|DECEMBER 2003||DEVOTIONAL MESSAGE||
Digression from God, defeat any effort for conciliation among Churches. To accede with unification, we should be conscious of the underlying sin involved in separatism. Churches can reconcile each other only through the cross of Christ and in the model of Trinity.
Digression from God, defeat any effort for conciliation. Contemporary world is witnessing the existence of many deep and painful divisions. Since then, Cain killed his brother; a natural instinct is wound in man's inmost self to kill each other. It is quite alarming to learn that the stockpiling of conventional, atomic and other mass destructive weapons of various nations is large enough to annihilate the entire earth and mankind.
Though we see divisions in the relationships between individuals and groups, nations against nations and blocs of opposing countries due to the conflicts of economic interests to political polarization, the sporadic division and repercussions in the structure of Christian churches had become more penetrating. But we read in epistle of Peter: "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light:" (1 Peter 2:9)
There is only one race and no doctrine of multiple castes. In Eph 4:4-6 'One' is used seven times. "There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all." There is only one creator and only one God. The divisions and separatism are the effect of sin. To accede with unification, we should be conscious of the underlying sin involved in separatism.
Messiah had come to this world to reinstate the fallen man. He had stretched his hands towards two sides on the cross, to involve a united mankind. The thief on right side realized it and caught His hands for his salvation, while the one on left side rejected him. Even today, Jesus is stretching out his two hands and put forward once more this subject and this invitation.
Men and women who are to catch hold of His hand and acquire Paradise, are going astray from God. This is the foundational reason for all division and separatism. We should realize that separatism is the effect of sin and reconciliation is the way of salvation. In Rom 5:10 we read that there is no reconciliation with out the cross. The death of Jesus is leading us to the eternal life. Jesus has come to this world, to reconcile the earth and heaven. He stretches his one had to us in this world and the other hand to the Father God in the heaven. Jesus hand is like the hand of a loving child in between the husband and wife who seek for a divorce.
Through out the scriptures we see cross as the focal point. Messiah has unified the world and heaven through the cross. Churches also can reconcile each other only through the cross. (Eph.2:14) He is our peace, and he unified both the parties and created a new man. "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold all things are become new." (2Cor 5:17) Once it is unified there is no two, always it is only one. The world should become one through the Cross. Jesus should be made a central point of the church. Unfortunately it is a fact that church is going away from Jesus. The Christmas celebrations of our time are a splendor which is no fit of Jesus Birthday, but it looks that of King Herod. There is no relation with Christmas celebration with life style of Jesus. The Christmas with liquor and dance party is fit only as birthday of Herod who had beheaded the forerunner Baptist John.
Currently we see Capitalistic Churches which had lost many of its virtues. The sacrifice, love, and cohesion of the cross which unified the two sections is lost somewhere. Sixteenth century is known as the age of Reformation. 17-19th centuries are known as the age of division. The recent centuries are known as the age of ecumenism. Why these discrimination for the ages? At the age of the global growth of the Church, divisions were created. Each Church is allergic to others. Each one is trying to gather more and more people. The love and unity between the churches are lost. That is the reason William Temple is calling the new centuries as the centuries of ecumenism. John Paul II Mar Pope had opened the windows of ecumenism through the Vatican council. The entire Rites of Catholic Church stand united in allegiance to the Pope. There are five oriental orthodox Churches of Coptic, Syrian, Indian, Armenian and Ethiopian. Byzantine Orthodox Churches are more than twenty.
God's will is that all the churches are to be united. The journey to the cross is the only way I look forward for this unity. The main element that caused these divisions is that the motivation has changed from cross to crown. The tendency to raise money and to establish big organizations in a headlong quest for domination is more prevalent in the current churches. Collegiality of the Church should be always Trinity.
Churches can unite only if it becomes poor of its own accord. A rich Church can not conceive the idea of conciliation. Here I am not referring to the poverty created out of any economic systems. The poverty created by these systems are heinous and the self accepted poverty originated out of the love of gospel is noble. Church should attain same through self renunciation. Church can not reunite without endurance. A candle can not give light unless it shortens in its length. All early Church monks delightfully confessed poverty. In A.D. 313, at the time when Edict of Milan was declared, Christians were only ten percent of the total population and they were in the midst of persecution. The courage and hope exhibited by those under persecution had led the persecutors to become Christians. But in the dawn of the fourth century after Emperor Constantine embraced Christianity, persecution of Christians came to an end. Christians started getting noble positions in the States services. They got honor and position in the society. Many were attracted to the Christian Churches and Capitalistic Church is formed. Then onwards, Church started to grow materialistically and reduced in spirituality. With around ninety percent Christians, Church started to grow in the Roman Empire. Church turned out to be with a worldly touch. Then onwards it started with the divisions in the Church.
The second alternative to make the possibility of ecumenism is in the model of Trinity. "That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:" (John 17:21-22) The reality of Trinity is the unity in diversity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Father beget, not begotten; Son is begotten, do not beget; The Holy Spirit prepare but do not beget or not begotten. Even with these differences, they are one in its essential, eternity and equality. The Church should be formed based on the Trinity. With out basing on the Trinity, the pyramidal hierarchy cannot reunite the Church of the current century. The unity should be achieved in social collegiality.
It is worth for consideration to know where from the Conciliation should start with. St. Paul writes in Ephesians 2, where we were before we came to Christ. Unless we all reach to the humanized Christ, we can not reconcile. Before we came to Christ where we were? :
We are recreated as a new human from the darkness. In a spiritually inspired Church, once a child is baptized and christened, he/she is created as a new human. He is our peace and he unified us both so that the new man should come to the peace. What is peace? Peace is not only the evasion of war. The presence of God is the peace. What is the significance of the peace in the presence of God? The matter is relevant in the words of Jesus on the Cross. Peace attained on the pain of the cross is the peace by the presence of God. In a portrait of the peace, an artist had drawn: down the side of a mountain a tumbled overflowing river. An uprooted tree is flowing in the rush of angry water of the river. A small bird is sitting quietly on the branch of the fallen tree and singing. Peace does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. Peace means to be in the midst of all those things and still be calm in your heart. That is the real meaning of peace. In the ocean of our life, when we are entrapped in the severe high and low tides and waves, or in any unbearable extremes, the state of singing and praising the Lord; that is the peace in life. While our bank balances goes up or down or when our beloved passes away from us, to be in a state to sing and praise the Lord, that is the real peace.
In the biography of Mar Basalios the Great, it is recorded of the words Mar Basalios told to the soldiers who captured him for persecution as per the order of the King. When he was threatened that all his wealth will be confiscated, Basalios calmly replied, 'All my wealth are distributed to the poor and the only wealth remaining with me is my Bible and few other books. If you confiscate same and try to read and reform yourself, I will be gratified.' When he was threatened to be imprisoned, he politely replied 'If you put me in jail, I will be very happy that I will get enough time to be in the presence of my Lord.' When he was threatened that he will be expelled from his country he cheerfully replied, 'Where you will send me? All the nations belong to my Lord.' The wealth and comfort of this world was not their motivation. This is the only origin of the great peace.
The Church becomes one body with Christ through the Holy Communion. This is the body of Christ on which the God acts upon. A horizontal and vertical reconciliation is visible in the Cross of Christ. In Christ we should totally reconcile with God and with our worldly brothers. Before we offer our sacrifice this reconciliation is essential. "Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift." ( Mathew 5:24)
An unfair distribution of the earthly resources and of the assets of nature caused the distance between human levels of the rich and poor to reach an apex. All the children are equal heir for the wealth of the father. Till we narrow down the growing disproportion in distribution of the resources of our heavenly father among all His children, the mutual hatred ness and jealously can never be eradiated. The rewards of the hard work of each family member should not be for the individual, but for the entire family. In the Church family also the discrimination of wealthy and poor is not desirable. God and his creation are for every individual.
The biggest media to unify the entire world is the Holy Bible. It is known as the words of evenness. All the sacraments are the reconciliation services. To reconcile with God means to live according to the will of God. The service of evenness is not only for the clergy but for all the individuals. We should put all our arduous efforts to conciliate with all the ones alienated at any of these levels for the cause of our eloquent and significant signs of the quest for reconciliation.
"For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus." (Gal 3:28) Class, creed or color is discrimination. These are stumbling blocks confronting the efforts for reconciliation. The traditional Christians had always the mentality to discriminate the newly converted Christians. Even some countries in the modern world deny the entry of certain sect of people in their Churches. The various forms of discrimination: racial, cultural, religious, etc. should be wiped out from its root.
The institutional discrimination of the master and laborer also create two classes among the people. St. Paul had written to Philemon to treat Onesimus as a brother. Brother is not a servant. The one who construct the road, the one who break the rocks, or the one who labor in the forest, all are our brothers.
The difference between male and female are only biological. In Christ there is neither male nor female. The services of nuns in Roman Catholic Church are predominant to that of men. Virgin Mary was more reverenced than the Apostles.
Conciliation should not be restricted only among Christians; it is needed for the entire mankind. "For it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell; And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven." (Col 1:19-20) "That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;" (Phil 2:10) "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." (Eph 2:10)
Bible does not teach that all non-Christians will reach hell. "By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water." (1 Peter 3:19-20) "For this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit." (1 Peter 4:6) So the Gospel is being continued to the other world. The one who did not see Jesus in this world need not be one that he ever see Jesus. God loves to make all one. To save all the soul is the cardinal will of God. This love of God is eternal. The compassionate love, the love which involves everything, the love which make the enemy as friend, the love which desire even to save the hell, that is the love of Christ. This is the way of conciliation.
[Original Article in Malayalam
Translated for LOL by Editor Dr. Rajan Mathew]
|Email this Link to a Friend||Send Your Feedback|
LIGHT OF LIFE
PUBLISHED ON FIRST DAY OF EVERY MONTH