Mr. Raju Kalliath Memorial Student Scholarships

The diocese gave away two student scholarships in memory of Mr. Raju Kalliath in a function organized for the Catholicate Day Collection of Thrissur diocese today (Oct. 5, 2016). You may not know Mr. Raju. He was the trustee for a long time at St. Mary’s Church Elanadu in Thrissur Diocese. Raju along with most of the members of the erstwhile Patriarch group of Elanadu Church accepted the Supreme Court order in Church case and worked with me for the unity of Elanadu Church. Few people who got angry on it brutally attacked Raju and was hospitalized. The treatment did not do much help and died after few months. He was supporting his family with his wife and two children from the income he got from farming. After Raju’s death the family was planning to sell of the house and go away. But the diocese intervened and provided monthly allowance until his son, who has a master’s degree in ecological studies, got a job. His daughter got married and his son got a job in forest department and now supports the family. Still we thought his name and the support he gave to the cause of unity of the Church should not be forgotten. So we established a scholarship of ten thousand Rupee annually to the best but financially backward student of the diocese for both years of his/ her higher secondary education. This project is managed by Elanadu Church, but financed by the diocese. Raju’s sacrifice did not go without merit. The cases related to Elanadu Church got settled through court orders and now it is one of the best Churches of the diocese. Only a handful of people from the erstwhile patriarch party left the Church to join the Jacobite group. These two pictures are taken at the time of the giving away of the scholarships.

Sermon on Mark 2:23-28

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Keep Human and Human Concerns at the Centre

Sermon for third Sunday after Feast of the Cross
Text Mark 2:23-28

23. And it came to pass, that he was going on the sabbath day through the grain fields; and his disciples began, as they went, to pluck the heads of grain.
24. And the Pharisees said to Jesus, Look, why do they on the sabbath day do that which is not lawful?
25. And Jesus said to them, Didn’t you ever read what David did, when he had need, and was hungry, he, and they that were with him?
26. How he entered into the house of God when Abiathar was high priest, and ate the showbread, which was not lawful to eat except the priests, and gave also to those who were with him?
27. And Jesus said to them, The sabbath was made for humans, and not humans for the sabbath:
28. so that the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath.

Glory be to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit

Today we observe the Third Sunday after the Feast of the Cross.
Also we observe today the 147th birthday of the Father of our nation, Mahatma, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi.  He lived the life of cross for the sake of the independence of his countrymen. Let us remember him for what great gift he gave us and also glorify God for giving such a great statesman like him for us. Of course Jesus lived it first and not just for any countrymen, but for the whole creation and also He established a new cross, not of death and killing but of resurrection and life.

With cross Jesus established a new culture for us to have.
This in many ways shall be contradictory to what have been followed by His own people then and now.
That is why according to Matthew 5:27 ff. Jesus had to say, ‘you may have heard this … but I tell you…’.
Here we have a question of conflict between Legalism and Human Concerns or welfare.
This shall bring us to the fundamental question, What is the purpose of law and statutes, and again how can it be understood in the context of the classical event of “Incarnation”?
There may be people who would say, Jesus came to abolish law. But I don’t ascribe to that theory.
Incarnation holds creation in priority and helped to take it to it’s fullness.
In that process law will be of help.
Incarnation was God’s concrete and paramount expression of love, love toward all that He created and particularly humans.
Love binds people and this binding will certainly bring in certain limitations on every one.
The classical example again, is Incarnation. God had to set a limit to Himself to have Incarnation and that was because He loved His creation and John the Evangelist testifies to it in 3:16. ‘God so loved the world that He had to send His Son to be crucified’. That was a law God accepted on Himself.
But that law was for His creation and particularly for humans.
This is why Jesus declared, law is for human and not human for law.

As a matter of fact this was the purpose of the law Moses received while Israel was on the way to the promised land.
The commandment God granted Israel through Moses had two purposes, One educative, that is, to educate the people, who never knew God or knew how can they respond to God’s love which effected in the liberation from Egypt. They were not to have any confusion about who liberated them as they until then knew only the gods of Egypt. God had to tell them, it was not the god of Pharaoh who liberated them, but the One who ‘shall show them what he shall be’ or Yahweh who was in action. If they ever thought it was the god of Pharaohs, then they will again go back to that slavish situation no matte where ever they ended up living in. But God wanted them always to be liberated politically, in understanding and in relationship.
Secondly, on the same line they had to learn a new kind of relationship between human and human and everything else in the created world.
God gave those ten commandments that they will be an organized community where they arrived. Those commandments defined the kind of relationship they should have in a liberated world.
Until then they knew only of a servant master relationship and hence always a hierarchical one. But that was not God wanted them to have in their liberated world.
So ultimately what was important was human (including human’s world) and their wellbeing.
But the leaders of the community never understood this purpose of God, but added statutes and laws to make God’s people slaves again and to have a stratified society for them.
To Jesus, this was blatant violation of God’s purpose with human.
Jesus found this occasion, of his disciples plucking and eating seed heads in the field, recorded in Mark 2: 23 ff. a fitting one to bring in His point.
He reminds those leaders who were so zealous about the law, that there were occasions when law gave way to the need of humans.
While David was trying to escape the wrath of Saul he had to go to the temple and he himself eat and also give to his men the show bread which was only for the clergy to eat according to Leviticus 23:3  to 28 and Dt. 5:14.
Mark of course made a mistake in naming the priest of the time by saying that it was Abiathar who fed David. It was rather Ahimelk according to 1 Sam. 21: 1 ff. Who offered food to David. We could see Matthew making such mistakes when he was trying to quote from their scripture. But probably this was the only one for Mark.
Any way, Jesus’ point was well established with this example from their own history.

Historically speaking Sabbath was established as a statute to keep the community together. Many of you know that it was during the time of Babylonian Exile they introduced the observance of Sabbath, but attributed it for better acceptance to the time of creation, the stories of which again were adapted during that time.
Exiles who had to work hard in the new environment had two challenges: one, to keep the identity of the community in the foreign land and two, to keep generations learn the ways and traditions of the community so that they will not get assimilated in the society they were and forget the love of God that was shown in the liberative act in Egypt and the liberative act that was to be shown few decades later during the time of Cyrus of Persia when they will go back to Jerusalem to establish themselves again as of old. So Sabbath also was for human.
I see the same sentiment working among Malayalee Christians who have gone away for diaspora living. The attendance in Churches in all places outside Kerala is almost hundred percent while in Kerala it is is maximum fifty.
But again the question before those who have migrated to other parts of the country and world is, how do they treat the traditionally handed down customs, practices, guidelines and statues? There shall be no absolute law in religion that no change can be effected.  It should be able to see humans and human concerns as primary. Laws are for human and hence are to be re-examined on a regular basis and re-written according to the historical journey humans take through changing socio-political, cultural environs. Otherwise it may drive growing up generations away when they get older and gain freedom even if they were kept within strict religious boundaries while they were still young.
Not only Sabbath and Sabbatical statutes but any law that doesn’t take care of the genuine concerns of human’s wellbeing and healthy relationship with God and with one another will be challenged and broken to hurt many involved including those loving parents.
Now we have a new culture established by Jesus’ Cross, and that culture should be a culture of love, caring and understanding that will strengthen bonds between God and human, and human and human with all its environs. May the Spirit of Christ who shall lead us to all truth and help us understand where we stand now and where we are to be standing.
God bless us

Inauguration of Children’s Park at Prerana Special School

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I got another blessed time, along with the Senior Vice President of the seminary H. G. Dr. Jospeh Mar Dionysius Metropolitan of Calcutta diocese, during my current visit to STOTS at the inauguration of Children’s park and plate and cup making machine of Prerana Special School. The rides of the park were gifted by Oriental Insurance Company through their Corporate Social Responsibility Programme. This video is a collection of pictures from the day.


Let the Peace of our Lord Prevail

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(This is a meditative note I presented before the students of St. Thomas Orthodox Theological Seminary, Nagpur after the evening prayer to commemorate the UN declared International Day of Peace.)
The 21st day of September was declared by UN as the day of peace in 1981.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God”. Mtt. 5:12 (9).
Jesus may have talked about peace with his understanding of the Hebrew word Shalom.
One of the early occurrences of the word in Jdg. 6:24 suggests that it is time of freedom from oppression or slavery. Gideon received the message of peace from the messenger.
‘Lom is the basic root of the word which may mean ‘paid’. So when it is paid for, there is shalom. When due is paid, there shall be peace. What is due to another is respect. Only when what is due to another is paid there will be peace.
This is a world of diversity. God created each according to its kind and set them in the garden or in the world.
Terry McGonial, a New Testament theologian, comments that, to have Shalom is to leave “the universe the way God designed it to be”. A consumerist attitude was expressed in the garden, fear, breaking of relationships, rivalry and killing entered the world.
We understand that the situation prevailed in the garden was of mutual respect. There was a call to accept trees and fruits as they are and not as things “for me”. This was violated or peace was broken. God had set things in proper order and in place.
Then we have the creation of human which is primarily related to God as human shared the image and likeness of God himself (Gn. 1:26-27). The animals were created and a different kind of relationship is established but not of ruling over rather for peaceful co-existence. In the second creation story God sees that to be alone is not good and decides to create a community among humans (Gn. 2:18).
God further establishes peace between human and the rest of the creation in the garden. The two words used are till and keep. Till to keep earth’s productive and dynamism. To keep means to keep each one’s identity and selfhood.
God always wanted to keep it that way. Human consumeristic tendency broke peace in the garden.
This dream of God was jeopardised by human. But continued His dream alive as reflected in the words of Isaiah 11:2 ff.
Jesus said, “I leave with you my peace” (John 14:27). He on His part established peace between God and humans and human and human. Paul talks at various occasions about peace. He says, Christ has broken down the dividing wall and has established peace (Eph 2:14). This peace is what He left for his disciples.
Peace doesn’t come by itself once there was breach of peace by human. To bring in peace we need to walk back With Christ, the super model for our life, the road human travelled in the opposite direction.
For that, first we need to recognize that the world is of diverse nature. It was not created just for humans and not even humans of any particular region of tried or even gender. Any form of discrimination is to be abolished from our society. Each has a space in this world and has a role to play. No one is for another one to be a servant, but every one is for every one else.
Again do not listen to the commercial world that tries to sell their interest as in the case of the serpent. People of vested interest sell their products not for the benefit of the consumer, rather for the benefit of the seller. “God has provided everything we need but not for our greed” (Mahatma Gandhi)
Be ready to reply to that world which tries to sell things for their benefit not with over enthusiasm, rather with truth and justice.
Again do not be greedy. Human took the fruit of the forbidden tree not because they didn’t have any thing else to eat for their hunger, but was for fancy.
We live in a world driven by greed. Every one says, it was greed that initiated 2008 global economic crisis. Greed for power, greed for wealth, greed for pleasure etc.
Further, don’t be a greedy person but respect each other’s need and respect each others’ identity and diversity of creation.
The world has become a very difficult place for people to live in and so we need to pray with Saint Francis of Assisi saying, “Lord make me an instrument of thy peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love”

What Should We Teach Our Sunday School Children

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I gave the Theme Presentation at the Annual General Body Meeting of the Outside Kerala Region of Orthodox Sunday School Association of the East held at St. Thomas Orthodox Theological Seminary, Nagpur on September 17, 2016. This video contains audio of the presentation with pictures from the meeting on two days.

Onam for Prerana School Students


It was indeed a memorable day at St. Thomas Orthodox Theological Seminary for me. I arrived from Kerala at the seminary to fulfil my annual teaching assignment on September 15th of 2016 early morning.  That was the Onam celebration day of the Seminary. The centre of attraction was the children of Prerana School for Mentally Challenged with their sports and games conducted at the seminary. The seminary prepared Onam meal with 25 side dishes for the children, the teachers of the school and the parents. I had to distribute the prizes for the winners among the students and teachers and talk to them about Abundant Love and Care as Onam is all about harvested crop in abundance. It was the 25 deacons of the seminary who prepared the meal spending all night in the kitchen. I salute them and with the Principal, the faculty, administrative staff and students of the seminary who made that day for those beautiful creations of God studying in Prerana School (I get so blessed that every year when I come to the seminary there will be something happening in Prerana that I could attend. Last year it was dedication of the new building)

Watch the Signs in Nature

Meditation for Sept. 18 (Mark 13:28 ff Originally published in ICON).

Yuhanon Mor Meletius Metropolitan, Thrissur

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Here we have a question of reading and interpreting signs in nature.

God reveals Himself through history and through nature. Both are His creations.

Questions of end time were placed before Jesus many times. On one of those occasions Jesus started His reply with the statement that, ‘one need to read the messages of nature’.

Fig tree gives fresh leaves just before the summer and then it gives fruit. Jesus picked this example to reply to the question. Any one who wants to see the message from God needs to look in to history or nature. When Amos was walking among his sycamore tree garden, he found a basket of fruits rotten as the servants may have forgotten to collect them the previous day. God asked him to see it as a message from God (Amos 8:1 ff.). What all God created will have a message to proclaim. The Psalmist says “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge” (Ps. 19:1, 2).

Everything God created in this world was created with a purpose. In the creation narrative, God’s purpose of creating light is explained (Gen. 1: 14, 15). Further it is said, He created everything “each according to its kind…” (Gen. 1:21), which may mean ‘each according to its nature and purpose’. Humans were created to “till and guard” the earth. Fulfilling the purpose itself will be message (Matthew 7:16). Earth (in a larger context, I must say the whole universe) is the arena where God’s love for his creation is manifested. Each creation should give out a message of this love either as a positive act or as a warning. If the warning is not heard, then it brings catastrophe as a consequence. God can not be blamed for the consequence as it is not God who brings the consequence, rather it is the one who does not either give out the message that is supposed to be giving or one who does not listen to the message from nature and history (look at what happened to the fig tree that did not have fruit but had fresh leaves (Matthew 21: 18-21). When there is a message from nature about the kind of situation prevails, creatures other than humans, in the world listens to the change and tries to survive accepting the change. But humans, on the one hand doesn’t proclaim the message of God’s love and on the other hand fails to listen to the message of God given by God created history and nature (Jer. 8:7; 18: 15 etc.). Ezekiel 12: 5 says, “Son of man, you dwell in the midst of a rebellious house, who have eyes to see, but see not, who have ears to hear, but hear not, for they are a rebellious house”.

People in Kerala have been complaining that every year summer becomes hotter and hotter. UN sponsored Climate Summit held on September 23rd 2014 in New York with 13 nations including US, Brazil, Germany and Zambia participating reported that by 2050 the weather pattern will drastically shift with drought, hurricanes, increased volcanic activity and landslides. The Summit also warns that climate change is the “single biggest risk to the world economy today”. The melting glaziers cause global warming and rise in sea water level. Warnings of nature in this direction have been there since long back. We failed to listen the testimony of the nature. There was a message from the tree and its fruit (of course it is put in the mouth of God by Bible). But Adam and Eve ate of the fruit of the tree that was not supposed to be for food. They failed to listen to the message of the tree and its fruit. That caused human going out of better relations with God, with nature and with fellow humans to make their lives miserable. We all know that it was simply greed or over consumption of resources that caused the  Global Economic Crisis that started in 2008. Many of the countries that were affected have not come out of it yet. We did not quite learn from it though were careful after that for few years. Rather again we have fallen in to the culture of luxury and lavish spending. Those church buildings and associated structures in Kerala itself will tell us the story. Kerala has been famous for steady married life and strong bond in family. But now with the kind of fast forward life style and crazy run after material prosperity and success, relationships are getting disturbed and divorce rate is escalating. Even those religions who are supposed to be preaching and professing peace are spreading but hate messages and promoting terrorism.

Of course the end time many not come tomorrow, but end of peoples’ lives together, end of happiness, end of peaceful living, end of healthy growing up of young generations may come earlier than we think. Listen to the message of nature and see the immanent danger that is to be avoided. God wants us to look in to world around us for a life of peace and love, not to have a premature end. I wish every one a blessed Onam Season.

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