Meditation for Koodos Itho Sunday, also the day of the Memorial Feast of Mar Gregorios Thirumeni of Parumala
(Originally published in ICON)
November 2nd is a very important day in the life of the members of Malankara Orthodox Church. That is the day we observe the death anniversary of the first declared saint of our Church, Saint Mar Gregorios of Paumala. This day also happens to be the first day of the year, the Khoodos Itho Sunday according to our liturgical calendar. The text for the day comes from St. Matthew 16:13-23. This passage talks about God’s revelation to Peter about who Jesus was and Peter’s confession. Jesus further tells Peter that this Messianic secret should not be shared with any one. The reason being people will not understand what is exactly meant by the title “Son of God” On the one hand the very idea of God having a Son is quite unfamiliar and blasphemous to the Jewish community and any talk about that would invite untimely opposition and controversy. Jesus wanted to save this till the end and climax of His earthly life. Then again the term Messiah which God revealed to Peter and that Peter spelt out was a title which could be misunderstood by people for another reason. People in fact were waiting for a Messiah to come and save them from the Romans. Further they had a different notion about the personality of Messiah. Most of them were expecting a political authority as the messenger of God (Messiah) who will liberate Israel from Rome. Some of them were expecting a priestly Messiah. But they were few in number and most of them were in the Jewish monasteries. Evidently Jesus did not understand his role in these terms. So Jesus wanted to keep the revealed truth about Him just among the disciples for the time being. Jesus considered Himself as “the Suffering Servant” of whom Isaiah (in chapters 41 ff.) talked about, who would lay His life for the sake of others. He wanted His life to be one for others. He said, “… And in the same way the Son of Man suffer” (Matt. 17: 12). He also said, “Son of Man came not to be served but to serve and lay His life for many as a ransom” (Matt. 20:28). He wanted to live His life for others. When Jesus asked His disciples to “Do this in remembrance of Me” (Luke 22:19) it included the command that we should do things Jesus did and the purpose He served. The Last Supper contains all the saving work Jesus did for our sake. So as Christians we need to do the work He did, not to die but to live a life for others.
Parumala Mar Gregorios Thirumeni lived the life of a true Christian. He lived his life for his flock. That is the reason we consider him a saint. Because he considered his life as a life for others, we come before him for intercession on our behalf. The supplication St. Mary put before Jesus clearly tells us of the way of every saint before our Lord. She said, “They have no wine” (John 2:3). She was not concerned of her need, rather of the need of others. Parumala Thirumeni lived such a caring life and we know that well enough. We come before him as his devotees and his flock or children. When he presents us before our Lord he, like St. Mary did, will be asking us to “do just as He wants you to do” (John 2:5). Parumala thirumeni will be asking us to follow his life in this world because that is what our Lord asks us to do. He said, “I give a new commandment, you love one another” (John 13:34). What is required of us as Christians is to be caring for others out of our love toward them. So on two reasons we are to be caring; one, because our Lord has asked us to be; two because our saint lived such a life and we are to follow him as his children. He cares for us and we need to care for others. Our Lord said, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets” (Matt. 7:12). We come and present various prayers for intercession before Parumala Thirumeni, for our own needs, for the needs of our children, for the situation prevailing, for our families, for the things that worry us, regarding what we hope to have in our lives, about our financial crises, about our health concerns and about so many other things. My question would be have we ever presented before the saint that he may request God to make us a caring person. We pray for our children that they may be successful in education, in career, in their family life etc. Have we ever prayed that he may pray that God will make them caring children of God? Of course we may have, that they care for their parents and relatives. But just as Thirumeni did, or as our Lord did, to be a caring person for every one he or she may meet. In one of our liturgical prayers the priest would say, “I pray for the remission of sin and for salvation of the whole creation”. If we do request Thirumeni to pray for us that we may become a caring person, on the one hand Thirumeni will be much happier about us and on a second note the world will be a better place for every one to live in. When we stand in Parumala at the holy tomb of Parumala Mar Gregorios Thirumeni or where ever we may live and seek his intercession this year, can this be one of our prayers? “Thirumeni please pray for me that God may make me/ my husband, my wife/ my son/ my daughter/ my brother/my sister … a caring a person not just for me, but for God’s whole creation! Can this be a challenge this year for us to take up seriously and spread? Many of us spread the “ice bucket challenge”. Some in Kerala made “one tree challenge”. I challenge all ICON readers to make an intercession before Parumala Thirumeni at his tomb, or at their own homes or anywhere they like, that he may pray to God that one of that person’s relative or friend may take up this challenge.
Yuhanon Mor Meletius Metropolitan, Thrissur