|DECEMBER 2007||DEVOTIONAL MESSAGE||
Few Sundays after the Feast of Holy Cross are the days we should remember the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Though the terror and fear grip the current world, we are prompted to look up on Christian love and hope, especially the calling of Jesus' followers to live with hope amidst tottering fear. Meditation on the Second Coming of our Lord Jesus at the end of this world will be the best teacher for us to keep our present day life in order. Over these periods, the Gospel readings scheduled by the Holy Church teach us lessons which reflects the themes regarding the Family, Stewardship and Christian Leadersip.
Both in the East and West, the Family used to be a precious institution. Today the things are changed, especially in the western hemisphere, the concept of family had undergone a theme change. In the Western culture in general and in US, Canada, Germany etc. in particular, the family is in shamble and mostly uprooted. Many children born in western cities are born outside of the wedlock which is unprecedented in human civilization. If there are no correctives there is no church, if there is no church there is no family and if there is no family there is no life.
Human civilization contemplate a proved advice on the one hand the strong tenure of family and family relationship, and on another an organic institute of religion. In the west both of these pillars are being knocked out. Even though it prevail in the east we zealously grasp the idea of the family to keep in our heart. But the things are slowly changing even in the east and in the far east too. Things are truely changing because of the wind coming from west.
Family is a divinely established institution planted by God. Family nurtures values and it is a place where we learn to love and to become civilized. It brings forth peace and tranquillity in the society. It is the school where we learn to give and receive love and practice how to adjust. We hear the first Bible lesson, the first Bible story, the first nursery rhyme all in the lap of the mother and father.
Why the family is considered as sacred? It is purely because it is instituted by God. It had never been a man-made institution. It is also organized and ordered by the will of God. The plan of God for Marriage, "a piece of heaven on earth", is well demonstrated in the Bible in Genesis Chapter 1,2 & 3. After creating Eve, God said; "this is why a man leaves his father and mother and becomes enjoined to his wife, and they become one flesh". In Marriage, therefore, are two persons in one flesh. This is the basis of a Christian family. As it is instituted by Holy God, Family should be holy and obviously the relationship within also should be holy.
It makes sense for the world today in east and west, if there is some one who can challenge in affirmation of married and being not promiscuous. Married and being virtuous and unmarried and being chaste both are equally important. Chastitity is valid in married life and more valid in unmarried life. Family should have the air of love, mutual respect and care. The basic idea of the family is mutuality. Husband should respect the wife happily and willingly. The wife should respect and obey the husband courteously. These are the commands of Bible regarding marriage. Husband thrashing wife or wife thrashing husband is not at all Christian or Biblical. Every individual rich or poor, educated or uneducated, fit or invalid, man or woman is precious in the eyes of God. The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. The whole atmosphere should be holy and each action should be to divine will. Prayer is the utmost mark of a holy family. The family is to be zealously guarded whereever we are. This is what Bible teaches us and often our Church teaches us and what human civilization teaches us.
Jesus was asked by the leaders of Jury whether divorce is permitted citing the permission granted by Moses in Deuteronomy Chapter 24. Jesus pointed out that this was not God's original intent, and divorce was permitted only because of "the hardness of your heart" (Mt.19:3-9,Mc.10:2-12)... "Except in the grounds of unchastity or fornication" the divorce is not permitted in the New Testament. However, Jesus told emphatically that in the beginning it was not so. With the reference to the beginning, it means when the man was created it was not so. Jesus emphasized the fact that "what God has joined together, let no one separate." Each member of the family should respect and love and care each other. Then only it becomes a true family.
Second thought is regarding the Stewardship. Adam and Eve, the first family on earth, was placed in Garden of Eden as the Steward and not as the owner. Steward is not the owner. Some time we forget that steward is not the owner. Steward's duty is to take care of the estate - to guard the house and to take care of welfare of the households. The steward is free but he is not the master. Master or the owner can take away stewardship at any time. He can question the steward about his duties. Whatever may be our status in this world whether it is of land-owner or begger, manager or servant, clergy or laity or any other capacity, we are only the stewards. Stewardship is given by the owner. Owner of the house is God. "Take care of My sheep" - This was the commission given to Peter by Jesus Christ. Sheep belongs to God. We are assigned to take the role as a tool or steward. All the resources are placed at the disposal of the steward out of faith of the Master. The capacity in which we are assigned may be differing - it may be working capacity, organizing capacity or managing capacity. When we forget that everything we are given or we close our eyes to this fact we become untrustworthy. All valuable things especially life is the greatest gift God endured to us. The wealth, children, relationships everything is given to us. So we are supposed to use it and not to misuse it. To refuse also is negetivity. Situations and oppertunities are also given as gift of God. So use and not misuse or refuse.
If we look to our state mostly people are misusing all resources. Suicide rate is highest in Kerala. Drunkards are increasing in God's own country. The life being a gift of God, terminating it by self is a mere misuse or refusal of God's gift. Misusing our body, misusing our food, misusing our resources and wealth, all become equivalent to suicide.
The idea to be presented on third sunday is Christian leadership. During the time of Jesus, in Jewish life they were very keen to observe the law. Outside is beautiful but inside there are bones like in a tomb. Jesus expressed contempt on their way of faith. Jesus told; 'do whatever they say', as they are the law of God but donot do as per their acts as they do not live according to the true sense of law. He instructed that whoever wanted to be a leader he shall be the servant. There is only one leader and that is Messiah. The servant sacrifices himself and that sacrifice is to make himself sacred. Jesus offered Himself as a sacrifice. Sacrifice offer to surrender to God. That is the realization of the self sacrifice. Jesus gave a new defenition and new meaning to justice. We pray to God not to judge as per justice but as per His mercy. When we are judged by justice we may not survive. Justice is to consider all our merits and demerits which comes out as outcome of our action. To demand justice we have to redefine it. Holy Qurbana is celebrated again and again as we are defective. Our sacrifice should be acceptable to God. Parents, teachers, preachers, Elders all are Christian leaders. Christian leaders have the responsibility to keep the true meaning of leadership ready to serve and ready to sacrifice.
|[Extract from Address given at Orthodox Church, Australia : Reported By Thomas Panicker Australia]|
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LIGHT OF LIFE
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