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.
https://yuhanonmilitos.wordpress.com/2014/05/04/my-sermon-remembering-bishop-michael-john/
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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. For our consideration of the subject, “spirituality” has to be defined afresh as it has been over the years mis-interpreted, mis-understood and mis-represented. We have all kinds of spiritualities that are in viral these days. Generally speaking ‘spirituality’ shall be defined as the basic philosophy with which one lives his/her life and relate to people. It is the sum totoal of the person’s self.
  2. A Christian can look for a definition for spirituality only on the basis of our information and understanding of the life and work of Jesus Christ. Jesus’s spirituality had a definite style. It was revealed at the very instance He was at the Synagogue in Galilee as reported in Luke 4:18 ff. He announced that 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”. To put it in simple terms, I would say, it was “a sense of being anointed to involve and participate in the life of creation with a liberative goal (or to liberate the other see, Luke 4: 18 ff.)”. This was in direct conflict with the spirituality that existed and practiced by the leaders of His own religion that had deep roots in the wider 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 honouring many of the customs and practices of the community etc. were looked at by them with raised eyebrows.

Let me bring two notes derived from the spirituality of Jesus: 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 bring Good News to the target”. Spirituality of any one and of any time has to be with a definite purpose and that purpose has to be directed to a definite target group. Here the target group is ‘the other’ and hence ‘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 context where ‘I’ comes into consideration. So, spirituality is something that is given to the self and that flows out in to the other.

  1. Now we have to consider the term “contemporary”. The question is, is there something that can be said strictly as ‘contemporary’? There is only one culture that raised this question seriously and it was reflected in its language, the Ancient 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 (or past and future tenses). For them every moment is an evolving moment and once evolved it moves to the past, but of course not forgotten but waits for its impact in the future. We are told that God constantly and regularly creates things new (Isa. 43:19; 48; 65:17; Rev. 21:5). So there is no today, time is always on the move, in the process of becoming. It is a dynamic stream with God that leads to the future uninterrupted. This is just the opposite to the popular philosophy which claims that ‘today is the only reality’, no past no future. They say, ‘derive maximum pleasure now and todaye because tomorrow is not for you’ (Epicurus).

We as God’s children is called to participate with His ever-evolving creation, particularly with those who need special consideration and attention, 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. If we do not confront that moment, it may go to the past in a distorted way which will have its not so good implication on the becoming future.

  1. 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.
  2. However, 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 many of us using our cultural imaging. Each moment calls for a constant ‘analytical and dialogical’ approach to it to see whether it proclaims liberative or not liberative (or satanic in popular terms) tendency. Jesus who was born as a Jew who followed all the basic elements in His religion. Nevertheless, He did not accept the distortions that happened in it during the course of time. This was because He critically analysed the time and the marks of the time. 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 matter of husband wife relation as seen in Matt. 19:8. He commented, “It was because of your hardness of heart”. During His time, there were 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 saying, ‘God could have made children out of stones’. Also in John 8:39 it is said that He ‘if they ever considered Abraham as their father they would have followed the ways of Abraham’. The people also had the claim that, ‘Moses gave them bread from heaven’ (John 6:31,32). But Jesus’ reply was to the effect that that, ‘they were mistaken as it was God who gave it to them. Again their claim was that  ‘Jacob had given them a water fountain’ (John 4:12). Jesus denied that claim saying, ‘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 God’s 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 had 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 (God said to Abraham when He called him, that he shall be … Gen. 12:2). 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 moment to see where that moment is leading to, to a liberated future or a distorted path. In other words, the goal of each moment and it’s pulse has to be analyzed (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. We need to ask why education and why work? Many a time we are carried away by propaganda from various quarters with vested interests. To have a healthy and productive approach toward future, we have to see the original purpose of things by entering in to serious dialogue with it. It is like a boat that would race to the shore cutting across waves that prevent the forward movement toward the goal. We need to see what kind of a world a given moment is trying to create, see whether it helps the liberation process which is the goal or not. This is particularly needed in the case of our life in relation with the left-out people and things. 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.

It was in 2008 what is called, ‘Global Economic Crisis’ all of a sudden emerged. If we closely study the situation, we could see that there was a target among the proponents of corporate culture to make people greedy which will enhance its profit which can be spent on few people’s luxurious life style. But it made the life of millions of people miserable and many had to put an end to their lives even though the propagators claimed that it will bring in the Kingdom of God on earth. Both those who made use of the situation to plunder others and also those who suffered under the trend were targets for our intervention. Those greedy ones thought they can make a fortune but learned that no one would be spared from the catastrophic outcome. Those who fell prey had to learn to live with what they had when the propaganda for luxurious life was brought before them. We Christians had the responsibility to tell the world that following the path of luxury will only take us to doom and not to dawn with an analytical methodology. Analytical methodology, as some may think, is not a negative approach rather it helps us to see things in the right perspective and to act on it wisely. Questions a a mark of forward movement with a clear sense of goal.

The greatest challenge before us today is, our lack of understanding of the effect of 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.

To conclude, I would say, ‘a healthy spirituality is that spirituality which has the 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’. To me, this shall be the spirituality of anyone who thinks of self as youth or young person.