[Diocesan Metropolitan of Ranni Diocese, Marthoma Syrian Church ]


And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man. [Luke 2:51-52]

God is so noble to seek consent from man even to adorn him. He is knocking at door of every heart for many years. Still He is asking to many: 'why it is not being opened?'. Unless it is opened by us, we can not enjoy his presence or sup with him. This is one of the reasons that many people are unable to experience the glorious birth of Christ in their hearts and subsequent appearance of the star in the spiritual heights.

The Christian motivation is to praise God for giving us His son Jesus Christ out of His great mercy. That is the way of goodness and that is the way of Christianity. We are bound to give thanks always to God for this gracious gift from God. Christianity is the sole gratitude of the gift of Jesus Christ because such a love was almost unbelievable for the mankind. The utmost love of God was displayed on the Cross. Our Christian life should be the response to this esteem love expressed by Jesus Christ. We should be awake and alert always to this cause. So a Christian has no right to sleep, as the protector of Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. We may be probably sleeping now! We should be awake to express our gratitude to God and propagate His love in our life and in our field of actions.

The Man is God in miniature and the home is heaven in miniature!

Once John Wesley, an English evangelical preacher, was preaching in an open air meeting, and common people came by thousands to hear his message. Theme of his speech was 'The transforming power of Jesus Christ'. There were two young men among the crowd who came prepared for throwing stones to Wesley. After hearing the inspiring speech of Wesley, one among the young conspirators told his accomplice, that the face of that man is glittering like an angel. The stones were fallen down from their hands. When Wesley was coming out of the pulpit the two youth followed him and one youth kissed the garments of Wesley. Wesley turned back and raised his both hands and told them 'God bless you my children'. Then the other told that he is only a man and not an angel. His friend retorted; '...Yes he is a man like God.'

After Abraham Lincoln breathed his last in 1865, during the centenary of Lincoln's birth in 1909, Leo Tolstoy described him as "a Christ in miniature, a saint of humanity." To configure ourself to the happiness of the glory of the creator should be the sole intention of our Christian life.

Before we start thinking of the Family of Jesus, let us review few contrasting families so that the theme will be more evident. In the first family of God's creation, Adam was the head of the family. Being the first man, Adam was to die first. But it did not happen that way. Before Adam died, his elder son killed his brother. It was the first murder and first death happened in the world. Abel was not killed by a terrorist, but he was murdered by his own brother. The funeral was done so disgracefully without any priest, parents or any relatives present. His brother dug a pitch and covered his brother's body. Is this a family?

Next, Look into the home front of David, whom God had chosen to be the commander over His own people of Israel. During the end of the funeral service, referring to this great King musician of Israel, we enunciate 'O David, the sweet singer of Israel! descend with your Iyre and harp and sing to make us to know how frail we are and how short the extent of our days in this world.' ['C{ktbens a[pcKmbI\mb ZmhotZ! Cu temIn a\pjy F{X WnI Fpw Ahs Zn\ FshbmsWpw Rsf A\pkvacnntXnp, \o Inchpambn Cdnhp ]mSpI.'] We see here a father who fathered all the nations but could not father his own. This powerful king wisely governed the scattered tribes of Israel, forging them into a united nation. The shepherd boy was blessed by God to be a valiant soldier, a great military strategist, an excellent statesman, a diplomat, a composer, a musician and a very successful king. He had a lot of achievements in his life. Despite this flawless reign on a national level, David had many problems in his family life. The king of Israel, David, had his slinking at his home side.

There are many who lament for their family and children. They may renounce everything of their own for the pleasure of their siblings. King David was the supreme example of a father who had undergone the severest mental tension regarding his children. David was facing crises on multiple levels. It was a family crisis. It was not just a political enemy who had plotted to overthrow him; but it was his own son and the father was forced to declare war with his own son. It was a big storm blown in, which swept him out of his feet. David pleaded for showing mercy to his son and charged his Commander Joab saying 'Deal gently for my sake to my son Absalom'. Though all the people heard when the king charged the commanders concerning Absalom, he could not get any mercy from them. While Absalom was riding on his mule, his long beautiful hair caught fast in the thick branches of a great oak tree. He was left hanging between heaven and earth and the mule ran away. Men of Joab surrounded him, in triumph, smote him and slew him. Body of the Prince was disposed of disgracefully and cast it into a great pit in the wood with indignation. David, on hearing the news, forgets all the joy of his deliverance, overwhelmed with the sorrowful tidings of his son's death went into his chamber wept bitterly saying 'Would God! O Absalom, my son! I had died for thee, and thou had remained alive.' These were also the incidents happened in a house.

How many of the Christians today will stand with Jesus for their convictions if it causes a situation of trial and tribulation? Many may stand with Him if there is not much encumbrances behind it. Many cannot stand steadfast in their ideologies. Now, the Christians who follow Christ does not have any tension, it is an easy way and a road of roses. Let us peep into a Cinema 'The haunted mind'. Many years back the encounter with Naxal Varghese was a haunting experience for the Police Constable Ramachandran Nair. When Ramachandran Nair was pointing his pistol to this Naxalite leader, brave Varghese was very enthusiastically and emotionally raising the slogans of his ideologies. Who will take this stand for his ideologies and conviction? The man who had seen the death face to face in front of the ready-to-trigger gun of the Police Officer, was not the one who trembled in this encounter, but it was the Police officer who had the gun in his hand pointed towards the criminal was shivering in the scenario. Constable Ramachandran Nair reported that this incident was haunting his mind all over his life.

After the solemnization of marriage of Princess Diana with The Prince of Wales at St Paul's Cathedral in London on 29 July 1981, the chief celebrant Most Rev. Robert Runcie, the archbishop of Canterbury gave a ceremonial advice to the couple saying; "Those who are married live happily ever after the wedding day if they persevere in the real adventure, which is the royal task of creating each other and creating a more loving world. It must be specially true of this marriage, in which are placed so many hopes." The Arch Bishop added, "Every couples are Royal on their day of wedding." The tragic death of Diana, Princess of Wales occurred on Sunday, 31 August 1997 following a car accident in Paris. The vehicle in which the Princess was traveling was involved in a high-speed accident.

Now the modern world is looking to be at big speed. Today's advertisement itself is like; 'Put your feet in the fast track.' This is what is happening around us. But we all know the story "The Turtle and the Rabbit Run a Race". Rabbit laughed and made fun of at turtle, such a slow walker and decided 'No use for me to run all the way now.' Many time we feel the changes are intolerable. President Clinton had told once, 'We have to make changes our friends, not our foe but we have to work together to shape change, lest it engulf us.'

Oak tree is standing so high and with thick branches. But the truth is that it's roots are gone too deep and stem is grown so high over long years. Life is not always in the slit of the increasing speed. Hanok did not speed up in his life. He walked slowly in pace with God. It makes us all to know that life is something more than increasing speed as this dreadful speed can lead us to a troubling hook. Our life itself should become a prayer 'God, You are our source of inspiration. Lord, you inspire me to surrender our roots in order that we reach to our destination.'

Now let us look at a case in our native place some where in Mid-Travancore. This is a clear example of the damage to the children by the negligence of their parents. Father and mother were working in Dubai. The son and daughter were studying in Kerala. Son Shaji was studying in a College in a city in Kerala. These children could never get the love and warmth of their parents. Exactly as the experience of many of the contemporary children, they felt abandoned, neglected and unloved, through no fault of their own. Shaji was always gloomy and does not mingle or talk much with people. He had only one close friend by name Biju. Shaji insisted his friend Biju that he wanted to come to his home and live there for a week. During a vacation Shaji went with Biju to his house. In the absence of Biju, Shaji wept out in front of Biju's mother saying, 'if a child is born, he should be born like Biju; I am living in utter poverty in the midst of great wealth.' Shaji's parents never cared for his studies, welfare or their emotions. They used to come and visit the children just like they are fulfilling some offerings. But they sent plenty of money to the children. In the course of time Shaji got addicted to alcohol and drugs. The parent's eyes were opened only when, one day Shaji was missing from the Hostel. His father came all the way and started searching for Shaji. To his utter desperation the father searched all the places possible calling; 'Shaji, my beloved, where are you?'. The big lamentation of this grieved father spread all over the horizons, may be even got scattered in the ears of Shaji. But Shaji could not recognize his father's voice as he had gone insane by that time. This is also an incident in a family.

Contrary to these family atmospheres, let us peep into the family of John Wesley whom I referred earlier. Wesley spent his early years under the careful direction of his remarkable mother, who sought to instill in him a sense of vital piety leading to a wholehearted devotion to God. When their mother's death was near, the children went inside near to their mother. On her death bed, that mother looked at her children and instructed them, 'when my soul is released from my body sing a psalm to praise the Lord.' Who will be able to say this? How beautiful a life she had! How beautiful an ending she had! John Wesley had emerged out of such a family atmosphere.

The story of Catholic father Dominic goes like this. His original name was Luis Brown. He was an atheist and was the editor of a magazine which propagated his atheistic ideologies. His wife Elizabeth was a very pious woman. Elizabeth got paralyzed and was bedridden for ten years. At her death bed she called her husband, very lovingly told him that he should get converted to God and get baptized. After death of Elizabeth, one day while Luis was reading the diary of Elizabeth, his eyes stuck on these prayer words of his wife: 'O God transfigure my husband towards you, and give me enough tolerance till his repentance.' Eventually after the death of his wife Luis understood that all these years he was disobeying the God. His wife was suffering for ten long years and was praying for his repentance. Luis became believer of God and later he became a clergy with name Dominic. A man even did not believe in God, had turned out as the representative of God and became a retreat master.

This big retreat guru had articulated with his great experience that a priest is not getting configured in the Theological Seminary. But he is transfigured out in his own home much before he reaches the premises of Seminary. A clergy is not molded among the Philosophical and Theological libraries, but he is formed and fashioned in the potters wheel of the family with prayerful and sacrificial life.

One Old Catholic mother was continuously praying the rosary. A young man asked what she is chanting continuously with these rosary beads. The old mother replied him; I catch the first rosary bead to pray for my elder son who is priest in the missionary service. When I catch the second rosary bead, I pray for my nun daughter who works for the charitable service. While I catch the third rosary bead, I pray for my parish priest. How wonderful, a mother is praying for her parish priest in our contemporary world, during which people are very vehemently criticizing the priests and the church with the tooth and nail! This is also an atmosphere of a family.

With the background of these vivid contradicting family atmospheres, let us go to the home and home-life of our Lord Jesus in Nazareth. The Holy family of Jesus was a small one with three members: Jesus, Mary and Joseph. There was never been a holy and pious family like this and never it will be. It was in this house where our saviour had lived for thirty years surrendering Himself to His parents. Let us appraise the characteristics of each members of this Holy Family.

Joseph: Head of the household. In Gospel according to St. Mathew Joseph is exemplified as 'just' and 'righteous' man. In the modern world these two words 'just' and 'righteous' are obsolete. There is absolutely no character certificate which mentions anybody as just or righteous. What is meant by a just man? It was the attribute of the head of this Holy Family, Joseph.

Secondly, Joseph was the sole protector of that family. How many children in this world are ruined without getting any protection from any body? But Joseph was a careful protector of the mother Mary and the child Jesus. There were many incidences where life of the child and the survival of the family were at threat. But as per the divine perception Joseph render all the protection and security to the mother and the child. In the darkness of the night he carried the infant child and with the mother fled to the foreign land of Egypt to save them from the cruelty of King Herod.

Next member of the Holy Family is mother Mary. The biggest attribute of this mother was her mentality for surrendering. Mary was a village girl with no basic education. When the angel Gabriel was teaching her like a child about the great things to happen which was much beyond the grasp of this young peasant girl, she asks the angel; "How can this be?" But when the angel assures her that for with God nothing shall be impossible, she surrender herself and say; 'Let it be' as per the will of the God. She did not have any further questions concerning the way and manner how it shall be wrought and surrendered herself to the entirety; "Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word." First time the phrase 'Let it be' was uttered by the Lord God and then entire universe was created. Second time the phrase was told by mother Mary and then saviour was born to this world. Third time this phrase was told by Jesus Christ on the cross and contemplated the salvation of the entire mankind. Next we are the ones to say the phrase 'Let thy will be done in our life.'

Further, Mary rejoiced in her saviour. Some people trust in chariots, and some in horses. But Mary had great complacency in Him as her Saviour. Mary glories more in that happiness which she had in common with all believers than in being his mother, which was an honour peculiar to herself. She had great deal of reason to rejoice in spirit that is the rejoice in the Lord because of the kind things he had done for her: His condescension and compassion to her. We see a contrast here with Habakkuk. Habakkuk desperately begs of God to relieve and succour his people in affliction. He lamented to Lord that the crops are ruined, fields produce no food, cattle are dying and the life became miserable. However he hoped that the issue will be comfortable and glorious at last. In spite of all these he said, "Yet will I rejoice in the Lord; I shall have him to rejoice in, and will rejoice in him.

Mary had the noble culture of respecting others. Two thousand years before, the words what hear from her is, "Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been looking for You anxiously". This is a culture to be cultivated in the family. In this sense, As Jesus was greatly differing from the first man, Adam; Mary also was greatly differing from the first mother, Eve. In the current world there is no need for a dagger or a pistol to kill a person. A mere word can destroy the life of a person. That is what is going on in many families. Any member of the family can annihilate another member by their abusing words. By this due respect given to others, Mary was not loosing any thing in her life, but by that same humility, she became the one counted by all the generations as blessed. Mary had also the culture of caring for others. Her concern for the household was well revealed, when she and her son together attended the marriage in Cana.

Lord Jesus is the central theme of Holy family. Evangelist say about Him 'I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written about the sayings and doings of our saviour'. Glory and characteristics of our saviour cannot be narrated fully by any tongue in the world. At the age of twelve years Jesus was filled with wisdom and he had both a desire to increase it and a readiness to communicate it. His keenness for worshipping His father was exemplary. At the age of twelve, he is an example to children and young people, who should learn of Christ to delight in the company of those they may get good by, and choose to sit desirous of instruction in the midst of the doctors rather than in the midst of any others. When His earthly parents expressed their concern about him, immediately He surrendered himself to them.

This world itself is to be considered as a single family. Saviour had come to this world for the great joy of the entire world family. Let the savior of World greatly come to our heart. The entire world should turn out to one family with Jesus as its central member. As the John bore the witness about Jesus, He was the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the entire world.

[Extract from Address given at Maramon Convention-2004
Original in Malayalam - Translated by Dr. Rajan Mathew Philadelphia, USA]
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