CHRISTIAN NEWS MAGAZINE FOR KERALA MALAYALEE CHRISTIANS FROM INDIA AROUND THE WORLD
NOVEMBER 2004 ARCHIVE
VOL:3ISSUE 11
DEVOTIONAL MESSAGE


ANOTHER WORLD IS POSSIBLE IN CHRIST

By RT.REV. DR. JOSEPH MAR IRENAEUS SUFFRAGON METROPOLITAN
Diocesan Metropolitan of Adoor-Niranam-Thumpamon Diocese, Marthoma Church



H.G. DR. JOSEPH MAR
IRENAEUS
SUFFRAGON METROPOLITAN

And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God [is] with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, [and be] their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. (Revelation 21:1-5)

Early years of twenty-first century were sheer disgusting; truly an epochal period in history in the sense of the manner in which it has been ravaged. Those were the days of grief, conflicts and terror. During the period of all these adversities, we experienced the assurances and hopes provided by our Lord. Virgin Mary had exemplified through her life that, "For with God nothing shall be impossible." In the midst of this grave crisis of our time, we are called to become the achievers and proclaimers of the promised assurances of Lord Jesus Christ. Manifestos of the World Social Forum (WSF) convened in January 2004 at Mumbai also reflected to uphold the same view regarding the assurance from our Lord for building a new world. Convincingly a new world and new world order is possible, urgent and necessary in Christ. Holy Spirit manifests this possibility through the unity of contemporary Churches. An alternative world is viable. During the twenty-first century, though we achieved the prosperity and brighter hopes for a better tomorrow, at the same time, we hear the distressed wailing of desperation from many corners. However, in spite of all these adversities, Churches and Social Science strongly exhorts us that there is great hope for a new World Order.

There are three essential factors to be observed to make a new World possible:

  1. Composition should make matters alluring:
    In order to make a new world order possible, God's creation should be made appealing through a well composed human organization. After God had created the heaven and earth, He put man in it with the consent to him for organizing it. But the man had disorganized God's creation and tried to disfigure it by his transgressions. Unscientific exploitation of the environments is being configured as part of this disorganization. But through a divine recreation and God driven organization, a new world order is possible.

  2. Corrections through our life experiences:
    While the first man had gone out of God's Grace by his disobedience of the Law, modern man had fallen into the tendency to digress from his creator, God, through his erratic views and actions. A new world is possible only if man recognizes and accede his inconsistencies and humble himself for the corrections. Instead of despising others, when we commit ourself to remain acutely aware of our state and submit ourself for refinement, the doors of a gorgeous horizon of a new world will be opened to us. So a Transfer motion theology becomes essential for this new century. Our slackness for correction pause strong issues of childcare, healthcare, food care etc. We can find solutions to these issues only by regulating ourself for the submission to a transfiguration.

  3. Re-establishment of relations:
    When we live in the entanglement of broken families, shattered social setup, conflicting political culture etc., how we can explore the new possibilities? It is essential to re-establish the family relations for this cause. Depending on God, when we endeavor to reunite all the fragmented factors, a new world becomes possible. This is the promise and assurance given by Jesus Christ.

While standing in the forefront of a bewildering world, let us all affirm in unison, with one voice, "Yes another world is possible in Christ".

[Extract from Address of Maramon Convention 2004 : Original in Malayalam]
Translated for LOL By: Editor Dr. Rajan Mathew Philadelphia, USA
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COVER MESSAGE

SALVATION SIMPLE, STRAIGHT AND CLEAR
By Dr. K.C.NAINAN, ATLANTA, GEORGIA, U.S.A

On the day of Pentecost when the disciples, followers and friends of our Lord Jesus Christ were filled with the Holy Spirit, Apostle Peter stood up with the remaining apostles spoke up loudly and fearlessly to the people gathered from different nations of the world that Jesus, crucified, buried, resurrected and ascended is the savior of the mankind. He quoted from the scriptures to prove that Jesus of Nazareth is the expected Messiah and in him Old Testament prophecies were fulfilled. When the people were convicted of their guilt and sins asked the apostles “ What shall we do brothers”? Peter asked them to repent their sins, to get baptized in the name of Lord Jesus Christ so that they would receive forgiveness, salvation and the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:1-39).

Later on before the Council of Jewish leaders Apostle Peter declared that salvation is to be found through Jesus Christ alone; in the entire world there is no one else whom God has given who can save us (Acts. 4; 12). When the Philippian jailor asked Paul and Silas “ Sirs, What must I do to be saved”? they answered him to believe in the Lord Jesus and you and your family will be saved.(Acts. 16:29-31). The Spirit of the Lord led Philip the Evangelist to the Ethiopian official and gave the good news of salvation in Jesus and baptized him in the nearby water (Acts. 8: 26-40) Similarly salvation and conversions of several persons like Saul, Roman captain Cornelius, Lydia were described in detail in the book of Acts. During the missionary work apostles and followers of our Lord, several communities were converted to Christ throughout the Mediterranean countries, Roman Empire, Persia and even in India in the first century.

The good news of salvation in Jesus Christ began to be proclaimed from Jerusalem to many nations during last 2000 years and will be preached and taught to every nation before the Lord’s second coming, because He said so. Preachers and teachers of the gospel empowered by the presence and power of the Holy Spirit, and the good news of repentance of sins followed by the baptism in the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit as initially instructed by the Lord Himself are proclaimed now throughout the world and are asked to follow the teachings and commandments of our Lord.

We may ask the question why and how Jesus is the savior of the world? The word of God gives the answers clearly and emphatically in addition to the verses given above. Some other verses from the bible are as follows: God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten son (Jesus Christ), that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16). But to as many as received him, to them gave he power (authority) to become the children of God, even to them that believes on his name (John 1:12). No one can enter the Kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Holy Spirit (John 3:36)

Whoever believes in the Son of God has eternal life (John: 3:36). Jesus said “ I am the way, the truth and the life; no one goes to the Father except by me”(John 14:6). I have come into the world as light, so that everyone who believes in me should not remain in the darkness (John 12:46). Whoever drinks the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring which will provide him with life-giving water (Holy Spirit) and give him eternal life (John 4:14, John 7:37-39). Whoever hears my words and believes in him who sent me has eternal life. He will not be judged, but has already passed from death to life (John 5:24).

In addition to the above reasons, there are several other powerful and convincing verses such as: I am the good shepherd who is willing to die for the sheep…. I have come in order to give life in all its fullness (john 10:10). I give them (sheep) eternal life (John 10:28. I am the gate for the sheep. Whoever comes in by me will be saved (John 10:9). I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never be hungry; he who believes in me will be never be thirsty. (John 6:35). I am the resurrection and the life, whoever believes in me, will live (John 11: 25). I will never turn away anyone who comes to me (John 6:37). Search the Scriptures; they speak about me (John 5:39).

In the Old Testament and the writings of the apostles there are many verses to prove that salvation is in Jesus Christ. The Lord made the punishment fall on him (Christ), the punishment all of us deserved. He was put to death for the sins of our people. He willingly gave his life and shared the fate of evil men. He took the place of many sinners and prayed that they might be forgiven. (Isaiah 52:6-12). Wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ. our Lord(Romans 6: 28) Christ himself carried our sins in his body to the cross, so that we might die to sin and live for righteousness(1 Peter 2:24). If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature, old things have passed away; behold all things are become new. (2nd Corinthians 5:17).

The gospel reveals how God puts people right with himself: it is through faith from beginning to end. (Romans1: 17). All these and many more verses from the Word of God clearly show that in our Lord Jesus Christ, every believer has full salvation from sins, guilt, death and eternal condemnation. Salvation is a free gift from God through Jesus Christ. By grace we are redeemed and through faith in Jesus we experience, not by works. (Ephesians 2: 8, 9). Christ is the head of the church, and he is the savior of the body (Ephesians 5:23). We are saved by the precious blood of Christ, (1 Peter 1:18,19). Believers confess their sins to God, he will keep His promise and do what is right: he will forgive their sins and purify them from all wrongdoing. (1 John 1: 9). “ If you confess that Jesus is Lord and believe that God raised him from death, you will be saved. Everyone who calls out to the Lord for help will be saved (Romans 10: 9-13).

Every believer is asked to trust and believe Jesus Christ as his or her personal savior and mediator, and rely on him by putting all the cares and burdens on him alone; he is the one who paid the full price for our sin on the cross. We must follow his teachings and commandments given in the word of God. He has given his own Spirit as a gift from the Father to abide within us to help us in every aspect and moment of life so that we will have abundant life here on earth and in eternity. Amen.

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ARTICLE 1


WHO ARE THE BLESSED ? - PART 9
THINGS IN OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH ONE ANOTHER

By MATHEWS MAR BARNABAS METROPOLITION

[CONTINUED FROM LAST ISSUE]

39. Blessed are those who try to correct others; for they will become instruments in the hands of God

Our Lord has said that we sould be the salt of earth and the light of the world. (St.Matt. 5:13,14) As the salt of the earth, we must keep others and ourselves from all things and please others. As the light of the world, we must open the eyes of people to goodness, and inspire them to loe and respect.

Prayer:O Lord, help us to remain pure and transform people through counselling.

40. Blessed are those who bring up children in the proper way; for they can lay a firm foundation for their future and the future of the world.

Solomon the wise, says, "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it." (Prov. 22:6) Supreme importance is to be given to the training of the children, as their future depends on how they are brought up. The resurrected Lord asked St. Peter (as representative of the apostolic band), "Tend my lamps." (St.John 21:15) Hence it is the duty of the entire church to bring up children in the best way possible.

Great men, who contributed to the progress of mankind, were the products of excellent training that was provided to them during childhood years. If proper training is not provided in the young years of their lives, it may become almost impossible to change them in the adult years. Left to themselves, there is always the likelihood that children may spoil themselves and eventually become a headache to the society as a whole.

Prayer:O Lord help us to bring up children, to follow your example, out of our love to you.

41. Blessed are those who train people; for they an make their work continue without brak.

It is necessary to train people to continue the good works in every field. St. Paul gave Timothy, his disciple, the following instruction: "What you have heard from me before many witness, entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach other also." (II Tim. 2:2) For all-round and continued progress of amnkind, there should be worthy successors. Our Lord trained twelve disciples to continue His work and they trained others in turn. This continuity of training is a must in all aspects of the society.

Prayer:O Lord, help us to train able people to continue the good work everywhere along with our earnestness in fulfilling our duty.

42. Blessed are those who try to do their best in everything; for they can develop all their abilities to the full extent, contribute maximum good to the society, and rejoice in the Lord.

Our love for God must be to the fullest, as God loves us utmost despite our un worthiness. "ye shall love the Lord your God, with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind." (St. Matthew 22:37) We have to love our neighbors also to the fullest. "Ye shall love your neighbor as yourself." (St. Matthew 22:39) In other words we must love others as Jesus loved us. He says, "This is my commandment that you love one another, as I loved you." (St. John 15:12) Solomon, the wise says, "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might." (Eccl. 9:10)

"Do your best, your very best
And do it every day.
Little boys and little girls
That is the wisest way.
For if you do your best,
Your best will better grow.
But if you slight your daily task
You will let the better go."

Prayer:O Lord, help us to do everything in the best way, for your glory and the benefit of your children, in the fullness of our gratitude.

[TO BE CONTINUED IN NEXT ISSUE...]

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ARTICLE 2


MASK OF COSMETIC SALVATION

By E.S. JOHN AUSTRALIA

Salvation is the ultimate state of ecstasy that we enjoy with the Lord in Eternity, despite its seeds are sown in the miseries and afflictions that we endure in this ephemeral plane while confronting the flaming darts of the Devil, by girding with the whole armour of God - truth, righteousness, gospel of peace, shield of faith, helmet of salvation, the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God...(Eph.6: 13-18). God is the only source that can provide us this gift of salvation, not on our merits but only by His Grace. “ For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God-not because of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them (Eph.2: 8-10). “ On what principle? On the principle of works? No, but on the principle of faith” (Rom.3: 27). The totality of blind faith in Jesus is the inevitable ingredient for salvation, yet man being chained by the frailties of the flesh and blood, one cannot reach to the limit that God expects. It may be like reaching at the peak of Mount Everest on bare foot and having no provisions of food. “ Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable” (1.Cor.15: 50). “ Salvation belongs to the Lord” Ps.3: 8; 50: 23; 65: 5.). Salvation is far from the wicked, for they do not seek thy statutes (Ps.119: 155). “ Deliver us, O God of our salvation, and gather and save us from among the nations.” (1.Chr.16: 35). He is the rock, horn and the author of my salvation (Ps.18: 47; 2.Sam.22: 3; Is.52: 7), likewise to communities and flocks.

WAY FOR SALVATION:
Blind faith in the power of the deliverance of God and our blind obedience in following His commandments are the nuclei of salvation. You see that a man is justified by works and by faith alone (Jas.2: 24). The right faith is the basic component of salvation. Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen (Heb.11: 1). Faith and works are then the two sides of the same coin; the first is the head then the tail. The Ten Commandments, the sum total of faith and works, given to Moses are the sequential order of the significance of duties one has to perform in one’s daily life. Doing the first commandment of worshipping God with all our heart, mind and soul deletes the 2nd one in toto. If one worships Him with all one’s might and power, there shouldn’t be any room for denigrating the Holiness of God by taking His name in vain. The fourth one of keeping the Sabbath holy, the herald of the solemn rest in Paradise on the 7th day, is to recognize the creation work in 6 days and the solemn rest of the 7th day (Heb.4: 9), tacitly declaring the set 7000 years for the restoration of Adam and his progeny in New Jerusalem. “

We wait for the resurrection of the dead and the new life in the world to come” (Nicene Creed) is to be honoured at every moment of our life. His deliverance from this world at the end of the day is a part of exalting the name of God. In order to give glory to God the Creator and honouring parents, the procreators and agents of God on earth, the 5th commandment was given. The 5th one, linking to the next 5 commandments of caring our brethren is the foundation stone of social life on earth. While St. Paul summed up the 10 commandments in one sentence, Jesus in 2(Mt.22: 37-40). “ So faith, hope, love abide, these 3; but the greatest of these is love (1.Cor.13: 13), the love that one reciprocates to the Creator and to the created ones. The faith here means the redemptive scheme of mankind by Jesus by His sacrifice, and ‘hope’ the attainment of salvation through Christ by undergoing through the baptismal fire of these cumbersome processes. Love is the common factor that unites God and man and between man and man.

COMMANDMENTS AND OBSERVANCES:
Despite the stringent observances of the Mosaic commandments are diluted, the seriousness of them is strengthened and empowered by the celestial love infused by the coming of the Holy Spirit. This love factor is potentised by the conglomerating nutrients from all the 7 planes of Heaven. Jesus said to the young lawyer to observe the commandments, the gateway to salvation (Mt.19: 16-23). The spontaneous positive and affirmative reply was not satisfactory to the Lord. He walked away because he didn’t want to dispossess his wealth in order to possess the treasure in Heaven. The sublime love that kindles everything into beauty is the language of the H.Spirit of the N.T.era. He lists 13 aspects of that love in Cor.13. Mere observances of the law without self- sacrifice that eclipses all malice, hatred and aversions is not the gateway to Life; Eternity demands our whole life to be set aside for carrying other lives for the Kingdom of God, in addition to caring and nursing the wounds of others. Observance of the Law is an outward action of an inward metamorphosis of flowing an onward transformation of God’s Grace into us; otherwise our efforts are fruitless, mere rainless clouds. Faith apart from work is barren (Jas.2: 20). If the priestly tongue is the key to the Kingdom of God, the false tongue is the key to the bottomless Pit. One must become perfect like the Father (Mt.5: 48) who sacrificed His only Son for us and parted away His Comforter for consoling us till we meet Him at the close of the age. One who has faith in the righteousness of God will not hurt others in thought, word or deed.

Look at the other side of the coin. A fearless woman once haunted with 7 demons rushes to the sepulchre with costly spices by the same which she anointed Him probably twice before, to witness as the first person in proclaiming the resurrection of the Lord during the early hours of Sunday morning. Jesus and His disciples also managed to make both ends meet by getting also gifts from the members of the first convent (Lk.8: 1-3), perhaps based in Bethany (Mt.21: 17-22). Learn a lesson from Zacchaeus, the chief tax collector, who saw Jesus from the top of a sycamore tree. “ The half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have defrauded any one of anything, I restore it fourfold. Jesus said to him, today salvation has come to this house, since he is also a son of Abraham (Lk.19: 1-10). It is a special status to be the son of Abraham. Melchizadek also has an adoring position as the lion of Judah and the sceptre of Levitical heritage. Both Mary Magdalene and Zacchaeus dispossessed most of their possessions either to the poor or to the worthy causes. “ Freely you have received, freely you give”, so also is the case of the widow who put all her earnings she had to the church treasury.

The first Christian communities also sold all their wealth, and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet, for they were of one heart and soul. Dogmas and covenants are not enough, helping the needy and helpless is as important as breathing. “ You rich weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have rusted, and their rust will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure for the last days...” (Jas.5: 1-6; Mt.25). This warning finger points to this age. Thus the coin of salvation has two sides, blind faith in Jesus’ redemptive passions and the other the self-sacrificing charity works, synchronizing the one with the other. It doesn’t end there unless melting away the impurities of our flesh by continual repentance and shedding of tears of introspection, like that of the tax collector, unlike the Pharisee, who scared to go into the temple for prayer, ‘God be merciful to me a sinner’ (Lk.18: 9-14). Moreover, we should preach the beauty of the resurrection of the Lord and the bestowed priestly authority for the forgiveness of sins to all nations (Lk.24: 46-47; Acts.5: 31; 2.Cor.5: 18-20). Yesterday’s sinner could be a saint today, and vice versa (Eze.33: 11-20). In most cases, we start with the Spirit and end with the flesh (Gal.3: 3).

MEANING OF SALVATION:
Believers have been so far proclaiming that Jesus is the source of salvation. The materialism that made people self- sufficient swerved them from the true spirit, which landed us to an unknown territory of sinister set up. In order to appease others, we started proclaiming that wherever there is love, there is God. Our religious leaders openly preach that every religion is the way of salvation. Their excuse is that the judgement on others is of God’s, not ours. How did the apostles and numberless martyrs got the conviction and made the judgement that Jesus is the way of salvation, for which they shed their blood? Martyrs’ blood is the seed of the church. If there is love in the world, there shouldn’t have been the rivers of blood shrieking down even along the streets of every region and country. This blood of religious fanatics and false apostles trigger only the vexation of our spirits, whereas no other greater love is experienced other than that of the Son of Man who came down to bear the sin of mankind. “

He who believes in the Son has eternal life; he who doesn’t obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God rests upon them” (Jn.3: 31-36; 5: 22-29; 6: 40; 10: 30; 14:9). “ And there is no salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts.4: 12). “ every spirit which does not confesses that Jesus has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit which does not confess Jesus is not of God. This is the spirit of Antichrist..” (1.Jn.4: 2-3). No one who denies the Son has the Father. He who confesses the Son has the Father also (1.Jn.2: 22-23). Our words also should confess the faith in Jesus. If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved (Rom.10: 8-11). Thus, faith in the Lord is a totality of expression of our mind, body and heart.

This faith alone is not sufficient; it must be buttressed by our word and deed. Charity works devoid of the faith in Jesus amounts only in zero, where as the true faith and little work can score some points. Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he does and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven (Mt.5: 19; Lk.7: 28). But a hypocrite is worse than anybody else; their end will be at the burning fiery lake (Mt.24: 51). The Pharisees and Sadducees come under this category (Mt.16: 6). The Lord’s whole life was a fight against their yeast; St. Mt.23 is entirely devoted to expose the real nature of their volcano of hypocrisy. He fought against them at the expense of His life, which bought salvation to the derailed mankind.

HYPOCRISY OF JESUS' FOLLOWERS:
Jesus’ first and 2nd comings are synchronized with in the same frequency and wavelength of events. His first coming was shrouded in uncertain mysteries, whereas the 2nd one is enfolded with sureties and real hypocrisies. The Jewish hierarchy was sick of waiting for a Messiah; the church of today is also saying that His coming is only an allegorical myth (Mt.24: 48-50: 25: 5). Despite there are so many other similarities of His first and 2nd comings, I am not listing here owing to want of space. The standing monument of hypocrisy has been the common factor that links His 2 comings. They didn’t know Him though He came into His own; the same is the chorus and the background music now, too. As the harlot church is sitting on the Beast of the last days (Rev.17: 1-6), she sends an emissary to the Groom saying that she overturns their betrothal (Lk.19: 14). “ Since in her heart she says, ‘A queen I sit, I am no widow, mourning I shall never see’, so shall her plagues come in a single day...” (Rev.18: 7-8). There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all...(Eph.4: 4-6). Now how many times one ‘body’ (Bride) is multiplied into: 2300 crumbs and multiplicities of cults. The Groom who advocates for monogamy cannot take all these brides into the Bridal chamber. It becomes polygamy then.

Jesus asked His disciples to go and evangelize the good news to the whole world. He sent the Comforter on the day of Pentecost to sow and nurture the church that He bought with a high price of His own blood. The apostles as the ambassadors of Christ consecrated and ordained bishops, priests and deacons (Acts.6; Jas.5: 14; Titus.1: 6; 1.Pet.5). St. Paul forewarned us that such overseers themselves would speak perverse things and draw away disciples after them (Acts.20: 24-32). Although there were several sects towards the end of the 1st century, the perverse teachings didn’t take deeper roots on account of brutal persecutions that continued till A.D.313. Heresies one after the other that eventuated into 3 universal synods could not suppress the froth of the unleavened bread of the Pharisees and Sadducees. The Chaldean synod split the church as East and West, and started persecutions in multiple forms. The Roman church that took the lead in dominating the scene, split into 2 again in the 11th century, creating the Eastern Orthodox churches and again in the 13th century, sowing the seeds of Protestant elements every where, followed by the age of renaissance and colonization of the world. The Oriental Orthodox churches that stood for the apostolic faith has been a prey for the deviant churches from the time of the first split.

MULTIPLE STRATA OF BELIEVERS:
Just as there were 3 schools of faith at the time of Jesus’ 1st coming, there are 3 streams of faith at His 2nd coming, too. Jesus condemned the teachings of the Pharisees, as they didn’t follow what they taught, resembling as the white sepulchre. They injected fear in their followers by instilling superfluous sides of life into the real worship, so that they could become their masters in small, small things. This retail therapy of spirituality is only for playing power and money politics and extract money from the innocent worshippers. While the Sadducees eliminate the cardinal and real essence of spirituality, the Pharisees add the decorating frills of religious wastes into their teachings. The zealous faction gives tithes in small things, at the same time trampling over the cardinal 10 commandments as craps. If the Sadducees didn’t believe in the resurrection of the soul, what is the meaning of this religious life? Yet there was a middle ground order of worshippers, who only followed John the Baptist and Jesus. Such followers were dubbed as sinners who didn’t have a place in the high society of the other 2 spectrums. The Baptist was a Levite authorized for Aaronite sacrifice, and Jesus, the Eternal Melchizadek. Their mission was to preach the Kingdom of God and attain salvation through repentance. As they didn’t have a good market, they sacrificed their lives at the hands of irreligious ones for whom the salvation was preached. Despite the apostles of the middle order spirituality were in quest of their salvation, their main ambition was grabbing it by lording over the other equals. They wanted to get salvation in both worlds; but they realized the futility of their double role on the day of Pentecost.

The same scenario continues for His 2nd coming, too. There are rightists, leftists and centrists who are at loggerheads at one another in the way of the proclamation of salvation and sweeping more adherents from other denominations, not by sacrificing their lives for the gospel messages. Evangelization among the other religious sects cost their lives, notably in these days of fanaticism and religious terrorisms. They gospelise their eccentric or fermented theology, buttressed with all other material enticements and provoking fear by intimidation and serving the wrong dish of irreverential nourishments. As the rightists added and multiplied their religious empire by adding and multiplying their schisms and their adherents, the leftists availed blasphemous ways of jettisoning their faith with paganism and spiritism of all types. There are 2 empires for them, one basing in Rome, and the other one in England. Their churches are the cosmetic products of renaissance and colonialism; they expanded their converts by virtue of their power and material wealth; they didn’t take heed of the faith of the early Fathers. Notwithstanding, the Bible can be interpreted in their mental level; this theology of convenience is the root cause of numberless cosmetic denominations that has the ability of dynamiting the faith of the early church.

CROSSBREED THEOLOGY:
The crossbreed theology that paganized the Christian spirituality converted us as the followers of Lucifer who challenged God on the basis of his beauty and pride. The colonial powers that commingled with the deities of several religions reformed the values and teachings of the church by plundering wealth, the playground of Satan, from the 4 corners of the world. The transformation of vocational theology to rational, radical and militant theology confirmed the landing of the abysmal powers in all the theological institutions of the world. Materialism that uprooted the values and faith from the various venues of the Body of Christ is nothing but the intrusion of Satan by cladding himself as the angel of light (2.Cor.11: 14), making the church as a platform for the abomination of desolation. That day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and man of lawlessness is revealed, son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God (2.thess.2: 3-4; Dan.11: 37-39). Pandemonium is the order of any church of today; pity that the church has become a synonym of sub-terrestrial culture, the first sign of the same is the casualty of love from every arena of parish life.

EMOTIONAL SPIRITUALITY:
The replacement of devotional worship by emotional exuberance, particularly in the main stream churches, is corroding the rock bottom of Christian spirituality; it is a carbon copy of pop music and pop culture, derived from the lose worshipping style of rightist churches that give guarantee of salvation to all who are participants of the common commotion. This is not human bomb but spiritual bomb, immolation of spiritist man that offers ready-made salvation. Even st. Paul who evolved himself to be in par with the other apostles didn’t dare claiming that he got it, but is only longing to reach to the shores of salvation. Not that I have obtained this....I do not consider that I have made it my own....I press on towards the goal for the prize of the upward call of God...(Phi.3: 12-14). For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you with tears, live as the enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is the belly...earthly things (Phi.3: 18-19). Salvation is a process that culminates only on the day of the Last Judgement. Emotional worship and spirituality is fake that aborts the spirit of man prematurely.

The emotional spirituality, which guarantees earthly and spiritual salvation, is a volcano that contains the ashes of our false piety and unrighteousness. This is the reason for st.paul to say, “ If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed” (Phi.1: 8). The complacency of salvation that confines within our self-righteousness is the torpedo of our own premature salvation. Boasting that everybody comes under the lineage of ‘a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, and God’s own people’ (1.Pet.2: 9) by our banal and stereotyped life is only an explosive of our embryonic stage of deliverance. The politics of money and free life drove us to this level of suicidal salvation. Then again he consoles himself, “ Only that in every way, whether in pretence or truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in that I rejoice” (Phi.1: 18). This spirit of doom that runs by false pretence haunts both the leftist and rightist churches. Such people pretend that they are the only saved ones. We can realize their shallowness by their head weight and parochial behaviour. Some cultic churches move only with their own flock, all others are mere wanton flies to them, at the same time they call a spade a spade within themselves against the insiders and hate all other outsiders.

The claim of the centrist churches that they do keep the early faith may be true only in the mode of worship, but no spiritual code of lifestyle. The influence of the rightist and leftist churches, the 5 foolish virgins, upon them is so much ingrained that nothing can cleanse their impurities so acquired. Such detrimental influences, coupled with the animal magnetism generated within the centrist churches these days will evaporate all Godliness that they imbibe from the chaste faith of the Fathers. One has to experience the dogfight that takes place between the clergy and laity; laity against laity and clergy against clergy, despite it is everywhere wherever the human animals congregate. Power and money politics is everything and everywhere. The five wise virgins who took the flasks of oil, the apostolic faith, also ‘slumbered and slept’ (Mt.25: 5) before the Groom’s arrival. No church, therefore, is immune from the slumber of sins at the close of the age (Lk.18: 8).

The high tech life of the high tech age that guarantees high tech salvation is the religion of the age. There is no church on earth that is not molested by such charismatic hysteria of the age of the delusions of unrighteousness and falsehood. The cosmetic salvation that we bequeath is from the dark angels, who come in sheep’s clothing. This mask is the one that fell from the mantle of Lucifer who rebelled against God due to his pride. The money and wealth that we bundled by technology is the root cause for the earning of pride and cosmetic mask of salvation, whereas, seemingly, the 5 wise virgins may be selected on a universal scale by recognizing the fact that there are great and small in the Kingdom of Heaven. The apish modern man dug his own grave in the bottomless Pit that has been traveling with us from the time of our creation (Mt.25: 41-46).

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ARTICLE 3


HISTORY AND GROWTH OF CHRISTIAN EDUCATION
IN EARLY CENTURIES-SERIES 1


By DR. RAJAN MATHEW B.E., M.E., Ph.D., Th.D



INTRODUCTION

Christianity and associated Christian Education commenced with Jesus of Nazareth. This work is a humble attempt to overview the history and methods of Christian Education during the public mission of Savior Jesus, Apostolic age, Sub-Apostolic era and the early period of the Christian Church while it was under severe hostilities; all over a span of almost 300 years, till the church was finally given legal status and came out of persecution. Considering the different periods of the Christian Mission history, it can be considered that it covers two very important early periods; First Period: The Life of Christ, and the apostolic church, from the Incarnation to the death of St. John. [A.D. 1-100]; Second Period: Christianity under persecution in the Roman Empire, from the death of St. John to Constantine, the first Christian emperor. [A.D. 100-311]. This will also peep through its background settings, the origin of the Church, development of early educational literatures, the outbursts of persecution that threatened to wipe out the infantile movement and the glimpses of martyrs who gave their lives rather than surrendering their faith.

Christianity traversed through stormy and unpredictable early centuries and these were the most incredible stories in any recorded human history. Early Christians congregated at private residences to worship, pray, and to conceal themselves from the opponents for fear of their lives. Evidence of actual church buildings being erected was seen only after mid 200s. In spite of all these hardships, the believers were bestowed with the providence of God and the presence of the Holy Spirit was the only secret for their survival and growth.

The entire New Testament may rightly be considered as an instrument for divine teaching. From the very first moment Jesus started His public ministry, He was known as a teacher and many called Him as Rabbi. Josephus, a secular contemporary of Christ describe Jesus as a 'Wise Man' and a teacher: "Now, there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure." The message of Jesus was confined to a small group of poor and less educated Jewish people in Palestine. He did not have any organized educational set up, but He trained them with his association for a short period of His public ministry to become the messengers of His Words. On conclusion of His ministry, He commanded his disciples to teach all the nations, what He had taught them. His disciples very diligently carried out this command of Jesus Christ. This divine lesson given to them was the advent of a new spirit and a new power in the world.

After the ascension of Jesus, the apostles became the backbone of the Church. Nearly every Christian tradition today looks to the apostles as the ones to whom the original treasury of the faith was entrusted. The chosen Apostles of Jesus and the early stage followers of Jesus did not see themselves as forming neither any new religion nor a breakaway group from Judaism. So in the first few years after Jesus left them, his followers continued within the Jewish community. They were active in synagogue, testifying to their fellow Jews that Jesus is Messiah and the Savoir whom they were looking for a large span of time. Though Apostle Paul was not one of the original twelve apostles of Jesus, he was certainly the greatest missionary and teacher for Christ, for all the ages. Paul's pattern of proselytization was to preach in the synagogues, streets, marketplaces, the Areopagus, Mars Hills, and anywhere he could gain a hearing. Paul helped the church to understand the universality of the faith better than any other and inculcated the understanding among the followers of Christ that they were a community distinct from Judaism. The early centuries Church Fathers who were the first fruits of the apostolic ministry were filling up the second century of Christian Education era. They found strength in their conviction to encounter the later times of persecution and martyrdom. Also Christianity had to deal with challenges from heretics. The writings of these Church fathers were passed on us as the earliest rejoinder of newly converted sects in testimony of Jesus Christ. The history of Christian education became an integral part of the development and the growth of the church and vice versa.

The Roman Empire was the largest empire ever known to Western antiquity. It included all of the nations adjacent to the Mediterranean Sea, all of Austria and Switzerland, part of the Netherlands, all of Belgium, segment of West Germany, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, England, large portion of Czechoslovakia, Wales and Southern Scotland. Communities of Jews were scattered throughout the Empire. Eusebius, the first major historian of the Church, reports that Jews continually harassed Christians in Jerusalem, and many left Jerusalem to too far provinces of the empire. A major pace in this transition took place out of the events associated with the Jewish revolt against the Romans in 66 A.D. The great mission of Apostles, especially that of St. Paul, had created a community and a family beyond any boundaries. They were welcomed by the brethren believers from anywhere in the empire without any reservation of language, cast or creed. A spiritual unity of diverse peoples paved the way for an intimate fellowship or community.

The early Christians had no theological set up for the Christian Education as the modern Church is enjoying. One of the major tasks of the newly converted believers was to sustain in their own faith and to upkeep their children in that faith. That was an era of heroism for survival and they did not have any time for literature or any theological drills. Becoming a Christian in the early church was not a private act, even though it was a personal decision. To become a Christian meant becoming part of a community that would regularly meet in places. From first generation, Christianity had roots in not one but two literate cultures, the Jewish and the Greek. Both valued learning and teaching, and both had at their hearts evolving systems of thought about gods. The Greek had Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Stoics and Epicureans; the Jews from a similar period onward had Ezra, Ecclesiastes, Sirach and writer of Wisdom of Solomon. A history of Christian education aptly commences with the Hebrews. Many of the teachings of early Christianity had parallels in the other religions of the day, but something absolutely unique to Christianity was the person of Christ. To the early Christians, Jesus Christ was more than a doctrine. He was still as alive among them, always available, ready to hear their prayers and give them courage and strength at needy times.

The literatures of early Church were of supreme value authored by inspired writers. The authors were not wiser than any contemporary litterateurs. But it always echoed as the utterances of Holy Spirit. The four evangelists have handed over the Gospels, which are monumental power of the teachings of Christ. The educational message that the Christians spread was very complex and profound. The best minds of the church in the early centuries worked hard to show how the Gospel caught up the deepest and best from respected philosophers of previous ages, but they also argued that the Gospel went far beyond these philosophers to show the God who had revealed himself.

[TO BE CONTINUED FROM THE NEXT ISSUE]

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FEATURE


BASALIOS PAULOSE - FIRST CATHOLICOSE [1912-1914]

THOSE WHO LED US
H.H. BASALIOS PAULOSE
FIRST CATHOLICOSE

The first Catholicos of Malankara Orthodox Church, H.H. Basalios Paulose was born on January 19, 1836 at Vettithara village near Kolenchery to the couple Mariamma and Kurien of the Murimattom family. As per the customs of the village that time, Paulose was sent to the local village school for the formal education of reading and writing. Paulose was very studious and his wisdom and inquisitiveness had won him affection from all around. On being very impressed by the qualities of their son, Parents of Paulose, wished to ordain him as a priest. Exactly at the same time, young Paulose decided in his heart to dedicate himself for the Lord. Very shortly, his uncle Fr. Joseph was appointed as the Vicar of the Kottoor Church. Paulose and his parents also moved to Kottoor along with Fr.Joseph. After his formal education, Paulose started his education in Syriac. From the very childhood, Paulose followed a much disciplined life which was enriched with prayer, fasting, Bible reading, Church worship etc. With the enthusiasm derived from the stories of the saints narrated by his mother, he started reading the biographies of many traditional saints and Church fathers. This has inspired him more to lead a chastise life and dedicate himself for the Service of God. As per the desire of his parents, especially that of his uncle Fr. Joseph, Paulose was blessed with the order of a deacon at the tender age of seven, in 1843, by Cheppatt Mar Dynasios. Dn. Paulose started to live in Pampakkuda Dayara with Konatt Joseph Malpan and continued the study of Syriac. Though his parents wished him to become a married priest, Dn. Paulos had choosen to lead an unmarried life. Later, Dn. Paulose got his theological training from Yuyakim Mar Coorilos of Syria while the Metropolitan was in Malankara. Mar Coorilos initiated to ordain him into the priestly order. At the age of sixteen years Dn. Paulos was ordained as a priest in 1852 by Cheppatt Mar Dynasios. Fr. Paulose had consecrated his first Holy Qurbana at his home parish at Kolenchery. Known as Muriamattom Paulose Kathanar, further he was appointed as vicar of the Kolencherry parish and later as the Secretary of Mar Coorilos.

After one year of his ordination as priest, Fr.Paulose lost his father and his uncle Fr. Joseph and all the burden of his family came to his shoulder along with the heavy responsibility of his parish at a very young age of seventeen. Considering his proficiency in Syriac Yuyakim Mar Coorilos, the then patriarchal delegate of the Holy See of Antioch, extended him intensive training and elevated Fr.Paulose as a Malpan and entrusted him for the training of deacons. As a trustworthy accomplice, Malpan Fr.Paulose traveled extensively with Mar Coorilos and visited many Churches in Malankara. Further he was appointed as the Vicar of the Kottoor Church so that he could pay some attention for his family matters also as he was responsible for the same in absence of his father and uncle.

During the visit of Patriarch Mar Peter III to Malankara, he came to know about this Syriac Guru and persuaded him to be ordained as a Bishop. Though Malapan Fr. Pauloses told excuses for his family problems, Patriarch could eventually convince him of the call of God for His Episcopate. On his consent, Patriarch himself elevated Murimattom Paulose Kathanar as a Ramban. In 1877 Patriarch Peter III ordained Paulose Ramban as Bishop with the title as Ivanios at KunnamKulangara Chiralayam Church. Paulose Kathanar was one of the six Metropolitan consecrated by the Patriarch Mar Peter III, in 1876. The newly consecrated Paulose Mar Ivanios was given the charge of Kandanad diocese.

As a diocesan Metropolitan, Mar Ivanios had established fifteen more churches along with the existed twenty one Churches. In the absence of a diocesan center for his diocese, Paulose Mar Ivanios had to live at different Churches at Kolencherry, Kadamattom, Piravam, Vadakara etc. He had constructed many Church buildings and many old worshipping places were renovated. He was very strict in his ascetic way of life and never compromised for any taboos or erratic traditions in the Church. As an example there was an erratic tradition of liquor offerings, prevailed for many years at Kolencherry and Kadamattom Churches. Mar Ivanious fought rigorously to eradiate this rotten tradition in the Church, though it was age old and very popular among the masses.

During 1912, Patriarch announced his plan of action in a circular, which envisaged consecration of Catholicose and few Metropolitans for Malankara. In due solemnity he revived and established the Catholicate in Malankara during this year. On Sunday, 17 th September 1912, Patriarch Moran Mar Abdul Messiah assisted by Malankara Metropolitan Vattasseril Geevarghese Mar Dionysius and the Metropolitan Mar Gregorios Kallacheril (who became the third Catholicos) consecrated Murimattoth Paulos Mar Ivanios as the Catholicos with the title of Moran Mar Basalios Paulos, at St. Mary's Church Niranam. He continued to administer the Kandanad diocese as before. The large enthusiastic crowd of devotees greeted their first ever Catholicos with shouts of joy pronouncing him as worthy and eligible. This was an epoch making event in the history of Malankara Church. Abdul Messiah Patriarch of Syrian Church has written about the elevation of Paulose Mar Ivanios as Catholicos, "Worthy to the call, Mar Paulose Ivanios was declared and elevated as Catholicos. Just as the disciples were bestowed by our Lord, Jesus Christ, he was also bestowed authority by Holy Spirit to serve the Church and to dispense the spiritual gifts necessary to exercise the prerogatives of the Church...."

Catholicos Basalios Paulose, along with the Patriarch Abdul Messiah consecrated two Metroplolitans viz Kandanadu Karot Yuachim Mar Ivanios and Vakathanam Kaaruchira Geevarghese Mar Philoxenos on February 7, 1913. The most revered prelate of Malankara could not, however, live long. He was the Catholiose till his last breath in 1914 and joined His flock.

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FEATURE


METROPOLITAN ABRAHAM MARTHOMA [1880-1947]: PART 1

By PROF. DR. ZAC VARGHESE & MATHEW KALLUMPRAM

THOSE WHO LED US
ABRAHAM MARTHOMA

Metropolitan Abraham Mar Thoma was consecrated in the wake of the death of Metropolitan Titus II in July 1944, and his reign as the Metropolitan of the Church lasted only a little over three years. But, he had served as Suffragan Metropolitan to his predecessor for twenty-seven years from 1917 onwards. Thus over a period of thirty years (1917-1947) as bishop of the Church, he built an unsurpassable reputation for himself and for Church. Many people all over the world identified Mar Thoma Church as Abraham Mar Thomas' Church. Indian Christians, while traveling abroad, were asked often if they belonged to Abraham Mar Thomas' Church. So intimately was his reputation entwined with the identity of the Church. He was a living legend; people who ment him and knew him still remember him with reverential affection. This writer has a special reason to remember him affectionately, but more of it later.

Abraham Mar Thoma was born on 30 October 1880 to Ninan and Mariamma. His mother belonged to the Karicatt house of the Shankaramangaleth family in Eraviparoor. Ninan hailed from Marettu of Kallupara, a rich Jacobite family. He was given the name Kochavarachan (Abraham). His father died very early in his childhood and the young widowed mother returned to her brother's house at Eraviparoor with Kochavarachan and two of his elder sisters. His mother's family was Mar Thomites and, as a result, Kochavarachan took religious instructions according the Mar Thoma rites. He used to acknowledge the influence of his mother on his upbringing as a devout disciple of Jesus Christ. His mother's spiritual guidance was the prime reason for his commitment to Christ. He had his early education at Tiruvalla and Kottayam. When he was a student he used to attend the evangelical meetings conducted by Rev. Walker, an Anglican Missionary. During his student days at Kottayam, he shared his Christian experiences with other students and spent time with them in prayers. In later years, reflecting on his life at the CMS College in Kottayam he said, "Every nook and corner of this dear old college chapel is sacred to me." From Kottayam he went to Trichinapally and from there to Madras Christian College to complete his universality education. He continued missionary work and influenced many of his fellow students during his college days.

On 30 April 1911, Titus II ordained Him as Deacon N.M. Abraham at Tiruvalla. This was the first time a university graduate entered the ordained ministry of the Church. He was sent to the United States for higher studies in July 1912. He spent time in the United States, Canada and England and after obtaining M.A. and D.D. qualifications he returned to India in November 1914. He was ordained a priest of the Marthoma Church on December 1915 at Eraviparoor Mar Thoma Church. It was at this very Church, many years earlier, on an early Sunday morning that he had surrendered his life to Jesus Christ. He was then appointed as a parish priest at Mar Thoma Church at Kayamkulam. Metropolitan Titus II consecrated him a Bishop of the Mar Thoma Church on 27 December 1917 in the presence of Thozhiyur Metropolitan Mar Kurilose and Anglican Bishop Dr. Gill. Thus, at the age of thirty seven, a child born as Kochavarachan to a Jacobite family became Abraham Marthoma, the Suffragan Metropolitan of the Mar Thoma Church and, as we shall see later, he turned out to be God's precious gift to the Mar Thoma Church.

Kochavarachan had to face very many problems because of his commitment to the Mar Thoma faith. His paternal grandfather was a very staunch Jacobite and he disinherited him because of Kochavarachan's refusal to return to the Jacobite fold. He felt at ease with doctrines and liturgy of the Marthoma Church and was prepared to give up everything including his inheritance to follow a call, a vision, and a personal commitment to his saviour. This part of his life can be summarized through a personal testimony that he gave at a youth league meeting at Trivandrum in 1929. He quoted the prophecy of Joel as Peter did on the day on the Pentecost: "I will pour out upon everyone a portion of my spirit; and your sons and daughters shall prophecy; your young men shall see vision, and your old men shall dream dreams"; (Acts 2:17; Joel 2:28). The following is part of his talk.

"My dear young friends, this afternoon, I would like to tell to you some of my personal experiences. It is difficult to speak freely about one's personal experiences. Nevertheless, one should not hide experiences that can be of use to others. Moreover, my spiritual experiences, divine guidance and blessings belong to Malankara Mar Thoma Church. You may think that I am a very intelligent and scholarly guy because of my M.A. and D.D. qualifications. But let me confess that I was not a clever student at all: I failed my matriculation and intermediate examinations. My friends used to say; "no wonder Avarachan fails in his examinations, he uses all his time for speaking engagements." I was interested in evangelical work and prayer meetings when I was a student and became organizing secretary of various religious associations. I had a feeling from my childhood that God has chosen me for His work from my mother's womb. When I was asked in my Sunday school who I would like to be, I had no hesitation in saying that like to be an 'Upadeshi (preacher)'. It was my sole ambition in childhood.

I do not know the exact occasion or the circumstances of my conversion to a spirituality oriented life. However I do remember making a specific commitment to revival meeting conducted by Walker missionary at Tholassery when I was a student at Government English School at Tiruvalla. I have repeated these pledges when I was studying at Madras and staying at the Fen’s Hostel. However, at an earlier occasion, when I was preparing to go to Madras for my studies and facing certain financial difficulties, I had an encounter with Jesus Christ, this is what I want to tell you today.

You may ask whether I have seen Jesus Christ; yes, I have, but not in an ordinary way, I have seen Jesus in a way far better than seeing with external eyes. I spoke to him; he told me certain things very clearly. I could never ever forget this amazing encounter with Jesus. I was born in a Jacobite family of Kallupara. My father died when I was a child; therefore, I grew up in my maternal family house, Karikattu, at Eraviparoor. My mother's family strongly believed in the reformation principles of Abraham Malpan. Therefore, I grew up in a very spiritually enlightened family environment. My uncle took care of my education. He never hesitated to encourage me in educational pursuits. However, I was aware of the financial burden that my immediate family and I were placing upon him.

When I was preparing myself to go to Madras for my studies, fully realising my uncle's burdens, I decided to approach my peternal grantfather for some financial help. He was a very rich man and I thought that I had a birthright to his wealth; but he was not inclined to help in any way. Therefore, I went to his house at Kallupara and explained my predicament and asked for some assistance for my studies at Madras. He showed no interest whatsoever in my inclinations and interests because of my religious affiliations to the Mar Thoma Church. I was hear-broken, and I left my grandfather's house very early on that Sunday morning. I walked all the way from Kallupara to Eraviparoor Church dejected and wondering what to do next. After some time, I found myself near Eraviparoor Church and I decided to go in and pray. I stayed there for quite some time, and prayed with a very heavy heart. I felt like Jacob at Bethel. Then I had a wonderful vision. I opened my heart and mind to my God and I spoke to him with tears pouring out on my cheeks. Then I became silent for a while in the presence of my Lord. Then God spoke to me, 'Abraham, you are a good boy; you have a certain degree of devotion and you have an interest in my affairs. Therefore, I will be interested in your answers to these questions. Do you believe that I am sufficient for all your needs? Instead of departing on your grandfather and uncle, are you prepared to depend totally on me? Are you prepared to go forward and believe in my total sufficiency? Even if you lose financial support from your uncle and others, are you prepared to trust in my sufficiency? Are you prepared to trust me Abraham?" I started to panic, but worked in my mind various ways and means of traveling to Madras and finding money for paying college fees and my stay there. My Lord kept pressing me for the answer. After this struggle, I made a firm decision and then I prayed to my God in these words, "My dear Jesus, I believe that you are sufficient for me in everything." Thus at that moment I dedicated myself to him.

When I reached home that morning, a local trader was waiting there to give me just enough money for my train fare to Madras. After that morning of self-surrender in the Church, all my difficulties disappeared somehow, and I felt invigorated with a new life and a new light. God gave me further instructions for leading a useful life. He asked me spend time regularly very early in the morning for studying the Bible and praying. I was fond of my morning sleep and therefore I told him it would be difficult to get up in the morning. But Gold told me that He would wake me up at correct time. He did so correctly the next morning and I have been able to maintain that spiritual discipline ever since. He told me yet another thing. "You just crossed the threshold of your childhood, now you are a young man with certain sexual feelings, inclinations, and emotions. You should be very careful with your dealings with and feeling for women. You should never take any unnecessary freedom with them whether they are strangers or relatives. You should respect older women as your mother and love younger ones as your sisters. Do not take any excessive freedom with anyone. I remembered the verse in Job (Job 31:1") "I have made a covenant with my eyes; why then should I look upon a young woman?" I decided to obey my Lord on His instructions. I did not know that time that I would be called to become a bishop; however that decision helped me in my celibate life and ministry. Young people should be careful in avoiding unhealthy and impure thoughts. You should remember that Satan uses lazy man's hands as his weapons. You should not waste your time; you should always be engaged in some useful activities. I have disciplined myself in this way. I remain active until I get tired and ready for bed. With disciplined effort one can avoid many difficult situations. Young people should give special attention to develop healthy and blameless relationship with men and women. Your wisdom and godly devotion should guide you in this endeavor. In the absence of such discipline people may destroy their potentials. God also instructed me to prepare a schedule for my prayer life. Therefore, I have a special routine for intercessory prayers. I pray for specific people, places, programmes and projects on different days of the week.

I can tell you with absolute confidence that in all these years of my life, God's grace has been sufficient for me. I have no hesitation in repeating after St.Paul, "Thy grace is sufficient for me." Since then I have traveled the length and breadth of India, I have traveled through foreign lands and through deserts and forests; under all those varied circumstances my Lord was more than sufficient for my needs. I had great joy in telling you today of my recollections. of that encounter with God on an early Sunday morning in a Church at Eraviparoor. It was my Bethel; I wish all of you similar personal encounters with God in your lives. I related my experiences to you with the hope that it would be of help in your spiritual journey. I would be grateful if it were to beome helpful in your journey as well. God bless you and prepare you for His glorious service."

He used these intimate personal testimonies in introducing Jesus Christ to young people and to encourage and prepare them for Christian service and evangelical work. His personal testimonies became a paradigm for evangelical ministry in Kerala. This has become part and parcel of life in parishes. Lay people used to gather in houses on a regular basis and people used to gather in houses on a regular basis and people then sang a few hymns, read bible portions and then gave moving testimonies of their faith in Christ. Alexander Mar Thoma in later years also encouraged this tradition though the establishment of Edavaka Mission.' He had three wishes as a young man:

  1. He wanted to be a preacher and God blessed him to be a very fruitful missionary bishop.

  2. He wanted to go across seas and he traveled abroad for his education to the United States, Canada and England. He also visited the Holy Land.

  3. He wanted to study and earn higher university degrees like his paternal uncle; and God helped him to acquire scholarship and higher degrees in prestigious universities in the West. His principal at Wycliffe College, Toronto, Canon Omera, had this to say about Abraham Mar Thoma when he visited Kerala: "Deacon Abraham was the most distinguished and the greatest of our students who were fortunate to undergo studies at Wyliffe College. I think that the land that is lucky to be touched by the feet of this saintly person is a Holy Land; your land is holy because Abraham is holy."

[TO BE CONTINUED IN THE NEXT ISSUE]

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POEM


THE LONG GAP

By MRS. AJU THARIAN - NEW JERSY

I always wonder why there is a Gap
Between one's own parents and Inlaws
Aren't they also like one's own.
Didn't they create your partner?
Just like how your parents suffered in your birth.
So did your partners parents.
They grew their child with
Good Education, Food & Clothing
To become the one She is now.
Then why is there a Gap?
Just like the Delware Water Gap.
Is this what people in the past only thought?
Or are there people who still think like this?
Hope the educated people slightly feel different.
Narrow mindedness in people,
Leads to such thoughts.
Everybody is equal in God's sight.
Whether Rich or Poor; Thin or Fat
God created human beings,
So does he treasure every being
Give respect then only will you get respect.
Try to consider every one equal.
O Lord, I really wonder
If there be a time -
When there is no Gap
Between parents and Inlaws
Pray God Almighty,
To narrow the Gap
Surely, there might be a time When
the Gap narrows and completely disappears.
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