A Call for Peace and Unity


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oy20HY–y_A&feature=youtu.be

This is my Sermon delivered during the Holy Qurbana at the feast of St. Peter’s and St. Paul’s Orthodox Chapel, Chalissery. The main Church was taken over by force by a handful of people throwing out the vicar during the H. Qurbana. But peace loving and spiritually motivated people came out and we established a chapel for them to worship. St. Mary’s Orthodox Cathedral, Bahrain helped us to purchase the facility.

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Meditation on Luke 9:13


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

Metropolitan Yuhanon Mor Meletius

Feeding the Multitude.jpg

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.

Sermon on Gen. 2:18 “തക്കതായ തുണ”


This video is made of my sermon on May 22nd, 2017 at Pathanapuram Center Orthodox Convention held at Mount Tabor Dayara compound. The text is from Genesis 2:18 “A Fitting Helper” (തക്കതായ തുണ)

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.

Sermon on Mark 2:23-28


Me Sermon.jpg

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

Let the Peace of our Lord Prevail


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https://yuhanonmeletius.org/article/let-peace-our-lord-prevail

(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”

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