[Diocesan Metropolitan of Ranni Diocese, Marthoma Syrian Church ]

Who is the rich and who is the poor in story of Lazarus? The riches of the body will not enrich the soul; the sight of the body will not enlighten the soul. Let our aspiration and wish should be to become rich in the eyes of Lord. Our Lord was not an earthly rich. Though He was rich, yet for our sake He became poor, so that we might become rich through His poverty.


"Now there was a rich man, and he habitually dressed in purple and fine linen, joyously living in splendor every day. And a poor man named Lazarus was laid at his gate, covered with sores, and longing to be fed with the crumbs which were falling from the rich man's table; besides, even the dogs were coming and licking his sores....." (St. Luke 16:19-31)

The referred scripture portion is a powerful and evident witness to stimulate faith to those who does not have trust in prayers. If a short story contest is launched among all the competitors of the world, and St. Luke is included in it, it is well assured that St. Luke will stand out among all the others. Here in this portrayal of story narrated by Jesus, St. Luke articulates the state of a man and emotions of his heart in a very pleasant and splendid narrative. This parable itself we have the explanation and application of it. Lord Jesus had told many parables. But in any of these parables we do not see any name given to any of his similitude. This parable is an exceptional one in which the character got a name with very wide meaning: Lazarus- 'The one who had only God as his helper'. The essence of the story is fully included in this name. The rich man of this story was a depiction of the attitude that God is nothing, if we achieve everything we desired. Ownership is yielded to egoism. If a Godly man is defined as the one who is sanctified himself and get controlled by God, and if we search for an antonym for this attribute, we find this rich man as the best fit.

St. Luke describes the rich man in a very few words. He was rich epicures, who lived in luxury. He was clothed in purple and fine linen, and that was his adorning. He had fine linen for pleasure every day or many times a day, night-linen, and day-linen. He had purple for that was the wear of princes. He appeared in his wealthy dress in great magnificence. He ate deliciously and sumptuously every day. His table was furnished with all the varieties and his side-table richly adorned with nourishing and tasty plates of food. He did not have any difficulty to continue in his state of luxury as he was in the height of his prosperity. He had a palace-like house. He was not at all concerned about anything or anybody. He had no other thoughts except food, cloth and other luxuries in his life. 'Sufficient’, 'Enough'; these two words did not have any meaning in his life.

But look at the narratives of the poor man: if we use the words 'abject poverty', it is nothing to describe the state of this poor. Famous Malayalam Novelist E. Pathphanabhan had depicted a poor boy in his award won novel. In a monsoon evening, a poor boy emerges out with a wild sparrow in his hands. It was raining heavily with lightning and thunder. He caught the sparrow tight to his bosom with his hands. The cloth he is wearing is drenched in the rain. He entered the gate of a rich man and knocked at the door with the sparrow in his hands. The owner of the house appeared. Very tearfully he asks the rich man, "Will you take this sparrow from me?" The owner did not understand the meaning of it. He stood aghast. He was staring at the compassionate figure in front of him. His mother was waiting for her son to come back with money to burn fire in their house. He wanted to sell the sparrow, which had come out from the hole of a tree in the evening and buy rice to make his one-score meal of the day. If this is a picture of poverty, St. Luke is surpassing it with the character in his story of Lazarus.

There is meaning for each word of the story. Luke describes the poor like this: He was laid at the gate of the rich man with an expectations to live out from the rich man’s table: he desired to be fed with the crumbs or scraps he could get at rich man's doors. His body was weak, with full of sores and in a great affliction. The dogs came and licked his sores. If St. Luke is describing the cloth of the rich man, why he is not telling anything about the cloth of Lazarus? Cloth might have been an aggravation of his pain and misery. It may be a very painful disease. Lazarus, in his distress, had nothing of his own to subsist on, no relation or companion to go to. He was an instance of utter degeneracy. As his name meant, God was the only help for him.

Here we are urged to think who is the rich and who is the poor out of these. In some other part of Gospel of St. Luke, Jesus talked about being rich towards God. Jesus gives a caution against covetousness and illustrates by a parable of a rich man suddenly called off in the midst of his worldly planning and ambitious hopes. Disquieting care is the common fruit of an abundance of this world, and the common fault of those that have abundance. The rich man plans himself while seeing an extraordinary crop upon his ground; "And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?" (St. Luke 12:18-20). Jesus points out here the state of the man who did not become rich towards God. He exhorts to cast all our care upon God, and to live easy in a dependence upon his providence.

It should be our earnest desire to be rich towards God. Lord Jesus is exhorting us today for the warm and ardent desire for being rich towards God. He is walking through us, he sees us. He is both a discerner and judge of the thoughts and intents of the heart. He is watching for the flame of the strong desire of our heart. He is waiting for our latent and illegible spiritual throbbing. Let the Lord fulfill our desire! What is our desire? What are our needs? Let our aspiration and wish should be to become rich in the eyes of Lord. Our Lord was not an earthly rich. Though He was rich, yet for our sake He became poor, so that we might become rich through His poverty.

This rich man of the story was neither considering that he is enjoying the benevolence of God, nor he was ready to accept him as his helper. This rich was wearing purple and linen, but he was naked, He was eating very tasty and delicious food, but he was starving, his eyes were well open to see the luxury what he enjoyed, but he was blind. Jesus might have told the Verses in the revelation looking at this rich man.

"Because you say, I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing, and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent." (Rev. 3:17-19)

Here observe, what a difference there was between the thoughts they had of themselves and the thoughts that Christ had of them. We are intoxicated with earthly riches and authorities. Even though we think we are rich, we are poor as we have no provision for our souls to live upon. The riches of the body will not enrich the soul; the sight of the body will not enlighten the soul. We have good counsel given by Jesus. He gives his best advice to buy of him gold tried in the fire, so that we might be rich. Though we are wearing purple and linen, but we are naked. Jesus is offering us to collect the white garment of imputed righteousness from him to cloth us so that others will not see shame of our nakedness. Though our eyes are open, we are blind. Jesus is beaconing us to buy of him eye-salve to massage on our eyelid, so that our eyes shall be opened for His wisdom and reason. Jesus is counseling all the rich so that we will not be wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked. Jesus is challenging us today to become rich towards God.

Who is rich and who is poor? If we are able to visualize the needs of the needy in our surroundings, we reach in abundance. Jesus did not offer us any earthly riches. He expresses his condition to the one who wanted to follow him: 'the foxes have holes and the birds have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.' The father of Heaven looked at Jesus who did not have a penny in his pocket, announced from heaven "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." Heaven was proud to see the son of man without any earthly riches.

Many poor find joy in their life. Worship is greatest for them. They keep their whole help in God though they are destitute of other helps. They live comfortably with their earnings of hard work. They are concerned about their neighbors. They share their earnings with the poor. There is a great comfort in their life. He will be forever happy, in the depth of adversity and distress and keep himself eminently devout. What was the real distress and disposition of the poor man? He did not lie at the rich man’s gate complaining, and bawling, and making a noise, but silently and modestly desiring to be fed with the crumbs. He was contentedly poor. The riches of this world do not have any of these attributes.

What was the temper of the rich man towards the poor? We are not told that he abused him, or forbade him his gate, or did him any harm. It is not recorded that any time the rich behaved with the poor mercilessly. Not we are given any indication that he got his wealth by fraud, oppression, or extortion nor that he was drunk, or made others drunk. No vices recorded on his part. The wicked ness of the rich man was that he was not concerned about the poor and he took no care about him. A little thing would be a great kindness to him, and yet he took no cognizance of his case. That was his great drawback, though his eyes were open, he was blind to see the poor at his gate. So the biggest refuge or protection needed is for the rich to come out of his poverty, blindness, nakedness and all his miserable conditions. That plenty and pleasure are a very dangerous fatal temptation to luxury, and sensuality, and disobedience to God. Indulgence of the body, and the ease and pleasure of that, are the ruins of the soul.

Don't we need an escape from this situation? It is the biggest beatitude to be contented with what we have. Jesus very sorrowfully looked at the rich and say that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. We are poor in front of God. To enter into the riches of God, Jesus had humbled himself as poor. We should become ourself rich towards God looking to the great mercy of God. This is what St. Luke exhorts us through the story of Lazarus.

Religion is not fine or pomp clothing, but it is spiritual vigor. Though Lazarus had suffered enough in this world, he was rich in this world itself. As he had only God as a source of help he was the blessed one. What is spirituality? Man is living in the modern world with out any aim or control. Every Sunday they go to Church. Their life is entrapped in superficiality. We are adamant in our superficial ways. It is the biggest danger of the contemporary society. Every one look forward for the purple and linen clothing, nobody wants to become a Lazarus and rich towards God. All want to enter into Lanser, not to become Lazarus. Understanding that the Lanser is providence of God given to us, come out of Lanser and become a Lazarus.

To teach us the richness towards God, Jesus entered to the Cross. It was not a mere man climbed up the cross, it was a human bomb, which climbed up the cross and bursted into seven stages. No metal detectors could detect this bomb, which was concealed in his heart. Many of the people ran away from the foot of the cross. The very few remained near the cross could not see the bomb concealed in his heart. The centurion standing far away could sense it. He had witnessed that he was really Son of God by seeing the exalted scenario. While the explosive, which was exemplified as 'God is love', is blown up, the centurion could discern it as a beautiful flower blossomed. Even to the worst tormenting, the droplets of love sprinkled out of his inner-heart were the fuel used to formulate that bomb. Religion is not a narcotic to entice man, but it is the genuine and real human medicine. In a nutshell, religion is the spiritual vigor and the concern of the neighborhood.

[Maramon Convention - 2003  Original: Vocal Malayalam]
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[Matthew 18:1-5; Mark 9:33-37; Luke 9:46-48]

By Dr. K. C. Nainan, Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A

on of Man was born in a manger and brought up in a carpenter's poor home. He gathered poor and uneducated for His ministry. He was crucified and buried in a borrowed-tomb, rose on the third day and ascended to heaven. Son of Man did not come to be served; He came to serve and to give his life to redeem many people. All believers must seek, search and study the truth in the Word of God and the truth will make us free.

We all know that when the King of Heaven was incarnated as the Son of Man, He was born in meagerly and poorly equipped manger and brought up in a carpenter’s home; He started the public ministry by gathering some followers of humble origin and low social and educational standard with no religious training. He was crucified on a Roman cross and buried in a borrowed-tomb and rose on the third day; before his ascension to His Father’s home, He asked his disciples to preach and teach the good news of salvation to all mankind after being baptized and empowered with Holy Spirit. Did our Lord really envision the Church as we see and experience it today? Most of the traditional congregations have an imperial hierarchy with pope or patriarch, cardinals, archbishops, bishops, priests and deacons, doctrines and dogmas thickly coated with man-made rituals, rules and regulations, huge cathedrals and church buildings which have all the signs and symbols of a worldly kingdom. Let us examine from a scriptural point of view. The gospels and the writings of the apostles and disciples in the first century is our plumb line or reference point.

The Lord said, “His Kingdom does not belong to this world” John 18:36. After witnessing the miracles and wonders of Jesus, the people wanted to crown him as their king but he refused to that attempt and went off to the hills John 6:14-15. But when the Roman soldiers crowned him with a thorny crown on his head and put a purple robe on him for ridiculing as the King of Jews, the Lord did not object to that!

What did the Lord say about himself? Learn from me; I am gentle and humble in spirit Mathew 11:29-30. Son of Man did not come to be served; he came to serve and to give his life to redeem many people Mark 10:45. I am among you as one who serves. Luke 22:27. In the book of Isaiah our Lord is called God’s servant Isaiah 52:13

Very often the disciples of our Lord were really concerned and argued among them about the question “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of God?” Mathew 18:1, Mark 9:33-34. Jesus taught them several times “Whoever wants to be first must place himself last of all and be the servant of all” Mark 9:35.

Even at the table of the Lord’s Supper the disciples were discussing about the greatest in the Lord’s Kingdom! (Luke 22: 24-27). The Lord, the King of kings, rose from the table, washed and dried the feet of all disciples and told them that I have set an example for you, so that you will serve each other and it will be a blessing for you if you could practice. John 13:3-17

The Lord taught his friends and disciples that the kings of the pagans have power over their people, but this is not the way it is with you; rather the greatest one among you must be like the youngest, and the leader must be like the servant! Luke 22:24-34, Mathew 20:20-28, Mark 10:35-35. Our blessed Master showed the disciples about the worldly hierarchical attitude and behavior of the Jewish leaders and rulers, and instructed them not to follow and imitate them when they would be in charge of the church in the future. “ You must not be called ‘Teacher’, because you are all brothers of one another and have only one Teacher. You must not call anyone here on earth ‘Father’, because you have only the one Father in heaven; nor should you be called ‘Leader’, because your one and only Leader is the Messiah .The greatest one among you must be your servant, Whoever makes himself great will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be made great” Mathew 23:1-12.What a powerful teaching it is!

Apostle Peter called himself an elder among other church elders. He Said “ do not try to rule over those who have been put in your care, but be examples to the flock” 1 Peter 5:1-3. He never claimed to be Pope or Patriarch of any particular church. In the first century-church the apostles and disciples were known as servants of God and partners working together for founding and building the churches. By the end of the first century, the servants of the Lord began to exercise authority over people and slowly clerical hierarchy began to evolve which is against the teaching of the Lord. Emperor Constantine began to share imperial power with the servants of the Lord and the church steadily and strongly established power-hungry ecclesiastical hierarchy in many churches, especially at Rome.

Christianity did not destroy paganism, it adopted, accepted and shared many rituals, icons, traditions, and practices and developed into a worldly organization as we see today in many denominations. Early churches had apostles, prophets, teachers, evangelists, deacons and pastors. Pastors were not distinct from bishops and elders. They were all servants of the Chief Shepherd to take care of the believers in various capacities for building the Kingdom of God on earth. It is noteworthy that the first century churches had no specially designated priests because all believers are priests and there was no sacrifice to be conducted (1Peter 2:5,9, Rev 1:6).

Hierarchy and the kind of leaderships we have today in several denominations are not scriptural. Many of the religious practices are man-made. Christianity is one of the world religions whereas our Lord never started a religion. He founded the Kingdom of God without rituals, traditions and external ceremonies.

All believers must seek, search and study the truth in the word of God and the truth will make us free from false teachings and doctrines: it could be done only with the help of the Holy Spirit given to us as a gift from heaven. Then we will realize that the greatest in the Kingdom of God is the one who humbles himself and becomes like a child (Mathew 18:4) and follows our Master Jesus Christ. Amen.

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Blessed are those who are obedient; for they shall be loved all the more. Blessed are those who submit to one another in the fear of God; for they will have respect for one another. Blessed are those who control their anger through love; for they shall maintain peace and make people their well wishers. Blessed are those who see others as God's children like themselves; for they can rejoice in their success without jealously.


23. Blessed are those who are obedient; for they shall be loved all the more.

Obedience is the result of love. Our Lord said, "Those who love me, will keep my word, and my Father will love them and will come to them and make our abode with them" (St. John 14:23,24)

Disobedience is the outcome of lack of love. Our Lord said, "Who-so-ever does not love me, does not keep my words." (St.John 14:24) The best way to make a person love us is to obey him/her. When we try to obey those who love us and please them, we will have a real inner joy. Our Lord is the perfect example for obedience. St. Paul says, "He humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross" Phil. 2:8) On the other hand we find that disobedience in Adam and Eve caused the loss of paradise.

Prayer: Help us O Lord, to be obedient as far as possible, following your example and win the love of people.

24. Blessed are those who submit to one another in the fear of God; for they will have respect for one another.

The young ones should obey the elder ones. But as children grow up, parents have to submit to their good suggestions. Otherwise the children would think that their respectability is questioned. St. Paul says, "Be subject to one another, out of reverence for Christ." (Eph. 5:21) When there is submission among one another, there will be respect and joy for all. At the same time all should be primarily subject to God's will.

Prayer: Help us God, to submit to one another in accordance to your will.

25. Blessed are those who control their anger through love; for they shall maintain peace and make people their well wishers.

Our Lord says, " Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth." (St.Matt 5:5) Moses was the meekest of men and so he was able to lead a great multitude through hardships to the Promised Land. It is note-worthy that our Lord did not cleanse the Jerusalem temple in haste on Sunday. He cleansed it on the following day. (St.Mark 11:17) There is a saying, "Think twice before you speak once. " Even when there is sufficient reason to get angry even when there is sufficient reason to get angry, it is better not to do so. If we don't get angry even when there is sufficient reason, we will be honored and respected. Any fool can get angry. But it requires God's grace to be meek.

Prayer:Help us O Lord to control our anger, by identifying ourselves with people through you.

26. Blessed are those who see others as God's children like themselves; for they can rejoice in their success without jealously.

Jonathan, the son of Saul the king, was not jealous of the success of David. "When David finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was bound to the soul of David and Jonathan loved him as his own soul and Saul took him that day and would not let him return his father's house. Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul. And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was upon him and gave it to David and his armor and his sword and bow with his griddle." (1 Sam 18:1-4) Everyone will love those who love others without jealousy.

Moreover, there is no reason for being jealous of any one. When God wants to bless the world, through any one, by giving him/her great talents, has not God the right to do so? Should we not then glad when others have greater talents?

Prayer:Help us O Lord, to overcome jealousy by seeing people as your children.


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he contributing factors for nourishment and nurture of spirituality at any age are the faith in the redemptive passion of Jesus, the love of the Father who sent Him, the brooding Spirit of God that sanctifies the Church and the co-mingling factors of love and righteousness that care one another.

The contributing factors for nourishment and nurture of spirituality at any age are the faith in the redemptive passion of Jesus, the love of the Father who sent Him, the brooding Spirit of God that sanctifies the Church and the co-mingling factors of love and righteousness that care one another. “On what principle? On the principle of works? No, but the principle of faith? For we hold that a man is justified by faith apart from works of law” (Rom.3: 27-28), yet works are on the other side of the coin of faith (Jas.2: 20). John the Baptist’s parents and Jesus’ parents are the sterling examples for an amalgam of these essential components for an ideal Godly life. “And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and the ordinances of the Lord blameless” (Lk.1: 6;Mt.1: 19). While the former part of the Ten Commandments focus on the worship and glorification of God, the latter part centres on righteousness. Jesus summed up them as two commandments (Mt.22: 37-40). The history- making spiritual stalwarts are born to those parents who observe these commandments and ordinances in letter and spirit. Their blessed births are usually foretold or informed later by God (Jer.1: 4-10;Lk.1; 44;Judg.1). The parents of St.Paul and Sadhu Sunder Singh, known as Asiatic Christ, were zealous religious followers of their religions. They strictly followed what they preached, without betraying their conscience. St.Paul’s education at the feet of Gamaliel (Acts.5; 34-41) proved later that such people worship the beauty of truth as they confront with the realities of life. Though led a voluptuous life in his youth, St.Augustine became a pillar of the early church by the incessant prayers of his mother, Monica.

In spite of spirituality being a gift of God, it is bought with a high price by the parents or the persons who aspire for it. It is not a permanent asset of the person, unless struggled faithfully against the odds of the flesh, inculcating and cultivating continuously with a contrite heart. The wise Solomon lost the grasp of it at the twilight years of his life. The disobedience that opened the nakedness of Adam rules over his progeny as long as life lingers on this earth. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom.3: 23). The word spirituality is an abstract noun; it means only a way of life that draws one closer to God, experiencing a sort of ecstasy with the ineffable dimension. Those rare seers and sages who detach themselves from the mundane way of life only can have a glimpse of the celestial beauty once in a while. The Bible portrays how Providence moulded backgrounds for such people to become as the Elects of the Spirit by beating the raw nakedness of adverse climate.

Despite most of the apostles were fishermen, evidently only a pair of them was the disciples of John the Baptist (Jn.1: 35). Jesus’ statement to Simon, “henceforth you will be catching men” (Lk.5: 10; Mt.4; 18-22) and renaming him as Peter (Jn.1: 42), meaning the ‘rolling stone’, not the ‘solid rock’ by using the Greek words ‘petros’ and ‘petras’ with different meanings in the same context, as enfolded his temperamental capriciousness of his nature in course of time gave him the impetus to be the ring leader later of a gang who would fight to oust the Roman emperor from their soil and establish an empire at least equal in dimension of king David’s Israel (Acts.1: 6). Carrying a sword with him (Lk.22: 38,50;Jn.18: 10), likely the other sword with his brother Andrew, he fancied that he was the one who was commissioned as the chief of the group.

The next in line apparently were Zebedee’s sons, St.John and James, who were checked in soon after the selection of st. Peter. Besides, the Master used to segregate and consult with the trio at the nick of any important occasion (Mt.17: 1-8, 26:37; Mk.13: 3; 5: 37), thus creating an impression of making one of them as the heir- apparent of the King. St.Peter imagined or wanted that he was the head of the group, consequently he used to intrude and make queries and answer questions when asked in common (Mt.16: 16; 17: 4) or otherwise. Despite Jesus said on the basis of his solid right faith (16: 16) that, “ I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth, shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven (Mt.16: 19), acknowledging that the power and stewardship on earth and heaven was assured, St.Peter demanded again, “what then shall we have” for their service: “left everything and followed you” (Mt.19: 26-30; Mk.10: 28-31). The Malayalam translation of Mt.16: 19 is wrong; it should have been given in the Future Tense.

This problem lingered on even till and during the Last Supper, conveying the truth that Jesus didn’t want to anoint any one as His successor. If St. Peter knew that he was selected as the greatest among them, there was no need for such a crisis at the last moment (Lk.22: 24-34). The priestly authority given for the forgiveness of sins, promised in 16:19, were given to the 12 together, including Judas, in Mt.18: 18 and renewed it again after the resurrection in Jn.20: 21-25; Lk.24: 50 and on the day of Pentecost. The Lord gave power and authority for His 12 disciples over all demons and cure diseases (Lk.9). In order to quell their superiority complex He also guaranteed that they would inherit eternal life and sit on 12 thrones and judge the 12 tribes of Israel (Mt.19: 28-29). What else they needed? Assuming that the first rank might go to St.Peter, the Zebedee brothers and their mother made a plea to place them one on the left and the other on the right of Him (Mk. 10:35-45;Mt.20: 20-28)). And when the 10 heard it, they began to be indignant with the 2. After all, they were only illiterate fishermen, who, like one of us, dreamt for a high life with a motif of ‘ an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth’.

The reason for Jesus consulting and taking with them was to make them realize that the king of the gentiles only lord over others, not one engulfed in spiritual perimeter. Whenever these overweening ambitions reached their boiling points (Mk.9: 33-37; Mt.18; Lk.22; 24; Jn.21: 21-24), He used to cool down the volatile predicaments by elucidating with Heavenly Mysteries, which didn’t have a grasp over them then. St. John was of the notion that he was the most beloved one of the Rabbi (Jn.13; 23; 20:2). While they were feuding over the leadership issue, He used to quell their evil desires by propelling their hope that one day they would sit on the twelve thrones for judging the 12 tribes of Israel (Mt.19: 28; Lk.22: 30), yet they were fizzy, as in the case of different church denominations today try to sit upon the breast of others, claiming the superiority of one throne over the other and drumming out that their church as the real Bride of the Groom.

Seemingly there were 4 groups among the apostles who aspired for their particular self-interests. While the first 2 pairs were vying for the highest position in His kingdom, Judas, the prince of perdition was finding ways to embezzle the funds (Jn.12: 6) collected for their daily sustenance and charity. “ What will you give me if I deliver him to you” (Mt.26: 15), was his question in his mission of betraying Jesus. St.Thomas and St.Phillip, the proponents of the third group obviously aimed at the way of reaching the Father (Jn.14: 1-10). St.Thomas, true follower of Jesus, offered himself as a martyr for the Lord (Jn.11: 16), while the other apostles had been trying to grab the top position in His earthly ministries. Experiencing the depth of internal politics and rivalries with in the small groups, St. Thomas might have come to the conclusion that the reported resurrection of the Lord by others (Jn.20: 25) was only a mythical technique invented by the warring factions to impose their supremacy over him. Simeon the Zealot joined the group for driving out the Roman yoke from the promised land of Abraham. Jesus was helpless in divulging out His mission to anybody, knowing that the Devil would obstruct His redemptive scheme in toto if it leaked out. All what He could do was to explain in celestial language the detrimental effects of their infighting that could tell upon their salvation.

The Guru rebuked them at various times for their nefarious motifs, aiming for their own earthly gains without any personal sacrifices. While st. Peter exhilarated in accepting the keys for the Kingdom of God, He tried to shun away from the passions of the Lord. Before receiving the keys, the Lord showered him with the reprimand: ‘get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me; for you are not on the side of God, but of men” (Mt.16: 17-23). After the celestial experience on Mount Tabor, their next enquiry about the greatest person in the kingdom of heaven really exasperated Jesus in giving the severest chastisement to them. St. Matthew chapter 18 is entirely devoted for this purpose of reprimanding His beloved ones. He asks them to cut off their body parts for the sake of overcoming the temptations of the world. He gave the keys to the kingdom of Heaven only after forewarning the detrimental backlashes associated with the priceless asset (Mt.18: 18). The King in the parable at the end of the chapter represents the Lord; and the apostles are the traders caught up in the crossfire of their own malice (Acts.20: 28-35). Instead of serving the Lord in accordance with the talents received from Above, if one overpowers the other by crooked means, he will be punished severely by the Giver.

This parable directly finger point at the Apostles or ecclesiastical hierarchy who fish in troubled waters of today’s spiritual anarchy. “Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me; for he who is least among you all is the one who is great” (Lk.9; 48, 23-24; 18: 14-17; 22; 24-34). “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give life as a ransom for many” (Mt.20: 28). Grasping the evil intentions of Judas, He hinted at him indirectly, “one of you is a devil” (Jn.6: 70; Mt.26: 24). It is transparently clear from the lamentation of the Lord, “see that you do not despise one of these little ones” (Mt.18: 10-14) portraying that their inner conflicts had sidelined one of the disciples, either St. Thomas for his sacrificing mentality for the Lord or Judas for his adulterous lineage and greed, to the gutter. The use of the word ‘these’ may refer to one of the sheep referred to in figurative sense of the ensuing parable. While St.Matthew chapter 23 is a kind of an explicit bomb against the Jewish spiritual hierarchy, an undercurrent of this kind of reproof sways all along in the gospels against His own chosen ones. At the zenith of their dispute over the leadership issue during the last supper, St.Peter’s proclamation of laying down his life for the Master (Lk.22: 24-38) was proved to be futile and shallow by the time the cock crew. For want of space and time this section is cut short, refer to the 6th and 7th volumes of “ The Abomination of Desolation” series for more details.

The backlash of the leadership tumult fell on two of them, St.Peter for denying the Saviour thrice in presence of His persecutors, despite his claim of sacrificing his life for the Guru at any odds and Judas for betraying his Lord with a kiss and receiving money for His head by ignoring the previous forewarnings. The betrayer quit the stage by killing himself. Both of them seemingly lost the apostleship and discipleship of the Lord as revealed by the angels by the statement, “....tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before to Galilee....”(Mk.16: 7). His one time chosen ones were no longer the Apostles (Lk.9: 1-6) because of deserting their commission by forsaking and fleeing away from Him, but remained only as disciples- like Martha, Mary and Mary Magdalene- except St.Peter. While the 10 detained the discipleship, St. Peter lost both the apostleship and discipleship by his denial till they were all reinstated as apostles and disciples later by His love.

Despite His appearance to them after the resurrection, they did not believe in His redemptive scheme (Mk.16; 11-14;Lk.24: 36-43; Mt.28: 17). Even after witnessing the miracles that happened during His crucifixion and by revealing and providing and eating meals with them after the resurrection, they apparently ignored everything and went back to their old profession of fishing. Knowing the weaknesses of the flesh, Jesus didn’t abandon them. Signifying the three- time denial of the Lord by His beloved disciple, the Messiah took the opportunity of giving a chance to st. Peter for his confession during His third appearance to the disciples (Jn.21). He gave that chance to him because he believed once that He was the Messiah, despite he betrayed Him thrice. The penetrating power of that confession was so poignant that he couldn’t get out of the fire of that baptism. Jesus said to him to ‘feed my lambs” for the first question, “Do you love me more than these? (Jn. 21: 15). The word ‘these’, instead of ‘them’ meaning the other disciples, pertains to the net full of fish that they caught by the instruction given by the Lord, after a vain night of their labour. This might be a reprimand directed at St.Peter for instilling his brethren to take up their old way of life (‘I am going for fishing’) even after He appeared twice before since the resurrection. He seemed to have lost his interest in Christ’s mission because the earthly one was almost lost and the other one was powerless to be born due to the betrayal and enigmatic turn of events.

His apparent frustration could be on the ground that the ‘doubting Thomas’ was reinstated by putting his fingers into His wound despite his vehement denial, leaving no room for St.Peter to be the superior person of the gang. During His first appearance, He just only breathed on them, where as St. Thomas who was not present at that time was allowed to put his finger in the wound during the 2nd appearance. This incident must have exasperated St.Peter and induced him to go for his old job. “Feed my lambs”, the first reply of Jesus to His question, “Do you love me” at His 3rd appearance, teaching His disciple a lesson to embrace the innocent and humble approach of children who don’t despise or cherish any hatred to their peers or anybody else, was only the first doze of the prescriptions. Lambs being the young ones, He asked him first to emulate the way of children, “for to such belongs the kingdom of Heaven” (Mt.19: 14; 11: 25).

The children are to be spoon-fed, for which one has to come down to their level, denoting the parental-like sacrifice of the apostle. The second answer of ‘ tend my sheep’ was likely to grow up to inculcate the tender qualities of girls and women, the embodiment of love and sacrifice, who tend children and other households with love, patience, tolerance and meticulous care. The same question, “Do you love me” to St.Petr thrice, proves from the answer, “You know every thing, you know that I love you” that he was cleansed from all his overweening ambitions from the lust for power. He gave the consent to, ‘Feed my sheep’, instead of like dragging them out for fishing after the Saviour’s two appearances, at the conclusion of the third confession, reminding him ‘to turn again and strengthen your brethren’ (Lk.22: 31-32), not by misleading because of his impulsive nervous courage and leadership personality. One should begin to serve others only after neutralizing the inherent masculine lust for power and authority by intermingling the innate excellences of children and women. The Saviour also said that the lust for power and authority are the impulses of the flesh during the flower of youth and manhood, and added that he would be carried away for imprisonment at the twilight years of his life, signifying that anything temporal is mere vanity. The Lord then asked him to ‘follow me’ under these conditions of equipping himself with the garment of incorruption.

The sheep, unlike goats, is a meek animal that always sticks to its group. The sheep graze around as a flock, which don’t wrestle violently with others, whereas the goat that possesses large horns move independently and attack its own group and other animals. The sheep is clad with white coloured furs, which gives protection for its cold winter survival. We shear them during summer and use their furs for our woolen clothing. Not only that sheep is a gentle animal but also is useful for our everyday life for several purposes, meat for food and fur for winter clothing. Their white colour reflects the garment of Eternity. “ was granted her to be clothed with fine linen, bright and pure, for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints”(Rev.19: 8; 7: 9). The parable portraying the Last Judgement also authenticates this principle. “...He will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats”... (Mt.25: 32). Christianity is a social religion where every one is to be treated equally, which is the main source for making peace with one another.

There is no room for discrimination, hatred, intrigues, suppression and repression, bossing over and tortures of any kind. In order to teach us with these heavenly qualities the Saviour must have used him and Judas as case studies for us, as St.Peter thought that he was the oldest member and the domineering pioneer of the group. Despite he was brought to humiliation in presence of his so-called subordinates, we can assume that he did not learn a lesson from such debacles. His question to the Lord, “what about this man”, meaning St.John who was also a likely threat of his ambition. He concluded that st. John would replace him as the greatest among them. Jesus retorted severely, “what is that to you”, and asked him again to simply ‘follow me’. There are many other instances, which we can quote about their anguish about the leadership issue since the beginning of their selection. They got the naked authenticity of their mission only from the day of Pentecost when the tongues of fire of the Comforter cleansed them.

Taking St.peter and Judas as test cases, have we learnt any lesson from our follies and foibles of our life for the last 2000 years? The lust for power and money, the main ingredients for the fall of two apostles, embroiled with another nuclear factor of sex corruptions, which serve as the catalytic agent for the implosion of today’s churches in various parts, shedding lethal shrapnel all around. Heresies one after the other brought schisms that multiplied the Body of Christ into various fractions, desecrating the institution of the church by interpreting the word of God to one’s taste and palatability. How many denominations and cults that seek their own glory are there today to defile the name of Christ? Numberless! Look at the deplorable condition of the Bride of our times! Divided, shattered and scattered as a shepherdless flock, it is at the throes of its deathbed, trying to heave its last breath. The church is under the bridle of a trinity of madness; lust for power, money and a third dimension of sexual corruption that was not prevalent in the early church, despite it corroded and rocked the contemporary Jewish hierarchy during the time of Christ (Mt.23; 13). While st. Peter’s query to his Guru demanding on ‘what shall we have’ (Mt.19: 27), Judas’ demand to his Guru’s foe was ‘what will you give me’ (Mt.26: 15)? My humble endeavor is not to caricature the Apostles who will sit on 12 thrones for judging us but to reflect the inherent weaknesses of the flesh, unless cleansed by the tongues of fire from Above. The trio was reputed to be pillars (Gal.2: 9), seemingly on account of their leadership qualities and eloquence and the ability of prolific writings of gospels, epistles, liturgies and Revelations later on earthly standards, but there is no indication that their judgement thrones and their positions, may or may not be in allegorical terms, are different from other apostles’ thrones. Being an earthling and weakling, I don’t have the power of attorney in judging them; if I have made any error in my judgement, with due humility, I ask the apology to the 12 Apostles whose names are inscribed on the 12 foundations of the wall of the city of New Jerusalem, and make an honest plea to God to forgive my sins by their supplications.

Public recognition and leadership is a natural aspiration of everybody; st. Peter’s ambition in seeking the greatest position here and hereafter was despite contemptuous, he had the chaste faith and a concern for his fellow apostles, where as Judas’ benefit was for himself (Mt.16: 16; Jn.6: 69-70), hence he contrived his retribution under the cover of darkness. Betraying the innocent blood for money ended up his life in suicide that bought the field of ‘Akeldama’, the field of blood, with a high price. The colour of the currency in some countries, particularly the highest denomination, is green, which goes in unison with the colour of the environment. Thus the environmentally friendly colour of the currency determines the colour of our spirituality today. This black money, the vehicle of modernity, drilled or excavated out of the dark interior of earth and trying to convert everything into green, propels the spiritual sensibility of the civilized elites and apish modern common mass of every religion and society by fighting one another or against each other like cats and dogs. The craving for money and power degraded every religion as suicidal ones at the culmination of time. These suicidal churches, cults and religions which radiate the greed and spiritual aversion of Judas, in collusion with the world rulers and militant theology of religious fanatics that drifted away from the right faith, are the betrayers of Christ at His second coming, despite the warning was given well in advance that the Son of Man will not find true faith on earth at His coming again (Lk.18: 8).

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Juhanon Mar Thoma was reputed for his deep concern for social justice and he gave emphasis on individual relationship to God and personal holiness. He deliberated his identification with the national aspirations and encouraged those who took part in the political and social struggles under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi for freedom from foreign rule.


Juhanon Marthoma succeeded Abraham Mar Thoma in 1947. He was born on 7th August 1893 and was christened John. His father was C.P.Mathew Munsiff (Judge), a scion of the Cherukara family in Ayiroor, which had a distinguished clerical tradition. Philippose Malpan, a stalwart of the Reformation was a nephew of Metropolitan Mathews Mar Athanasius I, and an adviser and confident of Metropolitans Thomas Mar Athanasios and Titus I. His sons were Mathew Munsiff, Rev. C.P. Philippose(Ayroor Valiachan) . C.P.Koshy, educationalist and church leader C.P.Thomas, Rev. C.P.Abraham (Ayiroor Kochachen), C.P. Joseph, and C.P.Samuel, and they were all leaders in the cultural and civic life of central Kerala.

Further the village of Ayiroor, which was about 10 square miles in extent, was a place where religious and cultural harmony prevailed under the leadership of people like Ayiroor Valiachen and the famous Nair leader Thottavallil Asan. The Nairs and Christians co-operated fully in festivals like Onam where both communities participated joyously in boat races in the Pampa River. John's mother was Annamma, a daughter Kottayam Kollamkeril John Sirasthadar, senior revenue official. John's elder brother was Dr. C.M. Philip who was honored with title Rao Sahib for his services in medicine, and younger brother was Rev. C.M. Thomas. John's father was posted at places like Alleppey and Chertalai and so his early education was in different schools. He did not show any great promise in his studies but he was an active child with full of boyish pranks for which he received due punishment from his judicial father. He had once a lucky escape from being drowned in the Aymanam River now famous through Arundhati Roy's award winning novel, 'God of Small things' - along with his younger sister whom he encouraged to swim with him. John was sent to Marthoma Seminary High School to be a boarder from 1906 to 1912. He enjoyed his stay as a boarder as he had plenty of opportunity to swim in the Aymanam river even in difficult conditions.

C.M. John started his University education at Maharaja's College in Trivandrum, from where he moved on to the Madras Wesley College and subsequently to the Madras Christian College: all prestigious colleges at that time. He secured his B.A. degree in 1919 at the age of 26, which was later than normal as he was only an average student and did not pass in all subjects in the first attempt. But he won a large group of friends in Madras Colleges who distinguished themselves in diplomacy and politics in later years. He was also influenced by the political ferment in India demanding independence for India. He came out of college as a khadi (hand spun hand-woven cloth) wearer, symbolizing the simplicity of his tastes in cloths as well as his solidarity with the political protest against the colonial domination of India.

After graduation he decided to devote his life for the kingdom of God, joined the Union Theological College, Banglore for his B.D. degree, on the completion of which he offered himself for the service of the Church. Mr. K.K.Kuruvilla the educationalist and headmaster of the Mar Thoma Seminary was involved in the expansion of the Seminary at that time. He welcomed the services of C.M.John who had no doubt about his dedication for the service of the Church and so he started his career as a High School teacher. He was popular among his pupils and being active in sports he became the Scoutmaster. His pupils always remembered him in their later lives as a caring teacher, Scoutmaster and Boarding Superintendent, who was a strict disciplinarian as well as a dispenser of compassion. He was always willing to meet his pupils at their own levels with a sense of humor and boyish enthusiasm.

He was ordained a Deacon (Semmassan) in 1927 by Metropolitan Titus II. In the following year Deacon John was a participant in the International Scout Jamboree in England. In those days he was still clad in his favorite Khadi cloths, donning a moustache like his father, a bunch of keys in the shawl on his shoulder and sporting a guileless smile to those who met him. He went to New York in 1928 to pursue his theological studies at Union Seminary from where on obtaining the S.T.M. Degree he went to Wycliffe Hall in Oxford in 1930. In between Deacon John attended the Boys Camp in Canada. He was also link to YMCA movement, especially to the Boy's branch. After his time in Oxford he returned to India via the Holy Land and resumed his work as a teacher in the Marthoma Seminary till 1933 when he was ordained a priest at the Ayiroor Church. He was appointed the vicar of Jerusalem Church, the prestigious Marthoma parish in Kottayam a town where he had spent his boyhood and most of his adult life as a teacher. So he was well acquainted with the spiritual and social life of the parish and surrounding area. He motivated the youth for church and social work, and took part in the youth camps, sports and boat races, which made him a source of inspiration for the youth. He was able to instill in them religious and social ideals. His tireless work affected his health and he had to retreat to sanatorium for rest and treatment.

In 1936 the Marthoma Church celebrated the centenary of the Reformation started by Abraham Malpan and this celebration brought about a new spiritual ferment in the Church. It was strongly felt that the Church should assume the responsibility for evangelizing the sub-continent of India. To enhance the work of the Church it was decided to consecrate two more bishops and the lot fell on Rev. C.M. John and Rev.C.T.Mathew. They were consecrated on 30th December as bishops by Metropiltan Titus II, assisted by Saffragan Metropolitan Abraham and Mar Kurilose, Metropolitan of the Thozhiyur Church and in the presence of the Presiding Bishop of the Lutheran Church., Bishop Sandegren, who preached at the service. Rev. C.M. John was given the Episcopal title of Juhanon Mar Timotheos and Rev. Athanasius. Bishop Juhanon was the older of the two in age so he was given the senior position, as per the tradition of the Church.

Till then the Church was administered as a single unit by the Metropolitan assisted by the Suffragan Metropolitan. At this time, in the interest of efficient administration, the Church was divided into two dioceses with Rt.Rev. Juhanon Mar Timotheos as the Diocesan Bishop of the Southern Diocese (Quilon/Kottarakkara) where he labored for nearly a decade, creating a spiritual revival in the diocese, constructing a new Bishops House at Mailom, near Kottarakkara. He traveled around the diocese in a horse-drawn carriage, which befitted his inborn simple life and habits. One of the authors has recollections of traveling with him in his carriage a few times as a very young boy and meeting him years later as secretary of the Student Christian Movement, when the Metropolitan reminded him of the happy few years spent at Bishop's House at Mailon. It is regrettable that the Church sold this property without any appreciation for its historical importance.

Metropoltan Abraham Mar Thoma, whose health deteriorated gradually as a result of his constant travel and aggravation of his diabetic condition, followed metropolitan Titus II. Abraham Mar Thoma passed away in September 1947. Bishop Juhanon Mar Themotheos was renthroned as Metropolitan Juhanon Mar Thoma at Kozhencherry Church. Thus he became the 18th Mar Thoma. Later events were to prove that the Church then elevated to its headship a Metropolitan who could enhance her global and the ecumenical standing both in India and abroad.


[Excerpt from the book 'Glimpses of Marthoma Church History' authored by Zac Vargese Kanisseril and Mathew Kallumpram.]

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[Late Dr. Paulose Mar Gregorios is considered as one of the greatest philosopher, theologian, thinker and religious personaility of the past century after swami vivekananda. The text is based on the Profile of Late Dr. Paulos Mar Gregorios and his speech in Chicago Nov, 1989 at the inaugural address of the centennial of the World Parliament of religions published by Delhi Orthodox Center.]

Dr. Paulose Mar Gregorios was invited by Council for a Parliament of The World's Religions to deliver this address at the Inaugural Ceremonies for the Centennial, held at Rockefeller Chapel, Chicago, in November 1989. In this passage Dr.Paulos exhorts the world political, religious and scientific community to work for peace and development. A message which is relevant for all times to come and will stand the best of time.



H.G. Metropolitan Late Paulos Mar Gregorios

For me this is a great privilege indeed, to inaugurate the centenary celebrations of the World's Parliament of Religions. The World's Parliament of Religions, convened in this historic city of Chicago a century ago, held aloft a torch, which helped us see a vision. We are today from having realized it; but to renew that vision is the purpose of my few words this evening. It is a perennial yearning of the human race to find its own unity. To this, I believe, the 1893 Parliament responded. Of course, the Columbian Exposition was there with all the glory of the technology which had just come into being in that last two decades of the last century. But along with all that urban/industrial, scientific/technological progress, in the mind of humanity on a spiritual basis and not just on the basis of a mere technological/industrial civilization. That is the vision before us today. Technology and modern civilization are not that which will unite us ultimately. That civilization has made it possible for us to come together, to communicate with each other, but that civilization cannot, alas, provide the necessary foundation for the spiritual unity of mankind. It is in search of that foundation that we, a hundred years later, begin these celebrations.

  • Religions and the Secular World:
    In 1893, perhaps the purpose was to fight irreligion. Today, that cannot be our purpose. We do not want to fight. Religions have done their share of fighting in the past. We shall not fight wars, but wage peace. Because a thousand million secular people without belief are also human beings, we are not going to fight them. Religions should never gang up against something called irreligion. No, that shall not be our purpose. Our purpose shall be to provide a multi-faceted foundation on which, in mutual respect, the cultures of the world can come together and live in a global concourse of religions. And we shall not take the Golden Rule as our uniting principle as they did a hundred years ago. That was in fashion at the end of the last century, when American liberal Christianity had lost its spiritual moorings and could only find this little plank of the Golden Rule to hold on to. That is not what is before us. What is before us is a ric, deep, penetrating, respectful understanding of each other's religions. Not a common religion which puts everything into one pot; we do not want a religion which unites all religions. What we want is a Global Concourse of all Religions, to which the unbeliever shall not be a stranger, but shall be wholly welcome. That is the vision we need to recreate.

    You know, in the Soviet Union, which was supposed to be the most anti-religious expression of secular forces, today the accent is totally different. Marxists have recognized that the values which shall unite humanity and shall make it possible for nations to live together in peace cannot come out of a secular ideology, but will have to come from a moral vision of humanity as a global phenomenon. And, as a result of that, they are now openly apologizing for their attitude towards religion in the past. Last August [1989] the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches met in Moscow. Two hundred people were invited to the Kremlin for a reception. At that reception, the Prime Minister of Soviet Union, Mr. Ryzhkov, made a 20-minute address in which he openly stated that the Party and government in the Soviet Union were wrong in their attitude towards religious people in the past, and asked us, literally, to forgive them.

    That is the world in which we live, where even secular people are turning towards religion to find meaning and hope. The unfortunate part of it is that religions are not quite ready to face that challenge, because that kind of exclusivistic traditional need of humanity for meaning.

  • A Global Concourse of Religions:
    And that is the fundamental purpose of a permanent Parliament of Religions which will come out of these celebrations which we inaugurate this evening. I call it a "Global Concourse of religions." You may later on agree to call it a Parliament; I would not quarrel. Parliament literally means "a talking shop." That is all right. But what I would like to see is a "concourse," a flowing together, a running together of all religions: active, dynamic, without losing their identity, but in relation to each other, understanding each other, with mutual respect, and moving toward certain specific goals.

    Let me say something now which I hope can be understood: So long as Western civilization or Western Christianity dominate the World Parliament or Concourse, it will not work, because the identities of the other religions bear strong hostility toward both Western Christianity and Western civilization for their aggression against the culture of the world. Western civilization has been a largely one-way mission, in which both the civilization and the church claimed to know the truth and refused to listen to the aspects of truth in the experience of the rest of humanity. And, therefore, I want to say this form the heart: I love my Western brothers and sisters; I love my Western "Christian" brothers and sisters also. But where they dominate, an impasse prevails which does not allow the other cultures of the world to function. They are helplessly dominant. Men or women, they cannot do anything but dominate.

    And, therefore, the most important thing for a Global Concourse of Religions is for the western civilization and Western Christianity to be humble and courteous enough to take a back seat. The west has contributions to make, of course. Especially, their capacity to organize is unparalleled - even by the Japanese! And so we will need your help in the organization of such a Global Concourse of Religions.

    But can you do it without dominating, quietly, and let others be free to do it their way? Try! Then we might be able to use your God-given capacity in our common work, not as leader, but in a more modest way. Otherwise, we would find the rest of the cultures of the world still inhibited by fear that they would be steam-rolled by western civilization, Western Christianity and their values and approaches. This is a very fundamental thing that I wanted to say on this occasion.

  • Justice, Peace and Environment:
    A second fundamental thing that I wanted to say is that this Global Concourse of Religions must be committed not just to dialogue with each other, but to the future of humanity as a whole. If religions cannot get into that question of the welfare of all humanity, those great values to which they bear witness will not make much sense to vast millions of the people of this world. On the one hand, all religions have to develop a deep spiritual commitment, the re-creation of the deepest levels of meaning for human existence in a personal and communal spirituality.

    But equally important is the other pole: the commitment to the welfare of humanity, the commitment to justice, the commitment to peace, the commitment to environment that promotes life rather than threatens to extinguish it, the commitment to eliminate toxic drugs and nuclear weapons. Three foci for such a Global Concourse are: justice, peace, and environment. Those must be three overacting goals of the global concourse that we shall set up. It it is not so, then most of the people of the world will say. "Well, another organization of religious people to talk among themselves about things which are interesting to them, but not of immediate concern to us."

    I would say that the cry for justice is the most heart-rending cry of humanity, and if religion is not relevant to justice in the world, religion is not worth having. If religion is as escape from the struggle for justice, then it's not worth much for most of the people in this world. Many would rather do away with religion altogether. And to touch on the issue of justice is also to touch on the fact that, among perpetrators of injustice, the religious people have more often been on the side of the oppressor than standing with the oppressed. This is what has made religion repulsive to many people.

    The reason why the secular humanist movement had to arise in the west was because the Christian religion lost its humanist vision. Because religion supported the cause of the oppressor, the slave owner, the exploiter, therefore a rival secular morality had to arise in this civilization. That is why we don't need to fight secularism, but rather should learn from it. We need to learn those great human values to which all people of good will stand committed, values which come out of our various religions heritages, but which the religious are not practicing today. If that does not happen, if this is going to be simply a talking-shop for old-style religion, then the Global Concourse may not make much sense to most people.

    We all can talk about peace. Christians will say, "Christ is the Prince of Peace." Hindus can say, "Shanti, Shanti, Shanti." Jews can say, "Shalom." Muslim can say, "Salaam." All mean peace. Wonderful. But until recently, most of the wars in the world came out of religious conflicts. The last two world wars were, perhaps, not like that, but in the history of humanity religion has too often been the cause of war while talking about peace. And, therefore, we will have to shift our emphasis from talking to action for peace.

    In each religion there are two levels. One level is exclusivistic and expansionist. That is to say, each religion says, we have the truth and if you want to have the truth, join us. That is the exclusivist, expansionist, lower type pf religion. All religions have that lower type. But in religions there is also a higher type, a type which is universal in its orientation, which al all-embracing in its love, which is non-discriminating between members of its own community and those outside. That good, humanistic, open tendency in all religions will have to be brought to the top. It is there. It only needs to emphasize further. Only that way will we promote Peace on Earth.


    Long time ago, before Christ, there was a Rabbi in ancient Judea by the name Solomon, who was very famous for his wisdom, honesty and generosity. Every Sabbath day, many youngsters, both men and women of Judea, after worshipping Yahweh, gathered in the shade of the trees of Synagogue to hear and discuss with Solomon whose wisdom they appraised as comparable to that of Wise King Solomon. Rabbi Solomon was so scholastic to answer any questions of the Youngsters with reference to the Holy Scriptures. Yohanes, Martha, Ezekiel, Esther, and Ahaz were some of the active participants of the group discussions with Rabbi. Esther, a young girl, summarized all the sweet discussions with Rabbi day to day as follows:


    Authored By: JOHN D. KUNNATHU

    Knowledge is that which is perceived by the senses, analyzed, compared and kept in memory by the mind. Our knowledge is limited and relative, and there is no need to say that nobody can gain all knowledge. But it is always possible to improve our knowledge by sharing it with one another. This is an advantage we human beings have over animals and plants--we can share our knowledge using language. By being open to others, we can enrich our knowledge and life.

    Today we had an interesting discussion about how we gain knowledge. It was Ahaz who began the discussion.

    Ahaz:Rabbi, I have closely followed the discussions we have had here. There is something that surprises me. I haven't had a chance to meet anybody else who can answer such questions with such ease and clarity. Could you tell us the secret of how you have gained such deep knowledge? I have read the creation story and the story of Adam and Eve several times. But I have never realized that they are such large treasures of precious ideas. I think that you have some extraordinary power to understand hidden knowledge. Am I right?

    Rabbi: Really there is nothing extraordinary in my knowledge or power of understanding. It is an ability anybody can develop with a little effort. I can give you some guidelines that can be helpful.

    Let us think of a newborn child. It knows almost nothing except that it has certain inborn instincts, but slowly begins to understand the world around using a knowledge acquisition mechanism consisting of the five senses and the mind. What is perceived by the senses is analyzed, compared and kept in memory by the mind. Suppose a child observes a cat, it receives an impression of the cat in his mind--its color, shape, size, sound etc. Afterwards when the child sees a dog, the process is repeated, and the new impression is compared to the first one. Certain similarities and differences are noticed.

    This is the basic knowledge acquisition mechanism all of us use from birth to death. When I perceive something new, I understand it by comparing it to what I already know. Therefore, the same thing is understood in different ways by different people. Let us consider an example: Two children observe a dog at the same time, which is the second animal both of them see. One has already seen a horse, and the other, a rat. They understand the dog by comparing it to what they have already seen. Thus, the first child will think of the dog as small, though the other will think of it as large.

    Thus, our knowledge is limited and relative, and there is no need to say that nobody can gain all knowledge. But it is always possible to improve our knowledge by sharing it with one another. This is an advantage we human beings have over animals and plants--we can share our knowledge using language. By being open to others, we can enrich our knowledge and life. If we think that we have the monopoly of all knowledge, we are making ourselves fools. Our ancestors were always willing to learn from others such as Egyptians, Greeks, Cannanites , Persians and Babylonians.

    The present-day Jewish community has inherited the knowledge acquired by the past generations of Jewish community in easy-to-remember forms of language such as songs, stories, and proverbs. Recently, some of them were put to written form, and it is here before us--the Holy Scriptures.

    We learn primarily from our own experiences in life. We improve our knowledge by comparing it with that of others, which includes that of our ancestors as recorded in the scriptures. We should not make the mistake of depending solely on either of them as the absolute source of knowledge. We need both--our own experiences and those of others.

    It is true that our Holy Scriptures are as deep and wide as an ocean with a great wealth of knowledge acquired by the past generations of our community. Still, it is limited. Our community will continue to exist acquiring more and more knowledge, and making it a part of the scriptures as time goes on. Moreover, there are other communities with their own inherited wealth of knowledge, perhaps, even in written form. Hence, we should not be so foolish as to think that our Holy Scriptures are the absolute and final authority of all truth.

    I am often surprised at why many grown-up people understand the scriptures just as children do. For example, children understand the Hymn of creation and the story of Adam and Eve literally. But grown-ups should be wise enough to distinguish between literal and metaphorical. In the story of Adam and Eve, a snake talks, though we know that in reality no animal or plant has the ability to use such a complex thing as a human language. In the same story, God walks in the garden, and Adam and Eve hear the sound of the footsteps. But we are sure that God is not like a man to walk with an audible sound. These stories are certainly not historical events, but products of imagination. But they present in a condensed and easy-to-remember form the wisdom of our past generations.

    It was a very interesting discussion.

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