Diocesan Metropolitan of Madras Diocese, Malankara Orthodox Church

In the broadest sense, the most extensive Christian fellowship signifies the entire Church of Christ with its all believers. Jesus Christ is the corner stone of the Church. As Christ is a living stone, all member stones are living. As the consummation of love is the beatitude of heaven, so the sincerity of love is the earnest of that blessedness. Those that live in fellowship of love and peace shall have the God of love and peace with them always.


Though the word 'Iq«mb va' [Koottayma] is the Malayalam term used as a rendering or paraphrase for the English word 'Fellowship', it is not an exact equivalent of the English word in its meaning, essence or intent. The word 'Fellowship' which connotes close association or joint participation with mutual sharing in common interests, is now very widely used in all communities and it refers to all affiliations which are held in common. In general, fellowship is a state in which we share as fellows, that's as partners, or peers which means a mutual sharing, partnership, joint participation and communion. In Christianity, Fellowship shares a common faith, nature, salvation, mission and relationship. It is the sharing of a common life created by the indwelling Spirit of God.

In the broadest sense, the most extensive Christian fellowship signifies the entire Church of Christ with its all believers. The family of God is comprised of babes, children, youth, young, old, men, women, fathers, mothers, clergies, living, non-living and all the kinds of people. It is also constituted with visible Church building, altar, its Most Holy Place and other perceivable elements. Though the word 'Church' is often used to describe the building and other visible elements, the doctrine of Church fellowship may be applied to the visible and invisible. The doctrine permeates the partnership between God and all believers.

In our apostolic creed we reiterate that we believe in the maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible. There are visible and invisible both inside and outside. Beyond the boundaries of our life there is an invisible world, which is imperceptible to our limited vision. We have only the imagination about it. Church is an institution constituted of all visible and invisible.

Not within the worldly knowledge of man, Fellowship is the entity of relationship of the two worlds under the intensive thoughts of God Almighty. Communal unity within boundaries of the Spirit of worship, love or mutual understanding is the basics of fellowship. In the supreme meaning, fellowship is basic factor of the Church.

The church is compared to a building. Jesus Christ is the corner stone of the Church. This magnificent structure is built upon the foundation of the New Testament apostles and Old Testament prophets as the pillars of the building. The ultimate faith basics are Apostles and Prophets. Church is withstanding over the nuptial faith and proclamation of Apostles and Prophets. All believers are the member stones of the Church of Christ that is the household of God. In Him we all are joined and knit together for a habitation of God through the Holy Spirit. Christ supports the building by His invincible strength: In whom all the building, fitly framed together to grow unto a holy household of the Lord.

The Church House has an intimate relationship with its constituent stones and also there is intimate relationship within each other. The corner-stone stays inseparably with the building, supports it, unites it, and adorns it. The Church Home will be collapsed if the Corner Stone Jesus Christ is weakened or removed. As the foundation stone is firm and strong, member stones are also firm and strong. All believers, who are the constituent stones, are being united to Christ by faith, and bond among themselves by charity to grow unto a holy household of God.

Christ, the foundation stone of the corner, is a living stone, having eternal life in Himself, and being the spring of all lives. He is living and He is the life-giver. God is the living Father, Who have life in and of Himself and all shall live eternally by Him. The Church of God is a spiritual house.

As the head of our Church fellowship, Jesus assures us; '...because I live, ye shall live also.' (John 14:19) Each of us, who are the member stones, has also got life. As He lives eternally, those that by faith are united to Him shall live also eternally: they shall live spiritually, a divine life in communion with God.

Where there is life, there is growth. It also moves and transfigures. They are dynamic and regenerating. Life in Christ is a growth and all growth demands change and alteration. This house is daily built up, every part of it growing, and matured in every age by the addition of new members. As all the ingredients are lively stones, it makes the spiritual house alive to God by regeneration and the working of the divine Spirit.

Equality plays a vital part in Church fellowship. None of the Apostles were one over the other. All were equal and all had equal status. Jesus Himself called them as brothers and friends. 'And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. Be not called Rabbi, neither be ye called Master or Guide, One is your Master, even Christ.' (Mat 23:9) All you are brethren.

What is the real experience in the Church fellowship? Psalmist elucidates it in the Song of degrees: 'Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!' (Psalm 133:1) The doctrine lays down of the happiness of brotherly love in true fellowship, delighting in each other with mutual endearments, and promoting each other’s welfare with mutual services. As the consummation of love is the beatitude of heaven, so the genuineness of love is the earnest of that blessedness. Those that live in fellowship of love and peace shall have the God of love and peace with them always.

[Extract from Address given at St.Gregorios Church, Philadelphia, USA : Original in Malayalam]
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All the prophecies from the Old Testament, the virgin birth, the miracles by our Lord, the resurrection, the promise of the Second Coming, the uncompromising and authoritative method of teaching and preaching of our Lord, prove and proclaim that Jesus is God. Jesus is truly God who became a true man, and He will be with us all the days of the New Year, every year of our life on earth and in eternity.

The statement “Jesus Christ is God” is not found in the bible though there are many verses and references in the ‘word of God’ that clearly and dogmatically prove and support the divinity of our Savior. The true, full deity and humanity of Christ are the foundations of Christianity. When the Apostle Peter confessed that “You are the Messiah”, the Lord said that this truth was revealed to Peter by his heavenly Father and on this very truth, he would build the foundation of his church (Mathew 16:13-20, Luke 9:18-21, Mark 8:27-30). In addition, Isaiah made a prophecy that the Messiah would be “the Mighty God” (Isaiah: 9-6).

In the first century, Apostle John wrote the ‘Gospel of John’ as well as his letters to prove and defend the full divinity of the Savior against the Gnostic heresy which was a powerful antichristian teaching based on Greek and pagan philosophy. Then in the forth century, in 325 A.D., during the council of Nicaea, 318 bishops led by theologian and apologist Athanasius fought against Arius who questioned the divinity of Jesus Christ. Consequently, the famous Nicene Creed, which is the basis of orthodoxy, clearly established the divinity of Christ. It was thereafter handed over to all Christendom.

Throughout the centuries, several cults, including modern New Age movements, continue to question the true divinity of our Lord and thus many believers are led astray from the very basic doctrinal and dogmatic truth of Christian faith. So, let us search for some verses and references from the bible to show that Jesus Christ is truly God: While on earth our Lord said, “ I and my Father (God the Father) are one” (John 10:30).

He wanted his followers to believe and accept that “I am who I am”, the very answer that God told Moses about Himself (Exodus 3:14, John 8:24-28). Other statements that the Lord said of himself include “I am the way, the truth and the life, no man comes into the Father but by me” (John 14:6); “I came from God. I did not come on my own authority, but He sent me” (John 8:42); “ I am not from this world. I come from above” (John 8:23); “ I come from God and He sent me” (John 7:29); “ I am the resurrection and the Life” (John 11:25); “Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me” (John 14:11); and “Believe in God the Father and believe also in me” (John 14:1).

From the letters and gospels of the Apostles, there are other references to prove the Lord’s divinity: “Before the world was created, the Word (Jesus Christ) already existed; he was with God and he was the same as God. From the very beginning, the Word was with God” (John 1:1-2). “Christ is the visible likeness of the invisible God. He is the first-born son (not created), superior to all created things. The Son has in Himself the full nature of God” (Colossians 1:15-19). In Paul’s letter to Titus, he refers to our Savior as God (Titus 1:3, 2:10-13, 3:4). The author of Hebrews (probably Apostle Paul) stated, “Jesus Christ is the one through whom God created the universe, the one whom God has chosen to possess all things at the end. He reflects the brightness of God’s glory and is the exact likeness of God’s own being, sustaining the universe with his powerful word “ (Hebrew 1:1-3). Apostle Peter wrote in his second letter about the experience on the mountain of transfiguration that “ This is my own dear son with whom I am pleased” (Peter 1:16-18). The same kind of testimony is heard from God the Father about Jesus at the time of his baptism (Mark 1:11, Mathew 1:17, John 1:34).

After the resurrection when the Lord appeared to the disciples, the Apostle who is often referred to as “doubting Thomas” saw the Lord and addressed Him as “my Lord and God” (John 20:28). All the prophecies from the Old Testament, the virgin birth, the miracles by our Lord, the resurrection, the promise of the Second Coming, the uncompromising and authoritative method of teaching and preaching of our Lord, prove and proclaim that Jesus is God. Among the Jews, forgiveness of sins can only be given by God. During His ministry, Jesus Christ forgave the sins of people and this irritated and agitated Jewish leaders. Several times the Lord claimed oneness with God. This became one of many accusations against Jesus, which led to his death. Additionally, Jesus was worshipped by his disciples and people who received healing from him. Among the Jews, only God could be worshipped. This is one of the Ten Commandments. Jesus, who was a Jew, accepted this worship because He is truly God. The bible has many other versus and references to show the divinity of Christ. He is truly God who became a true man, and He will be with us all the days of the New Year, every year of our life on earth and in eternity. Amen.

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“You put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lust and be renewed in the spirit of your mind and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness,” [Eph 4:22-24]

Theologians call epistle to Ephesians, ‘Queen of Epistles’ because of its high devotional value. It is a fine masterpiece in which doctrines peculiar to Christians as well as vital for common life is sublimely blended. It is epistle of Christian virtues. Being a “Prisoner for Christ,” v3: 1, is the crown of all virtues. Chapter 4:17-24 insists that Christians should abandon sinful way of life. A Christian should hold fast righteousness and holiness. Gentiles are full of darkness and ignorance, hardened and lost power of sensation, to judge good and evil. Being away from Christ is living in vanity, darkness and uncleanness. No one is born to sin although there is inborn tendency to sin rather, one’s choice to live in sin or righteousness. “At first he regards sin with horror. When he sins, there enters into his heart remorse and regret. But if he continues to sin there comes a time when he losses all sensation and can do most shameful things without any feeling at all. His conscience is petrified. Then sin enters into a state of shameless wantonness,” says Barclay. He compares this with one who is slave to drug, liquor, sex and other addiction. At first he begins it secretly, feels bad when others see or know it and finally he does not bother if others see or know it. According to St Basil it is, “A disposition of the soul incapable of bearing the pain of discipline.” Most thinkers feel that it is a state of irresistible desire for every form of pleasure, especially those that have no right to possess. Heart of the sinner is so hardened that he hardly distinguishes shame, decency and honor. Other’s comfort is not a matter to him. Apostle sees such were the situation of his converts before and so he urges a complete change. Christ is the light and in Him there is no darkness. So whoever is in Christ walks in light. Apostle employs a special term, “Put off old man and put on Christ,” as if changing the old and worn out clothing to new one. Faithful have to discard old self of world and sin similar to discarding filthy clothes.

I hasten to add that in today’s changed context most Christians are simply namesake Christians and are really heathens and sometimes worse than heathens. Jesus said about disciples, “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt looses its savor, it is good for nothing but to throw out and be trampled underfoot by men,” Mat 5:13. Jesus meant that Christian disciple ought to reflect the properties of salt, which are retaining and reflecting the righteous and holy nature of God, the Creator, bind together and preserve the humanity in the loyalty to God, protect and reveal God’s covenant to humanity of all generations. Had Jesus in mind the deadly nature of the elements, which constitute salt! I would affirmatively imagine because Jesus was Omniscient God and perfect human at the same time. Science teaches us that salt is a compound of two deadly chemical elements, sodium and chlorine. But when these powerful elements are combined in proper proportion both the elements loose their respective deadly properties and become salt, the most essential and useful nutrient without which it is impossible to live. Story of “King Lear” is too well-known that needless to emphasis the inevitability of salt, which is true of Christians. If a Christian looses sight of his/her calling his/her heart would be petrified to commit all odious and deadliest sins, which a heathen would never even imagine. Therefore what St Paul meant about heathens rightly applies to present day Christians also. Christians replaced Christianity with ‘Churchianity.’ Religion itself is reduced into a shield to contrive crimes these days?

A thinker said, ‘show me what amuses you and I would guess the sort of person you are. If you laugh at filthy stories, you gave yourself away to filth. If you scoff at virtue, you have embraced vice. If you chuckle at another’s failure or misfortune, you have a cruel streak inside of you. If you can laugh at your own stupidities and mistakes, you handle life with skill.” Sometime ago an MTV commentator said, “A little lust, pride, sloth, and gluttony-in moderation- are fun and that is what keeps your heart beating,” Is it possible to sin in moderation? Jesus said, “If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out,” for it is better to loose one organ than to cast out whole body and soul into hell, Mat 5:29. He taught to shun evil companions, scornful words and wicked way of life. I do not interpret literally and yet, think solemnly whom, MTV or Jesus we believe?

Oak tree gives a good lesson. Most trees shed leaves in winter but not oak tree. Leaves turn dry and crisp, yet snowstorm and brute winter-winds fail to tear it down completely. But as spring season progresses tiny buds spring out at the tip of the twigs from inside. The dry leaves then give way to new buds. Force of new life that sprouts from inside is mightier than the force of rain and winds from outside. This is exactly how a spiritual human being works. Renewal is a matter of heart and it originates inwardly. When Christ takes control of heart, remnants of sinful, filthy old character will die out and the fruits of the spirit, which are goodness, righteousness, and truth, Eph 5:9, love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, Gal 5:22, will grow in abundance. He who walks in spirit cannot fulfill the lust of the body, Gal 5:16, which are adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outburst of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, Gal5: 19-22. Instead, he will say with David, “He has put a new song in my mouth-praise to our God,” Ps 40:3, and invite others to sing a new song to the Lord, Ps 96:1. The Prophet consoles, “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fails not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The Lord is my portion, says my soul, therefore will I hope in Him,” Lam 3:22-23. Concerning the restoration of Israel who sinned Lord said, “A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you, I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh and I will give a heart of flesh, Jer 36:26. A new heart of flesh instead of stony and sinful heart will greatly enhance how we behave with others!

In this New Year, “Let the Lord bless thee and keep thee. The Lord make His face shine upon thee and give thee peace,” Num 6:25-26. May God Almighty keep you safe and sound and richly bless you and your household throughout the New Year.

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47. Blessed are those who are free from all sins without exception, and have the fullness of virtues; for they will have the fullness of spiritual health.

In order to have the fullness of heavenly joy, we must be free from all sins without exception. St. James says, "Whoever keeps the whole law, but fails in one point, has become accountable for all of it. For the one who said: you shall not commit adultery, also said you shall not murder. No if you do not commit adultery, also said you shall not murder. Now if you do not commit adultery, but you murder, you have become a transgressor of the law." (St. James 2:10,11) One disease is enough to kill a man.

It is to be noted that all kinds of sex perversions are against spiritual health. Sex outside marriage is forbidden. Pre-marital sex is also forbidden. Even looking at woman with lust is considered a sin by our Lord. (St. Matt. 5:28) Homosexuality is forbidden (1 Cor. 6:9, Rom 1:26-27). Drunkenness is also forbidden (1 Cor. 6:10, Gal 5:20, Eph. 5:18).

On the other hand there must be the fullness of virtues like love, respect for others and self-imposed discipline. The lack of even one virtue may cause great sufferings. It is like the absence of an essential condiment in the preparation of a great dish. It is also the same as the occurrence of a disease caused by the deficiency of an essential vitamin.

Love of God and men is the real remedy of all kinds of sins.

Prayer:Help us O Lord to find out our hidden sins, get freed from them, and become filled with all virtues, so that we may have perfect spiritual health.

48. Blessed are those who see the bright side of life and work upon it in the midst of sufferings; for they will have a fruitful life.

Most people become disappointed and inactive when they face obstacles. But if they could see the bright side of life and try to work depending on God's grace, they can succeed in life and contribute to the welfare of mankind. Franklin Roosevelt of America who had an attack of polio, Dr. Mary Varghese of the Vellore Hospital, India, who became a paraplegic etc. are examples of this. Helen Keller of America is an outstanding example of this. Even though she was deaf and dumb, she was able to do a lot for the welfare of the deaf and blind. She was also the author of a number of books.

We must be able to rejoice even in the midst of sufferings. If any one hopes to have peace and joy after the complete removal of troubles in this world, he/she may not be able to have peace and joy at any time. St. Paul says, " Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say: Rejoice." (Phil. 4:4) It is to be noted that it was from a prison that St. Paul wrote this exhortation to rejoice. We must be like the bird singing, while the branch on which it is sitting is being torn away by a storm. We must be able to cast our burdens on God's love and power with the confidence that He can bring good out of all sufferings.

Prayer:Grant us O Lord your grace, to see the bright side of life, work with hope, and make our life fruitful.

49. Blessed are those who are satisfied with the minimum requirements of life; for they can joyfully help the needy.

Discontentment makes rich people poor while contentment makes poor rich. St. Paul was a good example for simplicity and generosity. He speaks of his own life as follows: "I coveted no man's silver or gold or clothing. You know for yourself that I worked with my own hands to support my companions and myself. In all this, I have given you an example that by such work we must support the weak, remembering the words of our Lord Jesus, for He Himself said, "It is more blessed to give than to receive." (Acts 20:33-35) There is no justification for luxuries, when people around us are in want and in sufferings, as all that we have are the gifts of God.

Prayer:O Lord, help us to realize the truth, that our time, talents, and money are given to us as a trust, to be used for the benefit of the whole mankind.

50. Blessed are those who have a cheerful heart; for they shall have all-round health.

Solomon the wise, says, "A cheerful heart is a good medicine, but a down-cast spirit dries up the bones." (Prov. 17:22) When the heart is cheerful, health-promoting hormones begin to work. There is the story of a patient who was healed by saying the 23rd Psalm meditatively five times a day, for seven days. Casting our burdens on God who is full of goodness and power, and who can bring out of all situations, is the way to get rid of all anxiety and fear. On the other hand, when there is fear, anxiety, guilt complex and anger, poisonous hormones are produced, causing all kinds of diseases. Holy confession and reconciliation with one another are necessary to get rid of guilt-complex and to have a cheerful heart.

Prayer:O Lord, help us to have a cheerful heart by practicing your ever continued presence, by doing everything in love and by receiving forgiveness of sins.

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The most obvious thing about Christmas is that it is about a birth: the birth of Jesus. Christmas does not commemorate the ‘birth’ of Jesus; for he did not come into being on that day. He was, before the world was. The Christmas Event relates only to the first coming of Jesus. Even if the birth of Jesus is not relevant to our physical birth, it is still supremely relevant to our life and destiny. Being born again, as Jesus makes clear, is to be baptized by the Spirit.

The most obvious thing about Christmas is that it is about a birth: the birth of Jesus. But it is not all that obvious as to why we should celebrate a birth that took place two thousand years ago in an obscure corner of the world.

Why does the birth of Jesus involve us in the pattern of its meaning and purpose?

The birth of Jesus strikes us as something strange, despite our routine familiarity with it over a long period of time. Increasingly people have difficulty with the idea that a child can be born of a virgin. That should surprise none. Rather it should inspire us to seek for the meaning beneath the veneer of this scandalous strangeness.

A virgin giving birth to a baby is a scientific and literal impossibility. That need not be as formidable a problem as it seems. As far as we know, God did not intend the circumstances of the birth of Jesus to belittle science or debunk common sense. On the contrary, it is sufficiently clear that we are to respond to the birth of Jesus in a symbolic, rather than literal, sense. If, as it now happens increasingly, people have difficulties in coping with the feasibility of the Nativity account, it proves the contemporary obsession with literalism and the resultant incapacity to respond to symbolism. The idolization of facts has a crippling impact on our capacity to make or read symbols.

It needs to be stated that Christmas does not commemorate the ‘birth’ of Jesus; for he did not come into being on that day. He was, before the world was. According to St. John, Jesus is the Word. “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (Jn. 1:1). The Christmas Event relates only to the first coming of Jesus.

Quite obviously, the spiritual purpose of the birth of Jesus is not to insist that everyone who aspires to be a child of God has to be born of a virgin. If it were, the life and works of Jesus would have had no relevance to us; for none of us is virgin-born. Yet, the birth of Jesus has a radical bearing on our life. Else, we would not have continued to celebrate it even after two thousand years. How are we to decode that significance?

We can be reasonably certain that the birth of Jesus has hardly any significance for our physical birth. Jesus was born, ‘not out of the desire of a man’. This is pointed out especially in the Gospel to underline its point of departure from our births. This is also a calculated warning against a literal reading of the meaning of Jesus’ birth. We are, thus, warned against letting the patterns of our birth interfere with our grasping the significance of Jesus’ birth.

Even if the birth of Jesus is not relevant to our physical birth, it is still supremely relevant to our life and destiny. If so, it is a signpost to our spiritual birth. Unlike Jesus, who was sinless, we have to be born not once but twice. Our first birth is in sin (Ps. 51:5). Strangely, the wise men of our times employ the patterns of this birth in judging the merit of Jesus’ ‘birth’, which is its opposite. It is as gross a mistake as the one committed by the Wise Men from the East. They allowed themselves to be blinded by the stereotypes of their worldly wisdom and went to the palace of Herod in order to see the Babe ‘born to the king of the Jews’ (Mtt. 2:2). For them, it is axiomatic that kings are born in palaces and nowhere else. It does not matter to them that this is no ordinary king.

The key to the spiritual meaning of Christmas is unveiled in the course of Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus. There Jesus refers to the need of Nicodemus -indeed, of very human being- to be born again (Jn. 3:3). In that context Nicodemus commits a cognitive blunder that is of a piece with the difficulties that the intellectual elite of our times have about Virgin Birth. Nicodemus understands a spiritual experience literally. For him, the only way to be ‘born again’ is to get back into one’s mother’s womb and to emerge therefrom yet again. He overlooks the fact that Jesus is talking about a different kind of birth altogether. Jesus talks about a spiritual experience and Nicodemus responds to it in worldly terms.

Being born again, as Jesus makes clear, is to be baptized by the Spirit. It was this baptism that the Baptist foresaw. According to John the Baptist, he could baptize people only with water. But Jesus would baptize them with fire and the Spirit. This is our spiritual second birth. It is a paradoxical birth because we have to let Jesus be our Spiritual Mother for this second birth. Paul gives us a clue to this spiritual truth: ‘He who is in Christ Jesus is a new creation’ (2 Cor. 5:17). Jesus invites us into himself: ‘Abide in me, and I in you’ (Jn. 15:4). Jesus is our Spiritual Mother. Through him we can be born again.

Jesus came to reveal the need that every human being has to be born again. The Christmas Event is, hence, a demonstration of the dynamic of this spiritual experience. Jesus did not have to be born in the way he did, if we did not have the need to be born again. What a pity that the way we celebrate Christmas reminds us of anything but this.

What, then, is the dynamic of being ‘born again’?

The interesting Gospel fact is that the first ‘born again’ person in the Gospel is Mary, the blessed Mother of our Lord. The Magnificat is Mary’s birth song. It is analogous to the angelic choir that that announced the birth of the Holy Babe to the shepherds of Bethlehem. She was filled with the power of the Spirit: and she was filled to the point of overflowing, as is abundantly clear from what happens to Elizabeth and the babe in her womb as Mary approaches her.

How does Mary get filled with the power of the Spirit? Without a doubt, it is through her implicit obedience to the will of God. It is at the point when she ways, “Behold your servant, let it happen to me according to your will” (Lk.1:38) that she is baptized in the Spirit. That is her spiritual baptism. That is the experience through which she is born again; for baptism symbolizes new birth. So it has to be with us as well. Mary was a ‘born again’ person before she became the blessed Mother of the Lord. The spotlight of Christmas should be on born again mothers and the blessings they can bring to our world.

It was not easy for Mary. She must have gone through unimaginable anguish in surrendering herself to the inscrutable purposes of God that would have seemed intimidating and subversive to her for a while. Like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, Mary too walked the furnace heated seven times! And her suffering did not end with the birth of Jesus. It spanned the whole of his ministry. The image, “a sword through your heart,” is an apt metaphor for the cost she had to meet.

In our first, or physical, births, it was our mothers who suffered for us. That cannot be the case with our spiritual births. No one else can suffer for us; we have to endure it ourselves. Sure enough, Jesus has died for our sins and broken the authority that sin and Satan had over us. That is something we could not have done for ourselves. But Jesus has not abolished the need for us to suffer. Instead he has taught us explicitly that we have to suffer in this world (Jn. 16:33). Our spiritual birth, and our subsequent growth, does perforce involve suffering. It is not an easy thing for fallen human nature to understand, much less obey, the will of God. Suffering inheres in obedience of this kind. But obedience to God is the key spiritual discipline. It is the catalyst that activates the power of the Spirit. It is through obedience that we become one with God. Mary would not have conceived of the Spirit -or, to put it differently, she would not have been filled by the power of the Spirit- if she had not first obeyed God implicitly. The prime ministry of the Spirit is to enable us to obey God through Christ Jesus. This cardinal spiritual insight is, alas, missing from much of the contemporary assumptions and presumptions about the nature and ministry of the Spirit.

“Sent-ness” is the practical expression of being born again. We cannot be born again and stay put! Jesus calls us to send us out on his mission. This pattern begins to be manifest from the Nativity Narrative onwards. As soon as the Shepherds and the Magi became aware of the birth of Jesus, they set out on their journeys. The Christmas Event gives us a key insight into the scope of our sent-ness. It is to meet with Jesus, “in spirit and in truth,” that we are sent. Mission is a Christmas event. In a spiritual sense, encountering Jesus is inseparable from entering into solidarity with our fellow human beings. If the Shepherds were our contemporaries they would have, in all likelihood, shouted ecstatic “halleluiah” deafening “praise the Lord” several times and gone back to sleep. The Wise Men would have organized a few five-star workshops on freak celestial objects and added a few publications to their CVs. The willingness to leave one’s familiar grounds and to strike out to encounter unknown prospects, being led by something larger than oneself, is an integral aspect of the spiritual vitality that being born again entails.

Christmas is, thus, not only about the ‘birth’ of Jesus. It is, even more importantly, about our own births: our need to be born again. It is when this spiritual truth is sidelined that Jesus also is nudged to the periphery of our Christmas celebrations.

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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.

Time has changed, life has changed and life style has changed. Too Far East is west. The cycle of change from natural to artificial is likely to reverberate back to its origin is also nothing but natural. This trend also is natural and applicable in the case of spirituality, too. The necessity of money was not there when we changed from Paleolithic to Monolithic age, and then we continued our voyage from bartering system to a money transacting age. Money has become our vernacular as man changed his natural lifestyle to an artificial, sophisticated and stereotyped one. In urbanized countries while a handful of agricultural farmers can feed the rest of the city dwelling population, money, yes, the latest plastic one, can only speak in this age of high tech economy.

Raping the earth with the help of scientific and technological wonders, we have plundered most of our natural resources, which converted man who was moulded by mud to live like a neo bionic creation that does not know its origin. In gaining anything in a natural life, man needed sweating and wetting, where as in an industrialized and commercialized culture of economy man can manage anything by twist and hit whether he is young, middle-aged or old. The unimaginable luxuries that invented an ape culture continue to haunt us to use the same or the latest generation technologies as the basic necessities of our daily life. The active and normal man of a natural life has become a robot of a geeing and giggling generation now. “ Money, money, money, that is honey everywhere now”.

While man was living in thatched huts, he needed only a thatched roof as the temple of worship. The congregation used to come together to build their worshipping places, where they worked together by the lingua franca of love, harmony, peace and concord. People had the unity of mind as they all had a similar lifestyle, basic necessities of food, accommodation and clothing. The so-called wealth of a couple of rich people was in terms of few acres of land and animals. The rich and the poor had to depend on one another for cultivating the agricultural farms; there was a bond and affection between the so-called feudal lords and vassals. Technology cut the roots of all our humaneness because of a union of employees and a sophisticated union of employers fights each other for grabbing more power and benefits. More money means more luxuries; more pomposities invite the fearlessness God and man.

A sophisticated lifestyle created a superfluous spirituality that lost the flavour and palatability of the breathing of the soul in all the spiritual institutions and all our walks of life. Despite some people amassed wealth, the divide between the rich and the poor widened, and that created a situation where many people find it hard to cope with the changes in various vistas of life. As the dawn of the survival of the unfittest became a reality, the fittest live in between two worlds, one is dead and the other is powerless to be born. Many have abandoned the places of worship on account of not believing anymore of an unseen God, where the seen mammon abides with them in order to shower the blessings that whet the passions of life. The confusion made by the advent of materialism and profligacy that saturates life and dilute spirituality is immense beyond any imagination and description.

There are two kinds of spirits, the Spirit of God and the spirit of this world. “ The unspiritual man does not receive the gifts of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned” (1.cor.2: 10-16). Despite the spirit of this world struggled to sabotage the spiritual life of a natural life style of the past, it was not possible to subvert the spiritual one fully on account of a dormant technology then, now it is its heyday because of the ripened fruits of technological profligacy that gave birth a polished life of costly cosmetics and intellectual superfluousness. This new dimension of materialistic hype embraced by the celebrants and the laity invite the eventual demise of temple worship. The few who remain inside the temple is not much different from those who escaped to be with the spirit of this world. However, all are proven to be of the same clan at the end.

Technology means money and a luxuriant life pattern. The money that derived out of fossil energy and other natural resources that sharpened our luxuriant living dictated terms upon our piety. Modern piety is nothing but wolf in sheep’s clothing because there is no congenial atmosphere to live a humble life of solitude, the fertile soil for the germination of divine seeds. The irreverential life that quenched our spiritual thirst demanded more time for the cultivation of the lust of this world. People substituted the spiritual yearning by offering money to the clergy and church, thinking that the ambassadors of God make a booking a place for them in the eternal home. The money and favour thus given to the clerics for their personal extravagances precipitated a new spiritual culture that has been hitherto unknown to the previous generations. Assuming that the dependence to clergy is an automatic admission into the Abode of God, the laity cut the cord of amity to God by going in tune with the passions of this world.

Instead of building the Eternal homes for believers the clergy started building the huge jungles of cement structures in unison with the dwellings of the varied types, which match that of tycoons’ that mushroomed by swindling of poor man’s money. It seemed that the clerics are ordained as if their sole duty were to multiply the cement buildings for the church and inaugurate the similar types of mansions of worshippers of the Iron Age that was foretold by prophet Daniel. Remember that the strength given to cement structures is by iron reinforcements. Such mammoth structures built by collecting the poor widow’s money are to be inaugurated and celebrated. These sorts of inaugurations and celebrations paved the way for celebrating the sacraments in large scale, for which a large sum of money will have to be collected. Despite some rich members donate some money, the large sums meant for many types of constructions and celebrations will have to be subscribed by every member, as everyone having an equal status of sainthood in the church. The believers are expected only to subscribe money and do menial jobs, but they cannot be a participant of the decision making bodies, unless one is a crony of the big handful of cronies who manipulate everything for cheap glory that devastates the sanctimonious serenity of the parish and its faithful fold. We can’t now ponder over the truth that these cement high rises and sky scrapers are our future graveyards at a time when the cataclysmic and man made holocaust wipeout the two third of mankind in a couple of days’ annihilation (Rev. 9: 13-19). Imprinting our date of birth on our house building will automatically become our graveyards in those days.

Banks give loans liberally to expand their business interests. The big fish of the parish borrow money for the projects that have not undergone any feasibility studies, so that it becomes a milestone for the vicar’s high name and his cronies’ fame. Even if they find the impossibility of executing their dreams, they throw it to the neck of the poor believers the burden of paying back the monthly installments, and try to extract money by the enticing power of the clerical cloak and the cheap name of his rich cronies who, however, contribute only to the equivalent amount in par with the low income families can afford to donate. When expenses exceed beyond the estimate and borrowed money, they resort to menial fund raising vagrancy. Jettisoning the religious doctrines and values, the high performers use any vulgar or cheap way of collecting money from any available sources. Running stalls, chocolate and condiments drive, second hand sales, auctions and parish dinner and so many various means are used to employ in such endeavours. Despite Jesus led the style of a pauper, He took His birth in a virgin, rode on an unused colt on Palm Sunday and His body was buried in a brand new sepulchre, where Mary Magdalene went on Sunday morning with the presents of costly spices. Mary, sister of Lazarus, anointed Him also with costly ointment before His death. God, the maker of everything and universe, says, “ If I were hungry, I would not tell you; for the world and all that is in it is mine. Do I eat the flesh of bulls, or drink the blood of goats? Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and pay your vows to the most high; and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me” (Ps.50: 9-15).

It is a sacrilege to collect money by selling food, instead of offering our own money that God so mercifully gives us and sustain us with all the amenities of life; despite we are only a puff of the wind. The church is meant for worshipping God, and the money that required for it will have to be met by the congregation, not the food money of the groundlings that don’t believe in God and His Glory. Begging for God is a desecration of His name, while we can afford it from our own pocket. “ Heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain thee; how much less this house which I have built” (1.king.8: 27). Whether we build mansions and complexes, God can’t be contained in it. We worshipped God under the thatched roof with minimum facilities, and God accepted our supplications then also as it is now. If we can afford to build palatial temples, do it, otherwise by begging for money by selling food and other menial items to the unbelievers is not the right way of serving God. Denigrating our Creator to the level of a beggar is to be treated as defilement of the Holy name. Read the Creed that God gave to Moses (Exo.30; 37-38). When we run out of our own personal resources, such means of feeding the hungry mass and destitute can be justified.

Our mind is the real dwelling of the Almighty, for which the purity of heart is the primordial necessity. Instead of making enough sacrifices by us, collecting money for the sake of God may not bear the desirable fruits. One desecration leads to another one. In tune with our Church calendar, Sunday starts on Saturday at 6.P.M., for the commencement of preparation and cleansing for the next day’s worship, the crown of all other sacraments and mysteries. We are enacting the Passions and life history of Christ by the celebration on Sunday worship. Jesus celebrated the Passover feast after cleansing the Temple by whipping out the money making traders and allowing His Body to be embalmed by costly ointments by Mary. The most important of the preparation before the Passover celebration and institutionalizing the H.Mystery was the washing of His disciples’ feet. Saturday night is meant for the cleansing of our heart for the invitation of the H.Body of Christ into our being. “ The passion and the Body of Christ, save me”.

Let me elucidate it further. Last month I made a posting in four websites, asking whether it is right to organize parish fund raising collections on Saturday nights with cultural programmes and providing alcohol. It blasted all around the world. I haven’t got a single for or against response either from the hierarchy or from a layman. It had been an anathema to organize any pagan festival on Saturday night till yesterday, but everybody is silent because silence is the unwritten permission that becomes a cardinal rule later, just like birthday revelries, husoyo prayers, etc. There is only one more way of collecting funds after liquor serving. Will the church resort to the last menu, too? All the shops, except for some emergency items, businesses, industries, banks, etc used to be closed at midday on Saturdays in this county till about 15 years back on account of giving opportunities for the preparation for the Holy Sunday. Going in tune with the social or secular norms, the church declares that religion or parish in these Iron Age also is an industry like any other one. The illegitimate collection of funds belongs to Judas. Judas betrayed Jesus for money, and we betray Jesus by snatching money by desecrating the remembrance of the passions of Christ with commingling our passions of the body on Holy days. Only a 20% of believers come to the church to take part in the next day worship, celebrated without any preparations by the celebrant and the believers after the night of cultural programmes. This is a new cult for making money, not religion propagated by martyrs, H.Fathers and saints. The Christ is to be betrayed and crucified on the occasions of His both comings.

There are millionaires in every parish, but we won’t spare our money for the parish. Do we want to appease the Provider of everything with the beggar’s money? We give food to the beggars freely. If Judas betrayed and the hierarchy crucified Him for money and power politics, we also do the same thing by adulterating and polluting the passions of Christ (Lk.13: 1). This is real spiritual cannibalism. This was the reason for whipping out the traders from the Jerusalem Temple. We collect money from the poor and the vulnerable and use it for somebody’s personal glory and pompous life. This is blood money and the jungles of cement buildings and complexes that we erect in ‘the fields of’ blood (Akeldama- Acts.1: 19) by our spiritual suicides have commonly become the gates of hell (Mt.24: 1-5). The thirst for Real estate forestry of cement mansions is the sign of the commercialization of spirituality that ruins the beauty of parish and religious lives. We used to have a balance before, because of leftist thoughts generated out of total penury by the poor. As everybody is rich and in cosmetic appearance now, they all moved to the right for making the parish as a football field and as a competitive arena for playing the holy politics. The clergy also gets a share of this blood money indirectly by the corporate commercialization of our religious life.

The fund collection by selling cheap things, together with cultural programmes, is a craving of paganisation of Christianity. The first theatre where the play ‘ Messiah Charithram’ was enacted, not on a Saturday, by a Christian was engulfed in fire. As money became our master, Christians are boiled up with the passion of pagan rituals and art and music fervour. The centre place for the display of devout Christians to perform their children’s artistic ability is the church. If that was the first stage of the artistic development of our generation, inviting the famous concerts and other performers and magic shows and other screen stars of non-Christian origin is the next phase. Another development that producing playwrights and comics in our parishes is the next stage of vulgarizing the sanctimonious place by embracing jokes of all types in their artistic creations, particularly the obscene ones. The camps and picnics arranged by the parish are also the duplicates of spreading the sub-cultural life of the agnostic and pop world. We have to make the audience laugh to their head; otherwise we can’t sell tickets for making a good net balance. Serving liquor is the next ‘sacrosanct’ development for making more money. Life is boring without a change. Revelry that makes one laugh is the best panacea for all our maladies and tensions in life, thus say doctors and psychologists. They don’t realize that the cheap wits and jokes that have accountability in next life consume our divine passions and religious sensibilities.

When starvation was the main food of the past, our mothers used to set apart a handful of rice each time before they cook the staple meal three times a day. The parish caretaker used to visit our houses once a month to collect any such offerings for parish fund collection auctions. We starved so as to feed others. How did Parumala Thirumeni become a saint? In order to quell Thirumeni’s hunger during fasting days, the saint used to tighten His Grace’s belt, so that the craving of food shouldn’t make Thirumeni to retreat from the divine passion. Unless the process of our religious life and charity works, notably the clergy’s, hurt our belly, the fruits that they bear will be minimal. The mission of the tongue for us is easier than the work of the hands. This is the reason why Jesus called His disciples to watch the widow who spared her life saving of 2 pence. The money that we save by fasting is supposed to have gone to the parish or charity works. If giving the one tenths was the assigned duty of man to God, sacrificing everything to God, notably one’s service of sacrificing one’s own life for others, and His mission is the duty of every Christian in the New Testament period (Mk.10: 21; Lk.14: 25-35).

St.Peter must have shed streams of tears for a momentary weakness of denying his Rabbi, yet repented all of a sudden. He came back to the fold after confessing three times and got absolved by the Messiah. Judas betrayed Him, and made a remorseful attempt to repent but lost the track, as his main focus was the embezzlement of money while he was alive. The faithful believers have never been in the blasphemous and immoral traffic of grabbing money for the Lord by mixing our lust of the flesh with the Passions of the Saviour during holy and festive seasons before. This type of serving the Lord at the expense of begging money collected on holy days is a sacrilege that can lose our soul and destroy our existence. “ Render therefore Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Mt.22: 21).

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The estimated fifty-three thousand miles of Roman Roads from Scotland to the Euphrates had a strategic importance of the antiquity. Paul's mission activity at Derbe, Iconium, and Pisidian Antioch was on the main Roman Road and led them from Antioch of Syria and Tarsus to Apamea, Laodicea and Ephesus. One practice recognized by Roman law and common in Roman Society was used by Paul to express an important theological principle - adoption.

When Romans started her imperial program of conquering the countries and establishing colonies, they took over the political and cultural heritage of the Euphrates as a successor. Much before Rome was founded, Greek colonies existed in Sicily and Southern Italy. Romans well recognized the richness of Greek art and architecture, and they borrowed heavily from the cultural heritage of Greeks and tried to emulate the Greek masters - and the Greek styles and themes - in their own art. In true sense it was Romans who brought Greek and Hellenistic culture to a wide world. They patronized Greek artists and artisans to beautify the cities they created and projected it as a Roman creation. They adopted largely the language, education system and literary ideas of Greeks. In the aristocratic Roman homes children grew up with in-depth knowledge of Greek language for all practical purposes and educated those great works of Greek literature like the Iliad and Odyssey. However, Romans were much superior concerning their religious convictions compared to their Greek counterparts. Once we compare the contemporary society of that age, we notice that the governing factor of Greek was individual person, while Rome had their republic and Law, Persians had their king and Jews had Moses and commandments.

Romans were great builders and hence their well designed roads, bridges and other communication infrastructure had great impact for the spread of Christianity across the whole Roman Empire. The estimated fifty-three thousand miles of Roman Roads from Scotland to the Euphrates had a strategic importance of the antiquity. Paul's mission activity at Derbe, Iconium, and Pisidian Antioch was on the main Roman Road and led them from Antioch of Syria and Tarsus to Apamea, Laodicea and Ephesus. (Acts 13:14,51;14:20-21;15:42-16:2) (Acts 20:5-6; 16:11; 2 Cor.2:12)

Reign of Caesar Augustus was the most significant out of all other Emperors for early Christianity as Jesus was born during this period and it caused to celebrate a new age. Augustus became the emperor in 12 B.C. His tenure was stable, peaceful, and prosperous and he kept the people satisfied with their leader and proud of Rome. He built temples to encourage and place importance in Roman religion. He was a patron of the arts, gladly spending money to improve the artwork of Rome, and encouraged the wealthy class to do the same. To improve the moral climate of the empire, Augustus tried to revive the traditional Roman religion. He also tried to fortify the traditional Roman family by established laws, which punished adultery and required marriage and the remarriage of widows.

Slavery and Social Morality:
Slavery was a basic element in ancient society. Slavery was very extensive in both Hellenistic and Roman periods. Slavery gave occasion for cruelty and sexual license. The condition of slavery might result from war, piracy, and exposure of child, sale of a child or self to pay debts, condemnation in the law courts, or birth to a slave mother. While a slave is freed, it was recorded in the temple records. This may be the redemption language for the atonement in the New Testament. One practice recognized by Roman law and common in Roman Society was used by Paul to express an important theological principle - adoption (Gal 4:5; Rom 8:15, 23; Eph 1:5) Adoption was far more frequent and important in Roman society than it is today. The person adopted at any age was taken out of his previous condition, all old debts were cancelled and started a new life in the relation of son-ship, whose family name he took and to whose inheritance he was entitled. Several feature of the social organization contributed to the debasing of morality basically sprang out from idolatry or associated with gods. The punishment of criminals was notably through sentencing to the mines and execution by crucifixion.

Sex sins were prevalent, and nearly all the catalogs of sins in New Testament have many synonyms for licentious-ness. (1 Cor. 6:9; Gal 5:19, Col 3:5) Homosexuality was considered noble form of love. Not only was prostitution a recognized institution, but through the influence of the fertility cults of Asia Minor, Syria, and Phoenicia it became a part of the religious rites at certain temples.

Marriage and family:
The prevailing type of marriage in Jewish, Greek and Roman society was monogamous. The family was the basic unit of society in all the cultures that provided background setting of Christianity. Jewish marriages according to rabbinic sources show many formal similarities to the Greek and Roman practices. Consent to live together constitute marriages in all societies, and the procreation was its main object. During the reign of Augustus family was brought under the law of the state. Greek law required that marriage be preceded by a betrothal agreement. A simple oral or written notice was sufficient by one or both parties for a divorce. In Rome and Greece, by the first century, the marriage could be terminated by the woman as well as by man, unlike the situation in Jewish law where the right of divorce belonged to only men. (Mark10:11-12; Matt. 5:32)

Place of Woman:
Greek women had virtually no political rights in the male dominated society. Although woman did receive some education, a woman's place was in the house, supervising the daily running of the household. Philosophy was a male dominated profession even less likely to include women. Greek women received their education either in the home or from well-educated experts. Girls were educated in their homes in areas of reading, writing, arithmetic, spinning, weaving, embroidery, singing, dancing and playing a musical instrument. Spartan girls received a formal education more similar to the training boys received. Respectable women were not talked about in public. Macedonian especially Philippians women had independence and importance in public affairs. Compared to the status of the female sex in other cultures, the Roman woman enjoyed a certain honor and respect within society even though she had no political rights as a person. Roman tradition stated that all women should be treated with honor and respect. As Roman men were considered the masters of their house, the Roman female was considered the mistress of the house and was expected to rule it wisely in the absence of the man. Most Roman females did many of the tasks that were usually done by the male due to increased absence of due to politics and war. Also, Roman women were responsible for the education of both the girls and young boys in the household. Jewish woman were not as restricted in public appearance as Greek women but did not have the freedom of first century Roman women. Torah law requires a Jewish woman to study all the laws and concepts necessary to observe what she is obligated to fulfill. The description of the woman in the Pastoral Epistle matches very closely the Greek conception. (1 Tim 5:14; Titus 2:3-5)

The history of combat sports at the Olympics is long and eventful, dating back to 708 B.C. Some level of officially sanctioned violence was simply part of the game. Greeks preferred the exercises of gymnasium and stadium. Roman were more interested in sports and events at the amphitheatre and circus. There were magnificent buildings at Rome with irresistible Spectacle Entertainments, in the early Imperial Rome. Early Christian moralists and apologists criticized three types of spectacles in the pagan world: those of the theatre, the amphitheatre, and circus. The theatres were often the largest place for a public gathering inside a city and so were important centers of public life. (Acts 19:29)

The system of education of the Greek had a great impact on Christian education and it contributed greatly to Christian educational philosophy, curriculum structure, and methodology. Two of the best examples of this variety in education are the city-states of Sparta and Athens. The Spartans shared much with other Greeks, including literature, religion, and language, but Spartan education was primarily physical, military, and moral. Obligation to the Spartan system of education was taken so seriously that it excluded from citizenship anyone who did not accept the approved discipline. Education began early in the life of a Spartan child. The Greek word for education was with meaning training or discipline, which translated, to Latin to mean the formation of human person. Greek education was primarily physical, military and moral. Education began early in the life of a Greek child. Basically there were four types of schools existed in Athens. Elementary schools for boys aged six to thirteen; secondary schools for boys aged thirteen to eighteen; schools for higher education; and military schools for boys aged eighteen to twenty. Most schools were small and private, the work of a single teacher who received a fee from his pupils, except in some of the cities where rulers or wealthy citizens endowed educational institutions. In the fifth century B.C. the Sophists began to influence the Athenian cultural and educational scene. Socrates (470-399 B.C) developed a teaching method that remains in use today. Another Athenian who had particular influence on education was Plato (428-348 B.C.) Aristotle (384-322 B.C.) was the last outstanding Athenian educator. For Aristotle, society is a natural institution and state is the highest achievement of nature and humans. He viewed slavery as a natural institution, since he believed nature makes one person superior to another. Toward the end of the fourth century B.C., with establishment of empire of Alexander, there emerged a new era of amalgamation dominated by Greek culture. It was the Hellenistic culture, which had great influence of Aristotle who was the teacher of Alexander. Hellenistic educational pattern gave way for a cultural development. Municipality controlled elementary school systems arose during the third and second B.C. centuries.

The family was the primary agent of education for the early Romans. The mother cared for the child and equipped the child with the knowledge essential to Roman citizen. Vocational education began about age of seven. Most boys learned farming skills as apprentices to their fathers. Roman secondary education centered in grammar schools for young men of ages twelve to sixteen. The educational ideals expressed by the Romans in these schools were similar to the Greek concept of liberal education. Roman higher education consisted primarily of the study of rhetoric. A Roman government policy on education began to develop during the first century. The Roman elementary school for boys in age spans seven to twelve years became the agent of both literary and moral education and they were almost in the same Greek educational pattern. Teaching methods emphasized memorization and copying. By the time of the early empire, writing was assuming a greater importance. Discipline in the schools was stern. Children were accompanied to and from school by a pedagogue who was usually a slave charged with looking after his charge's morals and general welfare. (Gal. 3:23-25) The pedagogues generally had a reputation for treating the children harshly. Roman secondary education centered in grammar schools for young men of ages twelve to sixteen. The method of instruction was for the teacher to read aloud a passage and then explain it in detail textual criticism, meaning of words and idioms, references to mythology and history, points of grammar, correct usage, and rules of composition.

Roman higher education also came under Greek influence. As the Roman government became more complex, Rome became more susceptible to the cajoling of Greek rhetoric. The Romans became the object of the subtlety of Greek rhetoricians and adopted those aspects of rhetoric congenial to Roman life-style. The curriculum of the grammar school should include the study of philosophy, mathematics, music, literature, rhetoric, geometry and astronomy.

The Christian education is an extension of the Jewish education. The history of Jews is a record of their relationship with God as expressed in covenant. Education was natural and informal, including all aspects of life. First, they were to train the priests who were to follow in the ritual observances required by law. Second, they were to train the people in the law, especially in the law concerning worship, sacrifices, festivals, and other religious duties. The home was the center for Jews of religious education and an elementary education in reading and writing. Jewish primary schools seem not to have been widespread outside Jerusalem until second century A.D. The primary school was the house of reading of the scribe. Classes often met inside synagogue or in an adjacent room. The Jewish Child was expected to be able to read Hebrew Scriptures and memorizing scriptures was of great emphasis. Secondary schools are thought to have existed from the second century and were teaching oral law. Advanced study required that one attach himself to a great scholar. (Acts 22:3) In this stage, student learned advanced scripture interpretation and rabbinic legal opinions (Talmud). This study prepared one for ordination as a rabbi or religious scholar. Quite un-Roman was the Jewish requirement that every boy, rich or poor, scholar or unlearned acquire a trade. (St. Paul Acts 18:3) Educated man from the second century B.C. spoke Greek and Latin. Jewish education superficially followed the same stages as Greco-Roman education, but with significantly different content. The aim of the Jewish education was a religious one, the knowledge and practice of the Torah. Instead of studying Homer and dramatists, students learned the Scriptures and oral traditions of the scribes. [Josephus: Antiquities translation] The primary purpose of the synagogue was instruction and study of the law. Teaching was conducted by repetition and memorization. Synagogue was a place where Jewish men could read, contemplate, and discuss the law. The synagogue became so important to Jewish education that one was in almost every city with ten Jewish males.


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The third Catholicos, Mar Basalios Geevarghese II succeeded the Second Catholicos in 1929. Bestowed with a fascinating grace on his face and with an exceptionally brilliant personality, Mar Geevarghes II outshined every one and guided the Church with undaunted courage. He could achieve an unprecedented rate of progress for the Church and expanded her frontiers beyond the limit of Malankara. Basalios II remained as head of the Church for thirty-five years.


Moran Mar Basalios Geevarghese II succeeded Second Catholicos, Moran Mar Basalios Geevarghese 1, on the throne of Catholicos of the East in 1929. With over 35 years in the highest position of the Malankara Church, endowed with an all-absorbing grace of his face and an undeniable exceptionally brilliant talent, the third Catholicos excelled every one and guided the Church with undaunted courage and exemplified glamour.

The Third Catholicos was born on June 16, 1874 at Kurichi near Kottayam to parents Ulhanan of Kallacheril, a branch of famous and priestly Puthenpurackal family and Naithi, daughter of Pampakuda Madapparampil Kunjikooru. The child who was fondly called Punnoose was given the baptismal name as Geevarghese. Paternally Punnoose was related to Vattasseril Geevarghese Mar Dianosius and maternally to St. Gregorios of Parumala. As per the custom of that time, Punnoose had undergone the preliminary Malayalam language studies and basic Arithmetics from a local village teacher with name Ulhanan of Pallam Aryattuparampil.

Punnoose was called to the priestly vocation at the tender age of nine. The Story goes that child had fallen seriously ill at the age of nine. His grief-stricken Parents vowed to dedicate Punnoose to the service of God and immediately the child got recovered from that life-threatening disease. As per the vow of the parents, Punnoose was taken to Parumala Seminary for clerical training. Punnoose had under gone the preliminary Syriac and theological training under discipleship of Metropolitan Mar Gregorios of Parumala and Vattasseril Geevarghese Malpan. After getting trained at Parumala for about six years, when Pulikkottil Mar Dionysius got hold of the Old Seminary, Kottayam, Punnoose also was shifted to Old Seminary for his further training. There, he was kept under the discipleship of Kadavil Mar Athanasios, Vattasseril Geevarghese Malpan and Konattu Mathen Malpan. After attaining proficiency in Syriac, Punnoose was enrolled at CMS College High School at Kottayam for his English education. Before completing his English education Punnoose returned to Parumala and started living with Mar Gregorios.

After a short while, on May 24, 1892 Punnoose, at the age of seventeen, was ordained to the first level of deaconate [Korooyo/Sub-Deacon] by Paulose Mar Athanasios of Ankamali Diocese at St. Peter's and St. Paul's Church and further as full Deacon by Parumala Mar Gregorios. After the ordination Dn. Geevarghese proceeded for his English education in the M.D. High School Kottayam. While Dn. Geevarghese was in sixth Forum, he was once again inflicted by a severe disease and forced to discontinue his further English education. As Dn. Geevarghese decided firmly to lead a celibate life, Parumala Chathuruthy Mar Gregorios assisted by Pulikkottil Mar Dionysius, Kadavil Mar Athanasios and Murimattom Mar Ivanios ordained him as a priest along with Kuttikkattil Paulose Deacon, (Later Paulose Mar Athanasios) in November 26, 1898. On the fourth day of his priesthood, Kallacheril Geevarghese Kathanar was elevated to the ascetic order of Ramban by Mar Gregorios on November 29, 1898. Further, Geevarghese Ramban lived in Kadampanad Church for some time. For thirteen long years, the future Catholicos remained as Ramban. During this period, Ramban assisted Mar Gregorios in the administration of the diocese of Niranam and Thumpamon. In October 1902, when Parumala Mar Gregorios had fallen Sick, Geevarghese Ramban was appointed as in-charge of the affairs of Parumala and for the service to the ailing Metropolitan Mar Gregorios. After the demise of Mar Gregorios, on November 2, 1902, Ramban Geevarghese took charge as the Manager at Parumala Seminary. He also helped in teaching of Deacons at the Old Seminary and translated into Malayalam a few Syriac books viz. 'Pardaiso and Youhanon Maumiono', Private Prayers and 'Lives of Martyrs.'

In 1908, Geevarghese Ramban accompanied the Metropolitan Designates Vattasseril Geevarghese Ramban and Kochuparampil Paulose Ramban to attend their ordination ceremony as Metropolitans at Syria. While in Syria, Ramban got fortune for the first time to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and other holy places. After the ordination of the two Metropolitan designates, Abdulla Patriarch expressed his willingness to ordain Geevarghese Ramban also as a Metropolitan. Ramban had politely refused for the ordination, as the mother Church in Malankara did not officially decide it. In 1912 Patriarch Moran Mar Abdul Messiah visited Malankara and consecrated Geevarghese Ramban as Metropolitan, with title as Gregorios on September 10, in the presence of Vattasseril Geevarghese Mar Dianosius and Murimattom Mar Ivanios, at the Parumala Church. The newly consecrated Mar Gregorios was assigned the charge of the diocese of Niranam and Thumpamon. Mar Gregorios had also the fortune to be present as a celebrant in the ordination ceremony of First and Second Catholicos.

For about seventeen years Mar Gregorios remained as Metropolitan before being called upon to adorn the throne of Catholicos. On December 11,1928 the Second Catholicos expired. Mar Gregorios was soon designated as Catholicos and was consecrated to the throne of Catholicos with title Basalios Geevarghese II, on February 15, 1929 by the Malankara Metropolitan Vattasseril Geevarghese Mar Dianosius in the presence of Mar Ivanios of Bethany at Elias Chapel, Kottayam, in witness of around 25000 believers.

During his long tenure of thirty-five years as Catholicos, Basalios Geevarghese II had the rare opportunity of celebrating six consecration ceremonies ordaining eleven Metropolitans. The Catholicos also ordained not less than thousand priests and deacons, by which ministry of the Church was greatly strengthened.


Kuriakose Mar Gregorios

Rev. Fr. Pezahmattom Kuriakose, Pampadi

Jacob Mar Theophilus

Ramban Jacob Bethany


Geevarghese Mar Philoxenos

Rev. Fr. K.T Geevargese Puthenkavu


Joseph Mar Severios

Rev. Fr. V. O Ouseph Valakuzhy, Mallappally

7.4.1938[Kandanad Carmel Dayara]:

Alexios Mar Theodosius

Rev. Fr. Alexios Mattackal Niranam

6.5.1940[Mavelikkara Puthiayakavu Church]:

Thomas Mar Dionysius

Rev Fr. C. M. Thoma, Kallumpurath, Poovathur, Mavelikkara

15.5.1953[Elia Chapel, Kottayam]:

Patros Mar Osthathios

Rev. Fr. Patros, Mookencheril, Thrippunithura

Mathews Mar Ivanios

Rev. Fr. Mathew Paret, Puthuppally

Mathews Mar Coorilos(Sixth Catholicose)

Rev. Fr. V.K.Mathew Othara

Mathews Mar Athanasius (Fifth Catholicose)

Rev. Fr. Mathew Vattakunnel Kottayam

Daniel Mar Philoxenos

Rev. Fr. P.E. Daniel Basil Pathanamthitta

In 1931 the Catholicos exercised his high-priestly authority of consecrating the Holy Chrism (Holy Mooron), the sacred oil preserved for the use for anointing on occasion of sacraments Baptism, Holy unction and consecration of Churches. The Catholicos performed this solemn ceremony on April 22, 1931 and repeated the performance on April 20, 1951.

The Catholicos Basalios Geevarghese II suffered an irreparable personal loss with the demise of his master and guide, the Malankara Metropolitan Vattasseril Geevarghese Mar Dionysius VI on February 20, 1934. After the demise of the Malankara Metropolitan, Mar Basalios was elected as the Malankara Metropolitan in 1934 by the Malankara Syrian Christian Association held at M.D. Seminary Kottayam. The two offices of Catholicos and the Malankara Metropolitan were vested in the same person for the first time. Consequent of this election as Malankara Metropolitan, Mar Basalios became the ex-offico President of the Malankara Association.

The current headquarters of Catholicos, Devalokam at Kottayam was constructed in 1951 during the tenure of Basalios Geevarghese II. He had also initiated the emergence of two missionary movements in the Church viz. The Society of Servants of the Cross at Mulanthuruthy and the St. Paul’s Missionary Society at Mavelikkara.

It was one of biggest achievement of the third Catholicos of the unprecedented rate of progress made to expand the frontiers of the Church beyond the limits of Malankara. He established two new dioceses one for the Outside Kerala parishes including that at overseas and the other for Malabar parishes. Both these diocese had tremendously grown up in future as the key centers of the Malankara Church.

The Catholicos had paid keen attention for the development of educational activities in the Church. Many Catholicate/Mar Dionysius Memorial schools, which were started earlier, were brought under a corporate management of which His Holiness was the Corporate Manager. The Church also started three colleges during his tenure viz. the Catholicate College at Pathanamthitta, Mar Basalios College at Kottayam and St. Mary's College at Sultan Battery.

Mar Basalios also strengthened the organizational set up of Sunday School Samajam, Orthodox Christian Youth Movement and Martha Mariam Samajam. Very particularly His Holiness personally attended and blessed the activities of these organizations.

In 1946, an official publication of the Church, Malankara Sabha was launched for the deliberation of matters concerning faith, history and all other developments in the Church. As a part of litergical composition of worshipping, Catholicos had appointed Church Poet C.P. Chandy for translating the liturgical lyrics from Syriac to Malayalam.

Mar Basalios could also bring the so far secluded Malankara Church to the limelight of the Christian Churches in the World. It was during the tenure of Basalios Geevarghese II that the Malankara Church enrolled herself as a member of the World Council of Churches. Participation of the Malankara Orthodox Church in the Ecumenical relationship brought honour for the Church and acquaintance with Oriental Orthodox and other churches in the world. It was a milestone in the history of the Church to send delegates to the 'Faith and Order' Conference at Oxford and 'Life and work' conference at Edinburgh. More than hundred churches of the world of Orthodox, Protestant, Anglican denominations attended these conferences. The Catholicos personally attended along with other delegates in the Edinburgh conference held in August 3-9, 1937, in which the strategic decision was taken for establishment of World Council of Churches. It is reported that the Catholicos of Malankara was the most photographed person in the conference and News Papers of Edinburgh published many photographs of the Catholicos. After the Edinburgh Conference, the Catholicos invariably sent representative delegates of the Church to the later Conferences held at Amsterdam (1948), Evanston (1954) and New Delhi (1961). Taking into account the need for close co-operation among the Orthodox Churches, the Catholicos sent Philipose Mar Theophilus and Daniel Mar Philoxenus as representative of the Church to the Conference of the Pan Orthodox Churches held in Rhodes in 1960.

Out of many dignitaries Basalios Geevarghese II hosted, special mention need for the visit of Emperor Heille Sellasi, Emperor of Ethiopia in Oct.21 1956 and Pandit Jawharlal Nehru Prime Minister of India on Feb 1957. Also many Patriarchs, Catholicos and Church leaders of Oriental Orthodox Churches visited Malankara during the reign of the third Catholicos.

Another epoch making event in the tenure of the third Catholicos was that Chathuruthy Mar Gregorios of Parumala [Malankara Church] who died on Nov. 2, 1902 and Catholicos Moran Mar Basalios Yaldo of Persia who reached Malankara and died at Kothamangalam were canonized as saints on Nov 2, 1947 in consultation with Synod. Today the shrines of both Saints are pilgrim centers.

Traveling in the Car and posing for photographs were of great fascination for the Basalios Catholicos.

Being an acute diabetic patient, in 1954, Basalios Bava was admitted to Christian Medical College, Vellore for his physical ailment due to urinal obstruction. A surgical operation was done on him on January 18, 1954. As he was bedridden at Vellore during the Silver Jubilee of his Consecration, the celebrations were conducted at the hospital premises. In March 1954, Catholicos returned from Vellore. Though he was temporarily cured, age and sickness was taking its toll on him.

Considering the old age and sickness of the Catholicos, Episcopal Synod had nominated senior Metropolitan Augen Mar Timoteous as the Catholicate-designate and same was endorsed by the Malankara Association meeting on May 17, 1962 at St. Mary's Church Niranam.

The last Holy Qurbana His Holiness could celebrate was on August 15, 1963. A bruise appeared on his right toe and caused acute distress and pain. It is said that at night he had the vision of St. Mary beckoning him. On September 3, 1963, the sacrament of Holy Unction was performed on him and it gave great relief for his pain. He had a great desire to attend the feast of St. Gregorios on November 3, 1963 at Parumala and by the grace of God he could accomplish it. Thereafter, his bodily weakness got aggravated. On January 2, 1964, the Bava fell unconscious and passed away peacefully on Friday January 3, 1964 at 4.30 A.M for his heavenly abode at 90 years of his life, 89 years 6 months and 19 days to be exact. His tomb is beside the Catholicate Chapel at Devalokam.

As a person, the third Catholicos, Basalios Geevarghese II was known for his integrity, deep faith in truth and justice, sharpness of his devotion to the Church, strong endurance in Orthodoxy, deep knowledge, great sense of humour, strict observance of prayers and fasts, and implicit faith in divine guidance, so much so that no one of his generation equaled the divine grace and charisma His Holiness had.

[Compiled for LOL By: Editor Dr. Rajan Mathew Philadelphia, USA]
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Abraham Marthoma wanted to see his church fully committed to evangelic work and he wanted to transform every Marthomite into a missionary, irrespective of his secular occupation. It was this conviction that led him to organize specialised training in personal evangelism. He established the Voluntary Evangelists Association as a lay movement of Church for men.



Abraham Marthoma gave another politically sensitive speech in 1943. At that time Sir C.P. was playing his caste card and suggesting that Christmas were disloyal to Maharaja and that they were only concerned with their loyalty to aforeign Christian Emperor in England. In his reply to the felicitation addresses on his silver jubilee as the bishop of Mar Thoma Church, Abraham Marthoma quoted the words of a greatly loved previous Maharaja of Travancore, Vishakam Thirunal, on the loyalty of Christian subject of the kingdom. Maharaja had told an audience in Kottayam that even if the Hindu God, Parasuraman, were to return, he would never see a community more patriotic and loyal to royalty than the Christian community of Travancore. According to an ancient legend, it was Parasuraman who received Kerala as a gift from the god of the Arabian sea. Metropolitan pointed out that Christians in Travancore for generations had remained loyal to the royal personage not for any reward or special privileges, but because they considered it their Christian duty and obligation as laid down in the scriptures. However they could not forget that they were also under the power and dominion of a universal ruler, a King of kings. Therefore, they were duty bound to respect the will of Almighty God, their Father in Heaven. People like him were expected to remind them of this universal truth.

Abraham Mar Thoma saw no conflict between our patriotic duties and our Christian obligations. Whenever there is a conflict of interest we are duty bound to be obedient to our heavenly king. This was a simple but clear-cut instruction to Christians on the question of dividend loyalties between a secular and religious authority. The benevolent Hindu kings of Travancore were considered to be humble servants of their diety Ananthapadmanabhan. They were ruling the kingdom on behalf of their God and were very devout Hindus. He continued, "Christians all through their history had to face difficulties and challenges from Roman emperors to the present times. But none of them could destroy the Church; Christians came out of each of this period with renewed strength and determination. Please remember that martyr's blood is the seed of the Church. If ever we are put through such trials and tribulations we should have the courage to face such challenges boldly; I am sure the young people of our land will volunteer for such an eventuality. These are challenges affecting the members of all religions. And we should fight together. Although I am getting old and am not all that well, you can be rest assured that I will be in the front line with you to fight any divisive action against religious freedom, which we have been enjoying in this land for generations." This clarion call to all freedom loving people was delivered in the capital city of the state in the presence of thousands of people including the secret agents of the government. This was indeed bold and dynamic leadership; many lay people of the Mar Thoma Church were at the forefront of the freedom struggle. Thirumeni kept in touch with them and encouraged them.

He was meticulous planner and prepared himself for every initiative in elaborate detail. Whenever he met new people, he tried to ascertain if they could be used in any way in his mission to evangelize the country. He was always fishing for the Kingdom of God; and it was difficult to resist his bait because the bait was nothing but his own faith and devotion to his Master and Lover. He used to say special prayers before he met people so that he will be able to use appropriate words for that meeting, which is a pointer to the sanctity and significance he attached to his interactions with people. As a celibate, he was very careful in his dealing with women. It was his principle never to interact with any woman alone, but always only in the presence of someone else. Once he was resting in his bungalow when a group of women went there to meet him without prior appointment. He started a polite conversation with them after carefully seating them on the veranda outside his room, but immediately woke up his Deacon who was sleeping in the next room. After the women left, they returned to their respective rooms for rest. The Deacon was slightly annoyed because he did not know why the bishop called him. So he went to the bishop and inquired if there was anything that his Lordship wanted to tell him. With a smile, the bishop explained that the tradition required that a celibate bishop talked with women only in the presence of others. "Although I trust myself, it is my responsibility to be a role model for others." He was a very handsome man; and probably worked more among women than any other bishop of Mar Thoma Church. His motto was, "I sanctify myself for others." His disciplined life and attention to details helped him enormously to earn the respect and trust of everyone in the society.

Abraham Mar Thoma wanted to achieve three things in his ministry:

  1. He wanted to see his church fully committed to evangelistic work and he wanted to transform every Marthomite into a missionary, irrespective of his secular occupation. It was this conviction that led him to organize specialized training in personal evangelism. He established the Voluntary Evangelists Association as a lay movement of the Church for men.

  2. During his student days in the United States, he developed a clear understanding regardin the role of women in the Church. He encouraged the formation of Mar Thoma Suvisesha Sevika Sangham, which is the women's auxiliary of the evangelistic work of the Church. The Vanitha Mandiram for training women also was developed with his efforts. A long time before the current ideological preoccupations in this respect began; Abraham Mar Thoma pioneered the participation of women in the ministry of the Church.

  3. His third major thrust was on finding suitable people for the ordained ministry of the Church and also lay-leaders for church-based social activities. Through his efforts many university graduates joined the ministry, in preference over highly paid jobs available in the secular world. He organized special summer schools for Bible studies and training for lay people engaged in secular jobs. The inspiration that he gave to young people to go and live in villages of India in different regions of the country resulted in the establishment of Ashram Movement in the Church. His help was sought by Christian groups all over India to give leadership in evangelistic conventions. He was the president of Mar Thoma Evangelistic Association, a movement started by ten laymen and two clergy on the banks of Pampa River in 1888. He also became the president of National Missionary Society. Therefore, evangelization of India was his passionate dream. Liberation of India from foreign domination and evangelization of India were the two sides of the coin of his personal commitment. He wanted to lead India to freedom, and his fellow countrymen and women into God's Kingdom. He lived just long enough to realize his first dream and he also took the early decisive steps towards achieving his second goal. Thus it was a totally fulfilled life.

He became a diabetic at the age of 46, but he did not allow this to hinder his work in any way. He traveled extensively in India and abroad to carry out his ministry. The extreme vigor with which he pursued his evangelistic work caused a burn out in course of time. Though he was left us a legacy that posterity will not willingly let die. He was the very first home-grown Indian Missionary bishop of both British and the Independent India. He was called to his rest on 1st September 1947.

Metropolitan Abraham Mar Thoma was very much enthusiastic about our young people going abroad for studies, employment and business. He had told them to write to him and keep him informed of their progress and he never failed to reply to their letters promptly: a disciple that both Juhanon Metropolitan and Alexander Mar Thoma continued.

His death was a great loss for the nation because of his involvement and the silent leadership that he gave for the struggle of Independence. The country was only just beginning to breathe freedom after the declaration of independence on 15th August 1947. Metropolitan Abraham Mar Thoma had in front of him many more freedom struggles to fight on political, social, communal and economic fronts in Travancore State because of the cunning strategies of Sir C.P.'s administration. Nevertheless, the patriotic freedom fighter had the good fortune to live in independent India, even if it was only for two weeks. Some people maintain that religion and politics should not mix; but Mar Thoma Metropolitans had always showed different way. Abraham Mar Thoma and his successor Juhanon Mar Thoma were great role models in this respect. The destiny of the Mar Thoma Church is probably to fight for the marginalized and voiceless people of our country. Abraham Mar Thoma was indeed a legend, a holy man, and a saint who sanctified himself for others. It is difficult to sum up his life. He was one of the foremost Christians of his generation, a courageous spiritual leader of India who could empathize with other religious traditions, a guiding star for a spiritual journey, tower o strength and a complete, God-centered human being who believed in the sufficiency of His grace. He was indeed God's great gift to the Mar Thoma Church, to the Indian Christian community and to the nation at large.


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