Memorial Lecture at KUT Seminary

I was invited to give the Rev. V. T. Kurian (former principal of the seminary) memorial lecture on 28th Oct. 2014 at Kerala United Theological Seminary, Thiruvananthapuram. The text of the lecture is given here.

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In Memory of Bishop Rt. Rev. Michael John

A Souvenir is published in Memory of Rt. Rev. Michael John, former bishop of East Kerala Diocese of Church of South India. This contains the text of the sermon I gave during the first year memorial service held at Cathedral Church, Melukavu, Idukki on April 26th 2014. A Video with the audio of this sermon was earlier posted in this blog.

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Christian Woman in Social Context

I have uploaded a video to my Youtube channel. This video is prepared with short videos and pictures from various occasions, to present the audio file of my talk at the International Conference of Marth Mariyam Vahitha Samajam of Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church. This conference was held St. Thomas Nagar, Chennai from 3rd to 5th October, 2014. My presentation was on 4th from 11.30 am. There were about 2000 delegates from India and abroad. The MGOCSM-OCYM members of Chennai did an excellent dedicated job in being the volunteers at the conference.

“Spirituality of the Youth in the Contemporary World”.

I was invited to give the Theme Presentation at the 98th Annual Youth Conference of Central Kerala Diocese of the Church of South India, held at Bishop More College for the Hearing Impaired, Thazathumon, Adoor.
Here is the text of my presentation

CSI Central Kerala Youth Conference, Adoor. Oct. 3, 2014.
“Spirituality of the Youth in the Contemporary World”.
Yuhanon Mor Meletius Metropolitan
1. I think “spirituality” has to be defined first as it has been over the years mis interpreted, mis understood and mis represented. We have all kinds of spiritualities that are in viral shape these days.
A Christian can look for a definition for spirituality only on the basis of our information and understanding of the life and work of Christ. Christ’s spirituality had a definite style. I would say, it is the “sense of being anointed to involve and participate in the life of creation with a liberative goal (or to liberate the other)”. This was in direct conflict with the spirituality that existed and practiced during His own religion those days and that had deep roots in the society of His time. That is why He was totally mis-understood by others. A person like Him advocating for a prostitute, staying overnight with a tax collector, mingling with Dalits of his time, touching people with leprosy, criticizing the leaders of the community, not honoring many of the customs and practices of the community etc. were looked at by them with raised eyebrows. Jesus’ spirituality was revealed at the very instance He was at the Synagogue in Galilee as reported in Luke 4:18 ff. He said, He was “anointed to proclaim Good News to the Poor, Freedom to the oppressed, to give Sight to the blind and to proclaim the Jubilee year”.
A couple of things are derived from this: one, there is a definite target, the poor, the oppressed, the blind etc. that is the people in the outskirts of the society. Two, a Statement of the purpose is seen in it. The Greek word euaggalisastai (aorist mid. inf.) expresses this purpose that is “to proclaim Good News”. Spirituality of any one or of any nature has to be with a definite purpose and that purpose has to be directed to a definite target group. In this target group ‘self’ or ‘I’ or ‘aham’ is not included.
This is where many of us go wrong. We think spirituality is a personal thing and is for the self emancipation. Self becomes ‘kenotic’ or emptied (Phili. 2:7) and the other becomes the target (deny oneself and take up the cross of each one – Luke 9:23).The only sign of a self in the picture is that it has a sense of being authorized or was being anointed and its emancipation is in the other being liberated (“My joy in complete” John the Baptist Jn. 3:29). This is the only place where ‘I’ come in to consideration. So spirituality is some thing that is given to the self and that flows out in to the other.
2. Now we have to consider the term “contemporary”. The question is, is there some thing that can be said strictly as ‘contemporary’? There is only one culture that raised this question seriously and it reflected in its language, the Hebrew culture. To them the present either instantly and swiftly gets merged in to the past or waits or hopes to be completed in future. That is why classical Hebrew had no present tense in its grammar system, only imperfect and perfect. For them every moment is an evolving moment and once evolved it moves to the past, but of course not forgotten. We are told that God constantly and regularly creates things new and new things (Isa. 43:19; 48; 65:17; Rev. 21:5). So there is no today, time is always on the movement, in the process of becoming. A dynamic stream is there that leads to the future uninterrupted with God. This is just the opposite of the so called popular philosophy where there is only today, no past no future. So they say ‘derive maximum amount of pleasure now and in this life (Epicurus).
So we participate with the ever evolving creation of God, particularly those that are sidelined as His children to make it better and redeemed. We in and through our participation try to give Good News to the blind, liberation to the oppressed, freedom to the enslaved and proclaim the year of the Lord. Our participation with the other is in fact our participation with God (listen to the reply of the king in Jesus’ parable Matt. 25:40). In this process each moment is important and if not confronted may go to the past in a distorted way which will have its not so good implication on the becoming future.
3. This is where the question of “Youth” comes in to picture. To me ‘youth’ is a mental state and in most case, it has nothing to do with the years one spends in this planet. A young mind accepts the dynamic nature of time. This sense of being on the move coincides with the ‘contemporary’ and responds and participates in the growth or evolving process.
4. How ever there are tendencies which are part of the growing process that tries to limit this participation and its consequent becoming better. This is what is called ‘evil’ or ‘Satan’ by common folks. So a constant ‘analytical and dialogical’ approach is called for toward each moment. Jesus who was born as a Jew who followed all the basic elements in His religion, however, did not accept the distortions that happened in it during the course of time. At the same time he faced challenges that came against the fundamentals. There are concrete examples to this in Matthew’s Gospel chapter 5 (21 ff.) where He says, “You have heard ….. But I tell you ….” repeatedly. He also talks about the reason for the distortion in Matt. 19:8. ‘It was because of the hardness of people’s heart’. There were during His time people who wanted to live in the past and were proud of it. So they said, ‘we have Abraham as our father’ (Lu. 3:8 to which Jesus replied as ‘God could have made children out of stones’; John 8:39 to which He said ‘then you would have followed the deeds of Abraham’) and ‘Moses gave us bread from heaven’ (John 6:31,32 to which Jesus said, ‘you are mistaken, it was God who gave it to you’) and ‘Jacob gave us this water fountain’ (John 4:12) etc. Jesus said, ‘God is not a God of the dead, rather of the living even while He is the God of Abraham’ (Matt. 22:32 – Ex. 3:15 ff. 6:3 ff. etc.)
His methodology of analysis of the matter was on two foundations: one, what was God’s original purpose and two what is required under the circumstance or how to translate that purpose in the ever moving time frame. God’s purpose was to keep people not alone, but together and productive, having a hope for future. Only togetherness can be productive and productive only can be with hope. Therefore the distortions have to be corrected. Jesus did not go to the past just to be a traditionalist, but to be a futurist which was originally in the purpose of God. New trends and challenges may appear in the course of the movement of time. Some of them may appear to be right and helpful, but has to be closely analyzed.
An effective and fruitful analysis can happen only when one enters in to dialogue with the other and to see what is its goal. The goal will speak of the nature of the trend (the tree is known by its fruit (Matt. 7:17 ff.). These days education and career are two important areas where something new has been happening on a daily basis recently. Many a time we were carried away by propaganda from quarters that wanted made a false fortune for them. To have a healthy and productive approach to these tow we had to see the original purpose of these two and then enter in to serious dialogue with them to see what kind of a world it is trying to create, see whether it helps liberation process or not and that itself of the left out people? There will always be a target. No matter how different the situation or arena may be, there will be blind, poor and oppressed. Identifying the target within a give context is important
In 2008 started what is called, ‘Global Economic Crisis’. This had a target of people being made greedy by corporate and they were taken for a ride and the whole world was affected though many thought this will bring in the Kingdom of God. Both those who made use of the situation to plunder people and also those who suffered under the trend were targets for our intervention. Those greedy thought they can make a fortune out of that due to their lack of understanding of the matter and those who fell prey to that had to learn to live with what they had. So an analytical approach had to be introduced to both groups who were targets for two different reasons. We had to tell the whole world about the importance o analytical and dialogical attitude. Analytical methodology is not a negative or blind attitude rather it helps see things in the right perspective and act on it wisely. The greatest challenge before us today, to be is, the poverty in understanding about consumerism. Advertisements get us to buy things that are not quite needed in our lives and we become victims of this new trend of post modern economic liberalization.
Thus, I would say that, ‘a healthy spirituality is that spirituality with a sense of being commissioned by God for analysis and dialogue with every moment in history directed toward a purpose and that purpose shall always be liberation of the other’. I would call this a ‘responsible spirituality’ and to me, this shall be the spirituality of anyone who thinks of self as a youth or young person.