Diocesan Bishop of Chennai - Banglore Diocese, Marthoma Church


And again he entered into Capernaum after some days... Many were gathered together, insomuch that there was no room to receive them, no, not so much as about the door: and he preached the word to them. And they come unto him, bringing one sick of the palsy, which was borne of four. And when they could not come nigh unto him for the press, they uncovered the roof where he was: and when they had broken it up, they let down the bed wherein the sick of the palsy lay. When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee. ...he saith to the sick of the palsy, I say to you, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into our house. And immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went before them all.... [St. Mark 2:1-12]

The Gospel according to St. Mark is the shortest and the earliest of the four Gospels we had received. The way Mark opens his Gospel is with a simple sentence, which is, sum total of the entire Gospel; "The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God." The acts of apostles and further entire history of the church including the contemporary church experiences are mere continuation of this glorious beginning specified by St. Mark in his opening sentence. This ensures a direct link between all periods of ages with the beginning of Gospel. The word of God is faithful and true and is given to us not for merely reading and understanding but to make it our life experience and it is worthy of all acceptation in all fields of action of our life and the society.

The cited Scripture portion refers to an episode happened in Capernaum. In the earlier chapter we read that Jesus visited Capernaum first time. He went into the synagogue preaching and casting out the demons. The whole city had gathered at the door at His presence and the disciples informed Him that He was much wanted. But Jesus informed them of His father's will that He may preach also in the neighboring villages and He proceeded for same.

Jesus, having been for some time preaching about in the country, He came again to Capernaum. A huge crowd came and the house He lived was filled with people and there was no place available around the house. He preached the word to them. Suddenly all attention of the crowd was turned to four people presented a poor sick down upon his bed to Jesus. As there was no place and no way to approach Jesus, they removed part of roof of the house and brought down the man near to Jesus. The entire crowd was marveled the way the four people brought the sick and the way Jesus had healed the palsy.

Jesus did not get attracted to the crowd, but He was aiming to turn the focus of the crowd to a new dimension through which a transformation takes place. In our contemporary world we see many places where people crowd for the word of God. Many incentive programs are being offered to attract the mass. Different type of advertising tactics is also being organized for the gracious sale of the word of God. A lot of money is also siphoned to make the assembly of Word of God more popular and glamorous. The speaker and his rhetoric skill are given more importance than the word of God itself. Here it contradicts with the aim and intention of Jesus who desired to create a new ambience of a metamorphosis.

Jesus was converting the superficial attraction of the crowd to a mind breaking, penetrating experience. Mere interest for hearing the word is not producing any fruits out of it. Word should have an influence in our personal life and the transformation produced by it should be reflected from the person to the society so that the society as a whole lead to new experiences and pave the ways for transformed crowd of God. Not the ones who says 'Lord, Lord', but the ones who do the will father are His true disciples.

Recently Dr. Abdul Kalam, President of India advocated transformation of religion into a spiritual force. Religion has to graduate into a spiritual force and disparities in development should be removed. He also highlighted the need for value system in schools and education. The younger generation shares his dream of a peaceful, prosperous and safe India adding that political leadership with visionary policies could make the country prosperous. Unless we concentrate on all these methods, the transformation in society becomes impossible. Another major issue of the country is the elimination of poverty. Jesus calls for religious contemplation of the Gospel for a positive transformation of the society. People should be identified in the society and society should be branded by the people.

We see a miniaturized church in these five people. One among them is a needy man. The other able four put their trust in God and co-operate together to give a helping hand to the needy among them and bringing him to the proximity of Jesus. They promptly responded to the needy man among them. They understood that the grace of God is not restricted to them alone, but it should be extended to all in the church. In the contemporary society we see people are alienated from the society and live their life aloof and not ready to respond to the needs of the co-beings. In a cooperate society we should have the initiative to educate the uneducated, give medical help for the needy, give shelter for those who do not have housing, give food for the hungry. These all are responses needed for the church in parish level, diocese level and eventually Church level. In this situation only our life and church can become the Gospel of Christ.

Scripture gives us many examples for this transfiguration of the society in the history. When Israel went to the bondage of Egypt, God had sent Moses. Moses knew his responsibility to uplift his people as a mission of God. To strengthen the helpless in the society is a commissioned mission of the Church. Church should be able to hear the cry of people and stretch the hand of care. Jesus was not at reach of the man with palsy. Of his own there was no means for him to approach. So it was possible for him to come to Jesus only with the help of his friends. Jesus is Immanuel, which means 'God with us'. Jesus was not always in the Temple or Synagogue. He was always with the mass of the people who were needy and marginalized. The mission of the church is to make the God in the Altar reachable to the mass. Parish or congregation should not be dearer than Jesus. The roof should be broken, walls should be demolished or any hindrance should be removed to make God available to the people. This type of a Church and society only can glorify God. We may need to conquer sometimes the objections of reason, sometimes those of sense.

When Lord comes down to our midst, He absolves our sin, He heals our sickness, He gives wisdom to our mind and He strengthens our weakness. Lord opens enormous possibilities and makes our society and Church a part in the history as a continuation of the Gospel.

[Extract from Message delivered at Maramon Convention 2006 : Original in Malayalam
Translated by Editor Dr. Rajan Mathew Philadelphia, USA]

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