|JULY 2003||DEVOTIONAL MESSAGE||
All the Christians are chosen and called by God. As we enter into the third millennium, all the Christians around the world should be unified and should submit them self for the work of God to build His Kingdom. The Christian church is about to face the enormous challenge caused by the problems of modernity. Our contemplative society is facing multifarious problems caused by the circumstances, social clashes, religious fanaticism, terrorism etc.etc. Within all these adverseness, Christian values are to be accepted and respected.
Praise be to the Triune God! Let the name of our Lord be glorified. In this magnificent conference, let us praise the Lord, as we are receiving the Grace and Strength from God for the past 107 years for the proclamation of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. As we all know, we are living in the first stage of the third millennium. When we entered into the third millennium, there was a lot of concern about the future of the Church. Especially, an important point raised by Roman Catholic Scholars of western countries was of high significance. The Church in the first millennium was of one pattern and was unified. But in the second millennium, Church was more divided. Now, as we enter into the third millennium, all the Christians around the world should again be unified and should submit them self for the work of God to build His Kingdom. This is one of the very beautiful thoughts.
In the Gospel according to John we read that Jesus prayed for His disciples, ‘The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one.’ One of the very important characters of the Church is its oneness or the unity. While we peep into the history of the Church, we notice many facts that happened to the vision of God about the Church. I would like to talk to you today about the mission of Christians, God is intending about us, in any circumstances wherever we are.
All Christians are intended to be the light of the world and salt of the earth and should acquire enough strength to respond to any adverse circumstances we come across. For this great cause and responsibility bestowed on each one of us, we should take utmost care, not to defile our body or mind and get prepared to be with the quality to become the light of the world and salt of the earth. In the circumstances we live upon, there are many challenges we may need to face. As the centaury turns, the social atmosphere in our State of Kerala faces an enormous challenge not only for the Christian families, but also to every people in different walk of life.
Let me share one story, which comes to mind, which is narrated by a German litterateur. A King by the name Midas had gone on searching for a scholar in his country. He searched and searched all the forests in the country for this scholar. After an extensive search, the King could find out the man. The King was so happy at last that he could find out this great man. King asked the Scholar to tell 'what is the most desirable and attractive thing in this world.' The man stared at the King and remained silent. On compulsion from the King the Scholar asked the King ‘O thou wicked man and embodiment of swift destruction, why are you looking for most desirable thing in the world; the most desirable and attractive thing for those who are the cause for the curse of the society in this world is to die.’ He was upholding the fact of lack ness of the confidence of the modern man to live.
Thoughts of St. Paul who told “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.”, the man who tasted His Lord and proclaimed the word of Gospel, considering sum total of his life, had very distinctive vision about life compared to that in this story. The state of keeping aloof from creator God is same as the state of being dead. In today’s world, Churches have a great mission to accomplish for giving a great hope to the mankind. We are fast advancing to the modernity. We are adopting various aspects of the western culture. The Christian church is about to face the enormous challenge caused by the problems of this modernity. Our contemplative society is facing multifarious problems caused by the circumstances, social clashes, religious fanaticism, terrorism etc.etc.
Within all these adverseness, Christian values are to be accepted and respected. Immediately after the earthquake in Gujarat, I had the opportunity to visit those places hit by the calamity. While I was visiting and communicating with some volunteers of the refugee operations Camps, I could observe many Christian organizations were actively participating in the operations. I asked some of the Christian Groups there regarding the approval and acceptance of their service. One of the group member had told me that the common people give due respect for their services rendered, however there were people who view their activities with a suspicious eye. We are called by Jesus Christ to be the light of the world and salt of the earth. It is the responsibility of each one of us to learn and convey the good news of the Gospel. Church as whole is called for the proclamation of the word of God even in the most adverse and hard circumstances.
One Philosopher had explained it as that Church should be like Roses inside the thorns. Even amidst the adaptation of the modernity by the society, we should be able to discard the wrong and deadly perversions and to lead a life of faith and hope in our God. All the Christians are ‘Called’ and each one is indebted to understand the mystery of the world and the mystery of the word of God in the light of the given the Gospels. This is one of the most important message I would like to share with you in this ecumenical meeting. This Maramon Convention fellowship and all our Church fellowships are called and made where ever they are, for giving hope for the mankind, which is immersed in utter despair. In this respect we should induct guidance and follow the foot steps of St.Paul with his words “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” And “But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”
Church is the congregation of the believers and head of that congregation is Jesus Christ. One Philosopher had told about Church as an undefined entity. Bible tells us of many things about the Church. Even though it is not been defined by any of the Church fathers, Scholars or Philosophers. Church is the one which lead the believers in the faith for ever. The Church, Jesus being the head of it, is entrusted to the Holy Spirit of God for its perseverance and guidance. Church should be able to with stand and respond to the most adverse circumstances it may have to face with. The Christian Churches should not be lessened with its exhibitive activities, but it should be the lantern, which give light to the society. Churches should be meek and with the wisdom of God to be aware about the stewardship entrusted to it for strengthening the believers in the faith of God and goodness to the society.
Apostle Paul evaluate his life in the second Epistle to Corinthians 4:8-10 “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.” These words are giving us courage and wisdom to respond to the troublesome circumstances of this age in which we all are living. We are a called society and entrusted with the Christian responsibilities, witness and message. Who ever we are, whether a Bishop, Reverend or a Layman we all are entrusted with our own responsibilities and I pray to God that the Holy Spirit may lead us to discharge it fruitfully. Let all the Churches be lead by the Spirit of truth in this third millennium as promised by our Jesus Christ. In any age of time, if the Church happens to walk in a wrong direction, it is the responsibility of each one of us to pray for the Church so that it comes back and walk in the right direction in the truth and in the guidance of Holy Spirit. It is the necessity of the Christian congregation to keep up the fraternity of our fellowship and set up the Christian Model in our Country.
I am concluding my message with a story, which I read in a book written in the second centaury. In that it says that when St. John, the beloved Apostle of Jesus was walking through the street of Ephesus, there was a Philosopher speaking about the meaninglessness of wealth. Two young volunteers sold out their properties and bought two pieces of pearls in front of the Philosopher. In order to demonstrate the meaninglessness of wealth the Philosopher had hit on the pearls with a hammer and crushed it and declared that all the wealth of this world is perishable as he demonstrated about the pearl. During that time Apostle John was passing by. St.John told the Philosopher this is a a reckless aversion to this world. even though he could attract a huge crowd for his wrong Philosophy, Jesus had already cursed this aversion. As the wrong medicines can not cure the illness, wrong teachings can not heal the afflictions of the mind and spirit. St. John reiterated to the Philosopher the words of Jesus from the Gospel "Jesus said to him, If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me." (Mat 19:21 )
The world which is inflicted by the addictions should be healed with the strength of the faith on the cross. This is the biggest message needed for the contemporary world. The Christian society is being called to live among these worldly addictions. The wicked ness and avarice of current mankind is the root cause for the turbulences and afflictions of the society. As per St.Paul ,"I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." (Gal 2:20) This gives the great message to the each one of us to have the experience of of living in Jesus.
[Key Note Address delivered at the ecumenical meeting of Maramon Convention 2003. Original in Malayalam Translated for LOL by Dr. Rajan Mathew]
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