Meditation on Luke 9:13


Meditation for Fifth Sunday after Pentecost (Luke 9:10-17 Originally posted in ICON)

Metropolitan Yuhanon Mor Meletius

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One of the greatest blessings God has given to humans is that we can look at things positively. Humans can judge and see the positive side of everything that comes along. But, unfortunately many a time we do not use this God given ability. When Jesus asked His disciples to feed the multitude that was following Him for few days, the disciples told Him, “We have no more but five loaves and two fishes” (Luke 9:13). This verse is part of the reading of the Gospel passage for the fifth Sunday after Pentecost (Luke 9: 10-17). Of course, under normal human situation, no one can ever think of feeding that many people with as little as five loaves and two fishes. That is what the disciples told Jesus. But, unfortunately, they forgot to analyse the situation. That was not the first time they were with Him. They have already seen great works of God through Jesus. The very fact that the people followed Jesus was because they saw great miracles done by Him.

God found everything He created “good”. But this goodness is not a quality but essence. This is in the core of everything and every situation. But that core must be brought out, recognized and enhanced by humans though their life and work in this world. This is because God had given humans the privilege to be His co-creators. God brought everything He created before humans to be named (Gen. 2:18-23). Naming is perfecting act through exploring and bringing out the self of things and events. To name, one has to look, beyond external features and nature, in to the core. This is what is called a ‘positive attitude’. When we look at a dancing cobra with its hood up, we might think that it was going to bite us. Well, it was only expressing its instinct to tell us that, it is not comfortable with our presence, so “go away that I may go in peace”. It doesn’t want us to be an intruder into its territory. But on our part, we either get aggressive and kill it or get scared and run away. If the second happens, the snake will also go away. Although not intentionally we were acting positively otherwise negatively for no good reason. Each situation calls us to look at it positively and name it as such.

Here in this incident, the people were of course hungry and Jesus did not want them to go home starving to get own food as suggested by the disciples. So, He asked His disciples to feed them. Jesus very well knew that there were quite a large number of people. He was not an unrealistic person. The disciples had to see the context and analyse all aspects such as, that there were too many people; that Jesus was quite aware of the fact that it was not possible to feed them with what the disciples may have had with them. So, certainly it was clear that Jesus had His own plans to feed the people. Judging the situation, the disciples should have been able to see this. This is what first human did when God brought all that He created before human to be named. They read the mind of God and named them, and all those names came out to be well on their part (Gen. 2:19). This is what was expected of the disciples. But they, the representatives of the estranged human, could not read the mind of God just as first human, Adam, who failed in reading the mind of God in matter of the fruit of the tree. This was primarily because they failed to seek the mind of God and secondly failed to see the folly in the external suggestion that, “the fruit was delightful to the eyes”, and on the contrary decided without really studying the purpose of the fruit that it was “good to eat” (Gen. 3:6).  The first human did not go in to the core of the subject, the disciples also did not go in to the core of the command of Jesus but judged it with external suggestion that says, ‘anyone who wants to feed these many people should have so much food at hand’. This is exactly what we also do most of the time. Judging by the outward suggestions and on general principles, we think we need to work really hard, forgetting all kinds of things that keeps us human, to make a better life and be successful in this world. So, we run up and down disregarding the fine features of life like love, justice, values, relationships etc. We say, ‘oh life is short so have to run fast and without minding may of the things around us’. We, in our haste, forget our Lord and our relationship with Him, we forget to live in happiness and at peace. We judge our lives with worldly parameters and get so worried that we cannot make it in normal case. Jesus at the close of His life in this world, presented us before His Father and said, “Father I do not pray that they may be taken away from the world, rather protect them from evil” (John 17:15). I would paraphrase ‘evil’ in this verse as ‘negative’. So, I may read that passage as, “God I do not pray that they be taken away from the world, rather protect them from being negative”. God did not look at darkness in the beginning in a negative way. He looked at it as a resource to create light and to make it a situation where human can rest (Gen. 1:3). God did not see the boundary-less chaotic water negatively rather took it as a resource to create land and a place where water lives can live (Gen. 1:9). We see dark side of the world and get upset, depressed and disheartened. We say, ‘what can I do with these limited resources’: ‘what my child can do with this education’, ‘what I can do with this little income’, ‘how can I live with this huge debt in the bank’, ‘how can I be successful if I fail in the exam’, ‘how can I have a life if my dear ones pass away’????? Well, this is the moment we are called to present those few loaves and fishes, I mean our limitations, before our Lord. He can multiply them and make them enough and more for the situation at hand.

This passage is presented by the Church to be meditated during the week after Pentecost. At Pentecost, the Sprit of God came and helped the disciples see things as God saw them. They no more saw the people around them as a threat to their existence as Christ followers, but as a challenge before them to bring them to their fold. Jesus never saw death negatively, but as an essential prerequisite for resurrection and for fullness of life. He wanted His disciples to see things positively and situations as opportunities, no matter how hostile they may look; people around them as potential disciples of the Lord no matter how hostile they may seem outward. The Spirit that was given to us during the time of our baptism and that is being constantly renewed on the day of the feast of Pentecost and on other liturgical and sacramental occasions, will certainly open our eyes up and help us see things positively and be a “multitude feeding” disciples in the vineyard of the Lord. May God help us all along in that manner.

Sermon on Matthew 10:5,6


This video contains the audio of my sermon on the Gospel passage for second Sunday after the feast of Pentecost (Matthew 10:5 and 6) with few pictures of me at the Altar, delivered at St. Mary’s Orthodox Church, Mannuthy on June 18th 2017.

Jesus and the Canaanite Woman


This video is made of my inaugural class for Marthamariyam Vanitha Samajam annual leadership training camp of Thrissur Diocese held at Chuvannamannu “Anveshi Center for Study and Community Development” (a project of the diocese) on May 19, 2017. Pictures show the center from various angles with few pictures of me from other occasions. The text of the class was Matthew 15:22 ff. Jesus was leading up the Canaanite woman, who was considered as a member of a sub-human community by the Jews, to a level higher than that of the Jews themselves.

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.

https://yuhanonmeletius.org/videogallery/what-should-we-teach-our-sunday-school-children

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.

Meditation on Kothine Sunday


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This meditation on John 2: 1 – 11 was prepared and published in ICON on Feb. 5, 2016

https://yuhanonmeletius.org/node/1446

Meditation on Luke 1: 57-80


 

Meditation for Sunday of the Birth of St. John the Baptist (Luke 1: 57-80)

Metropolitan Yuhanon Mor Meletius, Thrissur

Ability to explore in to the mind and purpose of God is a great gift given to humans by God Himself. This is because we humans are created in the image and likeness of God and has been given the breath of life. Nevertheless, we many times not only fails to do that, but get preoccupied in our own false notions and prejudices. More than that, we occasionally project our own petty notions as God’s mind revealed.

Zechariah the priest was called to stand before God, offer Him worship and then get the Word of God from Him about His creation to pass it on to the worshippers standing outside the Holy of Holies. He was called to be a mediator. Most of the priests in the history of people of Old Covenant failed to do that. That is why God had to lament through prophet Jeremiah saying, “The Priests did not seek the Lord…” (Jer. 2:8). Zechariah failed to seek the mind of God. Even when God revealed His mind, he failed to comprehend it. If the priests don’t seek they will not understand. If they don’t understand they will not be able to reveal it to the congregation verbatim and faithfully. However, they were habitually and customarily going in to the presence of God to come out to the public and deliver blessings. What they delivered were not what they sought and received. It was hypocrisy all along. It was a mechanical act on the part of the priests and they never were true to their job. This is what prophet Jeremiah was talking about from the mind of God. Zachariah was no exception. So God decided that he should not speak at all until the Word of God took its effect.

Everything God created has the ability to proclaim the glory of God. Psalm 19:1 says, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows his hand work.” History and nature are the other two areas through which God’s glory is proclaimed apart from humans themselves. Nature and history are faithfully doing their mission. But humans many times do not follow the rule, though she/he by the very nature are supposed to be delivering God’s message. While nature and history proclaim the glory of God, we humans are to derive message about the mind of God from these glory proclamations, in terms of their meaning and relevance. So we, on the one hand need to be proclaiming the glory of God as being the creation just like history and nature, and at the same time deliver the message of the mind of God both derived directly from God and also from the glory proclamation of history and nature. Peter was not able to understand the message of the glory of the Son of God at the event at the mountain top (Mark 9:5-6). But Moses sure understood and interpreted the glory of God appeared on the top of the mountain in the form of Ten Commandments (Ex. 19:18- 20:28).

To proclaim God’s will and message, there should be a seeking the will of God. Zephaniah 2:3 says, “Seek the Lord, all you humble of the earth…” (See Matthew 7:7-8 also). An exploration in to the mind of God will help us understand what He thinks about us and everyone and everything else. This is the attitude followed by the people who saw what happened during the naming of John the Baptist. Zechariah failed to deliver the message of God revealed to him which had greater relevance to all creation. It was a message not just about Zechariah and Elizabeth having a son, but a message of the birth of the ‘herald’ of the Son of God through whom the whole creation will be saved. As a matter of fact the mind of God and His purpose in everything, default, is aimed at saving not just one person or a small group but the whole creation. Zechariah failed to receive the message and hence could not deliver it to the public. But the historical event in terms of what happened during that particular moment of the naming of John, that message was revealed. This made people further wonder about the future of the child and that made them exclaim “”What then will this child turn out to be?” (Luke 1:66). This was the right attitude people took in matter of seeking the mind of God. They did not make any conclusion, on what the child shall become out of their pre-conceived notion about the son born in to the priestly family.

Many a time our conclusions about the future, identity and personality of a child are decided by to whom, where (which family) and when the child was born. We, in an arbitrary way decide on the future of the child without looking in to possibilities. This prevent us from understanding the purpose of God with that child. We need to look in to the times and seasons and see the signs (Matt. 16:3). Every child is born for service to the future of the creation. The realities and needs of the time when a child was born will not be the same as the realities and times by the time the child grows up to fulfil her/his mission. So we cannot decide the destiny and purpose of the child born to us just by seeing the then existing situation. There should be a seeking in to the mind of God to learn about what the kind of time shall be when the child grows up. We should not be short sighted people, rather look in to nature and history to see what God is trying to tell us about ourselves and everything and everyone else as the future world emerges. We very well know that what happened in the world of economy in 2008 was because we did not look in to history, but lived carelessly with short-sightedness and greed. Now among Malayalee community hundreds of those children who got educated in engineering are left jobless because we saw only the Y2K issue and the limited possibilities it brought in the field of technology during late 1990s but not beyond or beside. Today people are paying laks of rupees to get admission for their children in to commerce based courses in universities because currently more people are needed in the field of accounting as all legal transactions are to be through banks and monitored through Aadhar and PAN cards by the government.

We, in the New Testament era, through Christ, are called as of the ‘priestly race’ (1Pet. 2:9). Hence we all need to be seeking the will of God and be proclaiming it to the world just as Zechariah was supposed to. We are called to be the mediators of the will of God to the world. To be effective in our mission, we need to seek His mind first. If we do not ask God, ‘what each child shall become’, I am afraid, we will be mute even while we talk, and convey nothing no matter how loud and long we may speak, until we see the message of God in historical arena and in nature. This is why our Church has declared the day of the birth of John as ‘children’s day’. They are God’s gift to us and we are only their caretakers. We do not have children of our own. Each child is a history carrier that brings the message of God to all creation through her/his life. We need to ‘seek Him and live’ (Amos 5:4), seek Him and live with joy, identity and peace of mind with a purpose. Wish you all a Blessed Children’s Day.

(Originally posted in ICON)

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