Diocesan Metropolitan of Trivandrum - Quilon Diocese, Marthoma Church

True repentance is a great experience in our life of turning unto Lord and opening our heart fully to Lord and surrendering to Him with the interaction of Lord with our broken heart. Due to the involvement of the Holy Spirit of God, the effect is extended to entire society to which he is attached and in turn, it becomes an epoch making event for that age and for the history and eventually turns out as a great participation in building the Kingdom of God.


After this there was a feast of the Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep [market] a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water. For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had. And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years. When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time [in that case], he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole? The impotent man answered him, Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me. Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk. And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the sabbath. The Jews therefore said unto him that was cured, It is the sabbath day: it is not lawful for thee to carry [thy] bed. He answered them, He that made me whole, the same said unto me, Take up thy bed, and walk. Then asked they him, What man is that which said unto thee, Take up thy bed, and walk? And he that was healed wist not who it was: for Jesus had conveyed himself away, a multitude being in [that] place. Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee. The man departed, and told the Jews that it was Jesus, which had made him whole. And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the sabbath day. [John 5: 1-]

What is repentance? Repentance is more than just the feel of guilt or attrition of doing anything contrary to the holy nature and righteous law of God. True repentance is the state of turning unto Lord and opening our heart fully to Lord and surrendering to Him. Repentance is a great experinece in our life which regenerate and transfigure the life of the sinner with the involvement of Lord with our broken heart. Like a sunflower blossom when the sun rises, our mind should open in front of Lord who is the Sun of righteousness. The tranfiguration of mind affect our entire life because it is the interaction of God. It is an act that the creator renews His creation. Like the cocoon emerge out when the larva is fully mature, our life should be opened and brought out giving freedom from subtle sins of our heart.

Through true repentence, life is elevated to an elate state by the touch and blessings from God. The repentance and transfiguration of our life changes our state from a deplorable status to a blessed status, through a reorientation and eventually effecting a total communion with God. When St. Paul passed through such an experienece, he exemplified same, 'Old things are passed away and all things are become new.'

This regeneration and reorientation of a person influence all walks of life of that person. However, it is not limited to that particular person alone. Due to the involvement of the Holy Spirit of God, the effect is extended to entire society to which he is attached and in turn, it becomes an epoch making event for that age and for the history and eventualy turns out as a great participation in building the Kingdom of God. In his spiritual pursuits, Fr. Damien sought for the intention of his life, in the presence of God. With his true findings for his voluntary sojourn among the lepers of Molokai, not only he could dedicate his life for ministering to the physical and spiritual needs of the lepers, but also he could create a new trend and inspiration in his society and for entire mankind that the Lepers can be uplifted and be given a new life. His profound example of devotion had set up an evolutionary episode in the history and imprinted him as one of the great-hearted humanitarians of all time.

When Jesus had first revealed Himself for His public mission, His foremost message was that the time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the Gospel. The referred scripture portion is an example of the indulgance of Lord Jesus with His contemperory society. The scinario was at the most celebrated feast of passover of the Jews in Jerusalem where a huge crowd assembled to participate in the festival. The place where this cure was wrought was at the pool of Bethesda, which had a miraculous healing virtue in it. Jesus travelled to Jerusalem to take part in the festival. When Jesus reached Jerusalem, he did not visit first the Temple area where a great festive mood was prevailing, instead he went straight to the the pond side in Bedsidea to give a human touch to the atmosphere which revealed His compassion and indication of the great design of His coming to this world to seek and save the wounded and afflicted.

At this place lay a great multitude of diseased people, blind, halt, crippled and paralytic. Those were the people who were rejected and thrown out from the society. Here Jesus saw a man who was inflicted with disease for 38 long years. He was a man alienated fron his society due to his disease. A natural social life was impossible and inpractical for this man. Being in midst of a huge crowd does not mean that man is leading a social life. He get alienated due to the attitude of the crowd towards that man. The social life is created through the social relations. We can see many people around us who are neglected by the society. The people who live on the roadside, children born as orphans, people who are thrown to the street are all neglected by the society.

The man was waiting there with an intention of getting healed. He was well aware and it was well known to him about the condition on which the healing is attained that is the first man who step into the water after the angel of God trouble the water, get healed. It was a place of charity of men concurred with the mercy of God for the relief of the distressed. Being least able to help themselves into the water, they lay longest waiting in the porches with their pain and suffering. The man whom Jesus had chosen was waiting for his chance for last 38 years as he was rejected always by the helpers. The lesson what Jesus teach to the world is that it is not the festivals, it is not the temple, it is not the priests, it is not the pond, it not the angel who helas us, it is primarly Lord who heals us.

Psunami had taken away 30 lakhs people from the face of earth all on a sudden. In the midst of these hardships many people raise a question, Where is God in this scinario? Many who lost all their dear ones and all material properties ask this question 'Where is God? Why God put all these innocent people into big trouble? We can get only one answer to these questions. Where ever the God was at the time, the Son of Man had lamented from cross, "Lord, Lord why you had forsaken me?'; God was at the same place when the Psunami happened.

The reality of our spiritual experience is that when God looks to be silent or when we feel that God is not answering our questions, we feel the presence of God, provided we impatiently wait to see the desire of God. Psalmist very confidently say about it; " I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; from where shall my help come? My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth."

Secondly, Jesus had not only healed the man on the pondside, but also He gave company to that man who was totally rejected and downtrodden in the society. Jesus is Immanuel which means "Lord is with us". He is not the one who reject or discard anybody. Our repentance and healing gives us the presence and companionship of Jesus. Our Lord had promised us that "I will never desert you, nor will ever forsake you".

The leper on the pond side was in an utter helpless situation as he had been diseased long thirty-eight years waiting for the mercy from anyone to take him to the pond when the pond is disturbed by the angel of God. Thinking Jesus as a man who could help him to take to the water, very hopefully he complains Jesus for want of friends to help him in; "Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool." Also he bewails his infelicity, that very often when he came, another stepped in before him. We see many people around us who are helpless and looking for a beacon for help. The contingency, helplessness or depravity of these men is not by any of their self laxity or delusion, but it is the product of regress, decline, and decay of our living society. All their trouble and hardships in their life, having taken on foreboding ominous connotations of the destiny or fate is also a kind of rejection and escapism due to the dearth of courage to face the life. It was a token of God’s good will to that people, and an indication that When Christ came up to Jerusalem he visited not the palaces, festival ground or the temple, but the place of sick and downtrodden, which is an instance of his humility, and condescension, and tender compassion, and an indication of his great design in coming into the world, which was to seek and save the sick and wounded. He had fastened his eye to the one who was in a most deplorable condition than any of the rest. Christ knows men better than their neighbors know them. Christ knows men better than they know themselves.

When the President of India, His Excellency Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, addressed a crowd of young ones of around 6000 students, they asked him a question, 'What is your mission as the President of India?' The President had told them that his mission as President of India is to bring a smile on all the people of the nation. The smile comes on the lips of the people when we can give hopes to those lost their hopes, enlighten them with literacy and replenish them with resources to live.

The healed man was a God fearing man who was experiencing the presence of God. Immediately after he was healed, he ran to the temple instead of returning to his own house. Jesus saw him in the Temple. He was eagerly waiting to come to the temple to receive blessings from God. Christ was unknown to him when He healed him. This man, being unacquainted with Christ and Jesus retired into the crowd immediately after the healing, the healed man could not recognize Jesus in the Temple. Many of us who enjoy the blessing of God are yet to know and recognize Jesus to full extent. Though we claim that we know God and acquired sufficient theological knowledge, we may be standing far away without truly recognizing Him. Unless draw near to Him, transfigure and grow in God, we are making a false claim that we know and recognize God. Growing in God is like cumulating our wealth in cumulative deposits. There are many who make a great profession of religion who yet have to taste the real love of God. General Guardan had to conquer a mighty fort in the Sudan. The job was entrusted to a commander under him. It was a very difficult task. After successfully accomplishing the assignment of conquering the fort, the commander victoriously came to General Guardan with great satisfaction and expectations. But General Guardan simply appreciated and honored the commander and told him that he entrust him to conquer a more difficult fort. In our faith life we are called and exhorted to add one grace to another and grow in all grace, in faith, and virtue, and knowledge keeping Christ as our Head. By how much stronger we are grown in grace, by so much the more steadfast shall we be with the truth in love.

While we grow in Christ, we are equipped to share our experience of His love in our homes, church, community and throughout the world. This is the real proselytization. The healing was taken place while a large multitude came from Jerusalem and beyond to attend the Passover festival which was the most celebrated feast of Jews. There were many Jews from Jerusalem who were very traditional and came with a serious mind to worship God and to spend their time in religious exercises. Through this healing episode, Jesus was motivating to sow the seed of a transfiguration and remake of the individuals, society and the Church. God is looking for the purity of heart and transfiguration of our mind.

Out of those who gathered to worship in the temple, there were many who were strict to observe the piety and traditional values of the festivals. But there were none who was willing to look at the people eagerly waiting for the consolation. This situation is very typical with our contemporary world. Many do not hear at all the dreadful lamentation of many who are inflicted with sorrows and of great grief. Their hearts have become numb to show mercy and compassion to these deserving downtrodden and grief-stricken crowds.

The sermon was Christ’s vindication of himself before the Jews, when he was prosecuted as a criminal for healing the man on the Sabbath day. The Jews quarreled with the man for carrying his bed on the Sabbath day, accusing him that it was not lawful as it amounted to contempt on the Sabbath. These accusations were infallibly designed and unalterably determined with their erratic theological analysis of God's doctrine.

In our contemporary society the divisional feelings are being created out of boundaries created by mind of people with the physical and materialistic differences: rich, poor; illiterate, learned; high class, low class; powerful, powerless; etc. etc. Even the caste system was not created by any person or any ruler, but rather it developed out of a practice of a society and boundaries created by human mentality over several thousands of years. At this point, we have a big question in front of us; "Are we a caste by ourself?" The heart of Christ was much upon oneness of all; that all might be incorporated in one body. As a worshipping community, we are called to root out all these differential mentalities, as Jesus removed all the enmities and all had been reconciled. We are not called for to withhold ourself from the realities of sufferings and hardships of the people and live in secured and self protected palacious mansions. We see ourself in the same state of mind which the Jews on the Bank of Bethesda had towards the helpless people lying there.

Jesus Christ intercedes not only for great and eminent believers, but for the meanest and weakest; not for those only that are to be employed in the highest post of trust and honor in his kingdom, but for all, even those that in the eye of the world are inconsiderable. So any place of worship can not prohibit or restrict anybody; rather it should be the place where the sinner is turned and changed to holiness. Church should reach to the very bottom level of the society so that the ones who are fallen are supported and brought back to the Grace of God. As a follower of Christ we should become the role models of this call. Our mission is to search out the people who are deprived of fellowship, who are deprived from the society, who are deprived of a decent living and who are deprived of any thing in this world which he is also deserving.

The biggest danger which the modern society is facing is the pollution of our inner mind. Polluted mind is a frozen consciousness. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus teaches us "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." Accountability, transparency and quality are the three words which really touch our mind. We are accountable to God and to the society around us. Zacchaeus lived a life which he thought himself as unaccountable to anybody. But when he saw Jesus and hosted Jesus he got transfigured and considered all his deeds accountable. When the Lord touches our life and a transfiguration takes place all the pollution from our mind will be removed and it becomes pure so that we act in an entirely transparent way to our society. 'It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me' is the experience of the transfigured man.

[Extract from Message delivered at Maramon Convention 2005 : Original in Malayalam]
Translated by Editor Dr. Rajan Mathew Philadelphia, USA
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During our Lord's earthly ministry, disciples and evangelists were empowered and commissioned to preach the good news of the kingdom of God. All through the centuries many followers of Jesus accepted this great commission of practicing and proclaiming the gospel. Our Savior wants all Christians to be witnesses and messengers of the gospel in their daily life by experiencing the power of salvation and abundant life. We are the ambassadors of the kingdom of God in this world.

"Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creations" (Mark 16: 15). Forty days after the resurrection all the eleven disciples were gathered on a hill in Galilee (Mathew 28:16), and this last commission was given by our Lord Jesus Christ to the disciples before the ascension to heaven. It is a commission of preaching and teaching about the salvation through grace and witnessing the life and works of our Savior to all mankind. It is interesting to note that this incident is not reported in the gospel of John while it is given in the other three gospels accompanied by additional instructions. Thus, our Lord asked the apostles to wait in Jerusalem until they were filled with power from above through the promised gift of the Holy Spirit.

During our Lord's earthly ministry, disciples and evangelists were empowered and commissioned to preach the good news of the kingdom of God only among the people of Israel while they were specifically instructed to refrain from the land of the Gentiles. On the day of Pentecost, our Lord's followers were filled with power from above, and they began to proclaim the good news of salvation to people from many countries who came to Jerusalem. The great news of the kingdom of God and salvation through the Son of God is for all mankind and needs to be proclaimed and taught because "God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16. For the Lord himself, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God and finishing the work of the Father was like food for Him (John 4:34).

After the Pentecost, apostles, evangelists, preachers, and teachers were sent to different parts of the known world to proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God. The life mission of the apostle Paul was to declare the good news about the grace of God (Acts 20: 24, 2 Timothy 1:11, Romans 15 : 18-20). He worked very hard, suffered and died for the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

All through the centuries many followers of Jesus accepted this great commission of practicing and proclaiming the gospel. Therefore, today Christians make the majority of mankind. Yet the mission is not completed because the harvest is plenty but the workers are few. We have to pray to our heavenly Father to send more exemplary and dedicated workers to carry out this commission before the Lord comes back. No one but the heavenly Father knows the times and occasions of the second coming of our Lord.

Our Savior wants all Christians to be witnesses and messengers of the gospel in their daily life by experiencing the power of salvation and abundant life. We are the ambassadors of the kingdom of God in this world. We are called to be the "salt of the earth and the light of the world". Remember, we Christians are the branches of the divine vine (John 15 : 2-9) and are expected to produce the kind of fruits to glorify the heavenly Father. If not, the branches will be cut off! According to the gifts we are given by the Holy Spirit, we are all responsible to support and encourage the ministry of the gospel.

Now let us look at our own motherland, India. Out of more than a billion people, Christians make up less than 3% of the population in India. We Indian Christians claim and are proud of the historical fact that a Christian church was started by the Apostle Thomas in the first Century. However, we have miserably failed to proclaim the gospel all over India. There may be many reason and excuses for that, but the last commission of our Lord needs to be carried out by all Christians in India irrespective of denominational barriers, regional differences, or linguistic polarizations. Let us hope, pray, and work for the unity among Christian brothers and sisters all over India to practice and proclaim the salvation though Jesus Christ (Prajapathi of Vedas) and thus the great commission will be fulfilled before the Lord's second coming.


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As per the New Testament, God’s love is unconditional and it is intended for all people. To sin is to put ourselves or something other than God at the center of our lives, to give primary value to anything other than God. Christian spirituality is fundamentally the restoration of a relationship with God. To be a Christian under divine grace means a transforming relationship with God lived within the Christian tradition, respecting and valuing Bible as a foundation of the spiritual tradition as both metaphor and sacrament.

There are two opposing presentation of God’s love in the Bible and in Christian doctrines: the one that says God loves us all unconditionally; the other which lays down necessary conditions of belief before God will receive us. This gives rise to a contradiction at the very centre of church life: the central dogma says that God’s love is unconditional and yet gate keepers of Christianity constantly set up conditions for acceptance within its fold. More often God’s acceptance is represented as very much conditional on the response of one who wishes to receive it, which means God’s unconditional love only becomes operative as a relationship of acceptance and intimacy after the believer has fulfilled certain conditions. The unconditional love of God is being manipulated, doctored and messed about by conditions imposed by the church for its members and made it conditional for belonging to the community of believers; these conditions have become a threat of damnation and punishment for those who do not accept the conditions. The tension between universalistic and exclusivists tendencies in traditional Christianity underlies the tension between the conditional and unconditional understanding of God’s love found in Christian teaching. Such conditions are also prevalent in other religions too, but I do not have sufficient understanding to make any significant observation now.

Perhaps, we love God because of our fear of him; we are afraid and therefore we conform; we are afraid because God’s wrath and condemnation have been continuously emphasised. This fear complex is part and parcel of most religious make up; good behaviour is demanded for the fear of hell, damnation or rebirth into a lower order of creation. The message of God’s ‘subscribed tendency’ to punish has often had more frightening impact upon believers than that of his compassionate love of forgiveness. Most of the Christian teaching is deliberately ambiguous about whether it is truly a religion of God’s grace towards all people or merely the religion of an exclusive and privileged minority who fulfils the conditions for receiving God’s favour.

However, A great deal in the New Testament suggests that God’s love is unconditional and it is intended for all people: for example, the parable of the prodigal son and the lost sheep. The unconditional and gracious core the gospel is particularly apparent in Jesus’ attitude towards social and religious outcasts of his time. There are several examples of Jesus treating acknowledged ‘sinners’ with a great deal of compassion, including the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11), the woman who anointed Jesus (Luke 7: 36-50) and Zacchaeus, the tax collector (Luke 19:1-10). The most important implication of Jesus’ behaviour is that God loves us unconditionally and accepts us prior to any response that we may make to his love. Jesus’ initiative somehow frees people to respond. This response is not the declaration of an oath of allegiance to restricted conditions of acceptance, but the means by which the amazing personal realisation of already being accepted is manifested in their lives. The father had no precondition for welcoming the prodigal son; he accepted him a long time before the son ever set eyes on his father; this very gracious, ‘prodigal’, father was waiting for his younger son to come back to his rightful home. Here we see the true manifestation of unconditional love of God. Yet, the elder son was out in the fields reinforcing the walls of exclusion zones.

Jesus did not demand that people made public gymnastic acts of repentance in order to have forgiveness. Our repentance is dependent upon our reception of God’s forgiveness, not the other way round. The spirituality of the Pharisees is presented in the Gospel as the very opposite of the good news, which Jesus proclaimed. We are frightened to allow people come near us to know us as we are. We are afraid that they may expose our pretend lifestyles. Therefore, we make rules and regulation to keep people out to create secure and comfortable exclusive zones of spirituality for ourselves to live with our God, and nobody is ever allowed to lift our masks. God’s love is not an easy love to receive because he invites us to know and love ourselves, but also challenges us to change into the people we would become if we were completely open to his presence at the centre of our lives. This will help us to love our neighbour as ourselves. It is important to find ourselves and not pretend to be someone else. To sin is to put ourselves or something other than God at the centre of our lives, to give primary value to anything other than God. Christian spirituality is fundamentally the restoration of a relationship with God.

Even if God’s acceptance is totally unconditional, the Church as an institution within the society cannot avoid building some sort of boundaries around it saying some people belong and others do not. It would be nice if we could bring down these iron curtains and Berlin walls and plant some bamboo shades of compassion and hospitality. The Gospel, instead of bringing new life and freedom, is doctored in such a way to limit the lives of its adherents and to encourage the search for insurance policies for a better life hereafter. They are likely to adopt a persona acceptable to their faith communities and live within the restricted boundaries without enjoying the abundant expanses of divine grace. Such deliberate intellectual restrictions bring about stunted growth and stagnation and put a break on developing god-given human potentials. This is the way to cloning spiritual robots that will do what they are programmed to do without deviation or hesitance. This has the power of editing out of any awareness of intellectual freedom in exploring human potentials to create kingdom values here and now. All religious gurus exploit this method of keeping ordinary lay people ignorant of their freedoms and inhibit the spirit of exploration. This is particularly true with institutions that claim to have started with a revelation from God and have direct every second contact with the Holy Spirit.

In stead of exploration, many Christians look to their church leaders to provide affirmation of their current way of life and belief. Many Christians have, consciously or unconsciously, surrendered their mind to the authority of their Church hierarchies or what they believe to be the teaching of the Bible. They begin to believe that closeness with Church leaders is essential for their social and spiritual existence. Sometimes, this surrender is described as the sacrifice of the intellect and turning away from the grace of God. Many Christians consider questioning as equivalent to unbelief. Selecting convenient part of the Bible and editing out the rest are convenient tricks of creating denominations with a particular emphasis. In the Church they have been taught what to believe about God and how to behave, and they have built their lives around this teaching. They are frequently upset when anybody in authority in the church gives anything other than the teaching with which they are familiar. This is the reason why people misunderstood Bishop Robinson’s book on ‘Honest to God’ and Bishop David Jenkins of Durham’s critical views on the virgin birth and the resurrection and other intellectual in put to theological debates of the time. This is the consequence of the churches’ failure to educate the laity in the contemporary theology. As a result a vast majority of them misunderstand what is being said and they are ill equipped with modern thought. Many people in the church are foot soldiers defending the received or ‘handed-down’ version of Christian doctrine against contemporary scholarship and research. However, we must try to learn what biblical stories mean in developing our relationship with God. The spiritual meanings behind the stories are more important than the authenticity or the factuality of these stories. To be a Christian under divine grace means a transforming relationship with God lived within the Christian tradition, respecting and valuing Bible as a foundation of the spiritual tradition as both metaphor and sacrament.

There are only a very small minority who do not wish to live in the religious ghetto or to put their ‘brain into cold storage’ every time they listen to repetitive and meaningless sermons or turn to a nauseating God’s channel on Television. Such lay Christians are ill served by the teaching programmes of the many churches. They treat adults like Sunday school children and do not allow them to reach maturity in dealing or exploring spiritual dimensions freely available to them through the grace of God. There is a strong desire amongst many church goers for the Church to simply affirm the values of the families in which they were born to or teach what to believe. The last thing they want is any sort of challenge to the status quo, let alone a prophetic voice. But we forget Christ was undoubtedly a non-conformist who challenged the conventional religiosity which functions as a substitute for meeting the true demands of righteousness and justice. I very much hope that the ‘Light of Life’ would open avenues for such discussion through the input of our readers and at the very same time avoid setting up traps for intellectual snobbishness to carry with them people at all levels religious understanding and spirituality. The ‘kingdom values’ should have a levelling effect in creating a society of friends because faith is friendship.

Faith allows us to trust God and to feel confidence in what we believe, but that confidence is very different from the rigid certainty that so many Christians are seeking through churches. Rather than certainty, faith may be described as an attitude of trust adopted in the face of our ignorance of God. St. Paul wrote (Hebrew11:1): “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Paradoxically it is in trust in our not knowing that we come to the knowledge of God. ‘Knowing is in the unknowing’ wrote the great mystic. Therefore, it seems that certainty is opposite of faith. The quest for certain knowledge is the sure way to destroy authentic Christian faith. Faith always goes beyond any scientific evidence because it takes the form of trust in an unseen God. God is a not a scientific hypothesis that can be tested, validated or demonstrated.

Jeremy Young1 in his recent book on “the cost of certainty” describes that the desire for certainty is the emotional damage created by the conditional love, when the nature and limitations of faith are forgotten Christianity itself becomes an irrational dogmatic creed claiming absolute truth for itself and engaging in destroying all other opinions and those who hold them. The Gospel of conditional love is hugely influential upon the internal dynamics of Christian churches. This dependence on absolute certainty without giving margins for human limitations and the involvement of God’s grace may produce large number of consequences:

  1. The desire for certainty produces resistance to thinking and depending on God’s grace to engage difficult questions facing contemporary culture.

  2. Legalistic and puritanical approach to creating a very restricted lifestyle.

  3. The use of denominational allegiance to exclude, denigrate or prosecute those who are different.

  4. Transforming the power of love to the love of power.

  5. Developing intolerance to those who have different beliefs or ethical standards.

I have often felt very uncomfortable reading some of the Old Testament texts, where I see a very angry and judgemental God, a God of conditional love who is extending his antennae to search out and punish the wicked and give Brownie points for the faithful and the elected few. But I am comfortable with the God of the New Testament who is ever loving and ever forgiving. However, even when the unconditional love of God is pointed by St. John (John 3:16-18), it is often associated with conditions. We see the very same contradiction in St. Mathew’s Gospel as well (Mathew25: 41-46). This passage makes salvation conditional in doing charitable work and gives judgement, punishment, and eternal damnation to those who do not provide for the needy in the society. Then if we want, we can take a much needed refuge and wear a life jacket from St. Paul and other writers about the idea salvation is not by good work alone and but through faith and a faith installed in us through the divine grace, the hall mark of unconditional love. The notion that salvation is about having a comfortable life in heaven is a distortion; unconditional grace and love of God is not about how we reach heaven or who is eligible for a visa to reach the ‘Pearly Gate,’ but it is about a transforming relationship with God in this life. St. Paul had expressed it so beautifully in the Acts (Acts: 17-28): “for in him we live and move and have our being.” Therefore, Christian life is about a relationship with God, a friendship that transforms us into more compassionate human beings.

My singular purpose in writing this article is to highlight weakness of our certainty in knowing these unknowable mysteries and the need to depend on God’s amazing love and grace to take one step at a time wearing the helmet of humility under all circumstances. Questioning is not unbelief so let us open up and have courage to discuss our doubts and let us remove our masks and have a direct and honest encounter with God in seeking his guidance to understand these mysteries in sufficient measures for our spiritual journey with Him. Jesus himself did not hesitate to ask His Father, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”


  1. Jeremy Young, “The cost of certainty” published by Darton, Longman and Todd, London; ISBN 0-232-52580-3; 2004.
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Without wearing the whole armor of God, we are not able to withstand in the evil day, to sustain in faith life or to remain unhindered by their persistent attacks by the evil ones. It is essential that consistently we walk in the protection and power of all pieces of the spiritual armor of God. The combat for which we are to be prepared is not against ordinary human beings but against a subtle enemy of evil forces operational in all our circumstances.

In chapter six of his epistle to Ephesians, St. Paul exhorts and direct Christians, how to behave themselves in the spiritual warfare with the enemies of their souls in order to preserve and defend them in the conflict. Every believer has a constant battle to fight with the evil adversary in his/her Christian course. Without wearing the whole armor of God, we are not able to withstand in the evil day, to sustain in faith life or to remain unhindered by their persistent attacks by the evil ones. It is essential that consistently we walk in the protection and power of all pieces of the spiritual armor of God.

St. Paul makes it very clear to us that the combat for which we are to be prepared is not against ordinary human beings compounded of flesh and blood, but against a subtle enemy of evil forces operational in all our circumstances. These evil forces are continuously engaged in ways of beguiling our souls to do wickedness. It is in vain that we fight against our own relatives, friends, church or colleagues for materialistic gains and they are not our enemies to fight against.

It is noteworthy that St. Paul wrote this while in the custody of Roman soldiers; it was easy for him to look at the several pieces of armor of his Roman guards and the order in which they would put them on. In the same way as a soldier wears several parts of armor that has different functions to protect his body; Christians should wear the spiritual armor of God to combat the evil forces that attack us everyday.

“Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” [Ephesians 6:13-17].

It is requisite that a soldier be stout-hearted, well armed and with a great deal of courage. Each aspect of the symbolic spiritual armor of God answers to a specific dynamic within the Christian life that enables us to stand repelling the temptations, wiles and stratagems of the evils:

  1. Belt of Truth: Belt gathers up our garments and holds them together tightly and helps hanging many hand weapons from it. It ensures strength of our loins as it is worn around the waist. St. Paul exhorts us to keep truth, integrity and faithfulness in the inward parts as girdle of our loins. Truth is stranger than it used to be and holding onto truth is a big challenge of today. The very fabric of our contemporary society is to gain and survive with lies. The endemic corruption, fraud transactions, unholy alliance etc. are quiet common in this commercial world of libertinism and licentiousness. Even our holy places are defiled with the absence of truthfulness and honesty.

  2. Breastplates of Righteousness: The breastplate secures the vitals, shelters the heart, liver, lungs etc. and act as a bulletproof vest. It is tightly worn part of the armor ensuring essential protection without which a soldier cannot fight effectively. The righteousness of Christ imputed to us is our breastplate to fortify against the arrows of divine wrath and many potential dangers.

  3. Shoes of Preparation for the Gospel: Shoes is the finishing item we wear ensuring our preparedness to commence our activities. Our readiness to preach Gospel at all times is an essential part of our commission. Our failure to recognize the inherent necessity of proclamation of the Gospel of “the crucified Christ” is the most profound weakness of present day Christians. Christians must always be ready to preach the Good News to all people, all time, notwithstanding the difficulties and discomforts associated with it due to misconceived and excessive secularism.

  4. Shield of Faith: Shield protects the soldier from dangers flying towards him and enables him to ward off the fiery darts from evil forces. Faith is a state of mind which you may develop at will and accumulate riches and strength to resist evil forces. In this world of temptation, immorality, unfaithful dealings and business-minded approach we face many exigencies on our spiritual journey. With strong faith in our Lord we get delivered from all our troubles and run not be weary or faint while wrestling with the evils out of our own strength. The assurance that our Lord is with us is the basis of our faith and that gives us the confidence that God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

  5. Helmet of Salvation: The helmet secures the head from severe attack of enemy. Our self assurance that we are protected by our Lord is the state of salvation. Our Lord has given us this salvation with the Precious Blood of Christ. No one can take that away from us or stand against it. We are urged to wear our helmet of salvation continually and unceasingly as we are constantly being troubled and tormented by evil forces. It is not a mere feeling that we are endorsed under His mighty arms, but it is a real life experience and a great reality. Good hope keeps us trusting in Jesus Christ as our savior and keeps us away from all our worries.

  6. Word of God the Sword of Spirit: Sword is the only efficacious and powerful offensive instrument of the armor with which we assault the assailants and destroy the enemy. Our Lord taught us to resist and fight ceaselessly against the enemy using the Word of God and never turn our back to the foe. Christ Himself had drawn us our pattern to repel the temptations of Satan and to wield against him with most powerful Scripture-arguments. As a Christian, proper knowledge of the Word of God is essential in order to his maintaining the spiritual warfare and to win over the enemy and to enforce victory in our spiritual life. During our times of despair, sorrow, anger, emotional outbursts of various kinds, and urge for worldly pleasures, authority, power, and so on, we can win over all of them using the Word of God. The Holy Spirit of God guides us in learning the Word of God. Those who are tuned to the word of the world get easily yielded to the devil’s allurements and assaults.

Our children should wear these armors from their childhood days so that they will grow strong in faith and become shining stars in the faith community and bear witness to the love of God.

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God gave all these years for man to repent and turn back to the One who sent His own Son for our redemption. As New Israelites, it is the duty of Christians to skip through this tempestuous period by prayer that implicitly and explicitly help the people to console and help one another. As God loves all His creations, He reveals past and feature through His selected ones.

Though a small psalm in length, its meanings are far-fetched and groundbreaking. King David’s Israelite empire that once flourished found its split after the death of Solomon and its death after 400 years’ of internal feuding which ended in B.C.586, the year the exile that lasted for Jews for 70 years in a foreign land in Babylon that was ruled by king Nebuccadnezar. The king who took all the costly and sacred relics of the Temple to Babylon for desecration and defilement ravaged the holy city of Jerusalem and its holy Temple. Jerusalem, the city where Adam was buried and Isaac taken for sacrifice was the appointed place for the 2nd Adam to shed His blood for the restoration of his Heavenly Abode. The Psalmist was seeing a vision in which he saw the evil forces destroying the city of David again and trying to foil the redemptive work set by the Son of Man. “Remember O Lord, against the Edomites the day of Jerusalem, saying rase it rase it down to its foundations” throw light on how a half- Edomite ruler, king Herod and his supporters would annihilate everything to its foundations. If the verses from 1 to 7 was pertaining indirectly to the establishment of the church by the shedding of the blood of Christ, the rest of the Psalm portray the fall of Babylon that completes the finish of the church at the end of the time (Rev.16: 19; 18: 10). A similar wailing and loud lamentation of same magnitude could be heard from Rachel, Patriarch Jacob’s wife, who saw through her inner eyes that over 64,000 innocent children could be slaughtered by the swords of Herod, centuries later -Mt.2: 17-18.

This psalm echoes the sighs and sobs of a God’s chosen people who were tortured and suppressed by an infidel ruler, and wanted to solemnize his glory in par with king Solomon, builder of the first Temple of God in Jerusalem. The hanging garden of Babylon, the half wonder of the seven and half wonders of the world, was a monumental glory of this period. The singing of their sacred songs in exile on the demand of their captors was a heart-breaking profanation and the reminiscences of their past that found expression of their throbbing hearts. The singers cast a curse on Edom who rejoiced in the destruction of Zion and its holy Temple in B.C.586. They cursed Babylon who had profaned and devastated Jerusalem by their demonisations. There is a reflection of the simmering of punishments and retaliation of the O.T. concept of God’s justice also thundered in their agony. It recalls an exact reprisal for Babylon for the atrocities they prowled upon the God’s chosen race. Despite the surface level meaning only reflects their anger and retaliation, this psalm sends heat waves that brings the destined doomsday to the whole humanity.

Babylon the Great, mother of harlots and of earth’s abominations (Rev.17: 5):
Babylon, the combined land piece of present Iran and Iraq, lies in the plains of Euphrates and Tigris rivers. Babylon is the mother of ‘ Babel confusion’ that scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth because God confused their language- Gen.11: 1-10. The doomsday signal of the apocalyptic portrayal is also very significant here. “ Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates. So the four angels were released, who had been held ready for the hour, the day, the month, and the year, to kill a third of the mankind” Rev.9: 14-15. Listen to St.Peter and St.Jude also. “ For if God did not spare the angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of nether gloom to be kept until the judgement …if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned to extinction and made them an example to those who were to be ungodly… and despise authority” “ And the angels that did not keep their own position but left their proper dwelling have been kept by him in eternal chains in the nether gloom until the judgement of the great day; just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise acted immorally and indulged in unnatural lust, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire” - 2.Pet.2: 4-11; Jude: 6-11. These 4 carnivorous angels are the pioneers of world’s destruction that will ensue soon after their release.

The Babel of confusion that started by building a sky scraper and giving refuge in case another flood that devastated the whole world, was another rebellion of the abysmal world against God’s authority, staged by the implicit influence of the fallen angels who are tethered at the river Euphrates. God confused and diffused the language for defeating his enemy who was succumbed to his knees by the great flood of Noah’s time. The God who confused the language exhibited His authority once again by bringing them together on the day of Pentecost. The archangel of Death intermittently tried to grab the power from the hands of God from time to time since the beginning of time but was embarrassed by the Egyptian exile, king Saul’s disobedience, King David’s simultaneous infringement of 2 commandments, the division of Israelite kingdom and the destruction of the bifurcated kingdoms that led the way for the Babylonian exile of 70 years, annihilation of innocent lads to kill a great ruler, Jesus and so on.

In order to remind His followers during king Nebuccadnezzar’s time that a similar ferocious ruler from Babylon will torture the believers at the close of the age, Daniel was taken as an instrument of that time to warn of the blooming of an apocalyptic time at the fag end of history. God took Daniel as His mouthpiece to remind the world that the same power of a Babylonian descent will destroy the whole world by fire and similar cataclysmic symptoms. God gave prophet Daniel the insight of depicting about the 4 great empires that started with Babylon down through the Roman, Anglo-Saxon (British) and Soviet Union Republics, that having 10 horns on its head- Dan.2 & 7. The power games between the Anglo-Saxons and the Soviet Unions will pulverize the great Babylon to arise as a world ruler, which will devastate the whole planet by the hand of the Beast or Antichrist, his 7-year rule, who emerges from the place where the 4 angels of death are chained. It is the aim of the Beast that emerges from the land of darkness to release all the abysmal powers that can devastate this planet and God’s species so that he can claim that this planet is re-conquered from God who retreat on the basis of the ‘ son of the soil’ issue. This being a vast subject, I don’t like to give biblical references for proof. Those who skim through my books ‘ shoonnyamakkunna Mlekchatha series (12 volumes) and other postings in this site may get a glimpse of the issue at large.

Gurukshekthra Battle:
The final war between the power of darkness and celestial powers are portrayed in the apocalyptic writings in the book of ‘ Revelations’. We can’t get head or tail of the incidents depicted there. But a parallel delineation of the same is given in the Indian epic of ‘Mahabharatha’ and ‘Gita’. As God loves all His creations, irrespective of caste, religion or ethnicity, He gives a picture of the Iron Age ferocities in coded language through the writings of all religious literatures of the past. Kurukhekthra war is nothing but the internal and external conflicts within and between religions that paves for the elimination of all values and morality during the age of Kaliyuga. If we replace ‘ k’ with ‘ G’ in tune with the spoken language, the word becomes Gurukhekthra, meaning the war at the Body of the ‘ Guru’ (God). Hence it is a war in the temple or church -2.Thess.2: 3-12. The protagonists of these onslaughts are the Pandavas, five in number, and Kauravas; possibly 101 non-aligned Nations of the world joining together for this upsurge. The elder brother of the Pandavas ‘ Dharmaputhra, a symbol of ‘dharma’ seemingly represents Great Britain; Bhiman who is noted for his mighty war gymnastics with his ‘ghatha’ denotes the war weapons and nuclear arsenals of the United states of America; Arjunan displaying his art of archery reminds us of the Australian boomerang techniques of bow and arrow, Nakulan represents Canada and Sahadevan stands for Newzeland. Sahadevan means co-god. Their common wife Panchali is none other than the church that is the source of all their spiritual and high -flying life of abundance. They have signed common treaties of war engagements, in case there is an attack from outside of their common family, so also there is a family of non-aligned nations that meet together once in a while for exchanging and deciding their views. The Pandavas were allies in the 1st and 2nd world wars by aligning with some other nations. Despite these Pandava brothers were not directly helpful for the propagation of the faith of the five wise virgins, the Oriental Orthodox churches, the new global empire enticed these churches to spread their messages around, despite they were widely unheard before for the rest of the world.

Despite Pandavas and Kauravas are related by blood, the Kauravas are test tube babies cut apart from a big piece of flesh, signaling that there is no common bond or affinity as they are not independent individuals of the same parentage. The Anglo Saxon brothers have migrated to different continents for various reasons, whereas the Kauravas are not blood related; they hail from different nations, ethnicities and diverse origins. Few of them are the ones who use human bombs against Bhiman’s Gatha of lethal and destructive weaponries. These human bombs, the last brand of all other weaponries, are called ‘ Brahamastra’ because of the use of Brahma’s creations, human beings, as the weapons against Bhiman’s mighty bombs. This is how the Antichrist becomes the powerful ruler and vandalizing the world and its innocent inhabitants for 7 years. Though a minority, the Pandavas will destroy their enemies after 7 years’ of bitter fighting and immense human material losses and destructions as their Lord gives all support and directions in the art of winning the battles. In spite of the death that it brings to humanity, only Dharmaputhran, symbolizing dharma or virtues, can only be able to walk into Heaven.

Latest Developments:
A book published in Arabic depicts the following ambitious plan of a group of zealots in making a global rule that works against the concepts of the Pandava brothers and their supporters. They “ view its struggle as a long - term war with 7 distinct phases. The first one is the ‘ the awakening’ that already started with 9/11 in September, 2001… Phase 2 is ‘ opening Eyes’ which should last until 2006…. Phase 3 is ‘ Arising and standing up’, should last from 2007 to 2010, with increasingly frequent attacks against secular Turkey and arch-enemy Israel. … Phase 4, between 2010 and 2013, will see the downfall of hated Arab regimes, including Saudi Arabia and Jordan. Oil suppliers will be attacked and the US economy will be targeted using cyber terrorism…. Phase 5 will be the point at which an Islamic state, or Caliphate, can be declared- between 2013 and 2016. Phase 6 from 2016 on, will be a period of ‘total confrontation’. As soon as the caliphate has been declared, the Islamic army will instigate the fight between the ‘...believers and the non- believers’…Phase 7, the final stage, is described as ‘ definitive victory’” (The Age daily, 24-8-05). They say that the war should not last longer than 2 years. But all these is likely to happen earlier than this period as delineated in the books ‘ Shunnyamakkunna Mlekchatha’ that are based on biblical interpretations of the prophecies.

Fall Of Babel:
The fall of Lucifer who took arms and ammunitions against God in the pre-historic times is delineated in Is.14, whereas the fall of Babylon, the place that invite the Beast from below haunting the antichrist (Rev.13) is depicted in Is.13&14. As he and his armies apparently were besieged in Babylon, the 4 dangerous evil angels were tethered at the great rivers of Euphrates and Tigris. “ For the stars of the heavens and their constellations will not give their light; the sun will be dark at its rising and the moon will not set its light. I will punish the world for its, and the wicked for their iniquity…And Babylon, the glory of Kingdoms, the splendor and pride of Chaldeans, will be like Sodom and Gomorra when god overthrew them…” and will cut off I will rise up against them” says the Lord of hosts, and will cut off from Babylon name and remnant, offspring and posterity. I will make it a possession of the hedgehog, and pools of water, and I will sweep it with the broom of destruction…This is the purpose that is purposed concerning the whole earth; and this is the hand that is stretched out over all the nations…. and who will turn it back…Is.13 & 14.

There are so many such warnings and prophesies about the fall of Babylon that propels the fire to the whole planet at the end of days. “ So shall Babylon the great city be thrown down with violence, and shall be found no more; And in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints, and of all who have been slain on earth” -Rev.14: 8; 18: 21-24, 10; 16: 19.

God gave all these years for man to repent and turn back to the One who sent His own Son for our redemption. The fire that ravages Babylon now is the likely cradle of destruction that eventually conflagrate Europe and the rest of the continents within a short span of time, making this planet as a furnace (Mala.4) that ends the wrath of God and collecting the faithful remnants to mid-air for their rest from the toil and afflictions that they suffered in this 3-dimensinal carnal existence for a long time. “ And it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and tongue and nation, and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name was not written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb that was slain” Rev.13: 7-9; 6: 15.

Thus this short psalm that portrays miseries and sufferings of the 70-year exile of the Israelites cast retaliation against the conquerors that perpetrated their Mount Zion and Temple. As New Israelites, it is the duty of Christians to skip through this tempestuous period by prayer that implicitly and explicitly help the people to console and help one another. As the fire of vengeance begets vengeance, better cool it down by our endurance and mutual help and prayer. No one can alter God’s plan that resulted due to our carnal and lunatic life, because it was all ordained by an Omniscient God who created this Eden Paradise and man for a special purpose of God’s monumental plan of man’s fate to be recorded in the pages of Eternity (Rev.20: 12. “ And night shall be no more; they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they shall reign for ever and ever” Rev.22: 5

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Mathews Mar Athanasius, Metropolitan, was an outstanding religious leader deserving a proud place among the great men of Kerala and beyond. This great hero of faith was born on 25th April 1818 in the Palakunnathu family in Maramon. In 1840, facing the dangers of the sea, robbers on the way, dangers of the desert, exhausted by sleeplessness and ravages of climate and untold hurdles on the way Mathen Semmasan reached his Mardin, the Seat of the Antiochian Patriarch at Turkey after travel of five months.


Mathews Mar Athanasius, Metropolitan,was an outstanding religious leader deserving a proud place among the great men of Kerala and beyond. He was compared to Marthanda Varma, the brave king who was the founder of the kingdom of Travancore, to Moses in the Old Testament in terms of his spiritual leadership, and to King David for the integrity of his faith.

This great hero of faith was born on 25th April 1818 in the Palakunnathu family in Maramon. It was not a wealthy family but it had the good fortune to have nurtured many religious leaders imbued with faith and endowed with innate leadership of the Malankara Syrian Church. He was named Mathen by his father Mathen Mappila who was the nephew of Thoma Malpan and elder brother of Abraham Malpan. Mathe's mother was Annamma, daughter of Oollasserimannil Geevarghese, whose family had clerical leaders in its ranks. Mathen had two brothers, Thomas and Joseph, two sisters Mariamma and Achieamma. Thomas became a popular Ayurveda physician and Joseph, a landowner. Third son of Joeph became Metropolitan Titus II. The present Suffragan Metropolitan Joseph Mar Irenaeus is the great grandson of Joseph. Mathen's cousins, i.e. Abraham Malpan's third son became a Metropolitan Thomas Mar Athanasios, and fourth son Titus became Metropolitan Titus I. So the Palakkunnathu family had a succession of eminent ecclesiastic leaders of the Marthoma Syrian Church. Mathen's sister Mariamma was married to Cherukara Philipose Malpan. The young Mathen was a bright and active and Abraham Malpan, his uncle, took special interest in his education. When he was seven, he was put under the care of a well-known teacher Cherukol Asan. Within three years he became the Malpan for Syriac in Old Seminary Kottayam, and Mathen was admitted to Seminary. The famous trio of CMS missionaries - Bailey, Fenn and Baker - was teachers at the Seminary for English, Greek and Hebrew. Abraham Malpan and Konatt Malpan taught Syriac and Pandit Kozhikod Kunjan Asan, Sanskrit. Mathen earned the affection of all the teachers and the close friendship of fellow-students, Puthenkavil George Mathen and Anjilimoottil Mathen, the nephew of Metropolitan.

The three bright Mathen's were ordained as Deacons by the Metropolitan when they were 13 and they continued thei studies at the seminary. Sadly Anjilimoottil Mathen Semmasen passed away at an early age. In 1835 Mathen and Abraham Malpan had to endure the sudden bereavement of Mathe's father, Mathen Mappila at a young age.

When both the Mathens completed their studies at the Old seminary they were encouraged by Abraham Malpan to go to Madras for further studies. Travel to Madras was a tortuous and dangerous one in those days. They had to use bullock carts where available and the rest by foot. The two young men were brave and resourceful and they reached Madras after a month and joined Anderson School, which later became Madras Christian College. They studied for four years and gained sound scholarship in various subjects. George Mathen subsequently joined the Aaglican Church and became well-known George Mathen Padre.

Mathen Semmasan decided to go to Mardin of southeastern Turkey under Ottuman Empire which was the seat of the Antiochian Patriarch. Travel to Mardin was very hazardous. Mathen Semmasan prepared himself to face the dangers of the travel and consoled a widowed mother and other nervous relatives and friends with assurance that God will protect in all difficulties. Mathen Semmasan started his journey in 1840 and in Cochin he met a member of the Royal family who was going to Madras to learn more about the Christian faith. Later His Highness received baptism and became Rev. Jacob Rama Varma, a leading cleric of the German Mission.

Mathen Semmasan went to his old School and met his tutors who raised financial support for his journey and gave him a letter of recommendation to the Anglican clergy in Bombay. They also arranged for Mathen Semmasan to join a British army cavalry corps going from Madras to Bombay. They provided Semmasan with a horse to ride with them as there was no other form of transport to Bombay. It was his first effort to ride a horse but he was intrepid enough to travel as an experienced traveler. When they reached Bombay, the Commander took him to the church in Central Bombay. It was a Saturday and Semmasan went inside the church and saw the verger making the preparation for the Sunday service. Semmasan met the chaplain and gave him the letter of introduction from Madras and found warm welcome and ready hospitality. The chaplain took him to the church on Sunday and in his Sermon he made a statement about Malankara Syrian Church along the lines that the Semmasan had briefed him. The Chaplain asked Semmasan to give the sermon for the evening service which he did well as he was fluent in English. The congregation was impressed by the young Deacon as they called him and provided all the help required for his journey to Basra and beyond to Mardin and organized his voyage on a sailing boat as steam boats were not in vogue in those days. The voyage of Mardin took 5 months; besides which there was a trickier voyage up a river. Semmasan did not know Arabic or Hindi, the languages that the crew and passengers spoke. Semmasan developed friendship with a young man called Ahmad, who was helpful to him on the voyage and even after arrival at the destination. The rest of the journey was on foot in knee deep sand and Ahmad took him to a traveler’s hostel. Semmasan became ill with fever and he had no help. But he saw a European couple passing by and he shouted for help in English. The couple heard him, came to the hostel and understood his situation. They took him to their bungalow and nursed him to health. He said good-bye to them and proceeded on his travel.

When reached a village quite a distance away he sought lodgings with a Christian widowed lady. Her only son Kaduri was abducted by a Muslim group to a house nearby and was trying to convert him to Islamic faith. Semmasan promised to find Kaduri, but the lady warned Semmasan that the abductors would not hesitate to kill him. All the same, he went around and found a house where there was a young man alone. He thought it was Kaduri and he tried unsuccessfully to communicate with Kaduri by sign language. He returned to the house and prayed for Kaduri. That night there was a knock at the door, and the voice of someone calling 'mother'. When the lady was sure it was Kaduri she opened the door. Kaduri enquired of his mother about the black man who had come to see him and when he understood it was a Christian Deacon who could speak Syriac, Kaduri told him he would take him to the Patriarch. So together they set about for the Dayara. In the morning when they neared the Dayara they saw an old man in Episcopal robes on a donkey. Kaduri told him that it was the Patriarch. When they approached him the Patriarch was pleased to realize that Semmasan was an intelligent young man who could speak Syriac and could be communicated with. His Holiness took him to Dayara and ordered food for his young visitor and asked him to take rest. Thus, Mathen Semmasan reached his destination after facing the dangers of the sea, robbers on the way, dangers of the desert, exhausted by sleeplessness and ravages of climate and untold hurdles on the way. The Patriarch at Semmasan's request helped Kaduri by arranging for him to get the title 'Makudisa'. It was Turkish law that any Christian who had that title would not be subjected to any harassment.


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