CHRISTIAN NEWS MAGAZINE FOR KERALA MALAYALEE CHRISTIANS FROM INDIA AROUND THE WORLD
DECEMBER 2004 ARCHIVE
VOL:3ISSUE 12
DEVOTIONAL MESSAGE


RE-ESTABLISH GODLY LOVE IN OUR DAILY LIFE

By RT. REV. DR. GEEVARGESE MAR THEODOSIUS EPISCOPA
Diocesan Metropolitan of Trivandrum - Quilon Diocese, Marthoma Church



RT. REV. DR. GEEVARGESE
MAR
THEODOSIUS EPISCOPA

Then said he to the multitude that came forth to be baptized of him, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. And the people asked him, saying, What shall we do then? He answereth and saith unto them, He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise. Then came also publicans to be baptized, and said unto him, Master, what shall we do? And he said unto them, Exact no more than that which is appointed you. And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, And what shall we do? And he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse [any] falsely; and be content with your wages. (Luke 3:7-14)

This part of the scripture is the voice of the one crying in the wilderness. John was the man sent by God. Among those born of women, there is none greater than John the Baptist. He was the one sent to prepare the way of the Lord, and make His paths straight. John received full commission from God to make way for the acceptance of the gospel in the hearts of the people so that Christ might be welcome to them. It is the great desire of God, for all the ages, that in the heart of every man, there should originate the experience of repentance. Our commission also includes recognizing the purpose of God about us, while He reveals Himself to us. John commences his mission with the prophetic message to make straight a highway in the desert for our God. [Isaiah 40:3-5] The prophet indicated that all the obstacles and crisis that were hindering and discouraging in the way to heaven should be removed. Rough ways shall be made smooth, the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places made plain. This message is for all the ages and for all the places. We perceive John as a prophet who acts for the realization of the great salvation fully discovered for the entire creation of God.

Our Lord Jesus Christ commenced his public mission exhorting to repent and believe in the Gospel. [Mark 1:15] To enter into the Gospel given to the entire mankind, it is a requisite that we should have repentance of our sin and cast away from us all our transgressions for gracious discharge from the guilt of sin. There is no way of fleeing from the wrath to come, but by repentance. The preparation for making our life rooted in the Gospel is to be done through repentance and transformation.

John preached baptism introducing a new dispensation of repentance for the remission of sin. The general warnings and exhortations which John gave to Pharisees and Sadducees who were submitted to his baptism, by addressing them as the 'brood of Vipers’, was not to disperse them or set them back on their heels, but to lead them to share the mind of God for repentance and to bear fruit in keeping with repentance. He derided the scribes, Pharisees and Sadducees, as the race of mankind of that generation exposed the nature similar to that of Vipers, not only poisoned, but poisonous; hateful to God, hating one another.

How the Godly people become the 'Brood of Vipers'? When they deviate from God's commandments, when they cannot become the light of the world and salt of the earth, or when they pursue behind their selfishness,  people sow death and devastation like a Viper. When man rejoices at his self-satisfaction he becomes the brood of the Viper. One of the most powerful barriers we put up against God’s Word is the belief in our own self-sufficiency. We should contemplate ourself whether the modern church is lessened to a society, which seek for self-satisfaction.

In the Verse 7, Luke refers to a group of people unaware of their state of sin. The people, who love to live in their sin are trying to escape, instead of attempting to recognize their state of sin. When man lives in his state of sin with out heeding to the exhortation of God, he get plunged into hopelessness, meaninglessness and solitude of his life.

What man should do at this state? Bible imparts us to accept the exhortation of God. God is the one who had taken human realization through Jesus Christ. So we should be capable to recognize the God who pursued man in his human experience through His incarnation. When the heaven comes to the world, we should not try to run away from the worldly realities. During the crucifixion of Jesus Christ the disciples fled and hid themselves from the scenario. But Lord Jesus urge us to emerge out from our fear and peacelessness.

In all his exhortations John the Baptist asks us: Do you try to flee away from your state of sin?

John vehemently criticized the Jews who were with their ancestral pride of the paternity as the children of Abraham. The paternal traditions and external privileges, which do not lead us to Jesus Christ, are meaningless. Any attempt to seek God based upon their family tree meets with the God’s condemnation. Church should have the lively experience of Jesus Christ, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob walking through the villages of Galilee. We need not have any doubt of response to our prayers arising out of our broken heart even outside the Church hall. We need a strong desire to recognize and receive this God who is compassionate to us. We cannot confine the God within our inner hand. Instead, we should be confined to the inner hand of God.

Fruits worthy of repentance:
John the Baptist goes on to say: Today you are fruitless, but you should become fruitful; fruits in keeping with repentance. In our concurrent society, which had created barricades by religious rituals, we must produce the fruits of repentance. Religion has reduced now as a commodity used by the cloud of believers. It is imprudent to claim a state of perfection in religion itself. Splendor or greatness are not the requisites of the believers but it should be the craving for the spiritual word from God. Religious fundamentalists love power over selfishness. The mistake what the man does is that he tries to deviate from the fundamental truth of God. Burning Graham Steins is not religion. On the contrary, the admiration of love shown to the leapers is the ethics.

We take part in many charity works. However, our social dealings and day-to-day transactions should be more justified and righteous. Responding in faith to the will of God is real repentance and coming back to God. Godly people turn to God in order to turn the entire world to the God. John is exhorting the entire mankind of all ages to come back to the way of God.

We should not waste our God given time. Our God given time is the gift rendered to us to live in communion with God. God had come to this world seeking the people who are conscious of their sin. God is not demanding a partial repentance but He look for a full obedience and surrender of our self.

A real repentance is the renunciation of our sinly nature in totality, revealed by our spiritual convictions. The temptation for many Christians is to embrace Jesus to their life without tearing off their sinly nature. With out the experience of repentance, a believer cannot act earnestly in their spiritual life. Repentance disinfects the flesh, and the assurance of forgiveness cleanses the wound. A tree is known by its fruits. In many fields of action, believers are with out giving proper fruits. In dealing with the problems in the agricultural field, social and religious discriminations, equality and justice to Dalits, treatment of dreadful diseases, attitude towards the environmental deteriorations etc. etc., the believing community is standing bewildered without producing proper fruits.

True penitent should have acceptance of his sin and willingness for the correction as basic characteristic factors. The trivial necessity of present is that the people who had gone away from God due to the Social, religious & cultural reasons should come back to God. The multitude who heard the preaching of John did not go back; but they asked John "what we should do?". Faith should not be limited to our emotions, but it should be exposed to our cultural, social and spiritual zones of our life pattern. To take decisions and to accomplish it considering our vivid situations is the real repentance.

John responds to three types of people. Your life should become the Gospel for the downtrodden. We are living in a time and society where the distance between the rich and poor had grown to a dreadful extent. The cloud of believers should be able to search out and reach the marginalized who are deprived of house, food, cloth and who are unable to marry their daughters etc. etc.

Do we have a vision to see the sorrows of our co-beings? Wants of the poor are not their fate or God's anger, but they are man made. Concern and caring is a divine nature. The presence of God is felt in the society by our caring service and mission. The cloud of believers, who share with Jesus through the Holy Eucharist, should be willing to share our possession with our co-beings.

Secondly, collect no more than what you have been ordered to. Luxuries and splendor are increasing. But do not take anything more than ordered to. Our position, authority or status should not become hindrance or trouble to others. It is a coercion to achieve our self-motivational exercises through our strength and power. We should learn to be content in whatsoever state we are. We should follow the model of Jesus who gave everything to everybody. Jesus tells us; "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord." (St. Luke 4:18-19) Gospel can withstand the contemporary society only through the service out of compassion and love to downtrodden, sick, rejected and all marginalized in the society.

To re-establish the divine love of God in our daily life, is the real meaning and contemplation of the true repentance. Bear fruits in keeping with repentance.

[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

LET US CELEBRATE THE BIRTH OF OUR SAVIOR
By Dr. K.C.NAINAN, ATLANTA, GEORGIA, U.S.A

Every time we celebrate Christmas, Christians are proclaiming and reminding themselves and the world that a savior was born for everyone. That itself is the beginning of preaching, which was the last commission of our Lord. The most important and focal point of Christmas is that we, as Christians, are celebrating the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ and let us do it in its true spirit. Let all believers come together to pray and celebrate Christmas for peace and goodwill in the midst of all people in this world.

Most of the followers of Jesus Christ celebrate the 25th of December as the actual birth date of our Savior, whereas, some orthodox Christians celebrate Christ’s birthday in January. By contrast, there are Protestant denominations that do not celebrate Christmas because they argue that Jesus was not born in December or January. Additionally, they feel it is wrong to celebrate Christmas because they believe it to be a pagan festival. In the Roman Empire, December 25th was the day of the sun god festival. The Roman Church decided to replace this pagan festival with Christmas to celebrate the birth of the Lord. However, the bible does not mention anything about the exact date of Jesus Christ’s birth. In fact, the bible does not provide dates for any celebration of birth, resurrection or ascension of the Lord. One might assume that early Christians were not concerned with these dates or it was not important to celebrate these events with festivities as we do today. Origen, a third century theologian and church father, condemned the Christmas celebration which was slowly introduced by the Roman Church.

According to the Gospel of Luke, on the night of Christ’s birth, the shepherds were keeping watch of their flock in the field (Luke 2:8). In Judea, December and January were part of the winter season and sheep were kept inside sheep pens. That would mean, the Lord was born in a season when sheep were usually kept outside in the open field, which was most probably late Spring, Summer or even early Fall. There are other convincing arguments to support that Christ was not born in the month of December or January. But for the last 1700 years, most Christians have celebrated the birthday of Jesus in these months even though the exact date, month or season is not known.

There are strong arguments to celebrate the birth of the Savior of mankind. The spirit of Christmas is more important than the accuracy of the date of birth. Do we really need to know the exact date for the celebration of our Savior? What is wrong in celebrating the birthday of the most important person who ever lived? We celebrate our own birthdays. This was the day “the Word became Flesh” and was born into this world. The angels from heaven, the shepherds of the field and the Magi from the East came to worship and celebrate the birth of the Son of God when He became the Son of man.

Every time we celebrate Christmas, Christians are proclaiming and reminding themselves and the world that a savior was born for everyone. That itself is the beginning of preaching, which was the last commission of our Lord. It is an invitation to all non-Christians that a savior was born for all and all may come and visit this ‘Babe in Bethlehem just like the angels, shepherds and kings did’. Of course, now, Christmas is accompanied with Christmas trees, decorations, Santa Claus, etc. This commercialization is criticized by many. They are all peripheral adornments and additions which are not important to the true meaning or spirit of Christmas. The most important and focal point of Christmas is that we, as Christians, are celebrating the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ and let us do it in its true spirit. During the Christmas season, we rejoice by sharing gifts with each other to express our love and friendship for others. Messages of goodwill and peace are sung and proclaimed in congregations all over the world. Families and friends are reunited during this season for friendship and fellowship with each other. We can continue to list benefits that are generated from the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ even though we do not have the exact date of His birth. Let all believers come together to pray and celebrate Christmas for peace and goodwill in the midst of all people in this world. Amen.

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CHRISTMAS MESSAGE


A KING IS BORN

By Fr. K.K. JOHN PHILADELPHIA

“Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? ” Mat 2:2

Arrival of Magi, the wise men, is found only in Mathew. They came from the East, v1. No one knows the exact place of their origin but what popularly believed is that they were from Persia. Herodotus says that Magi were priest-tribe from Medes, part of Persia. They were holy men of wisdom. They were skilled in philosophy, medicine and science and sought after truth. Ancient India was famous for astronomy. Some people think that one of the wise men was from Kerala, India. Prof M.Y.Yohannan said that Viswamithra Maharshi was one of the wise men. Piravom native Christians trace Magi for their village and parish names (Church of Three Kings) that one wise man after worshipping Jesus returned and settled there! These are merely fictitious stories.

We know nothing but many speculations of the kind of star they saw. Astronomers unanimously suggest that a peculiar brilliant phenomenon occurred in the constellation of Pisces due to conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter about 7 B.C. causing a comet or shooting star that remained according to some account from 6 B.C to 2 B.C. The Magi were expert astronomers who believed in astrology. Like all primitive religions they studied changes in the sky and put their faith in the influence of stars on human lives. The brilliance they saw in the sky indicated entry of a King into the world. This was within the Messianic expectation that, two years before the birth of Messiah there would appear a star in the east, Num 24:17. There was a strange feeling of unusual happening among most nations at that time. Historians Suetonius, Tacitus and Josephus mention the widespread notion that a Jews would dominate the earth. Around the time of Jesus’ birth Roman emperor Augustus was hailed as savior of the world.

King means, “counsel” (Aramaic), “possess” (Arabic) and later it meant, ruler. Magi might not have imagined of a king in spiritual sense. King as representing god was very old concept. Plato considered king as benefactor and his “will” as the law. Alexander and Caesars were thought as ‘divine-king.’ In Israel, Yahweh is eternal king, Ps 10:16, 1Sam 8:7. God anoints a king to rule in His behalf. God directed Samuel to anoint Saul and David as kings, 2Sam 2:4. God promised an eternal throne to David, 2Sam 7:16, pointing to Messianic perspective. David’s dynasty fell after about 400 years but the Messianic hope prevailed. The Magi’s declaration of a king heralds the Messianic hope fulfillment of which eventually took place in Mt 21:5. Jesus started his earthly ministry proclaiming ‘kingdom of God is at hand,’ Mk 1:15. But a kingdom of the other world was beyond the scope of ordinary people and disciples. Pharisees alleged against Jesus that he said he was king, which indirectly meant a political threat to Pilate. Pilate wanting to ascertain the fact asked Jesus if He were the king of Jews. Jesus replied affirmatively, Mt 27:11. Pilate inquired what is truth but never had patience to hear Jesus. Is Christian world better than Pilate? They lost patience to know truth, lost courage to stand up for truth and have no goodwill to follow truth. In our own times men passed many laws against best interest of mankind. Some men are in relentless pursuit to suppress, annihilate and avoid truth but its resiliency would never quench. In 1644 the British Parliament outlawed Christmas (Yuletide) and forced to keep shops and market open. But it did not last. Resistance and bloodshed forced the Parliament to recant.

Jesus said, “I am the way the truth and life, no one comes to the Father except through Me,” Jn 14:6. But today so-called intellectuals and theologians claim they are pluralists and that there are many ways, all the ways lead to one place, and so one can choose and live the way one wants, etc. More than half of theology professors profess themselves as atheists! In other words they are saying that Jesus was a liar and the recorded word of God is a bundle of lies. One cease to exist as Christian the moment he/she discredits what the Gospel very clearly says. They dishonor the Bible, misinterpret it and indulge in wicked way of life, which is affront to the truth. When the word of God so directly and unambiguously defines what is evil and abomination and exhorts to flee away from immoralities, the so-called Christians, priests and bishops, indulge in the most immoral, unnatural, shameful and abhorrent sin on a daily basis, read Lev 18:22, 20:13, Rom 1:27. They will not inherit the kingdom of God, Gal 5:19-21, 1C 6:9. Instead of fighting against, they justify and ordain abominable sinners as priests and bishops. Wickedness has outgrown to such magnitude that religion, politics, judiciary, media and education has miserably succumbed to it. Holy God does not compromise with sin and true to His word brought deadly pestilence; we call it “aids.” Millions have already died many millions suffer and yet no one turns away from the wicked way of life and that is what puzzles me most. Satan was never before in outright defiance and direct war with God and His people as now. Satan cajoled to his side all the affluent, the artist, the educator, the religionist, the philosopher, the media and the politician. Hans Frank, top Nazi realized too late that he was on the wrong way. Following Nuremberg trial he went to gallows. His last words were, he wished to warn others, “God has passed sentence on Hitler. He has passed it on him and his system, which we served in a state of mind hostile to God. Not even one step, the way without God, the road from Christ, and in the final outcome the road of political stupidity, of disaster and death.” Will our generation heed to this warning seriously?

Concerning Magi there is error in their unraveling the riddle of star or at least the way it is written. They never comprehend that this king is the fulfillment of many prophesies. 750 years ago Isaiah saw in Him, “Prince of Peace and wonderful counselor,” Is 9:6. The star suggested possible birth of a king not with particular reference to a nation or tribe. But the Magi assumed that the king might be of Jews. Though born as a Jew, He is not the king of Jews only but of the whole mankind. Magi’s assumption is partly answered and partly corrected when Jesus said His kingship is not of this world. He is the king of truth and has come to bear witness to truth and everyone who is of truth hears Him, Jn 18:36-37. Magi could not see the star that guided them as they reached Jerusalem. Their own evaluation probably caused a temporary glitch. This led to another blight point in the search. They expected the king in a palace. But these things did not take place perchance. There was a divine purpose behind. Probably God wanted Herod to mend his ways, for he was utterly cruel, reminding that God is involved in the affairs of His creation but it led to harden his heart and order infanticide. God works in mysterious ways to protect the chosen ones. Best intention of all these must be to conceal the identity of infant Jesus. Ignatius Noorono of Antioch said, “Three mysteries, the virginity of Mary, her giving birth and the death of the Lord, were hidden from the prince of this world,” Letter to Ephesians. No wonder it was hidden from contemporaries too. “Jesus was thought to be the son of Joseph,” Luke 3:23. God could be understood not by intelligence but by revelation. God chooses one to reveal not based upon worldly intelligence, which is often arrogant and in opposition to God, but based upon innocent obedience. “You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes,” Mt 11:25. “Foolishness of God is wiser than men and the weakness of God is stronger than men…God has chosen foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things that are mighty,” 1C1: 25-26.

Do we live with awareness that Jesus the king possesses us, counsels us and have a claim on our lives? If so can we live the way we live now namely, unmindful if not compromising with wickedness, immorality, injustice and defilement? People’s magazine July 04 issue claimed, “For thirty years stars and stories shaped our lives.” Here lies the problem for all the present ailments in the society. Unlike in the good old days, it is no more the word of God or exemplary model of parents and teachers that shapes the lives. Present generation bid farewell to morality, modesty and decency, find honor in shame, mix evil and stupidity and nurture them. Gun, sex, drugs, deception, infidelity and violence occupied center stage of everyday life. Religion failed to reflect righteous God of judgment, instead teaches, ‘feel good’ theology. Judiciary overlooked what Francis Bacon said, “Judgment seat is the hallowed seat of God.” Politicians/legislature forgot what Abraham Lincoln said at Baltimore on 4/18/1864, “I am responsible to American people, to the Christian world, to history, and on my final account to God.” The most staggering and thought provoking question mankind ever heard is, “Where is He who has been born the king.”

Every Christian is morally responsible to find answer to this soul-searching question. Magi failed to find him in the palace. They found him in an unexpected place, in a manger with the lowly and meek, poor and humble, Mary and Joseph. But He was in the right place, Bethlehem, which meant, “house of bread.” “I am the living bread. Whoever eats my flesh and drink my blood has eternal life, John 6.” Do we have him in the right place that is our heart?

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ARTICLE 1


WHO ARE THE BLESSED ? - PART 10
THINGS IN OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH ONE ANOTHER

By MATHEWS MAR BARNABAS METROPOLITION

[CONTINUED FROM LAST ISSUE]

43. Blessed are those who help others to the maximum even in the midst of sufferings; for that is the sign of the fullness of love.

Our Lord's earnestness in helping people even when He was suffering unbearable pain on the cross shows how deep his love was and still is. He was praying even for those who crucified him. He was consoling the penitent thief, His mother and his beloved disciple John, while He was on the Cross. The generosity of the Macedonian Church is another example. St. Paul says, "We want you to know, brethren, about the grace of God which has been shown in the Church of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty, have overflowed in a wealth of liberty on their part. For they gave according to their means as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own freewill, begging us earnestly for the favour of taking part in the relief of the saints." (II Cor. 8:14) Many of us like to be benevolent patrons, but few of us like to become suffering servants. Are we developing sacrificial love in us.

Prayer:O' Lord help us to serve your children even in the midst of difficulties and sufferings.

44. Blessed are those who correct themselves first; for they can correct better.

Our Lord asks, " Why do you seek the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother: Brother let me take out the speck in your eye, when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye?" (St. Luke 6:41,42)

Here is the story of Sree Narayana Guru, a great saint of the state of Kerala, in India. He was a Hindu from the lower caste. Once a mother brought her son to the saint, she complained to the saint that the boy was too fond of sweets and she wanted the saint to advise the boy. The saint paused for a moment and asked the mother to bring back the boy, the following week. The bystanders were puzzled as to why the saint did not take time to counsel the boy immediately. His reply was that he himself was a victim to same weakness, and that he will be able to help the boy better, if he himself has overcome the weakness in him.

Prayer:O' Lord help us to correct ourself before trying to correct others.

45. Blesses are those who accept counseling from others, for they will be able to handle their problems better.

Those who think that they are not in need of any help or advice from others are not humble. They are also foolish, as they do not understand that two heads are always better than one. No one is perfect. The author of the epistle to Hebrews says. "But encourage one another every day, as long as it is called today, that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin." (Hebrews 3:13) Moreover, those who accept counseling will be enabled to give counseling. Counseling received early enough can help to avoid many a calamity.

Prayer:O' Lord, grant us the humility to seek the help of other in order to do better.

46. Blessed are the truthful; for they will be trusted by all.

If anyone is found out to have spoken at least one lie, there is the danger that he/she may not be trusted. We should try to be truthful at any cost. Truthfulness is especially essential in family life. If the couple does not have real confidence in each other, the solidarity and the joy of family life will be lost. There shall not be any instance, which may cause the loss of our trustworthiness.

There is a story of a shepherd boy, who for the sake of fun crying out saying, "Oh, a leopard is coming, save me." People in the neighbourhood came running to save the boy from the beast. But they found no leopard. The boy was amused. Then it so happened a leopard really came he cried, "leopard". But this time no one came to save him and the animal killed him.

This does not mean that we should speak truth without discretion. We have to speak truth in love. (Eph. 4:15)

Prayer:Grant O Lord, truthfulness, so that we may have a clear conscience and so people may have confidence in us.

[TO BE CONTINUED IN NEXT ISSUE...]

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ARTICLE 2


THE LAST JUDGEMENT

By E.S. JOHN AUSTRALIA

Salvation and final judgment is only a passing shadow while we are only on this side of the grave. The redeemed ones are shifted from Paradise to New Jerusalem after the Last Judgment. Pure faith is the sum and substance of our being, righteous deeds are the garments of incorruption. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

Life in this planet is an outright mystery; the next moment’s breath is not ours but God’s. The creation of the celestial universe and man, the conglomeration of all these mysteries put together, is a baffling secret. Man, the paragon of animals, and the cosmic computer system is only a product of some delicate muscles, tissues and about four litres of blood, yet a demi-god, that recycle and run the system efficaciously for the whole life span of an individual. “What a piece of work is man? How noble in reason, how infinite in faculties...”. “ If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? (Jn.3: 12). Man is a limitless unknown. We don’t know anything about ourselves or about others. We only see our shadows, not the real man, yet our complacency in knowing everything is a joke to be laughed off. A wise man understands many things from a fool, whereas a fool doesn’t learn anything from a wise man. This life is a bundle of paradoxes and contradictions. Confusion reigns in a labyrinth of gig jaw puzzles. How can man a great nothing that synchronized with flesh and blood visualize and grasp the many sidedness of an abstract life beyond the ethereal one. Salvation and final judgement is only a passing shadow while we are only on this side of the grave (1.Cor.13: 12). “...For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal” (2.Cor.4: 18).

DIFFERENT TYPES OF JUDGEMENTS:
Unless my readers are quite conversant with the future of the biblical humanity, it is difficult for them to imbibe the spirit of these writings. Evidently and seemingly, there are three epochs in the redemptive scheme: The Old and New Testament and the 2nd Post-Advent periods lasting 4000, 2000 and 1000 years respectively. For more details, read ‘Shunnyamakkunna Mlechatha series, 12 volumes and previous articles posted in this site. Likely that there are three kinds of judgements that each soul has to go through after one’s last breath.

1. JUDGEMENT IN OYAR 9AERIAL REALMS):
The soul that roams around this world for 2 or 3 days after its liberation from the body is grabbed by the power of darkness on the claim that a sinning soul belongs to the Devil. The angels who wait for the soul also comes to its rescue, pleading that his sins are absolved on the basis of his penance. They will open their websites for their argumentative proofs. The helpless soul will have to go through 20 toll-houses, each one pertaining to each major type of iniquities, for 40 days, resembling similar to the stay for 40 days by Jesus between His resurrection and ascension on our plane because the unblemish Lamb can automatically skip over the toll houses in a moment (Ps.24: 7-10). If the atonement and forgiveness of sins were not attained beforehand, those sins will stand against the soul’s entry into Paradise. Apparently, Jesus referred to this tollhouse judgement by the council of dark angels in His sermon on the mount (Mt.5: 21-43). It is apparently a ferocious battle between both sides (Zech.3; Jude: 9).

There have been many souls whom the demons at the toll-houses didn’t dare to approach. “ He who believes who sent me, has eternal life; he does not come to judgment, but has passed from death to life (Jn.5: 20-29; Rev.14: 1-5). Mar Macarius of the 4th century passed through the toll-houses without the judgement of this council. The journey in between Paradise lost and Paradise regained look like a person who was swept away from the peak of Mount Everest to the foothills of the Himalayas heaves hard to return to the peak again. Even if one reaches there, is there still a tree of good and bad that tempts him again? Is it the reason “ the rest of the dead did not come to life until the 1000 years were ended” (Rev.20:5)? Does the exposition of the forbidden tree again come to a reality? The redeemed ones are shifted from Paradise to New Jerusalem after the Last Judgement, the city of God, may be on account of this reason.

2. THE TWELVE APOSTLES' JUDGEMENT:
“Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of Man shall sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on 12 thrones, judging the 12 tribes of Israel”. “ “You may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the 12 tribes of Israel” (Mt.19: 28; Lk.22: 29-30). Quite uncertain is the period of the time of this judgement. Eating and drinking at the table of the H. Qurbana and spreading the gospel to all the 12 tribes on earth can’t be alluded to by this passage because no obvious verdict takes place here. Is it right to conclude that the priestly authority of binding and loosing (Mt.18: 18) of sins could be taken as this judging? Despite it was the beginning, perhaps it finishes in the new world. Each clergy may have to give an account of each individual under him (Heb.13; 17) on that judgement time. “Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom judgement was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their testimony to Jesus and for the word of God, and who had not worshipped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life, and reigned with Christ a 1000 years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the 1000 years were ended....reign with a 1000 years (Rev.20: 4-6).

Seemingly, the first stage in Paradise pin points to the judgement by 12 Apostles for all the departed believers till the time of the Great tribulation, and the 2nd stage for the martyrs of the period of the Great tribulation Period that lasted for 7 years before the coming of Jesus. We wait for this 1000 years’ life in new heavens and new earth (Paradise) as a transit place for the onward journey to New Jerusalem (2.Pet.3: 8-13). Those who are redeemed forever for the first resurrection will not have to face for the 2nd resurrection after 1000 years. There is likely a chance for those who haven’t entered to life at the first resurrection (Rev.20: 5) after a millennium. This could be the reason for some churches praying for the absolution of the sins of the departed till the restoration day.

While the chosen ones are having a solemn rest for 1000 years in mid-heaven (Heb.4: 3-11), the unbelievers undergo through a fiery furnace o this earth, when “ the sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes” (Joel.2: 30-32; Zeph.1: 14-18). This 3rd epoch of 1000 years on earth, perhaps, is mainly set apart for the remnants for the chosen race of Jews and also likely chances for Christian unbelievers to be saved. “ After 2 days he will revive us; on the 3rd day he raise us up, that we may live before him (Hose.6: 1-3; 2.Kin.19: 28-31). The day likely refers to each epoch. Obviously there is a clear-cut distinction between these last 2 epochs while He portrayed the signs of His 2 comings. Apparently, He alludes to the 2nd epoch from Mt.24: 1-28 and the 3rd one from 29-35. The severity of the bitter sufferings of the 3rd epoch will force the Jews to “ look on him whom they have pierced” (Zech.12: 10; Jn.19: 37) for the absolution of their sins and subsequent salvation.

INDEPENDAENT JUDGEMENTS:
Instead of the Father judging about Himself, the Son reveals the honour of the Father who allows judgement to be done by the Son. “ The Father judges no one, but has given all judgement to the Son, that all may honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He who does not honour the Son does not honour the Father who sent Him” (Jn.5: 21-23; Lk.10: 22). Similarly, Jesus leaves it to the H. Sprit who broods over the Church, His disciples as the spoke persons of the H.Ghost to reveal the glory and greatness of the Son and the H.Spirit; otherwise it ends up like one beating one’s own drum. “ He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives him who sent me.” (Mt.10: 40). Thus, the judgement of 12 Apostles by sitting on their Thrones is focused on the virgin faith of the believers who totally put their faith and trust in the Spirit of God and the Son who was sent by the Father. To put in a nutshell, the faithful believers in Christ are judged by the Apostles basing on our faith and works in the redemptive scheme of the H.Trinity, yet Jesus also sits there on His Throne overseeing it. Hence His 12 Apostles, perhaps execute the judgement of the faithful believers of the chosen races of Jews and Christians who throng there in multitudes. The Last judgement, seemingly pertain to the whole mankind basing on the principle of charity and love (Pet.2.1: 5-11).

PARABLES RELATED TO JUDGEMENT:
Just before the Passover during the Passion Week, He gave 3 parables in connection with the Judgement. The first one is the parable of the wise and foolish virgins, the 2nd about giving the Talents and the third on separating the goats and the sheep (Mt.25). The wise carried enough oil, the apostolic faith that gives entry into the Bridal chamber, that testifies Jesus as the Messiah, and follows the footprints of the passions of Christ earnestly and enduringly. Without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb.11: 6; Jn.6: 29). The foolish has their lamps of Christ’s miraculous life, but no oil of chaste faith that gives salvation at the first resurrection. The entry into the bridal chamber begins at the end of the 2nd epoch and culminates through the 7th day lasting for 1000 years.

The 2nd parable of the talents are the opportunities, abilities and financial allurements given to His servants by Jesus’ sacrifice for the procurement of oil, the pure apostolic faith, that decides the secure place in the bridal chamber. The indulging in wealth and power politics of His servants forced ultimately for them to send an emissary to the Master who went abroad (the Ascension of Jesus to the Father), asking Him not to come back to them any more (the 2nd coming) (Lk.19: 11-27; Rev.17: 1-8; 18:7-8). These verses of the sections portray the harlotry of the latter day church, depicted as the false prophet (Rev.19: 20), which comes in communion with the Beast (Rev.13), Antichrist. Materialism and the passions of the world choked the Bride who has been waiting aguishly for too long for the reception of the Groom (Mt.24: 49-50). But there is a section of the faithful; despite slumbered at the last moment, which has the sanctimonious oil to accompany the Groom into the Bridal chamber. The faith in Jesus and righteous life by sacrificing one’s life for the Kingdom of God is the oil that leads one into the company of the Lord of hosts.

THE FINAL ARBITER'S VERDICT:
Then I saw a great white throne and him who sat upon it; from his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Also another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, by what they have done. And the sea gave up the dead in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead in them, and all where judged what they had done...; and if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. (Rev.20: 11-15). It is probable that there are different websites where our thoughts, words and actions are imprinted, but the book of life that records our good deeds seems to be the one that counts our eternity by outweighing our demerit points erased by the continual contrite heart. We are barred from that eternal city provided any black mark that cries against us (Rev.21: 27). Just as the modern theologists delineate Him as a God of love only, He is love Incarnate as He shed His blemishless blood for us, but He is a consuming fire if we betray Jesus against His enemy.

CODE OF FINAL JUDGEMENT:
If the mould of faith in the Saviour is the criteria by which the Apostles made their judgement, the Final Arbiter’s frame is the code of righteousness, particularly focusing on the concerns and unselfish love towards one’s own fellow beings. A ruler who wanted to get a high certificate from the Lord retreated shamefully (lk.18: 18-30) because he didn’t look after his neighbor as himself by dispossessing his wealth for the hungry and needy. The Lord doesn’t appear to have incorporated the faith factor in His final verdict; He concentrates only on the component of righteousness and good works. I can’t say whether salvation is given to all other faiths also, basing only on good works (Mk.9: 38-50; Acts.4: 12). Self-righteousness or complacency has no place in His code of ethics. Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made ready; it was granted her to be clothed with fine linen, bright and pure- for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints (Re.19: 7-8). While the pure faith is the sum and substance of our being, righteous deeds are the garments of incorruption. The 3rd parable of segregating the sheep and goats is purely based on these concepts (Mt.25: 31-46).

The Final Judge presents the list of priorities of our noble deeds in order of preference. The first qualification goes to the inevitable factor, food and drink for the sustenance of our body, the next one is shelter by accommodating the stranger under our roof or elsewhere to start off with, together with giving cloths for covering one’s nakedness. The next sign of the love of gratitude to our own Creator is to visit the sick and the imprisoned ones in their agonies and help them to knock out their helplessness. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world (Jas.1: 27). Doing such things are not great adventures or great things to be boasted of; we breathe our life every minute only on account of the love that is poured on to us from the Almighty. Men of low estate are but a breath, men of high estate are a delusion; in the balances they go up; they are together lighter than a breath (Ps.62: 9-12).

The website postings for the same tests are not in favour of those who are on the left hand side, consequently He will say to them, “ Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels....And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life” (41-46). Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’ shall enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but he who does the will of my Father. On that day many will say, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name? Then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you evildoers’ (Mt.7: 21-23). ‘ I do not know you’ is the answer given to the 5 foolish virgins also. Hence the righteous works are the inevitable corollary to the faith factor. Despite Jesus and His retinue didn’t have any income or accommodation, He set apart some money for the poor from the alms they used to get from some benevolent followers.

THE CHARITY WORKS OF THE STEWARDS OF THE HOUSE OF THE LORD:
The Apostles, notably St.Paul, were meticulously keen in collecting money and goods and giving them to the poor and needy. During the persecution periods also the believers used to help one another in all the vistas of life, together with the kindling of the fire of gospelization. But the quality of Christian life deteriorated soon after the persecution age: during the crusades, church feudalism and the sale of Indulgences is only few standing monuments of the indolence of the church charity works. The open hostilities and persecutions among the churches from the 4th century declared an open war among the different sects of the church. Such incongenial situations curtailed the importance of the Good Samaritan works among the underdogs. A spirit of unsociability prevailed all along the course of human history. The competition that crept in by the colonization of the world paved the way for inculcating among the few in looking after the helpless victims of circumstances. The Western Christian missionaries who contributed for the upliftment of the outcasts and downtrodden ones are to be immensely applauded in this regard. Many of them sacrificed their lives for helping the helpless victims of the crudities of this sojourn life. The Westerners continue this work on a global basis now, too, despite the major stakes of the charity money go for the administrative mechanisms.

CRUDITIES OF THE DEVELOPING AND UNDER-DEVELOPED COUNTRIES:
Aids, cancer, coronary problems, genocides, mass scale killings, are devastating such countries where everything is in topsy-turvy conditions. The secular system is rampant with all forms of corruptions. A privileged minority treats the majority as their concubines for inexplicable types of exploitations. Technology, a blind savage, allows the rich to become richer by exploiting the poor in every theatre of life. The church has miserably failed to address such lethal problems confronted by the social outcasts and untouchables. Not only that they drive those who are under the poverty line to the slums, they throw them as the preys of the satanic forces (political and secular maniacs) that don’t believe in God or spiritual and moral values. Instead of the church hierarchy giving a helping hand in their social elevation, the divine representatives suck their blood by forcefully taking money for their extravagant lifestyles.

Real estate seems to be the main agenda of the church in those countries. They grab money by hook or by crook for the display of a superfluous parish life. Those who can’t subscribe money for the ongoing real estate thirst can’t be part of the decision-making bodies. Even if contributed beyond their limits, only handful cronies of the clergy squander that money for their delirious interests. Democracy is only a cosmetic outfit of despotic self-interests. This is the age where anything unholy, whether in religious or secular systems, is projected as sacrosanct values by hiding the vested interests behind the iron curtains. As celebrations became the magna carta of the religious institutions, we cut the roots of the remnants of spiritual values. The main business of the celebrations, buttressed by alcohol and hard drugs, are nothing but a white sepulchure show for eccentric popularity and polish way of embezzling money. All our paranoid celebrations kill our spirit in a brutal way, whereas they whet our business approach and mentality salaciously. While rites and rituals are only the gateway to religious life, they have no meaning unless they bring contrition of heart and enhancing a repenting life style. The God’s chosen people sacrificed the unblemished animals for the expiation of their sins; the devoted should get the compunction of heart by witnessing that those innocent animals are dying for them. If we don’t cleanse ourselves by participating in the passions of the innocent Lamb’s crucifixion, rites, rituals and celebrations have no meaning; rather they contribute a hard heart that helps to hide our hypocrisy, the right path to the dark world.

Birthday, marriage and other such anniversary celebrations are pagan rituals that are copied lately from alien culture under the influence of exorbitant money injected into the system by the ripening of technology. The sacraments of marriage, baptism, ordination, burial are all polluted by blaspheme and gluttony, alcohol and epicureanism. How much money we squander for the paraphernalia of parish and individual/ personal celebrations. Rasa (perambulation) is good if it is done in good spirit, without any frills, but its extravaganzas invite accountability to God one day. Mammon is the aim behind all such rites, rituals and celebrations that bring in unwanted religious fermentations lately, like birthday, wedding anniversary, eight day fasting, student performances and successes and job seeking advertisement and special prayers. These celebrations are nothing but idol worship of paganism, the blatant violation of the 2nd Mosaic commandment. Our Creator knows all our needs, just as we keep provisions in advance for our children. If the children show too much fuss and cravings for food and unwanted things, we may withhold it for a while so as to avoid indigestion that tells upon their health adversely. Instead of serving the poor and the needy, we loot their belongings in a polished manner.

While millions are starving in our countries, the church hierarchy revels in so much money for their birthday and other celebrations lavishly, thereby denying the timely service to the hungry ones. They should realize that the flock in a very detrimental fashion follows the wrong example that the clergy set. What the shepherd breathes becomes an unending culture for the flock. I have seen birthday wishes by different individuals and business enterprises for their bishops in the church magazines and publications. So far we have seen the Bishop’s birthday celebration pictures in black and white colour. How much money they have squandered in their wishing the same bishop in more than 5 full size pages in colour portraits by different individuals and commercial enterprises, alas in the same month’s edition of the magazine. The clerics are doing their allotted duty of establishing institutions at the expense of laity’s money; they don’t bring it from their homes; they are neither to be glorified nor to be elated, other than giving glory to the Almighty who made such ventures possible. Showering money and standing ovations only destroy the shepherds’ spirituality and the death of the parish and church. In these days of wanton spirituality, every rupee or dollar given to the clerics declares the death of the church. How much money has been misused for that one single birthday celebration? This money that we wasted is stolen from the starving man’s basket. Just as we sing hallelujah to the Almighty, do our shepherds also invite glory and garlands of Almighty dollars, forgetting that the crown of jewels that awaits in the next life is already rusted on account of the glory that we received in our flesh? Where there is no spiritual enlightenment, there comes the luminous halo of electrical lights. How much money we wastes for the parish day advertisements with glittering photos!

The morally and religious illiterate laity (business- minded) are not fools; they do it because either they received some underhand helps or expecting such help from the shepherds. Robbing Thomas and adoring upon Peter is a sin, notably in the religious spheres. Religious hierarchy has gone crazy by being identifying themselves with the cosmetics of materialism. The effect of one ripple goes in various directions; the ultimate causality in the Body of Christ is love, justice and our sanctimonious faith; it has become a haven of hypocrites and crooks. The church has become a den of robbers, well; Jesus is coming with an iron whip. This dragon, technology and wealth, has been kept in iron chains only for the exuberant flowering for the end of days (James. 5: 3), the time when the strong delusions of pleasure in hypocrisy, unrighteousness and falsehood flourish (2.Thess.2; 11). I believe that Judas became a hypocrite because of handling money; no clergy should be allowed to collect or touch a coin because of its conjuring odour. It is the committee’s business. It is a dreadful episode to watch the vicar making the auctions of items collected from the members soon after the H.Qurbana, without changing His worshipping cloaks. Such techniques are used for grabbing more money, which helps his annual increments to rise enormously, so that the ambitious, despite financially poor, laity increases the bid to be in the good books of the vicar. The priestly tongue, the key to Heaven and clerical cloaks should not be used to earn Mammon and cheap name. The hundreds and billions of money we spent for war and war industries make some people thrive at the cradle of naked and untold sufferings and brutal deaths of innocent people all over the globe. While the millionaires and billionaires multiply to exorbitant expansions, beggars, vagabonds and social outcasts end up at the pyre of their helplessness. The marble spirituality covers a multitude of iniquities. The church should run against such savage currents and save the humanity from the peril of sins and spiritual and physical starvation, instead church has become a thorn in our flesh that devastates our spiritual thirst.

While Jesus exemplifies the Glory and Greatness of God, the Apostles, the ambassadors of Jesus, judges the church and the flock the measure of their faith and work for The Lamb. At the end of the day, The Son of Man judges the whole humanity on the basis of the righteous deeds and the timely help rendered to the downtrodden. I have heard the self-righteous ones screaming out to somehow finish this life as if they were to be easily transported to Heaven, without realizing the enormity and immensity of the fire that waits on the other side of river Jordan. Truly the real and indefinite battle starts only after our life is ebbed away from the mortal body; the refugee soul has to jump the hurdles of 3 judgements, starting at the toll houses of Satan and slipping through the thrones of the 12 Apostles and the finishing line at the Throne of the Saviour, from where either transporting us to the place of illuminating glow of New Jerusalem or to the place of eternal fire of blazing darkness, where “their worm does not die, and fire is not quenched” (Mk.9: 48).

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ARTICLE 3


HISTORY AND GROWTH OF CHRISTIAN EDUCATION
IN EARLY CENTURIES-SERIES 2


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



BACK GROUND SETTING FOR CHRISTIANITY AND CHRISTIAN EDUCATION

Historical setting of New Testament and early Christianity are mainly of the political, social, cultural, theological, philosophical and educational perspective. While the exclusive credit of the political context fall on the Roman Empire, that of the cultural, educational and philosophical to some extent fall on the Greek world and ultimately Jewish world was the core theological, educational and religious environment of early Christianity.

[CONTINUED FROM THE LAST ISSUE]

Historical setting of New Testament and early Christianity are mainly of the political, social, cultural, theological, philosophical and educational perspective. While the exclusive credit of the political context fall on the Roman Empire, that of the cultural, educational and philosophical to some extent fall on the Greek world and ultimately Jewish world was the core theological, educational and religious environment of early Christianity. Palestine was the homeland of Jews, Jesus and the first disciples of Jesus. From 586 BCE to 331 BCE the Babylonians and the Persians occupied the Jews. During that time most Jews of Palestine and Mesopotamia adopted official language of Babylonia (Aramaic) as their home language for the common dealings. During the dawn of the Hellenistic era, Hebrew was become very uncommon among the uneducated mass of Palestine. The Greeks influenced the people of Palestine much before the start of the Hellenistic era and Alexander's conquest of Palestine in 331 BCE. Greek Arts, potteries etc. were very dear in Palestine even in the fifth century BCE. The Sepulchers of the wealthy people of this area were decorated with marbles carved by Greek craftsmen. During 450 BCE, when Greeks invented money coins, Judea was permitted to strike their own silver coins imitating the Greek coins. This Hellenistic adaptation to Judaism had paved much of the background for the origin of early Christian Education.

The Diaspora synagogues provided the most important gateways for early Christianity into the wider Greco-Roman world. Early Christians lived in a world that had many multifaceted cultural influences. Messiah was a pre-Christian Jewish aspiration as a deliverer. Christianity continued to use that already existing title of Messiah to interpret significance of Jesus. The origin of Gnostic idea of a Revealer/Redeemer was still looking for perfection in its concept. As many people had attached its contacts with Stoicism, the mysteries, the Qumran community and so on they did not consider Christianity as an invention of a completely new idea or practice.

Political Backgrounds:
The history of the advent of Christian education is greatly interleaved with the history of Roman Empire and her emperors. The history of the mission of Jesus in this world commences and closes with contexts with Roman regime. Jesus was born in a province of Roman Empire during the very strategic decree for taxation in the reign of Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus. Jesus was tormented, put to trial, crucified and resurrected during the time of the Roman procurator of Judea, Pontius Pilot. (A.D. 26-36) Many other incidents during this period were well associated with Roman rule. [The First Christians:Spread of Roman Empire By Holland Lee Hendrx]The Roman Empire grew over a long period of time from basically a political unit in Italy to the entire Mediterranean basin, but it took a lot of time.... It really grew out of a number of different dynamics, certainly through invasion, through conquest, but also through invitation. In fact, in some eastern Mediterranean cities Roman businessmen formed actual social units, political units within the Greek cities. These then became the networks by which political power then followed. So from economic and military activity spreading out from Italy, the empire spread through North Africa, through the West all the way through Great Britain, to the East all the way to eastern Syria, and that embraced all of Greece, all of Turkey, the Syral Palestinian area. The complete Mediterranean basin was effectively Roman. [The First Cjhristians:The Roman Empire And Judea By Michael White] During the conquest of the vaious territories in Mediterranean by the the Roman, they also conquered Judea. In the process, they set up some as provinces, and some as client kingdoms. Judea happened to be one of these client kingdoms run by its own independent, or semi-independent, King. This is the person we know as Herod the Great. For the ordinary people of the Jewish homeland, Rome was a kind of dominant political factor. Although they might not have seen Romans on a day-to-day basis, the imposition of Roman power was certainly there. In the case of the client kingdom, Judea, Herod's rule and Herod's forces would have been the political entity. But everyone knew that Rome was the power behind the throne. Everyone knew that Rome was the source of both the wealth and also the source of some of the problems that occurred in the Jewish state. So the political reality of the day was of a dominant power overseeing the life on a day-to-day basis.

Herod ruled from 37 B.C.E. to 4 B.C.E. Quite a long and impressive reign from just the political perspective. But, at his death, his kingdom, which was the largest extent for the Jewish state since the time, really, of David and Solomon, was subdivided among three of his sons. One son, Herod Antipas, took the northern territories of the Galilee and those on the east side of the Jordan River. Another son, Phillip, took the areas to the east of the Sea of Galilee ... the area now thought of as the Golan Heights, and a good stretch of territory over in that direction. The third son, Archelaeus, took the major portion, and in fact the most important cities... Now this region, which we would probably call Judea, was really the most important of the three sub-divisions.

In order to have an honest understanding of the Hellenistic-Roman background of Christian Education, we need to consider a broad time span from around 300 B.C. to 300 A.D. from Alexander to Constantine. Greek influence predominated in the political arena during the earlier part while the Roman had its upper hand during the latter period. Looking further beyond the Hellenistic era, the link between Hebrew history and Hellenistic history is furnished by the Persian Empire. Persians Emperors allowed the constituent territories to maintain their individual cultures, unlike his predecessors. Cyrus, King of Persia proclaimed the release of all the Jews who were kept captives in Babylon, and building of their temple in Jerusalem. (Ezra 1:1-4; 2 Chronicles 36:33-23) The Romans feared being taken over by the Persians. [History of Persian Empire : Anabasis, by Xenophon] When Darius, the Persian Emperor had died and Artaxerxes had become established as king he had imprisoned his brother Cyrus accusing him of a plot against him. While Cyrus hired Greeks as mercenaries to overthrow Artaxerxes [404-358], they came to understand the weak points of Persians whom they feared earlier. The ultimate victory of Athenians and Greeks over the Persians had far-reaching implications. Greeks turned out to be more religious out of their gratitude to God for their victory. Eventually Athens become very wealthy and powerful and Sparta became a military center. A great brainstorm flew to Greek cities. Many intellectuals and geniuses started migrating to Athens. Ultimately Greek culture started to propagate around the world.

The educational and philosophical revolution took place in Greece paved way for the emergence of Sophists in Athens. [Microsoft Encarta 2004] The Sophists came into being to satisfy the need for knowledge of the Art of Speech in Greek public life. Sophists were individuals sharing a broad philosophic outlook rather than a school, the Sophists popularized the ideas of various early philosophers; but based on their understanding of this prior philosophic thought, most of them concluded that truth and morality were essentially matters of opinion. Thus, in their own teaching, they tended to emphasize forms of persuasive expression, such as the art of rhetoric, which provided pupils with skills useful for achieving success in life, particularly public life. [Background of early Christianity By Everett Ferguson]The Sophists were essentially wanderers and of cosmopolitan type. They gave public lectures to demonstrate their skill and so to gain business. Successful ones were known for their elegance in speaking and ability in reasoning. They taught their pupils how to argue on general grounds as opposed to specific evidence, to put new interpretations on the facts and turn them to their advantage. Once Sophists began to raise rational questions there was a tendency to illustrate the thoughts about the existence of gods. A new view of humanity appeared among Greek thinkers of the fifth century B.C - they became conscious of a human being as human. This became a distinguished character of Greek culture. This trend continued till the breakthrough of rivalry between Sparta and Athens, which paved the way for civil wars.

Alexander the Great endorsed his precursive imprints in the history of nations for the later development of the Christian Education, for many reasons. He transported the Greek civilization to the East, established the Greek Language as a common tongue of communication among all the nations of the then known world, which was used as a vehicle to promulgate Christianity at later period and condemned racial discrimination and declared religious freedom. Alexander's arrival to Jerusalem signified the encounter of Hellenism with Judaism. Historian Josepus Flavious [Hebrew Archeology by Josepus Flavious] states that after the conquest of Tyre and siege of Gaza, Jews at Jerusalem greeted Alexander. During the year 285 BC, the Old Testament was translated in Greek. This Greek translation is the formal text used in East and West. Alexandria was Alexander's and his Successors' creation and played an important role in passing on the bright lights of Christianity. Also Alexander’s reign caused a major intellectual change and an increase in individualism. So far the Athens was distanced the rest of mankind, now they became teacher of the world. Greeks started to be considered a separate class of the world as an intellectual group. This cultural division caused by a broader diffusion of Greek culture, had prompted Paul to reference them as ‘Jews and Greeks’ in his epistle to Romans and comprehensively as ‘Jews, Greek and barbarians’. (Rom 1:16, 14; Gal 3:28; Col 3:11)

After around 200 B.C. the Greek influences began to slowly retreat in Egypt, Palestine, Syria, and Asia and their native cultures started to reassert themselves in place. [Alexander And Christianity By H.E. Nicholas Martis]The Ptolemies concentrated their energies in Alexandria, while the Selefkids' center was Antioch. Ptolemy founded a museum and the legendary Library of Alexandria, which up till Ptolemy's VI era continued to be enriched with 700,000 books. The Ptolemies made Alexandria the intellectual and spiritual center of the Greek world, and this became their contribution to later history. Through its impact on Jewish and Christian intellectual life Alexandria significantly influenced religious history. At times Palestine, Cyprus, Some Aegean islands, and parts of Asia Minor were also under the control of Ptolemies. Paul and other New Testament writers, as shown by their quotations, might have referred the Septuagint version Hebrew Bible translated to Greek in Alexandria. This Greek Version of Old Testament had an international influence, which had very key effects of the Hebrew and Christian development. Alexandrian Codex was the first documents, which came to the hands of modern scholars. The Seleucid territory included many ancient temple-states of Syria and Asia. For early Christian history the greatest of these Seleucid foundations was Antioch.

[TO BE CONTINUED IN THE NEXT ISSUE]

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FEATURE


BASELIOS GEEVARGHESE I - SECOND CATHOLICOSE [1925-1928]

Vaakathanam Karuchira Geevarghese Mar Philoxenos, Metropolitan of Kottayam Diocese, succeeded Basalios Paulose in 1925 as the second Catholicose and remained in position for a brief period of three years before succumbing to death in 1928. Metropolitan Geevarghese Mar Dionysius along with Metropolitans Kallacheril Geevarghese Mar Gregorios and Karot Yuachim Mar Ivanios elevated him as the Second Catholicose of the Malankara Church with the title of Basalios Geevarghese I at St. Mary's Church Niranam.

THOSE WHO LED US
H.H. BASELIOS GEEVARGHESE I
SECOND CATHOLICOSE

After the reign of first Catholicose, Basalios Paulose, for a short period of seven and a half months, due to untimely demise of the first Catholicose and due to the Court cases and other special circumstances, the second Catholicose could not be ordained immediately. The throne of Catholicose was kept empty for the next 12 years. Vaakathanam Karuchira Geevarghese Mar Philoxenos, Metropolitan of Kottayam Diocese, succeeded Basalios Paulose in 1925 as the second Catholicose and remained in position for a period of thirty months till his departure for heavenly abode.

Catholicose Basalios Geevarghese I was born to Vakathanam Karuchira Punnen and Puthupally Kuttanchira Unichiyamma in January 1870. His family atmosphere was very spiritual and divine. The child was very unhealthy during the childhood and was inflicted with many diseases. His parents dedicated Geevarghese at a very young age for the service of God.

Young Geevarghese was ordained as deacon at the age of sixteen in June 1886 by Metropolitan Kadavil Poulose Mar Athanasius at Vakathanam Church. His uncle Kalapurackal Paulose Kathanar was his guide and benefactor. The young deacon was sent for the theological training in Old Seminary, Kottayam, under guidance of Vattasseril Geevarghese Kathanar and Konat Mathen Malpan. Dn. Geevarghese was very studious and proficient in his studies and he became the pet of all teachers. He stood outstanding through out his studies in all classes. As an appreciation of his brilliance in studies, Konat Malpan presented him a bronze lamp, which Geevarghese had preserved respectfully with him till his death.

Considering the meritorious accomplishment of the theological training, Dn. Geevarghese was appointed as the secretary of Metropolitan Kadavil Mar Athanasios. Deacon had acquired vide knowledge and experience and became very popular and well known throughout Malankara during his tenure as secretary to the Metropolitan. Metropolitan Kadavil Mar Athanasius ordained Dn. Geevarghese as priest on August 18, 1896 and further as a Ramban within a week time on August 25, 1896. Ramban continued to be the assistant of the Metropolitan. He managed all the matters with very keen views. Ramban was the chief organizer for the Golden Jubilee celebration of the priesthood of Pulikkottil Joseph Mar Dionasius and he accomplished his assignment meritoriously and attained the name as an efficient organizer. As an accomplice to Metropolitan Kadavil Mar Athanasios, Ramban Geevarghese had very significant participation in the establishment of the Thrikkunnathu Seminary at Alwaye which served as the headquarters of Mar Athanasius. Though Mar Athanasius wished to hand over the Thrikkunnathu Seminary and Aramana to Ramban Geevarghese, after demise of Metropolitan, Ramban could not occupy the Aramana and had to leave the Seminary. He was forced to move to the Vakathanam Vallikkattu Church.

Afterwards he was accommodated at a place given by Kalapurachkal Achan who was a family member of Ramban. The Kathanar being unmarried eventually donated the place to Ramban for his living. It was a small house cum Church where Ramban conducted his daily prayers and consecrated holy Qurbana. Ramban had a very simple living. He did not have the convenience even to keep a deacon for his assistance. His servant Kochuvarkey was his deacon, Altar-boy and the cook. He lived of simple food and a poor life style. He never enjoyed the rich food sent by the parishioners as gesture. Ramban had a very peaceful and holy nature with great content in whatsoever state he was. Eventually he could develop the Dayara at Vallikkat, Vakathanam. A very significant contribution of Ramban Geevarghese was that he published the first Calendar and Directory of Malankara Church.

While leading a life of seclusion and divinity at Vallikkat, Ramban was called by the Church for taking up higher honor and responsibility, in the position of a Metropolitan. After reinstating the Catholicate and consecrating Paulose Mar Ivanios as the first Catholicose, Patriarch Abded Messiah ordained Karoochira Geevarghese Ramban, with Tiltle of Mar Philoxenos, along with Kallasseril Punnoose Ramban and Karot Veettil Yuyakim Ramban as Metropolitans, in the presence of the first Catholicose, On February 7, 1913 at Chengannur Church at the age of forty-five. The newly consecrated Metropolitan was entrusted with the charge of Kottayam diocese.

As a Metropolitan, he started living in the Vakathanam Vallikkattu Dayara. It was the golden era for the place Vakathanam during the life of the Metropolitan at the Vallikkat Dayara. He had established a Primary School at Vakathanam Unnamattom junction and the Vakathanam Mar Philaxenos Memorial School. He also had his contributions for establishment of Nalunakkal Adayees School, Puthusserry M.G.D. High School, Ithithanam L.P School, Vakathanam Pazhanchira U.P School. Etc. The first Post Office at Vakathanam was brought by the efforts of Thirumeni. He was also instrumental for construction of new roads and repair of many old roads in Vakathanam. With all these community developments the Metropolitan led a spiritual life with fasting and prayer.

After the demise of the first Catholicose and entombed at the Pampakkuda Cheriya Pally, search for a new Catholicose was commenced. Out of three Metropolitans of that time, Karot Yuyakim Mar Ivanios was bedridden of his ill health. Karuchira Geevarghese Mar Philoxenos withheld himself from the selection in the pretext of his ill health. Kallasseril Mar Gregorios withheld himself with excuse that he is very young. As the only available two Metropolitans, Mar Philoxenos and Mar Gregorios had withdrawn from the selection, then Malankara Metropolitan Vattasseril Geevarghse Mar Dianosios put the lot among these two and the lot fell in favor of Philaxenos. Though Mar Philexenos politely requested to Malankara Metropolitan to avoid him from the selection, Mar Dianosios could convince him that it is the selection from God. On the previous day only he bend upon the decision considering it as the decision of God. Thirumeni always considered himself as low and weak out of his humbleness and humility.

By this time, the Malankara Association was held at Niranam and elected Mar Philaxenos as the second Catholicose. In 1925, Mar Philoxenos was conferred the highest office of Catholicose, the head of the Church. On April 30, 1925 the Malankara Metropolitan Geevarghese Mar Dionysius along with Metropolitans Kallacheril Geevarghese Mar Gregorios and Karot Yuachim Mar Ivanios elevated him as the Second Catholicose of the Malankara Church with the title of Basalios Geevarghese I at St. Mary's Church Niranam. The Malankara Metropolitan was involved in the administrative matters of the Church and Catholicose was concentrating in the spiritual matters.

On the next day of his enthronement, the new Catholicose consecrated Fr. P.T. Geevarghese, the founder of Monastic order of Imitation of Christ at Bethany, Perunadu as Episcopa with the Title of Geevarghese Mar Ivanios at St.Mary's Church, Niranam. Two Metropolitans Karot Yuachim Mar Ivanios and Edavazhikkal Mar Severios, left for heavenly abode during the tenure of the second Catholicose.

Metropolitan was very keen to chose young people and encourage them for the service of God. He was very ascetic and strict in the fasting and timely prayers. He had many peculiar habits. He was always wearing pants; Kammees, Kappa and Red garment Masnapsa etc. stitched by himself on his own sewing machine. He stored enough wheat powder floured himself in his stone grinder for the Mass bread and made the bread himself. He was also proficient in masonry and carpentry.

The duration of the second Catholicose, Basalios Geevarghese I, was also short for thirty months. Following an abdominal operation at Neyyoor, Catholicose Mar Basalios Geevarghese I breathed his last on December 17, 1928. With all befitting honors the Catholicose was entombed at the Dayara premise at Vallikkat, which he had chosen as his headquarters.

[Compiled for LOL By: Editor Dr. Rajan Mathew Philadelphia, USA]
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FEATURE


METROPOLITAN ABRAHAM MARTHOMA [1880-1947]: PART 2

By PROF. DR. ZAC VARGHESE & MATHEW KALLUMPRAM

Abraham Mar Thoma led a disciplined life. Being uncompromisingly strict with himself, he could be strict also with others. He worked very hard throughout his life his temper. His temper and his immediate repentance were amazing traits of his personality. Abraham Mar Thoma was particularly concerned about the social attitudes and behavior of his people. A sharp observer of manners and morals, he gave special instructions on how to correct them.

THOSE WHO LED US
ABRAHAM MARTHOMA

[CONTINUED FROM THE LAST ISSUE]

Kochavarachan's grandfather, on hearing about his interest in education and God-centered life, seemed to have commented that if his ambition were to a become a bishop the he could bring the Patriarch from Antioch to consecrate him as a bishop of Jacobite Church. But this was not the intention of Kochavarachan because he often used to say, "Seek not great things for yourself; do not expect things from God, but attempt great things for God." This was his motto, for he knew that he stood every chance of losing his birthright from his father's estate if he continued to remain faithful to his vision with respect to the Mar Thoma Church.

He was also concerned that his rigid stand worried his mother from the point of view of the financial security of the family: herself and her two daughters. As the only son of the family, it was his responsibility to provide for the needs of the family and ensure their social and economic stability. Therefore, the traditional thing for him was to become a responsible young man and to follow the prevailing norms of the community: pursue economic viability, get married, and also provide for his mother and sisters. His mother did not object to his Christian Commitments. She was, on the contrary, proud and grateful for it. But she wanted him to do his Christian work from within the framework of a traditional family life. His determination to remain a celibate worried her and others in the family circles greatly. One, on seeing his mother in tears about his choice to remain a celibate, he comforted her with these words, "what is life if it is not service; what is service if it is not for Christ?" Thus he convinced his mother that there was room only for Christ in his life. When he decided to accept Episcopal consecration, he sought permission from Titus II for his mother to stay with him at the bishop's house so that he could care for her as well; and this was readily allowed.

He led a disciplined life. Being uncompromisingly strict with himself, he could be strict also with others. He worked very hard throughout his life his temper. His temper and his immediate repentance were amazing traits of his personality. His personal assistance, Varghese was at the receiving end of his short temper and spontaneous apologies. Immediately after the death of Abraham Marthoma, his faithful assistant Varghese commented with tears, "he has gone, it is loss for everyone, but I feel that I lost everything. There is absolutely nothing left for me; I am a weak and sinful man, but My Lordship, Metropolitan Abraham Mar Thoma, was a saint in every way. I am looking forward to joining him in his place of rest."

Abraham Mar Thoma was particularly concerned about the social attitudes and behavior of his people. A sharp observer of manners and morals, he gave special instructions on how to correct them; some of which are given below:

  1. There is absolutely nobody without some goodness in them; we must learn to see good qualities in others. When we criticize someone, it should be for the specific purpose of helping him to solve the problem in a most constructive way. Before finding fault with a person, first congratulate him on his good qualities so that you could help him to build on that healthy stump of residual goodness.

  2. If someone drops something in front of you, do not stand as an observer, try to pick it up and help him.

  3. If one of your co-travelers is carrying more than one object, try to share his burden by carrying something for him.

  4. Do not spit on the ground or throw waste paper around, protect your environment.

  5. When you dine with family or friends, be dignified: do not grab all the good dishes and finish your meal quickly. Allow others to take things first and take small items first, and keep pace with others. Always leave something for others.

  6. When you walk in the sun or in the rain, try to share your umbrella with another person who has a need as well.

  7. You must at all time respect and help women.

  8. Share the burdens of rearing the children with wife. Husband should carry young children with wife. Husband should carry young children when you go out for business or pleasure.

  9. Appreciate the trouble your moment folks undergo in preparing a meal for you and your guests. Congratulate them on their culinary skills, even if it were not up to your expectation on a particular day. Try to help them in the kitchen. Never criticize them in front of others.

  10. Try to get up from your seat and receive a guest.

  11. Give your seat to a new person entering a room.

  12. Think about other's needs first and make provisions for them.

  13. Keep your hands, feet, nails and face clean.

  14. Put others first.

Once the Metropolitan had to go to a post office to send some money to an evangelist. He did not have his pen to fill the required forms and, therefore, asked a young schoolboy if he could use his pen for the purpose. The boy was very happy to lend his pen to the Metropolitan. But it was a leaking pen and the Metropolitan's hands were soiled with ink in the process of writing with it. He thanked the boy for lending him the pen and then counseled him tenderly, "Dear son, I use this right hand for blessing people and if I use my hand soiled with the ink from your leaky fountain pen then I will be putting ink on their foreheads. Do you want your Metropolitan to do this? Therefore, next time when you help someone with your pen, open your pen first, clean it and give it. You are a bright young lad; you will go a long way if you take care of these little things." This little incidence is the present writer's favorite story about this giant of a man. It illumines his unique personality as a caring and sensitive man for whom others always came first.

He led a disciplined a life; he continued his early morning meditation for many years. Getting up at 4.30 am for Bible study and prayers were a routine that he developed in his university days. He used the following books for his meditation: Streams in the Dessert, springs in the Valley, My Utmost for the Highest, Daily Light, and Abide in Me, Come Ye Apart, and in the Green Pastures. He maintained that routine under all circumstances, including his extensive travels both in India and overseas. During these silent moments of meditation he used to enter into intimate conversation with God and for him they were real, conversations and not imaginary ones. In addition to this early morning meditation, he used to spend Wednesday afternoons and evenings for fasting and praying. One day a month was specially kept for prayers. Once a year he used to take rest at a health resort or at a hill station. He used these occasions to spend time with his friends and young people to guide them in spiritual journey. The writer's father, Mr. K.G. Varghese, used to go with him to Courtland and this particular group included Rev. V.I. Philipose of Kundara (father of Rev. Dr. V.P. Thomas and an uncle of Rev. Dr. V.V. Alexander who started the London Mar Thoma Congregation in 1957), Rev. T.L.Varghese, Rev. K.C. Thomas, and Mr. T.V. Chandapillay. On these occasions, he was not only having some sorely needed rest but also equipping those with him by giving them leadership training. Life in the Church was nurtured through such a personal involvement with clergy and laity.

Abraham Marthoma and Titus II gave sound leadership during the Independent struggle at local and national levels. On account of this, they came into conflict with the state administration of Sir C.P. Rama Swamy Iyer (Sir. C.P as he was known), Divan (Chief executive) to the Maharaja of Travancore, to be part of a unified Independent India. He had plans to arrest Abraham Mar Thoma, but the administration was frightened of his popular support. Sir C.P.used the caste card and also exploited the differences that existed among Christian denominations. In this context Abraham Mar Thoma's speech at the centenary celebration of the reformation of the Mar Thoma Church at Trivandrum in 1938 was very significant. He started his talk by quoting the verse : "Father, as we are one they should be one as well." This he said was the express wish of our Lord Jesus Christ who is the head of the Church Universal. This unity is essential not only for Christians but also for all castes and communities. Nairs, Ezhavas, Muslims and Christians belong to a common brotherhood of man. If any one is trying to split us for political expediency, it is unfortunate. Christians should take a leading role for religious harmony and understanding. We should make our non-Christian friends understand that we have no hidden political motives in our spiritual activities and evangelistic work. It is because of our failure that they misunderstand us, and it is our responsibility to put it right. If any one spreads the rumor that Christians are interested in mass conversion for giving them an advantage over others, it is just a wicked propaganda. We should expose the falsehood of these allegations and demonstrative our traditional loyalty and patriotism to our royal family. We should demonstrate our loyalty through our unselfish service to others in the country. We should not demonstrate our anger, but should love and help our neighbors. Most importantly, we should love and help our neighbors. Most importantly, we should not fail in our mission to share Christ with others."

[TO BE CONTINUED IN THE NEXT ISSUE]

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