Perspectives of Outliving


Perspectives of Outliving
Orthodox Christian Youth Movement of the East
Theme for 2007

Yuhanon Mor Meletius Metropolitan
President
The term ‘[outliving’ though put to perspective in our lives every day, is not quite used in our language. Even those who use it, do so only with a limited scope and hence many times misunderstood as a monopoly of a particular political ideological group. We shall consider this in a holistic way.

Jesus Christ at the culmination of his public ministry gathered his disciples at the last supper table and taught them lessons of a genuine Christian life. Then he turned to His Father, God Almighty, presented His followers and prayed saying: “Lord, my prayer is not that they be taken out of the world, rather they be protected from the evil one” (John 17:15). This is exactly what we mean by “Outliving”. Overcome evil even while being in the world. In other words, to actualize in our every day lives what is said in the Eucharistic prayer, “Let our minds, our thoughts, and our hearts be upward, where Christ sits on the right hand side of God the Father”.

Creation and Outliving.

The first perspective we may have when we consider ‘outliving’ is based on the creation event seen in the book of Genesis. The Biblical text says, “In the beginning God created heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep and the Spirit of God was stirring up the waters” (Gen. 1:1-2). The state of the earth prior to the creation of light was that of darkness and chaos. God’s Word created light and separated darkness to make it a medium for night’s rest. He established the rule of light on the earth. This is the first lesson of outliving. Transform the negative and hostile in to positive and favourable.

This can be done only by God and with His help. But even while God tries to do that, human can turn the direction and frequency of this transformation upside down. We have an example to this in the Garden of Eden itself. To forget the presence and active role of God, who tries to convert darkness filled lives of humans in to better and hopeful ones, will only help to multiply the influence of darkness and chaos.

‘Success and prosperity’ have become key words in the lives of people these days. But we have limited the scope of working for it to an area of mere human achievement. This rather makes the situation worse, since outliving is not just an existential concern. It was human effort that brought darkness and chaos back in to history in Egypt (Ex. 10:21) and on Golgotha (Mk. 15:33). This darkness today overshadows human lives, inter personal, international and inter community relationships. This has multiplied our effort to make our lives meaningful to us and to others.

A Vibrant Mind.

We need to have the urge to overcome and outlive. St. Paul says in Romans 8: 9-25 that ‘the whole creation is earnestly expecting and eagerly waiting for this outliving in Jesus Christ’, humans included. For Paul, this earnest waiting in the presence of God prepares creation for freedom and liberation from servitude under worldliness. We need to take this thought seriously. Orthodox Church fathers say, ‘humans were created child-like and they are to grow in fellowship with God and with one another to perfection’. That means creation has to remove little by little the influence of darkness and become perfectly illumined. God the Father was trying to work out this plan through his Son. Our fathers would say, ‘The Divine One became human that human shall become one like the Divine’. This is what is meant by son-ship for Paul (Rom. 8:15. Also see Mtt. 23:9). Paul continues to say that we shall thus become participants in the glory of God (Rom. 8:17; 1 Cor. 4:6). Disciples of Jesus who called Him Master and Lord were taught to call Him friend (John 15:15). We who are in darkness and who are unaware of the divine mystery short of participation in the salvific work of God need to become children of light (Luk. 11:36). This can happen only in relation to Christ (John 1:3,9; 8:12; 15:5). We need to have this participation and consequent urge like a bud that urges to come out of the seed.

The Fight for Out-Living.

Paul in the epistle to Ephesians contends that this urge would turn out to be a war (6:12). The external influence of darkness that challenges the human instinct to proceed to perfection is still working in the world. This influence can take different shape, forms and magnitude. A classical example to this can be seen in the temptation of Jesus Christ (Mtt. 4:f ff.). Temptation regarding food, acceptance and power still continue in our history. Politicians would say that basic needs of humans are three namely, Roti, Kappada or Makhan (food, clothing and shelter). But in our anxiety regarding them and when they cross the boundary of need to reach luxury, what all atrocities are committed by us? How much injustice we perpetrate, how much darkness we bring in to the lives of others?

We need to fight against these temptations. We need to struggle hard against ‘principalities, powers and invisible forces’ that appear before us from all corners. Political power centers in collaboration with the socio-economic structures today are trying to make human lives miserable and slavish. Injustice and corruption have become marks of the time. The experience of Christ, we talked about earlier, tells us that this is not just a matter of material world. Hence we need to take up this war which is aimed at perfecting us in Christ (Col. 1:27-29) very earnestly. We need to lead the light in us to victory through the fight within individuals and in communities. This is yet another of the perspectives of outliving.

Darkness in Disguise

Many times darkness and its forms appear before us with the mask of light. It tries to convince that it is more concerned with our welfare and progress. The serpent that approached the woman in the Garden tells her that it has more concern of her food, limitations in the environment and the path to success. She was not able to see the real face behind the mask and it brought her back in to the realm of darkness and suffering. We need to see the thoughts of the mind (Heb. 3;10; 4:12). The ability for this discernment is achieved by the blessing of the Spirit of God. This ability is the beginning of outliving. It is the journey in the company of one who leads us in to light that makes us, inheritors of light and those being enlightened.

Outliving and Mutuality.

No human can attain outliving all by him/ herself. Creation reaches perfection only in mutual relationship. God who works for the welfare of humans found at the very beginning that he should not be alone (Gen. 2:18). We can also see that every one is responsible for his/her brother/ sister’s life and welfare. This is the lesson we draw from the question God put forward before Cain (Gen. 4:9). God after having created animals brought them before human to name them and to provide them with identity (Gen. 2:19). God tells human that hostility of nature can make his/her life miserable and limit fruitfulness (Gen. 3:18-19). We get lessons of cooperation in the road to outliving from these passages. The growth of each element in creation would happen only under the protection of God and in mutual co-operation, and that is how we outlive in response to the will of God. This is our mission.

Conclusion

As in the past, this year too we are considering this theme under the general heading of “Malankara Sabha Vision 2012”. God, who has planted this Church in Malankara through St. Thomas the disciple of His Son, has kept a dream about us. It is that the Church may become the light of India. But we need to overcome a lot of hurdles to reach that goal. The Catholicate of the East established in 1912 provided this Church with freedom to execute its mission and to formulate its own destiny. This can be seen as a long step in the road to becoming a light to India. As we prepare ourselves to celebrate the centenary of the same, we need to consider for ourselves how fast we are moving toward our goal. Litigation and lack of people centered foundation along with several other elements that pull us back and distract us from the path need to be taken as challenges. We also need to be warned against the modern world tendencies that limit our pace and should take a great leap forward. This is the challenge placed before our young people today.

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