[Diocesan Metropolitan of Ranni Diocese, Marthoma Syrian 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.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Next, Look into the home front of David, whom God had chosen to be the commander over His own people of Israel. During the end of the funeral service, referring to this great King musician of Israel, we enunciate 'O David, the sweet singer of Israel! descend with your Iyre and harp and sing to make us to know how frail we are and how short the extent of our days in this world.' ['C{ktbensâ a[pcKmbI\mb ZmhotZ! Cu temI¯nð a\pjy³ F{X £WnI³ Fópw Ahsâ Zn\§Ä F®s¸«hbmsWpw R§sf A\pkvacn¸nt¡ïXnóp, \o Inóchpambn Cd§nhóp ]mSpI.'] We see here a father who fathered all the nations but could not father his own. This powerful king wisely governed the scattered tribes of Israel, forging them into a united nation. The shepherd boy was blessed by God to be a valiant soldier, a great military strategist, an excellent statesman, a diplomat, a composer, a musician and a very successful king. He had a lot of achievements in his life. Despite this flawless reign on a national level, David had many problems in his family life. The king of Israel, David, had his slinking at his home side.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Extract from Address given at Maramon Convention-2004 : Original in Malayalam]
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All through the centuries humanity has suffered terrible loss of lives and possessions through natural calamities. Troubles and trials are a part and parcel of life for everybody whether people are saints or sinners. As per our Lord, all troubles and trials are bound to happen before His Second Coming in His glory and power. Our Lord wants us neither to be frightened nor to be afraid of the end-of-time calamities and troubles.

One of the worst natural calamities of modern time that affected the entire mankind was that of recent tsunami which destroyed more than 225 thousand lives and their properties in South East Asia. Though the wonders of modern science and technology were available to predict and warn the people about the incoming dangers, they did not become useful to those nations who lost many human lives! All through the centuries humanity has suffered terrible loss of lives along with their possessions and civilizations through other calamities such as earth quakes, volcanoes, floods, fires, mud and land slides, drought, famine, pestilence, executions and exterminations by civil and world wars, religious, racial and social discriminations etc; in the last century itself, millions of human beings wiped out from the surface of this planet in countries like Russia, Germany, China, South East Asia, Africa , certain Middle East Countries, and some South American States, while the remaining world stood watching without doing much to help them out.

When all the troubles and persecutions rolled in the lives of individuals as well as in large number of people, we always wonder and ask the question “why”. After the recent tsunami, several leaders of different world religions suggested that it might be due to the punishment from God because of wicked ways of people. Really we do not have an exact and satisfactory explanation or an answer to the question why do such terrible calamities happen. In the Old Testament, there are several examples of destructions of peoples as the direct punishment from God because of man’s wicked ways, such as flood at Noah’s times, destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah by fire.

When we look into the Word of God, especially in the teachings and prophesy of our Lord, we do have some indications about the terrible things happenings to the world. (Mathew 24:3-44, Luke 21: 7-38, Mark 13: 3-37). According to our Master, Jesus Christ, all the troubles, and trials including the persecutions of His followers are bound to happen before He comes in His glory and power for the second coming for the judgment. These things are like the first pains of childbirth (Mark13:8). Calamities worse than what we have experienced will happen just before the Lord comes to end our present world!

When people asked Jesus about the executions of some Galileans by Pilate and the accidental death of eighteen people by fall of a tower in Siloam, he told them that the victims were not worse sinners than other people living in Israel (Luke 13:1-5). Troubles and trials are a part and parcel of life for everybody whether people are saints or sinners. Thousands of believers who were Lord’s saints were persecuted all through the centuries as predicted by our Lord.

Before the Lord comes, mankind will experience lots of catastrophic disasters, natural as well as man-made .We have no escape from this fulfillment of His prophecies. Every word of his teaching and prophecy will be carried out. “ Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away” (Mark 13:31). He also said that nobody knows the day or the hour of His second coming -neither the angels nor the Son of God but the Father (Mark 13:32). Before our Lord comes, the good news of salvation through Jesus has to be proclaimed to all nations. It is the primary duty of all believers to help in preaching and teaching the gospel to all peoples in every nation on earth and to be a witness of the saving power of Jesus Christ.

Our Lord wants us neither to be frightened nor to be afraid of the end-of-time calamities and troubles that could happen anytime and anywhere though most of us are troubled when they do happen. It is only natural. It is believers’ turn and great opportunity to share the sufferings of the peoples who are affected by any kind of disasters, by comforting and consoling through our good work, sacrifices and prayers and thus we will be the witnesses of our Lord and God who is the only true Savior of mankind. The Lord wants us to wake up, watch and wait for His second coming when He will carry out the judgment to the wicked and evil, and to take His true followers from all corners of the earth to the eternal kingdom of our heavenly Father as He promised. Amen.

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[St. Gregorios Church, Philadelphia, USA]

Commencement of our life journey on the broad way, though it seemed more appealing will only lead us to devastation, while entering through the narrow gate and travelling on the hard road culminate in joy, reward, success and eternal life. Life is a pilgrim journey to eternity. We should follow the road signs of virtues like commitment, obedience, love etc., so that we reach our desired destination of eternal life.

We have just entered into the hallway of a new year, after traveling on the road of time for so many years. We continue our adventurous journey of life, and do not know what awaits us on our way, what will be the end or what outcome it is going to be? On our way of life, we are confronted at the intersection of two roads through the world; one is narrow and hard while the other is wide and easy. We are urged to make up our minds to choose which road we would travel out of these two.

Jesus exhorts us to enter into the narrow road because the wide road is leading to devastation. Gospel according to St. Matthew has recorded what Jesus said, “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, there are many who take it. For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it” (St. Matthew 7:13-14, NRSV)

The differences:
The entry and journey of life on these two gates and roads differ in many aspects:

  1. Commencement of our journey on the broad way will be seemed more appealing, easy and enjoyable, but it leads to hardship, failure, disappointment and even the final destination of the way of death. On the other hand, the journey on the narrow road, though it begins with hardship and with a dreary experience, it culminate in joy, reward, success and eternal life.

  2. The big crowd reveals the great popularity of the broad way. Many prefer to wander down this road while only a few search and follow the narrow one. There is no majority rule enforced in the kingdom of God.

William Barclay, one of the famous Biblical scholars, explains the differences between the broad and the narrow roads. He said, ‘it is the difference between the hard way or the easy way; the long way or short cut; the disciplined way or indiscipline way; the thoughtful way or thoughtless way.’

Nobody ever aspire his or her life to be a failure. Each one desires their life, which is a precious gift from God, to be happy, peaceful and prosperous. Very few accomplish their goal while others miss it.

Why does life fail?

There is no perfect answer for this question. However, Harry Emerson Fosdick explains the success and failure through the story of a man ‘catching the wrong bus’. A man boarded a bus with the full intention and desire of going to Detroit. At the end of the long journey for many hours, the man stepped off the bus at its destination city. At first he would not believe that he had reached a wrong place and asked for directions to Woodward Avenue. The people informed him that there is no Woodward Avenue in that city. The man became indignant from the responses he was getting. He knew Detroit, and he knew there was a Woodward Avenue in that city. Eventually, the people informed the man, “Sir, this is Kansas City and not Detroit, You caught a wrong bus.” It took him some time before he could believe that he reached in Kansas City and not Detroit as he boarded a wrong bus.

What does this story teach us?

The story gives us an eye-opening lesson for our practical life. It points out to the doctrine that ‘means must be justifiable for a good end’. The Communist theory says that ‘The end justifies the means’. In Christianity both ‘means’ and ‘end’ are equally important. We should have good objectives in life. Setting up of good goals alone will not do any good. The right choice of the course of action has to accompany as well. We desire good things, happiness, health, achievements, strong family, good marriage, productive career, useful lives, recognition, respect and strong faith and Christian living. But the success depends on what road map and planning that is selected and executed. Enter through the narrow gate [right choice] of discipline and travel on the narrow road [right course of action] to reach the goal of success and its fulfillment.

Think about Prodigal son. He did not start out to end up his life in a swine pasture. When he left his father’s house his intention was to enjoy life to its maximum. He wanted happiness, freedom, fulfillment and excitement. He thought of his father’s house as a boring place standing on his way of freedom and enjoyment. He got into a wrong bus that took him to the place of misery and humiliation. He was traveling on the broad way of easy going and merrymaking that ultimately ended him up in misery, tears, servitude, starvation, and defeat. Eventually he became a feeder of pigs in a strange land. He missed his father by his side to care for him when he was in trouble.

Take up the example of Judas Iscariot who betrayed his Master. He did not mean to be a traitor and it was not his intention, but somehow it happened. He has gone down the history as the man who “sold out” his Master Jesus. He stood with the wrong crowd of jealous Jewish leaders who were plotting to destroy Jesus.

Young people may have good ambition in their life; but sometimes they may head towards a wrong direction. Why? Because they make wrong decision (wide gate), or join the wrong crowd or end up at a wrong place they really did not want to be. Good intentions are not enough. The news media when reporting a crime may comment like this, ‘he was a good man but he was in the wrong place in the wrong time.’ Jesus reminds us of the danger in traveling on the broad way of luxury, spiritual lethargy, enjoyment and pride. He said, “Enter through the narrow gate….”

Life is a journey to eternity. Narrow gate and road are our right way. Follow the important road signs on the narrow road to be safe and successful. There are three main road signs:

  1. Narrow gate and road are the way of commitment:

    They stand as the symbols of humility, sacrifice, dedication, single-mindedness, determination, discipline, purpose, devotion and commitment. For example, Brian Boitano was one of the greatest ice-skaters of all time. He won an Olympic gold medal for figure skating on February 20, 1998, at Calgary. People appeared wondering about him as a born-world-class figure skater. But the truth tells that he was not a born-figure skater, but a committed sports-star who spent an average of 5 hours a day, six days a week for practice for most of his life. He used narrow gate and road of commitment so that he reached his goal of success.

    It is true with the spiritual world as well. People are tempted to go easy on the matters of faith and morality. There is a tendency to assume easy way in religion - willing to compromise spirituality and ethics for sentiments and human rights to make people happy. Evils are crept into the holy place of church and religion. Even the church leaders appear to be advocates and supportive of the easy and evil ways and un-natural life style. Such people should remember that the symbol of faith is not an easy chair, but a rugged cross. Jesus said, “…whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me” (St. Matthew 10.38, NRSV). Jesus’ way is the way of cross, and walking with him will have to be on the narrow road of commitment. Commit your life to Christ, He will take you to the place of safety, victory and salvation.

  2. Narrow gate and road are the way of obedience:

    Narrow gate and road demand our obedience to the road signs of Christ’s commandments. To obey someone means ‘putting that person first’ or respecting that person. Sometimes people obey because for the fear of punishment. To obey God means placing God first in the person’s life. It is to follow there, where God leads us to go. It is to live out the prayer “Thy will be done!” It is a very difficult proposition and not that easy. That is why it is called narrow gate and hard road. We are very often tempted to take the short cut, the quick fix or the easy way.

    We are often like the man who wrote an enthusiastic love letter to his girl friend, which reads like this: “My darling, I love you. My love for you is so great that I would travel to the ends of the earth for you. I would dare the greatest dangers. I would fight my way to your side if giants should oppose me…Yours forever, John.” Then, he wrote under the letter as an addendum: “I will be over to see you Saturday, if it does not rain.” The lover who said he is ready to risk his life even in the fight with the giants, now says “I will be there…if it does not rain.”, doing things on the basis of convenience.

    John Banyan was in prison for twelve years for the sake of his faith and for preaching of Christ. The authorities offered him freedom from jail if he would promise to stop preaching Christ. To that Bunyan replied, “I am determined yet to suffer until moss grows over my eye-brows rather than to violate my faith.” Can we pray honestly ‘Thy will be done” in our lives? Jesus prayed and fulfilled the prayer “Thy will be done” in his life.

  3. Narrow gate and road are the way of love:

    Christ came down to teach us that love is the way of God, which is very narrow and hard to follow. It is difficult to love as Christ loved his enemies. It is very difficult to make sacrifice for others as God did. “God so loved the world that he sent his only son…”(St. John 3.16). Christ expects us to love others, and that is his commandment.

    Love redeems the lost souls. In a community there was a teen-age boy who was a troublemaker and disruptive. He got into many fights and injured a number of people. Therefore, people called him by nickname “Bruiser John.” The whole community was fed up with Bruiser John. He was in a wrong bus heading to direction of destroying his life. A caring youth leader moved into the community, and got interested in Bruiser John. The leader reached out to him, encouraged him, listened to him, and loved him. Finally, he felt the love of God through that youth leader. He changed his life and had great conversion experience. He recognized Christ as his Lord and Saviour.

    One Sunday, Bruiser John was assigned a prayer of invocation in the Church. He prayed “O God, bless all the people here who are old, bless all those caught in the middle and help them all to love each other for the sake of Christ.” Every body in the church wept and shed tears with joy. The people said that they felt the presence of God powerfully in the Church on that day.

Entering and traveling on the narrow gate and road are the symbols of making and maintaining right decisions of commitment, obedience and love. Commit your life to the Lord, obey Him and love Him and His people. Follow Him who said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.” (St. John 14.6, NRSV).


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The love for evil that offers limitless joy is the root cause of remaining in that comfort zone. God in His infinite love for mankind avails several opportunities to be challenged to receive this light, but humanity continue to focus on temporal joy and shuts off the thoughts of Godly expectations and the life eternal. The Divine Goal of bringing us to light is to spread the Godly light to the world.

There is a human tendency to acclimatize to the immediate environment and therefore, many are comfortable in spiritual darkness. John 3:19 explains that the love for evil that offers limitless joy is the root cause of remaining in that comfort zone.

There is an innate knowledge that God has given (I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds. Heb 10:16b, Jer 31:33) to reach for the divine light. God in His infinite love for mankind avails several opportunities to be challenged to receive this light, but humanity continue to focus on temporal joy and shuts off the thoughts of Godly expectations and the life eternal.

Physical light, in its varying intensity reveals to us a varying level of knowledge about our surrounding. Greater the light, greater the knowledge of the surrounding. A filthy room would appear clean in a dim light, but a bright light would expose the spider webs and the dirt. The physical light helps to bring the environment to its appropriateness or to change disorder to order.

The Spiritual Light has a comparable nature to the physical light. It operates as an extra bright light that is capable of exposing every intricate detail of the surrounding that needs cleansing. The spiritual light is a divine light purposed for exposing the factors that distance us from God.

God, The Light, is presented in the first chapter of John’s Gospel, refers to Jesus as the divine light that came to this world. “The true light that gives light to every man was coming into this world.” (John 1: 9) “(Jesus said) I have come into this world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.” (John 12:46) “..Christ will shine on you.” (Ephesians 5:14) This light is remaining available to shine on us. There is a light in God’s word that does not only show right way to the everlasting life but disapproves any contrary course. This light is a reproving light to the wicked and carnal world.

The Power of this light is capable of producing a marvelous transformation that involves a genealogy leap!! “... He gave the right to become the children of God - children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” (John 1:12-13) This change is from a regular human to a child of God. The second aspect of this Light is to bring us the effective knowledge of both our misery and remedy.

The influence of Light is not to force its way and produce a desirable result but to persuade us to get the light. It informs us of the general shamefulness of the sin. It brings to our knowledge that wages of sin is eternal death.

A Choice to Receive this Light is required to become the beneficiary of this new status in the Family Of God. John 1: 11-12 “He (the true light) came to His own, but His own did not receive Him. Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed His name....”, the privilege status to enter into God’s family was offered through these words in the Gospel of John. Our willingness to receive this light is the first step to enjoy the force of redemption. Just as all the shadows disappear when we approach a large light source, the shadows in our life disappear when we get closer to God. Our choice must be remain close to divine light always.

The Divine Goal of bringing us to light is to spread the Godly light as stated in the scripture “..let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” (John 5:16)

We should become true reflectors that radiate the luminance of God, honoring God almighty through our actions and reactions, inspiring others to shine for God, so that His mighty name will be praised.

Forward your comments or questions to

Author, Thomas Koshy, of Washington Mar Thoma Church, is a Senior Nuclear Scientist serving US federal government. His primary service area is Sunday school where he held several offices for the Diocese and Southeast Region. He devotes most of his time in teaching and preaching the Word of God to reaffirm our faith. He lives in Maryland with his wife Elizabeth and two children Benjamin and Annie.

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As Indian Diaspora Christians, we need an identity of our own, knitting all our diversities together in our rich traditions and heritage with a clear understanding of our God-given mission of being His witness with our life in places where ever we live. This common beginning is not so much about our pride in being the descendant of St. Thomas Christians of Malabar, but about the struggles that our parents had to face to keep their faith alive.

[The following article is written from the experience of an ecumenically endowed Mar Thoma Diaspora Christian. However, this is sent to the ‘Light of Life’ e- journal because it is considered to be generally applicable to all denominations of Indian diaspora Christians. Our initial diaspora experiences started with joint ecumenical prayer meetings with all Christians from a particular region of India. It started as a lay initiative, but we lost that lay-centered ecumenical tolerance and understanding when we started building our denominational parishes and institutionalized our fellowships. But it is good to remember our common beginnings and thank God for our life and faith in places and situations where God has placed us. ‘Light of Life’ by its very nature is a testimony of this residual ecumenical understanding and tolerance. I only have admiration for all those who are involved in producing this very helpful journal. This introductory note is a way of apologizing for writing mainly about just one Christian denomination in this article. I invite the readers to use their own experience and perception in translating this article to their particular situations. I could have used the term ‘Indian Diaspora Christians’ instead of Mar Thoma diaspora communities, but that is what I have in mind and it is no way considered to be a triumphant article for the sake of just one community or highlighting special needs of just one community, we are all in it together as members of diaspora communities. I invite readers to discuss this in ecumenical terms and brotherly love.]

Indian Diaspora Christian communities are present in all parts of the world. I have taken Mar Thoma diaspora Christians as an example to highlight certain realities affecting such communities. Mar Thoma diaspora communities are present today in various towns and cities of India, outside the boundaries of Kerala, United States of America, Canada, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Singapore, Middle East, and, more recently, South Africa. We became a diaspora for reasons other than Jewish diaspora. There are three sorts of diaspora Mar Thoma Christians.

  1. Those people who voluntarily left Travancore and Cochin and moved to other places in India, the very first Mar Thoma diaspora worshipping community was established in Madras in 1915. Those who moved to Malabar region for agricultural opportunities should be included in this category.

  2. Those who voluntarily accepted citizenship of other countries such as Malaysia, Singapore, UK, USA and Australia.

  3. Expatriates, particularly in the Middle East, Africa and other regions who may eventually return to India.

In addition to these mere geographical, economical and sociological aspects of dispersion, we need to consider the providential and spiritual side of this migration as well. Marthomite were not forced out, but they voluntarily left their villages, homesteads or hometowns. They also need to believe that they have been sent. This ‘sent-ness’ is very important to establish their spiritual mission in places where they live. Their election as a diaspora community is clear and unequivocal, which is to proclaim the Gospel in communities where they live, and to pass on the rich traditions and heritage to future generations. This is also a golden opportunity to build a network of ecumenical diaspora communities and relationships around the world. Such networks are of immense importance at times of natural and man-made calamities affecting people in different regions of the world.

In 1942, William Temple at his enthronement as the Archbishop of Canterbury referred to the existence of a world-wide Anglican Church as ‘the great new fact of our time.’ However, the missionary zeal of the diaspora Christians from non-western countries living in the affluent West has become another great new fact of our time. With in a short span of fifty years Mar Thoma Church has become a global church. The Mar Thoma community in the United Kingdom will be celebrating its Golden Jubilee in 2006/ 2007. ‘Scatter my people’ was a prophetic prayer of Metropolitan Abraham Mar Thoma. Diaspora communities have contributed richly in elevating the status of a Church confined within the boundaries of Kerala to a world-wide church, which is indeed ‘the great new fact of our time.’

Although it is important to recognise the Jewish tradition at the heart of any definition of the concept of diaspora, it is also necessary to transcend it for two specific reasons. Firstly, the Jewish experiences were not all negative, enervating and fearful. Those painful experiences were supplemented by considerable intellectual and spiritual achievements, which simply could not have happened in a narrow tribal society. Not all Jewish communities outside Judea resulted from compulsory expulsion; there was a voluntary component to it, which contributed significantly to enriching and creative experiences as well. When Romans destroyed the Second Temple in AD70, it was Babylon that remained as the intellectual nerve centre for Jewish life and thought. Therefore the remnant of Israel, in a way, was kept alive in the diasporic community. We should never forget the immense possibilities of this enormous potential for Indian diaspora Christians in this respect.

The second reason for transcending the Jewish blueprint is that the word diaspora is now used in a variety of new and interesting contexts to include expatriates, expellees, political refugees, economic migrants, alien residents, immigrants, ethnic and racial minorities, cultural migrants, intellectual migrants, professional groups, traders, and religious sects. Therefore, diaspora communities include a vast array of different people. From the above perspective, Mar Thoma Christians living abroad can find one or more characteristics to establish themselves, comfortably, as a diaspora community. However, people do not become part of a diaspora community the moment they land on another country; it is a long and evolutionary process with responsibilities.

The great thing about the Jewish community is that they never forget their common beginning. When a Jewish family gathers to celebrate the Passover it is not just to recall another moment in their long history but also to experience anew its meaning and power for them, their children and their grandchildren today. We should be telling our children about our common beginnings of being Mar Thoma Christians and also being members of a vast diaspora community. This common beginning is not so much about our pride in being the descendant of St. Thomas Christians of Malabar, but about the struggles that their parents had to face to keep their faith alive. As Christians, the greatest common factor for us is of course the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Emerging from this most fundamental common factor is a variety of nail-biting fears, a variety of stomach-curling stories of courage, a variety of romantic and heart-rending stories of suffering and sacrifice and a variety of fascinating stories of failures and achievements. We should never be afraid of telling these stories to our children and others around us. We should never be afraid of telling our children about our small beginnings, beginnings filled with our struggles, struggles that we all had to face in our earlier years in our adopted towns and cities of India and various other countries. These are our personal stories and these are our stories as a community. These are our Psalms, our songs, our folklore; we wrote it with our lives. Why should we be afraid of telling them? Recalling these stories is a way of thanking God for keeping us together as a community with His amazing blessings. The moment we forget our common beginning we forget our roots and our identity. It is only lay people who can narrate these stories with any authenticity. Whoever or wherever we are, our spiritual journey can only start at the foot of the Cross and this is the mother of all our common beginnings.

Therefore, the remembrance of our common beginnings would help us to become “outward signs of an inward grace” and this will certainly help us to transform the societies in which we live and this is our God-given mission. Such transitions herald new opportunities to explore a fascinating world and to have a ‘moon-view’ of earth to make connections across cultures to create a third culture or to develop a new identity. No culture retains its identity in isolation; identity is attained in relationships, in preserving essential cultural differences, respecting other cultures, in breaking barriers and in synthesis. An impartial observer may be able to identify enormous contributions made by the Mar Thoma diaspora communities over the years. This is also true of other Indian diaspora Christian communities.

The existence of Mar Thoma Christian communities in different parts of the world is neither a historical accident nor a cause for arrogance and pride. On the other hand it is a way of experiencing God’s providential purpose for our communities. Part of this realisation is an understanding about maintaining a meaningful relationship with the motherland. It is just possible that the future generations of Indian diaspora Christians may have no known close relatives or ancestral homes in India to return to. These people may have a genuine need to identify with a core of their ancestral community to maintain a link and retain such an attachment in their collective memory. Jewish history reminds us of the vital importance and benefits for the dispersed communities in maintaining historical links and preserving the records of migratory patterns. The sad stories of Kerala Christians from Kuwait returning home during the first Kuwait crisis is still fresh in our memory. The experience of holocaust motivated Jews to set up many diaspora centres allover the world. These realizations prompted members of the diaspora Mar Thoma Communities to organize themselves formally as parishes, congregations, diocese and informally through FOCUS (for Christian Understanding and Solidarity) and other movements to encourage the thinking and mobilizing energies required for establishing the following over the years.

Following are a few examples of the contributions of Mar Thoma diaspora communities; this list is in no way complete or representative and readers are encouraged to make up their on list and order of importance.

  1. Creating the realization that the Mar Thoma church is a world-wide church.

  2. Developing ecumenical relationship with other churches.

  3. Establishing various social reforms through charitable activities (e.g. housing, hospitals, marriage-aid, social amenities etc.)

  4. Formation of the Society of St. Thomas and St. Augustine in England in 1984 With Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Robert Runcie and Metropolitan Alexander Mar Thoma as its patrons.

  5. Support for Santhigiri Ashram and numerous other institutions and projects of the church individually and collectively.

  6. Establishing a Medical Clinic at Santhigiri through the Association of Physicians and Dentists of the Mar Thoma Diocese of North America and Europe.

  7. Informal international FOCUS seminars at Santhigiri Ashram (1999, 2001 and 2003).

  8. Meditation weekends at Santhigiri Ashram.

  9. Establishing a Diaspora Sunday celebration in the Diocese of North America and Europe.

  10. Networking between Diaspora communities.

  11. Publication of “Glimpses of Mar Thoma Church History.”

  12. Financial support for other Christian publications including Metropolitan’s outstanding book, “Mission in the Market Place.”

  13. Support for various mission activities including the new missions at Mexico and for native Indians of the United States.

  14. Highlighting the problems facing the Indian Christian communities to the West.

  15. Continuing the dialogue for a diaspora centre.

What is missing from this amazing realization is the establishment of a well thought out diaspora facility in Kerala for the diaspora Mar Thoma and other Indian Christians. We have become an inward looking community and have become deaf and blind to the needs of others in diaspora communities. History has taught us the fate of many diaspora communities in the world:

  1. Holocaust and the fate of Jews in Germany, Poland and Russia.

  2. Asians in Uganda.

  3. Our own people in Kuwait during Iraqi invasion.

  4. Ethnic Cleansing in the Balkans and Africa.

Although, our people in these countries have apparent prosperity now, in later years a political tragedy of Hitler’s dimension can create untold damage to our communities for no fault of theirs. As Louis Armstrong sang, “The only sin is my skin.” Such a tragedy could happen even in India for the Indian diaspora communities living in the towns cities outside Kerala. It is important to think how Joseph cared for a whole generation and a nation by carefully providing and planning for the famine years in Egypt. This is what a diaspora centre means. Such a centre should provide for the future needs and emergencies. The old Malayalam saying attributed to a rich coconut planter in Allepy is very apt to remember in this context, “Sambath kalath thai pathu vachal apath kaltahu ka path thinnam.”[k¼¯p Ime¯p ssX ]¯p sh¨mð B]¯p Ime¯p Im ]¯p Xnómw] It is the fervent hope of the diaspora communities that they could organise the following functions through a much needed diaspora centre or centres:

  1. Arrange visits for diaspora members, particularly the young people and offer facilities for them to meet their age groups from India and elsewhere.

  2. Provide office facilities to create a database about diaspora Indian Christians, patterns of their migration and their roots and associations in India.

  3. Create a resource centre and library facilities for the diaspora centre.

  4. Provide facilities for studies, research and publications.

  5. Provide facilities for seminars and other means of communication.

  6. Provide appropriate homeland mission activities.

  7. Arrange students to spend their gap year (year between high school and the university) in India to engage in various socially and ethically motivated projects for helping the needy sections of the homeland communities without any sort of communal bias.

  8. Provide a forum for harnessing the experiences gained by clergy who worked in diaspora parishes and then returned to India.

  9. Provide a means of establishing links with people returning from diaspora regions for resettlement in Kerala/India.

As Indian diaspora Christians, we need an identity of our own, a powerful symbol to remember our common beginning, a beginning shared by the majority in the community. This symbol should have the power to merge all our yesterdays, today and tomorrows into one melting pot; it should have the power to draw all Indian Christian diaspora communities from all corners of the world to a common identity. Therefore, an opportunity to appreciate our common beginning is necessary to weave a unity of purpose in the kaleidoscopic diversities of our existence as Christian diaspora communities.

The Mar Thoma Christians from Kerala have a common beginning, but our understanding of it is very poor. However, it is true that our current attitudes and lifestyles may camouflage those common beginnings, but on reflection it is not all that difficult to remember our humble beginnings. Government of India in 1963 only allowed a postgraduate student to carry £3 pounds in foreign currency; after arriving in London on a very cold, rainy, and miserable July morning, and after sending the ‘traditional telegram’ home saying, “arrived safe, with love”, I started my life in England with just five schillings of my very dear ‘appachen’s’ gift. These sorts of experiences were very common to many immigrants in those days. These common beginnings and the remembrance of them are essential for us to remain grounded in humility; I still keep a five schilling coin above my bed to remind me of my ‘hard old days.’ I have a letter in my collection, written by the late O. V. Alexander to Metropolitan Juhanon Mar Thoma, recommending a remuneration of one pound per month for Rev. V.V. Alexander for his ministry in London in 1957. We had to scratch the bottom of the barrel to give £5 traveling expenses to the retired Vicar general Very Rev. P. M. George in 1968, when he was a student in England. These are stories of great spiritual significance when we roll in apparent prosperity and affluence and do things without a care in the world. The moment we forget our common beginning, we act differently. The moment we forget our common beginning, we forget to honour one another and seek the common good. We should never ever, under any circumstances, try to wipe out these memories from our mind; preserving these memories of our common beginnings as an immigrant community can only be achieved after undergoing a regular catharsis of our pride and arrogance. A well thought out diaspora centre should provide untold possibilities.

It is important to remember that almost all diaspora parishes and congregations evolved out of the commitments and loyalties of lay people and their leadership. The future growth of these parishes may also entirely depend on their total involvement. Lay people need to wakeup and assume their God-given responsibility in building our communities. One symbolic way of creating loyalty to our tradition is to set apart one Sunday in the year as a ‘Diaspora Sunday’ to thank God for all His amazing kindness to us as a community. We, in the West, are immensely grateful to The Rt. Rev. Dr. Zacharias Mar Theophilus Suffragan Metropolitan for establishing such a Sunday in North America and Europe through a Diocesan Council and Assembly mandate in 2001. This should help us to remind us who we are and where we came from. The Diaspora Sunday thanksgiving prayers and the diaspora centre would be ways of remembering our common beginnings and help us to find a purpose for our existence as diaspora communities in various parts of the world. This would replace our status as mere economic migrants and elevate our position in becoming a link in the purpose of God for building His Kingdom here and now. If we put our hearts and minds to it, it will generate its own momentum to become a very meaningful symbol for the Church of tomorrow. Our diasporic spirituality and the idea of ‘sent-ness’ are ideal for building meaningful ecumenical relationships. This will help us to find holiness in every relationships and interactions. “It is good to give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures for ever.”

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An exemplary family life is a missionary work for the Kingdom of God and there is nothing to equal on earth to the complementary functions and duties of a married life that reap the beauty of life in its myriad forms of achievement and pleasure. Sound mind in a sound body is the aim of our life that helps us to have a healthy normal co-existence with our fellow beings. Moral and religious sensibilities are the founding stones upon which our transitory life is built upon.

Good luck to the well wishers in their mission of saving the church and morality from its ruin. The question is, can we do what God can't do? (Lk.18: 8). This is the time when the Bride, delineated as false prophet-Rev.16: 13; 19: 20- rides on the Beast (Rev.17: 1-7). It is our duty to fight against the Beast and his evil trinity till the coming of the Lord. As this topic of sex education is a very delicate and subtle private matter, the church or the family hasn't the taught the topic of sex morality explicitly so far. Dating, the mother of all sexual vices precipitated the fire of all other vices that paved the way for so many business empires to fish in troubled waters just for their gains. The modern sex culture that brought in multitude of social problems and lethal diseases like aids and abortion abnormalities opened the eyes of the law makers to urge the use of safe sex techniques and educate the ignorant adolescents right from school level. But it has proved to be an antithesis detriment in Christian contexts, because of fighting fire with fire is suicidal against this burning problem. Teaching religious morality that has proved to be effective till yesterday is fruitful forever than giving sex education that implodes from within for the annihilation of a congenial and set social milieu.

In this democratic age when sexism, feminism, dating, defacto relationship, divorce, sex therapy and many other similar deviant tendencies have become the birth rights of people, preaching of biblical morality is only an anachronism, a thing of the past that is just will be laughed off. Thinking that ruminating over the antique morality may make some nostalgic tickling to few of my readers, I am very much delighted in giving a reply to this burning issue to the zealous young youth who is unaware of the teaching of sex morality enshrined by the church. Seemingly it may become the butt of sentimental jokes, while global sex trade, sex slavery, pornography, pedophile and Internet trading of sex and so many other sex-related mafia industries are on the rampage of harvesting billions and billions of dollars.

Sex is fire, either it can consume us, or it can build a harmonious life of bliss in this world and the life yet to come, because a virgin sex life is the gateway to all other fields of chaste life. An ideal life recommended by Jesus and St.Paul is the life of a celibate/spinster, the reason for the same is, “for in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven” (Mt.22: 30; 1.Cor.7). Sex confines only to this plane of life, and the Devil uses it as a powerful weapon to fight against God and bring Him to His knees. The qualification of the 144,000 virgins thus go like this: “ It is these who have not defiled themselves with women, for they are chaste; it is these who follow the Lamb wherever he goes; these have been redeemed from mankind as first fruits for God and the lamb, and in their mouth no lie was found, for they are spotless (Rev.14: 1-5). A celibate who can be in continual communion with the celestial world and its beauty enjoys the ethereal life on earth; despite the multidimensional earthly afflictions are real tidal waves for them.

One who alone can’t have the ability of glorifying God and serving man in a harmonious blend of body, mind and soul should resort to the next ideal way, the family life. There are two ways by which man can worship God, either worshipping the Almighty as a celibate or as a family man who procreate children for serving God and man. Sex, however, is a forbidden tree till the day of marriage; it should not be molested, caressed or looked with evil intentions. An exemplary family life is a missionary work for the Kingdom of God. There is nothing to equal on earth to the complementary functions and duties of a married life that reap the beauty of life in its myriad forms of achievement and pleasure. Family life is the only way of surviving in this world, while a celibate’s life is crowded with thorns and thistles always. How can we delineate the beauty and power of the Creator who formed us? This superlative charm and intrinsic love become a poisoned chalice once the delicate balance of love and relationship turns to be a sour grape. “ The greatest evil is found where the highest good has been corrupted”.

The first impact of the forbidden fruit was opening the eyes of the first parents’ sex (Gen.3: 7; 2: 25). Hence the first instinct after the fall, according to the Indian list is sex impulse (Kama, krodha,....). Just as the nutrient of the food that we eat goes to every cell of the body, there is an imprint of sex in every body cell. This chemical action within the cells sends magnetic waves around for the attraction or repulsion of individuals of opposite sex. In our fallen state the only normal and real life is the marital life that culminates in sharing the body and mind together in a harmonious blend. The net result of that commingling life style is the product of other duplicate lives. Who can highlight the abstract ecstasy and rapture that evolves out of a suckling mother and a sucking baby? How can we exemplify the complementary functions of an ideal couple that brings up ideal offspring for giving service to the society and accomplish the work of God on earth?

If these body chemicals are poisoned by wrongdoings, with particular reference to any form of sexual profligacy, the chemistry of man works in the negative directions. As the lust of the eye even can make a chemical tornado in our body, Jesus says that looking with a lustful eye is a sin (Mt.5: 28). The chemical whirlpool that creates in the body even by a lustful look can be harmful and unspiritual, what would be the unseen ripples of defacto relationship that can transmit toxins for the genetic disorders for the next generations? As in the words of St.Paul, “ Shun immorality. Every other sin a man commits is outside the body; but the immoral man sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the H.Spirit within you, which you have from God? You are not your own; you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. In order to glorify God one should have a pure body and heart, free from all the lusts and vices that separate us from the presence of God (1.Cor.3: 16-17).

Sex power is the litmus test of our personality that determines our successes and failures in life. All the philosophers, hermits, spiritual stalwarts, warriors, politicians, religious and social celebrities have been of high sexual drive; this sex strength either is inherited or cultivated by sex restraints during the teenage life styles. Sex is power. Celibates or Spinsters are like living dynamos shedding magnetic light around them, and can enjoy a long healthy life if they have translated their sex potency to a chaste mental and physical lives. The quality of one’s later life depends on one’s pre-marital sex life. Conjugal or sexual pleasure costs a high amount of our energy for sexual acrobatics, as the strength of the body rely mainly on our chemical and nervous systems. Immunity of our body depends on its chemical vulnerability and the suppleness of the muscular system and the electric transmitting power of the nervous system and many other unknown variables. Man is a great inexplicable unknown. As all our body parts that run as a harmonious safety net also work together against the divine spark in us due to inherent weaknesses of the flesh, Jesus says to sever them away before they conquer and defeat us. The lust of the flesh and the passions of the world work against the upward journey of the inner man. As the success of our earthly life counts on the merits of the coming generations also, we have to flee away from all forms of voluptuous life by putting a bridle to our worldly passions. Man doesn’t live by sex alone.

Any form of sexual enjoyments what so ever outside wedlock is a forbidden fruit that is detrimental for our mental and body health which controls our mind and all other inner senses. Any deviant sex pleasure is a health risk because it vandalizes with the chemistry of the body unnaturally and hinders the natural development on account of inner guilt. Sex control blooms all other inner senses to maturity, the silent witness to our personality. Every word and action in our body bears an indelible mark in our system that ignites spontaneously in our everyday life activities knowingly or unknowingly. The inner guilt that bears an indelible mark in our system will betray us at every moment of our life. “ An innocent youth is a priceless possession”, writes M.Gandhi. Our pre-marital life should condition our whole being for gaining mind over matter development. The temperamental and mood conditioning is the precursor of mental equanimity, the faithful guardian to propel the life that should be conducive to the spouse who owns a different personality and comes from a different family background and set up. Sex control is the nucleus of all other passions that tame our inner being. Though Kamasutra is a piece of Indian sex literature, the hermits have recommended that one should be a Brahmachari (celibate) till the door that opens for the first nuptial night after the marriage. It is a science that became a part of the religion because the underlying principle of all commandments and directions are for nurturing a harmonious life in our family, private and social intercourse. In short, sex is a forbidden tree except in marital life with number of limitations.

Unity of mind and thought between the couple at the time of sexual union gives a high performance success and physical satisfaction, whereas the element of conflicts or infidelity or any other thought waves that culminating any mutual apathy or aversion is a disaster in achieving the goal, and if conceived at the disliking moments, the offspring becomes a product of multiple forms of mental and physical catastrophes. Despite the medical science is advanced at an enviable level, the increase of chronic maladies are due to congenital problems. In order to avoid such maladies, the couples in the olden days used to come for sexual feat at the auspicious astrological times after spending so much of time in prayer, fasting and alms giving. Taking the consequences in such contexts, dating, fornication and any other sexual obscenities that tell upon future generation are despicable crimes, the punishments of such an abortive life style is a recipe for the devastation of our earthly life and even a detriment to our salvation. The devil who is following us at every moment of life also uses any momentary weakness in our life to be magnified and exhibited in front of the society and also as a website record to be presented after one’s death for damnation. The unripe sex (pre-marital) is a lethal explosive that shatters our life here on earth and beyond. Violation of any law, whether spiritual or natural, that make a rupture in the system invites the interference of a penal code of justice is beyond our comprehension.

In this democratic age when sexism, feminism, dating, defacto relationship, divorce, sex therapy and many other similar deviant tendencies have become the birth rights of people, preaching of biblical morality is only an anachronism, a thing of the past that is just will be laughed off. Thinking that ruminating over the antique morality may make some nostalgic tickling to few of my readers, I am very much delighted in giving a reply to this burning issue to the zealous young youth who is unaware of the teaching of sex morality enshrined by the church. Seemingly it may become the butt of sentimental jokes, while global sex trade, sex slavery, pornography, pedophile and Internet trading of sex and so many other sex-related mafia industries are on the rampage of harvesting billions and billions of dollars.

All religions prescribe for cultivating all types of moral and religious sensibilities because they are the founding stones upon which our transitory life is built upon. Sound mind in a sound body is the aim of our life that helps us to have a healthy normal co-existence with our fellow beings. Just as the secular rulers abide by the rules that they made, The Righteous Judge also abides by an ethical and religious code that he had set before our creation. Commandments, statutes and covenants are the answers for such things. Retribution for adultery was stoning by death (Mt.5: 28-32), because it affects the whole family and the next generations that depend of that person. Anything that adversely affects one’s brethren is a sin. As our body is a sensor of God, anything that tell upon the Glory and His purity is a crime that will have tidal wave effect thereafter. “ Neither the immoral, nor adulterers, nor sexual perverts...will inherit the Kingdom of God” (1.Cor.6: 9-10; 1.Pet. 4: 1-6; Mk.7: 22-23). All forms of sexual deviations will be punished severely (Rom.1: 26-27). The wages of sin is death. Any extra- marital sex is even punishable by death. The 7th and 10th commandments of the Mosaic Law prohibit all forms of sex outside wedlock. The net result of such voluptuousness is given in the following part of the just previously quoted verses.

“ For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from unchastely; that each one of you know how to take a wife for himself in holiness and honour not in the passion of lust; that no man transgress, and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things. For god has not called for uncleanness, but in holiness. Whoever disregards this, disregards God, who gives his H.Spirit to You” (1.thess.4: 1-8). Procreation is a work of God entrusted to the agents to lead an ideal life for propagation of the species. Despite the nervous pleasure embedded in the process is only a bonus, not for a daily hobby, given to the couple, the main business is to bring up children for continuing the earthly work of God. “ Let marriage be held in honour among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled; for God will judge the immoral and adulterous” Heb.13: 4). Since it used to be a delicate and private matter, the bedroom ethics is not delineated in the scriptural literature. There is no night in Heaven because there is no sex there. There is night here for the sake of procreation work of God. There is darkness here for the cover up of conjugal performance; in other words, no room for nudity in family life. Besides, the genital organs are located at the arse end of the main frame, so that they shouldn’t be seen exposed at the time of union. Once exposed to such things will bring in shame, derision and dishonour to have a pure social and family life, also comes punishments from God.

God destroyed Sodom because homosexuality process is contrary to the theory of the dissemination of the race, and as a result it is a serious sin severely punishable from God. It is a perverted unnatural enjoyment that is not even common among animals. There are stringent limitations to the sensual pleasures; say gluttony even is a sin. Same-sex relationship, the mother of lethal Aids plague is a veritable hell for the modern man, mainly due to anal and oral sex as allegedly proven by medical science. There are no provisions for such perverted enjoyments definitely in married life or at any time. Besides, the fasting seasons and Holy days are set apart for a pious life exempted from sexual enjoyments. We are not allowed to look or do that which whet our sex appetite. This includes, vulgar advertisements, and any pornographic materials. The marriage bed should be kept undefiled from such unnatural and amorous revelries. Every action will have equal and opposite reactions. The older generations used to instruct that one should not look at one’s own body parts, owing to the fact that it will arouse sexual excitement leading to the unholy destinations. There is subtlety, delicateness and opaqueness in all such matters related to sex, as every cell carries the imprint of sex. “ Too many kiss of the child is for nurse’s sake”. No deviant methods to be adopted other than ticking the warming up sessions before the main menu. Respecting God and each other is the main guideline of the wedded life. Consequently, divorce, defacto relationship, dating, flirting and wooing are all blacklisted in the spiritual websites.

A safe sex and birth control method to curtail the population explosions is a transgression that trespasses the Divine law, other than by the infliction of the technique of self-control. God is the giver and sustainer of everything, hence not allowed to encroach into His territory. We may be able to control the population by artificial methods, but what we will do if God fiddles with the oxygen level of the air. In order to neutralize the toxin level that is enhanced by sexual excesses and food, fasting seasons are prescribed by every religion, so that during the fasting time the toxin will be consumed as food. Fasting and prayers are meant for the cleansing of the body by reducing the toxin level by the abstinence of food and shedding tears that contain body impurities. Anything excess is bad, notably the sexual excesses that can weaken our body metabolism by losing the vital forces, despite it can exchange mutual benefits if engaged to a minimum. The Indian yogi’s prescription is this. “ Twice a day, twice a month, twice a year”. Cleaning the bowel twice daily, enjoying the conjugal pleasures twice a month and shaving twice a year prescription is in tatters in these days of sex culture. Apparently, Onanism (Gen.38: 9), a natural process, cannot be treated as a transgression anymore because God wanted to have more of His children in those days. The birth control methods are the ones by which we despise the authority of God. One who gave us mouth knows how to feed us also.

The weaknesses of the flesh propel the blood to boil. “ Flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God” (1.Cor.15: 50). These theoretical conjectures cannot help us because none born of woman is sinless due to the weaknesses of the flesh, the spirit of which is the spirit of this world. Repentance and penitence help us for a backward journey along the path of salvation just before pushing for a forward journey. Salvation to man is impossible in accordance with natural justice, but it is not impossible to God, the unending ocean of mercy. Mary Magdalene and St. Augustine are the classical examples to this line of reference. Despite there were numberless profligates during their times only two people of their brand could come to the cross of salvation, so also only one robber was transported to paradise, in spite the other one on the other side and many others reached to their doom. No one should wait for such a chance, as we don’t know what the next moment would come to be. One can lead a chaste and harmonious life and produce the fruits of the H.spirit (Gal.5: 23) provided one bridles the destructive and wanton pleasures for the sake of the Lord who conquered everything at the expense of His life.

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[St. John's Marthoma Church, Queen's Village, New York]

Bible gives clear demarcation in black and white of the goods and evils regarding capital sins like stealing, murdering, adultery etc, but there are some grey areas where issues like dealing with Christian freedom, entertainments etc. remain without any explicit instructions. But these are the areas where the Holy Spirit in us guides us to discern with questions to our conscience, "Is this fruits of Spirit?"

As we celebrated the World Sunday School Day on 7th November 2004, it is quite appropriate to reflect on how the Sunday School ministry came into existence. Robert Raikes in England first started it in the late 1750’s in response to what he saw in the streets of England. One night while crossing a street, he noticed a group of shabbily dressed children playing roughly and noisily in the street. A woman nearby told him that Sundays were even worse, when the street was full of children cursing and swearing and causing trouble. Most of these children were employed in factories and worked six days a week for very long hours. Raikes’s response was to create a school where these children could have a warm place to go, to get off the streets, to improve literacy and knowledge of the Bible. By the mid 1780’s, the Sunday School movement was quickly spreading across England, and later to other parts of the world. Today, Sunday School Ministry is a global outreach program not only to nurture Christian children, but to touch the lives of non-Christian children also.

Let us thank and praise God for the many ways in which the Sunday School ministry of the Churches is being blessed. Indeed our children are our greatest assets. Nothing gives us greater joy than to see them blossom into adults with Christian values and principles. To prepare our children for this world, we have to equip them with all the resources they need to lead a successful, yet righteous and holy life. The spiritual education they receive in their homes, in their church and Sunday School is the groundwork that lays a firm foundation for them. So never underestimate the importance of Sunday School and spiritual education. If we can spend so much of our time, energy and resources for secular education to ensure our children a successful life in this world, which is only our temporary home, how much more importance should we give for their spiritual education that will guarantee them a place in heaven, our eternal home?

How can our children lead a successful, and yet righteous life in today’s world, where they will be faced with many questions on many issues? The Bible is clear about many things like stealing, committing murder, adultery, and so on; it’s in the Bible in black and white. There is, however, one class of question that falls somewhere in the middle - the "gray" area - issues dealing with Christian freedom, issues on which the Bible has no explicit answers, like: What entertainment is acceptable? What kind of music is okay? What can a Christian do or not do on Sunday? What about what you wear, what you eat and drink, or how you spend your free time. In short, how you conduct yourself in your private and public life. Does the Bible address those issues? Some would say, "No, the Bible doesn't address them. Do what you want to do-you're free in Christ!" While it is true that the Bible doesn't specifically list every possible decision you'll face in life, it does address all choices with principles that govern Christian freedom. So when you have to make decisions in the gray areas of life, please ask yourself the following questions before making a final decision.

Will it benefit me spiritually?

All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify. (1 Cor. 10:23)

A "profitable" thing is useful, helpful, or to your advantage to do; and the word "edify" in the Biblical context is to build up spiritually. So based on this verse, ask yourself, "Will doing this build up my spiritual life? Will it cultivate godliness in me?" If not, you should seriously question whether that behavior is the best choice, specially the kind of music you listen to, the kind of programs you watch on the TV, the kind of conversation you have with your friends. There is no doubt, that today’s music and entertainment is loaded with filth and vulgarity that not only undermines our Christian values and principles, but also attack the very core of family life. So the next time you listen to music that has lyrics, which explicitly or implicitly allude to immorality of any kind, make a conscious decision to shun it.

Will it bring bondage?

In the second part of 1 Cor. 6:12, Paul is saying, "I will not be brought under the power of anything." It could be a minor thing initially, but if it is going to be habit forming that will eventually put you in bondage, why pursue it? In most people, smoking or drinking might have started as a casual activity, which sure enough developed into habits, which in turn led them into bondage. Materialism and consumerism are modern day ills that draw people into a kind of bondage. American economy glorifies consumerism, and people are encouraged to buy and live in debt. There never seems to be a point of time in your life when you can say, “I am happy and satisfied with what I have”. As Christians, we must know the difference between our needs and wants. Too much consumerism only drives people to debt and bondage. Don't allow yourself to be in bondage to anything or anyone. You are a bondservant of the Lord Jesus Christ, and Him alone.

Will it defile God's temple?

Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body. (1 Cor. 6:19-20)

Bible does not categorically say that smoking or drinking is sinful, but if doing these things is going to jeopardize your health, which in turn destroys your body, and may eventually destroy your person, then don’t do it. If God had intended that man use his nose as a chimney, He would have turned his nostrils to point upwards when He created man. But that was not in His plan. We know how drugs and alcohol can destroy individuals and undermine family lives. Many families have been torn apart, not because of lack of love, but because the family members could not handle the pressures of pain and strife wrought by their own loved ones.

So, don't do anything that you know will harm your body or bring shame to it - it is the only instrument you have to glorify God. Romans 6:13 says, "Present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God." How you choose to use your body should always reflect your desire to honor Jesus Christ in and through you.

Will it violate my conscience?

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light finding what is acceptable to the Lord. (Eph. 5:8,10)

Never train yourself to violate your conscience, that little voice inside you. Remember that this voice is the promptings of the Holy Spirit. If your conscience is troubled by what you consider, don't do it. If you aren't sure about it, don't do it. For adults, it could be in areas of financial integrity, work ethics, or some simple moral values; for children, it could be a question of cheating on a test, or mindless disobedience. So the next time when that little voice inside you is telling you that what you are about to do is not quite right, don’t do it, do not even entertain that thought. Keep your conscience clean and clear so that your mind will not be troubled, your peace will not be disturbed, and your relationship to God will not be hindered.

Will it further or hinder the cause of evangelism?

Give no offense either to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God; just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of the many, that they may be saved. (1 Cor. 10:32-33)

Whether you are aware of it or not, what you allow or disallow in your behavior affects your witness for Christ-and the world is watching. It's an issue of testimony-what your life says about God. Your life can draw others towards Christ or away from Him. The choices you make in the "gray" areas should reflect your concern not to bring discredit to God's name, but to bring Him praise instead. There are instances where great Christian leaders have failed to live up to what they preach, specially in their family life, financial life and even moral life causing not only the hindrance of evangelism, but even causing their fellow-Christians to stumble. The greater your values are, the greater you are under the scrutiny of the world. What about the kind of conversation we have with each other? Is it mere gossiping that only smear other people’s character, or is your conversation uplifting and edifying?

Will it bring glory to God?

Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. (1 Cor. 10:31)

This verse is clearly both the summary and the goal of all Christian principles. Our primary purpose in life is to glorify our Lord and Savior with our lives? Think about your decision - will He be glorified, honored, and praised through it, or will it bring dishonor to His holy name? Our lives should reflect our desire and concern to glorify God, and draw others to Jesus Christ.

In conclusion, any time you have second thoughts about making a decision, ask yourself the above six questions. If the choice that you make is not in tune with these principles, reconsider your choice prayerfully, and the God of all wisdom will give you wisdom to make the right choice. When you make the right choice, you will be at peace with yourself and will surely enjoy freedom in Christ - the freedom to be what He created you to be.

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Most often, problems start with our inability to see things as they are. We tend to focus on insignificant things, making them fill our mind and our world. We often fail to see what we have, but focus our attention on what we don’t. Self-justification is an even worse mistake than breaking an agreement. It creates enmity between the two parties that break.

The story of Adam and Eve is a slice of life for us to examine, to compare with ours, and to learn some important lessons we can apply in our own life.

  1. Know the role of rules in relationships:

    In the Garden of Eden we see a small human community living in a small farm. The life they face is similar to ours in today’s world. Their life is governed by rules just like the life of any community.

    Rules are an integral part of existence - for human or nonhuman beings. The Earth revolves around the Sun following rules: it stays at the same distance away from the Sun and it moves at the same speed. If the Earth moves faster or slower, or if it moves closer to or farther from the Sun, it will be suicidal on the part of the Earth. All the plants in the Garden of Eden follow rules to exist. They all absorb water, nutrients, and carbon dioxide, and produce carbohydrate by photosynthesis. All the animals in the Garden follow rules to exist. They all eat food, drink water, and breath air.

    Rules, in their simplest form, are agreements between two parties involved in a situation. No relationship can exist without agreements.

    The entire subhuman world follows the rules without being conscious of them. Moreover, they don’t have the option but to follow rules. Rules were not made by them; they simply follow the rules made for them. However, the conscious beings create rules for themselves. Sometimes they inherit rules from their predecessors. They only need to understand the purpose of the rules and follow them.

    Adam and Eve cannot live together unless both of them follow certain rules they have agreed upon. They need to agree to cooperate rather than compete. They need to agree to wish and work for the well-being of both of them rather than being selfish. They need to agree to help each other. In case one does a mistake, he/she needs to apologize to the other person, and he/she in turn should forgive it.

    Adam and Eve were employed in the Garden by the Lord God. They cannot continue to be the employer and the employee unless they agree to follow the rules they have agreed upon. The rules in this case were simple: Adam and Eve were responsible to take care of the Garden, and in return, they had the privilege of living there, and eating from there. They had the freedom to eat from all the trees except one, which belonged to the Lord God.

    In the relation between the employer and the employee, the employer has the upper hand in creating the rules. The employer gets to decide the rules. The employee either agrees to follow the rules, or quits the job.

    Existence is impossible without rules, even in heaven. The only difference is that in heaven everybody understands the purpose of rules, and willingly follows them.

    This helps us to be more aware of the rules and agreements in our own relationships. Some are more formal than others, and some of them are written. We usually become aware of an agreement only when is it is broken. An awareness of the presence of agreements helps us to keep the relationships intact. Whenever a relationship is broken, we need to immediately identify the agreement that is broken.

  2. Avoid focusing upon the insignificant:

    Adam and Eve had the option of facing the situation in a positive way. They could think of all the freedom and all the privileges and opportunities they could enjoy, and simply ignore the one little thing they were not allowed. However, they chose a negative way. They focused upon the one little thing they were no allowed, and ignored all the other things they were allowed. What a tragedy! Their mind was filled with the one little thing. Actually the little thing became so huge for them, that they couldn’t see anything else.

    The result? They broke the agreement. And that broke the relationship as well.

    Most often, problems start with our inability to see things as they are. We tend to focus on insignificant things, making them fill our mind and our world. We often fail to see what we have, but focus our attention on what we don’t. We often fail to see what we are allowed, but focus our attention on what we are not allowed. We need to make a conscious attempt to see what we have and what we are allowed to do.

  3. Mend broken relationships:

    Once a relationship is broken, there are two options: leave it broken or try to mend it. Leaving it broken is the negative way, but trying to mend it is the positive way.

    Adam and Eve had the option of trying to mend the broken relationship. They could apologize for their mistake, thus giving the Lord God the option of forgiving their mistake or not. However, that is not what they did. They felt guilty for what they did. Instead of apologizing, they put the blame on others; thus they made the relationship even worse.

    Self-justification is an even worse mistake than breaking an agreement. It creates enmity between the two parties that break.

  4. Treat mistakes as learning opportunities:

    Why did they choose the negative way? It seems that they had a wrong understanding of themselves. It seems that they equated themselves to God, and thought that they were infallible like God. So they could not face the fact that they did something they were not supposed to do. Hence they felt guilty rather than sorry. They could not admit that they did something wrong. They put the blame on others.

    If only they knew that they were fallible, they could face the situation differently. Instead of feeling guilty, they could feel sorry. They could apologize for their own mistakes rather than putting the blame on others.

    It is human to err. Human beings are supposed to learn from their mistakes and grow to maturity. But Adam and Eve didn’t know this simple fact. They should have taken it as a learning opportunity rather than an unfortunate incident.

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I had an heart, a tender heart
A heart full of love and care for all
A heart which never hurts no one
My heart was precious as a pearl.
Oh! heart, heart, heart
Oh! bleeding drops of red.
Why did I become so hard hearted?
I was never so before
Did my circumstances make me change?
Or is it some other natural cause?
Oh heart, heart, heart
Oh bleeding drops of red.
My heart was heavy with bitterness
I prayed to the Lord and he answered me
No one can understand, except for the Lord
The Lord has given back my pure heart.
Oh! heart, heart, heart
Oh! bleeding drops of red.
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