Diocesan Metropolitan of Malabar Diocese, Malankara Orthodox Church]


'And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem, And sent messengers before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him. And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem. And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did? But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them. ' [St. Luke 9:51-56]

Recently we observed the day of Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ. Forty days after resurrection, we commemorate Jesus' ascension into heaven. While the disciples were gazing up towards heaven, Jesus was lifted up, and a cloud took Him out of their sight on the mount Olivet. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is a reality in the history of mankind, which signpost to our proclamation and declaration to the world that, 'Christ is risen and indeed, He is risen.'

Evangelist St. Luke recounts that the women who came with Jesus from Galilee to Jerusalem had followed Joseph of Arimathea, attended the funeral, saw the tomb of Jesus and beheld how and where His body was laid. After the burial of Jesus, those Holy women returned and rested on the Sabbath according to the commandment. After the Sabbath observance concluded at sunset, the women prepared perfumes to anoint the corpse of Jesus. In the Gospel, we have the sequential perspectives on the events during the days around the resurrection of Jesus. Towards the close of Chapter 23 of the Gospel according to St. Luke, we read that they prepared spices and ointment, however in Chapter 24, we notice that next day early morning they took only the spices they prepared on the previous day and went to the sepulcher to administer the perfumed spices and to embalm the body of Jesus.

Ointment they prepared was meant for anointing Jesus as Messiah. It signifies the confession that Jesus is my Savior, Jesus is my Messiah and Jesus is my Anointed one. The Spices are symbol of good works and rules of charity. Ultimate aim of all these good deeds is to contemplate Jesus as Messiah and heed to the exhortation to sanctify our self and live an anointed life. We should uphold the spices which are the good works of piety that Christ foretold to commend in His last judgment. "I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me." It is the same oil that the Samaritan poured on the wounds of the injured man so that to relieve him of the pain and to sooth his tumors.

The lapse or failure of this assurance to involve the reality through the very resurrection-life of the risen Lord Jesus, lead us for the difficulties what we perceive in the above referred scripture portion. In this episode of the last journey of Jesus to Jerusalem, we perceive three types of human mentality exhibited by the affiliates of this event.

  1. Samaritan Mentality:
    When Jesus took a resolute decision to go to Jerusalem as His final journey to embrace all hardships and sufferings there, He sent messengers before His face, some of his disciples, to a village of Samaritans to make prior arrangement as He planned to pass through that village on His way to Jerusalem. The great controversy between the Jews and the Samaritans was about the place of worship as Jerusalem was the Holy City exclusively for Jews to worship God. Samaritans were banned to enter and worship in the city of Jerusalem. No sooner the Samaritans heard from the disciples that their Guru had set His face towards Jerusalem, their antipathy and hatred towards Jews and Jerusalem were aroused and they right away refused the entry of Lord to their village. This was the unique mentality of Samaritans. This outlook of Samaritans was characterized by the attitude that if you do not cooperate with us, we too repudiate to cooperate with you. Most often, we too preserve the same reciprocate mentality of Samaritans.

  2. Disciple's Mentality:
    When James and John, who were known as Boanerges, [which meant 'Sons of Thunder'] happened to hear about this open insult to their Guru by the Samaritans, they vehemently expressed their resentment to that. Disciples of Jesus flared up and prayed to Lord to command fire to come down from heaven, and consume those insulted Him, even as Elias did. They were exposing a destructive mentality to put the infidels and opposers to devastation. We too often keep this mentality. If our ideas or thoughts are not supported, we pray for their ruins.

  3. Jesus' Mentality:
    When Jesus heard those words of disciples out of their spirit of bigotry and persecution, He emphatically reprimanded them. Their course of action was directly contrary to the teachings of Jesus and the very tenets of Christianity. In the Sermon on the Mount, He exhorted them to love their enemies and to bless them those who curse them. He taught them to forgive and pray for enemies and prosecutors. During such a humiliation, they were supposed to call for grace from heaven and not the fire from heaven as the very theme of His service was to bless those who hate us. He rebuked them for bearing the spirit of destruction and hatred. Jesus had come to this world not to hate or destroy, but to love and preserve peace on earth and goodwill toward men.

To corroborate more minutely the mentality of Jesus, it will be good that we analyze various outlook of human mind towards the material possession of this world. We can enumerate four distinct mentality to this respect.

  1. Mine is mine and thine is thine.
    What ever you possess, you enjoy and what ever I possess I will enjoy. Though the worldview may count this attitude as most reasonable to avoid conflicts, it aggregate to a non-sharing mentality as per Christian perspective.

  2. If thine is mine then mine is thine also.
    This mentality is the most widely seen in the affluent contemporary society and it is much akin to Samaritan mentality to some degree. If you call me for your birthday, I too will call you for my birthday. This is a conditional type of service.

  3. Mine is mine and thine is also mine.
    This attitude is exceedingly self possessive to feel everything belongs to me and I will not give anything to anybody. This amounts to a robber's mentality. In the parable of Good Samaritan, when the robbers attacked the traveler, they robbed his all possession. Many of us are prone to this attitude.

  4. Thine is thine and mine is also thine.
    This was the attitude of Jesus and should be that of true Christians. This was the path chosen by all saints. What ever you have is yours and mine is also at your disposal as everything belongs to God and we are only stewards and caretakers. It reveals our readiness to accept that ownership of everything belongs to God. Jesus had renounced heaven and came down to earth to give everything to His creation. He became a full man in all sense except for sin. This is the real love and rule of God.

When we expend plenteously for bagging degrees after degrees for our children, can we share a small part of it to educate at least one who is deprived of education? When we spend lavishly for the marriage of our children, can we share a small part of it for the marriage of a downtrodden and destitute? When we buy luxurious mansions, can we share a small part of it for one who is thrown to street with out any shelter? When we are blessed with our riches for our medical expenses, can we spare a little for those who find difficulty to buy life saving medicines? When we enjoy delicious and nourishing food, can we think of the one who is starving and without a one score meal? If we can comply with these gestures that is the mentality of Jesus. Thine is thine and mine or part of mine is also thine. Here we can realize the dynamic resurrection reality of Christ's life. This is not the mentality of destroying or robbing, but it is the mentality of saving. Those with this mentality are the real Christians and they are the disciples of Jesus. By sharing our bread with the hungry, bringing the homeless poor into our care and covering the naked we are anointing the feet of Jesus.

Further to our referred scripture portion of St. Luke, we have an account of three diverse persons that offered themselves to follow Christ on His way to Jerusalem, and the elucidations that Christ gave to each of them.

Firstly, one hasty and inconsiderate man come up with a very large promise that he will follow Jesus withersoever He goes. Jesus gave a passive warning to that man who could foresee only a Christ appearing in his glory and delights. Jesus gave him the necessary caution that Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man has not where to lay His head except a plank of wood in the air. Jesus had submitted Himself to the extreme depth of poverty and to the meanest condition so as to increase the worth of us and to make us rich. Jesus propounded this fact to the consideration of those who intend to be his disciples. When you and me decide to follow Jesus the prime reward we receive is the insecurity in this world. St. Peter exhorts us in his epistle that it is a great blessing to suffer for Christ. St. Paul reminds us in his epistle to Hebrews: Insecurity for those who follow Jesus and insecurity of this world is the security of the world to come. If he cannot submit to this, we are only pretending to follow Christ.

Secondly Jesus called a man and said to him, follow me. He looks resolved to follow Christ, but he pleaded for time and permission to finish his worldly responsibilities. He made the excuse that "Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father." Jesus answered him: "Let the dead bury their dead, you follow me." We are tempted to defer and to excuse from our duty to God. Jesus is looking for spiritually agile mentality, which does not care for any worldly matters. As per Jewish tradition at time of Jesus, if a person swears by the Corban, he shall not profit his parents. What is the use of spending lavishly for the sake of parents after their death if we do not discharge our obligation to take care of them while they are living?

Thirdly, a man was willing to follow Christ, but he must have a little time to bid farewell to his household. Jesus said to him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God. Once we commence with the work of God we must resolve to go on with it without drawing back to any perdition. Those are not fit for heaven who, having set their faces heavenward, backslide or call off. But he, and he only, that endure to the end, shall be saved.

As we became the partakers of the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ, we should be the carrier and bearer of the mentality of Jesus. Insecurity of this world is our privilege. To love in hand with hand of Jesus to bless this world, to embrace insecurity of this world and to become the witness of Gospel, let the Holy Spirit of God help us all.

[Extract from Devotional Address delivered at St. Gregorios Church, Philadelphia
Original in Malayalam : Translated for LOL by Editor Dr. Rajan Mathew Philadelphia, USA]

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