the question of time I conclude here.

Announcement
  • His Holiness Moran Mar Baselios Marthoma Paulose II Visit

    His Holiness will celebrating Holy Qurbana at St.John’s Church :  Requesting all members to make every effort to attend the Holy Qurbana this Saturday and let us all seek the blessings and the words of wisdom from His Holiness.

Bible verse of the day
For the word of the Lord is right and true; he is faithful in all he does.
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