Gospel reading & Sermons for each Sunday Based on the Lectionary of the 

Syrian Orthodox Church

19 August 2018

posted 18 Aug 2018, 00:22 by C S Paul

19 August 2018

Scripture reading and Sermon

Based on the Lectionary of the Syrian Orthodox Church

1st Sunday after Assumption (Shunoyo)

Reading from the Scripture for this Sunday

Mark 10:35-45 New King James Version (NKJV)

Greatness Is Serving

35 Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Him, saying, “Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask.”

36 And He said to them, “What do you want Me to do for you?”

37 They said to Him, “Grant us that we may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on Your left, in Your glory.”

38 But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?”

39 They said to Him, “We are able.”

So Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink the cup that I drink, and with the baptism I am baptized with you will be baptized; 

40 but to sit on My right hand and on My left is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it is prepared.”

41 And when the ten heard it, they began to be greatly displeased with James and John. 

42 But Jesus called them to Himself and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 

43 Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. 

44 And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. 

45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

Ambitions - Yours and Jesus'

by Walter Harms, Austin, TX

Has someone ever asked you: Will you say, "yes" to what I am going to ask? Perhaps it was a child, maybe your wife, your husband--a friend who asked you that question.

We almost sense that something is that we don't know about. Or, this is going to be something I'm not sure about. It was about like that when James and John, the two sons of Zebedee asked: Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask! Wow! What were they up to anyway?

Well, it was a pretty good case of simply being ambitious. They wanted place of honor, of control, of authority when Jesus took over and became what he really is: the King of the universe, or, well, at least Palestine, the land that rightfully for so many reasons belonged to God's people, Israel.

It was a pure-d case of ambition. They wanted to be ahead of others, the other disciples, the followers of Jesus. They wanted position above the others, positions of control at the right and left of Jesus. They were going to be his right hand (and left hand) men.

You see they believed that Jesus truly was the Christ, the Messiah, the promised One who was going to be King and sit on the throne of David (as God had promised David). He would get rid of the enemy, the Romans. He would be fair, honest, restoring all the injustices that were taking place. He would be what they were looking forward to. They believed, so why not be in there, in the lead, ahead of others?

The other disciples were indignant, indignant that those two schemers had gotten ahead of them, pulled a fast one on them. Perhaps they had thought of it, perhaps not, makes no difference, those two were rascals, opportunists, just waiting to catch Jesus alone.

It is pretty easy to see that ambition creates a lot of tension in whatever situation it is found. The American plan is to get ahead! Ahead of what? Ahead of others! Be that financially, socially, on the corporate ladder or whatever ladder is around. It takes place in family, where someone always wants to be ahead of the others. That can be physically--stronger than the others, brighter than the others, more advanced in skills than others.

We plan in our lives to get ahead, that is whatever we think "ahead" is. I thought for a while that I should like to be a District official of the church, going around everywhere, observing, helping, being a critic, in general, being a mucka-mucka in the church. Well, no way for that to happen to this abrasive, caustic fellow that I am. I always had to watch out that with all the success that I found coming to the church where I served, I would not boast about how far out this church was above others. Generally all that created was what the ten disciples of Jesus felt--indignation, resentfulness, envy, and picking faults.

Now Jesus had ambitions also. He had the ambition of laying down his life for others. His goal, his purpose, his mission was not to be recognized as the great person that he was. It was not to surround himself with those who would reflect on his greatness as a healer, miracle worker, preacher, teacher, and he was all of that and much more. His ambition was to give up his life, use it up and finally die to give it in service to others. He had spoken about just that in the words that are right before the Gospel for today.

Because they wanted what they thought was best, and the other ten of these so called disciples of his thought the same, Jesus had a confab with them.

He told them about CEOs, about rulers of those who are not his people, of high officials of every kind. Their method of management is to exercise power and authority over people. They control others; they get them to do what they want. Others are to serve them and follow their orders, regardless.

The first job for which I was paid, I was fired from. I had asked for a 10 cents an hour raise, from 40 to 50 cents an hour. The who fired me had the authority not to pay 50 cents an hour. He could find plenty of persons willing to take 40 cents an hour. The reason teachers are feared is because they have the almost absolute power to fail a student, and I have recently been a teacher in the position to do that. Tried to make myself loving, but.... with all the rules laid out, I felt that the student was the one who would make or break himself in the class I taught. From very early on, I studied the teachers, professors, and instructors I had. I found out what they wanted, and I gave it to them, because they had control, authority, the tyranny to make or break me. I was, I must say quite successful at doing that, even in the Seminary.

Jesus' word on that: NOT SO WITH YOU! Not so with us! The "us" refers to those who are followers of Jesus. "Us" is those in the church, who call themselves by the name of the Anointed One of God, Jesus the Christ!

If you have ambition in the church, if you want to be great, then you must be a servant to the others in the church, and in the community. A servant, no, that's too mild, a slave of all!!!!

The greatest in the church are the servants, those who care for others, help others, and do what needs to be done for them. The greatest is the one who prepares and cleans up after others. The one who gets no recognition for doing that which needs to be done.

So often, well, pretty often I suppose, two things take place in the church. One, people complain that they are never thanked for their service. Well, as Jesus put it why should you be thanked for doing what is expected of you?

Two, is that some people do all the work in the church. You know the rule, 20% of the people do 80% of the work and giving, and 80% do 20% of the work and giving. The result is burn-out and a great reluctance to ever do anything in the church again.

I know a Sunday School teacher who taught for 50 years! Wow! Great, you say. Sure, now try to recruit a person to take that servant's place! You want a job that is going to last that long?

Sometimes, we distance ourselves from being servants to others. We have so much going on ourselves, that we do not even see the work, or worse, we do not want to commit to be a servant.

We do not want to become like our Savior, the Son of Man who did not come to be served, but to give his life as a ransom for many. Jesus did not come for accolades, for praise, for glory (his glory is the cross!), for honor, for high position. In fact, it goes something like this. He humbled himself, this King of the universe, this One and Only Son of the only God and became obedient, an obedient servant to his heavenly Father, obedient to death, even death on the cross.

Now catch this: therefore, God has highly exalted him and given him a name that is above every other name. At the name of Jesus, every knee will bow, humble himself, herself and have to confess either happily or reluctantly that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God his Father.

This is the day we honor St. James, the Apostle and Martyr. He did indeed drink the cup that Jesus had to. But in quite another way, he was baptized into this Jesus and he drank from all the goodness Jesus won for him on the cross and through the empty tomb.

And how about you and me, we are here today? What will the Savior's word be to us? For us who have been servants, the word of God will be: come, blessed of God, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world, for I was in hunger, I was thirsty, I was naked, I was cold, I was in prison and you, by being a servant did it to me!

Now what is your ambition, as a child of God by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ through faith in him? Amen.

12 August 2018

posted 10 Aug 2018, 22:37 by C S Paul

12 August 2018

Scripture reading and Sermon

Based on the Lectionary of the Syrian Orthodox Church

First Sunday After Transfiguration

Reading from the Scripture for this Sunday

Matthew 21:28-32 New King James Version (NKJV)

The Parable of the Two Sons

28 “But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, ‘Son, go, work today in my vineyard.’ 

29 He answered and said, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he regretted it and went. 

30 Then he came to the second and said likewise. And he answered and said, ‘I go, sir,’ but he did not go. 

31 Which of the two did the will of his father?”

They said to Him, “The first.”

Jesus said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that tax collectors and harlots enter the kingdom of God before you. 

32 For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him; but tax collectors and harlots believed him; and when you saw it, you did not afterward relent and believe him.

Devotional Thoughts for the First Sunday After Transfiguration

by Rev. Dr. Varghese M Daniel, PhD, Connecticut

Gospel: St. Matthew 21: 28-32

We are continuing our liturgical journey from the celebration of Transfiguration of Christ to that of the Assumption of Mother Mary. In between these two feasts we celebrate two Sundays. Today is the first Sunday after the Transfiguration.

Jesus said this parable in the context where He saw the unbelief of the believer. Some Biblical scholars argue that the two kinds of sons represent the Gentiles and Jewish people. But some other scholars affirm that the two sons represent the Jewish community itself; representing the lay people who were associated with the Graeco-Roman world and the law keepers of Judaism. Nevertheless, it is notable that this is the only occasion where the phrase “tax collectors and prostitutes” is used in apostolic writings.

Jesus elucidates the paradox of ‘atheism of the theistic’ through this parable and reveals the complexity of human nature.

Three main points from this passage could be meaningful to meditate.

1. The Power of Positive Rethinking

The first son’s disrespect through his words was certainly an insult to his father. He might have responded so due to the thought of the probable discomfort which would arise if he follows the word of his father. However, when he rethinks about his instantaneous response he becomes willing to obey his father’s words. He repented about his response and found the value of genuine repentance.
Mar Jacob clearly depicts this value in a Bovooso: “The tears of a repentant are more valuable than diamonds”. (Tuesday Suthara Sheema Prayer). John the Baptist’s message was the same too. “Produce fruit in keeping with repentance (St. Mat:.3.8). That’s why the Fathers of the Church say “confession is a forgotten medicine.” Each opportunity to rethink and analyze the prior responses and decisions in our life could oil the machinery of our relationships with God and human. The genuine repentance, and the willingness to change to even a diametrically opposite view or to make a complete U-turn, if necessary, will help the person to steer his journey towards the right shore.

2. Nothingness of Peripheral Promises

Today we live in a world where we hear more promises with the absence of any in-depth passion towards the promise. Definitely these kind of promises fabricate a kind of contentment to the ears of the audience. However, when they see the nothingness of these peripheral promises, it definitely hurts their hearts rigorously and they identify the person’s dim-witted personality. He / she will lose the basic trust of the immediate people around him / her. This indeed applies to our relationship with God: Jesus noticeably stated “Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven" (St. Mt.7.21). In short, the real fruit of the peripheral promises is self-deception and nothingness.

3. The Greatness of Implemented Promises

Both sons are not true models for a true Christian life. The real Christian model is the right response with the willingness to implement the promise. This model is perfectly portrayed in the parable of the sower (St. Lk.8.8). Some seed fell on good soil; the soil responded pleasantly and nurtured without any delay. The quality and depth of the soil facilitated the growth of the seed to a fruitful tree. So a promise followed by its implementation inserts the quality of trustworthiness into one’s personality. This personality will not be double faced. This quality is an essential ingredient to a positive relationship with God and human. God himself shows this model in his relationship with the people of God. “Blessed be the Lord who has given rest to his people Israel, according to all that he promised. Not one word has failed of all his good promise, which he spoke by Moses his servant.” (I Kings: 8.56)

Without trust, words become the hollow sound of a wooden gong. With trust, words become life itself. -- John Harold

May God bless us to rethink if our words are insulting to anyone and to learn the nothingness of peripheral promises, and the greatness of implemented promises.

5 August 2018

posted 3 Aug 2018, 23:22 by C S Paul   [ updated 3 Aug 2018, 23:23 ]

5 August 2018

Scripture reading and Sermon

Based on the Lectionary of the Syrian Orthodox Church

Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost

Reading from the Scripture for this Sunday

Mark 6:7-13 New King James Version (NKJV)

Sending Out the Twelve

And He called the twelve to Himself, and began to send them out two by two, and gave them power over unclean spirits. 

He commanded them to take nothing for the journey except a staff—no bag, no bread, no copper in their money belts— 

but to wear sandals, and not to put on two tunics.

10 Also He said to them, “In whatever place you enter a house, stay there till you depart from that place. 

11 And whoever will not receive you nor hear you, when you depart from there, shake off the dust under your feet as a testimony against them. Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city!”

12 So they went out and preached that people should repent. 

13 And they cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick, and healed them.

Sermon / Homily on Mark 6:7-13

Homily On Mark 6:7-13

Jesus sent his disciples two by two on their journey with only their sandals, one tunic and a staff. Not very much, is it? If I had been asked to go on a journey with so little, I probably would have thought it impossible for me. And yet, Jesus is telling us that it is possible.

There is so much more in the four things that Jesus told his disciples to bring and it is no different in today's life. What is he really asking us to bring on our life journey of great experiences, steep declines, wrong turns, and happy surprises. Whether we are tired or energized, afraid or inspired, reluctant or eager, we hopefully will open our eyes to something new every day.

The first thing Jesus asks us to do is to go two by two. He is reminding us, in the gospel,to not do it alone. To make sure that we have good support as we experience the ups and downs. Sharing the good times is as important as it is to share the not so great times. We are not here alone in this life and we are asked to reach out. Is it difficult to reach out? At times it is and Jesus encourages us to still do so. He knew his disciples would face difficulties so he sent them in pairs not only for safety but for companionship, encouragement and help.So it is for us to not do it alone.

The tunic and the sandals are wonderful symbols. Jesus knew how heavy it is to travel when wearing more than one tunic. How much do we carry on our shoulders during our lifetime. Jesus asks us to not carry so much. Take off that extra tunic. All the worries that we carry can bring us down. To hold on to them does not change any situation but destroys the spirit in us. We are asked to let it go. When Jesus said to "shake off the dust that is on your feet and off your sandals" it is for us to shake off all the guilt that we carry every day. We are asked to travel light and try not to take on everyone else's stuff, to not look back.

In this life, we are asked to keep growing, maturing but when we are weighed down and consumed by things that happen around us, our growth is held back. We are asked to leave the fears, the guilt we might be carrying behind. For we have only this moment and rehashing all that "could have been" and letting the guilt of "I should have" will not allow that wonderful moment to happen. We are not asked to fix everyone else's lives for they are on their own journey. How can we stay grounded if we are living in a circle of "What if I had done this instead" the circle can't enter the ground and it stops us from becoming rooted thus keeping us from living a full, balanced life.

I am reading a book right now called "To Heaven and Back" by Mary C. Neal, MD. It's about a physician who goes on a kayaking trip to Chile with her husband. Her kayak tips over and she is stuck under water and dies. As people around her try to revive her, she goes to heaven and is given some life changing messages. She did come back to live and is now sharing some of her experiences.

I want to read to you something she wrote. "We are each given the opportunity and privilege to come to earth for different reasons. Sometimes we come in order that we may personally develop and strengthen the fruits of our spirit: those of love, kindness, patience, joy, peace, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Sometimes we come to help someone else develop the fruits of the spirit. We all come to earth to become more Christ-like. In preparation for our journey to earth, we are able to make a basic outline for our life. This is not to imply that we, the humans, are entirely in charge of our life's design. It is more like God creates it, then we review it and discuss it with our "personal planning" angel. Within our life there are written branch points at which times we may exit, returning to God, or we may be redirected to a different task and goal. We may be directed to these branch points by our own conscious choice and by our circumstances, or we may be pushed along by angelic intervention."As the author said, we are not alone here on earth. We are reminded that we have help during our life long experiences.

Jesus asked his apostles to bring a walking stick with them forit would help them to keep moving when the terrain got tough or when they became tired/weary. Jesus knew that we all are in need of help as we go through our life path. I think Jesus would encourage us to forgive ourselves and not carry a lifetime of guilt for we have done nothing wrong. We surely do make mistakes but isn't that how we grow and change. There is a misplaced focus. The focus is to let the light shine within and let the self-love happen. First have compassion for yourself and then have it for others. When compassion comes about, then love comes as well. Then all is possible.

Jesus knew that life's journey would not be easy for anyone. He left us with guidelines to help us along. We are asked to drop off that extra tunic, not do it alone and not look back but to keep going forward. Jesus said travel your journey not solo but by two. It is for us to remember that God is with us always, we are not alone. I have no words to describe the love God has for all of us. Take it in and God bless.

29 July 2018

posted 27 Jul 2018, 22:18 by C S Paul

29 July 2018

Scripture reading and Sermon

Based on the Lectionary of the Syrian Orthodox Church

Tenth Sunday after Pentecost

Reading from the Scripture for this Sunday

Matthew 18:1-14 New King James Version (NKJV)

Who Is the Greatest?

18 At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, 

and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. 

Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 

Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me.

Jesus Warns of Offenses

“But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea. 

Woe to the world because of offenses! For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes!

“If your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life lame or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into the everlasting fire. 

And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire.

The Parable of the Lost Sheep

10 “Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven. 

11 For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.

12 “What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying? 

13 And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray. 

14 Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.

"The Quarrel over Greatness" - A Human Weakness

by Rev. Fr. Alexander J. Kurien

The disciples once again had a dispute over who was the greatest. Who do you think is the greatest among us? What do you measure greatness by? Are the great ones in the world of sports truly great? Are the great ones in the world of political leadership truly great? Are the great ones in the world of military leadership truly great? How about the great ones in the world of entertainment? Yet Jesus gives a different perspective on who is considered great in the eyes of God, as well as among God’s people. After all, what really matters are what God says, not what man says. What man says will fade into the dust of the ruins of humanity, but what God says endures forever (St. Matthew 24:35). And we would do well as a church to give heed to the important words, for in so doing, we will go a long way toward preserving unity in the fellowship, and electing the right kind of leaders for the Church and the Countries.

This is by no means the only time the disciples quarreled over who is the greatest. For example we read of a similar quarrel in St. Luke 22: 24-30. Then a quarrel erupted again when the mother of James and John asked Jesus that her sons sit on his right and left in the coming Kingdom (St. Matthew 20:22-28; St. Mark 10:35-45). But in spite of all the rebukes and teachings of our Lord regarding this subject, they continued to quarrel over which ones were the greatest, just as the modern men of our times.

The disciples had been learning all about the Kingdom of God from the very mouth of the Lord Himself; they had each left everything in this world to follow Jesus Christ; and they probably started to think that they were some pretty extraordinary, spiritual people. Perhaps they began to put themselves on bit of a pedestal. We tend to think of the disciples as almost like superhuman men of God. But here and throughout the Gospels we see that they were very human indeed and very prone to having an inflated sense of pride. Not one of them though would have predicted what Christ would say next. When Jesus spoke about who was the greatest He pointed not to Peter; not to John and not to James; He pointed to a cute little baby. The baby was the example of greatness. What does that mean? Jesus is saying that we must all become children in order to enter heaven. Now that does not seem too hard. After all we can do anything children can do. Surely anything children can be, we have been before and we can be again. Really, how hard can it be for adults to become children of God? The surprising answer is, it is really hard!

A child is not seen as great by anybody. He is completely dependent on his parents. He has no influence. He is weaker than every adult. He cannot make money. He has no exceptional abilities. He has no authority and no power. He just loves his Daddy; he knows he is dependent on him, and delights in him. He doesn’t even think about himself compared to others. He just thinks about how wonderful his Daddy is. You must change and become like that child if you are to enter the kingdom of heaven.

The world in which we live is basically a survival of the fittest environment. To survive and thrive we have learned to be self-dependent and as a result, we have developed a tendency to be like the disciples, wanting to be the greatest. We hate to let slip any signs of weakness. One does not normally want to be seen as being humble like a child. And yet Christ says, "Unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." So, the question is, what does a child have that we need? Young children typically are trusting; they do not tend to question what they are told as much. You might be thinking, ‘But God has given us an intellect and reason. Aren’t we supposed to think critically and ask questions to discern the truth in the world around us?’ Absolutely, this is true for so many areas of life. But our intellect can only take us so far. An over-reliance on human reason is what keeps many from embracing spiritual truth.

How hard can it be for adults to become children of God? It is so hard that we cannot do it on our own. It is so hard that we have to turn and become children of faith. Our minds must be transformed by the word of Jesus, as it says in Romans 12:2. We can become children of God, thankfully, because Jesus Himself became a child who was destined to die for the world. He came to search out and give His life for every one of these little ones. Our Lord has an eternal life-saving strategy, which may also appear rather frightening to us. It is the cross of Jesus. That cross was a gruesome and horrible sight but it was also God’s beautiful display of love. As a human being, that is where God gave Himself to save us; it is where He atoned for our sins by giving Himself in our place. The sacrifice of Jesus Christ is the greatest display of God’s rich and profound love.

The Holy Spirit is at work to this day. He reveals how, through faith we see ourselves as dependent and helpless babies but cradled in the arms of our loving God. He supplies what we need and He watches over us. And when Word and Sacrament reshape our hearts and minds, we gain an awareness of this truth. Since we are weak with sin, the only way into heaven is by being turned from our adult-like ways of self-reliance and letting Jesus carry us children there through faith.

Becoming children of God is indeed hard for us adults since we are so very hard-hearted at any age throughout life. In fact, it is impossible for us. But the good news is that it has happened already. Jesus, the only Son of the Father, makes us children of that same Father by Holy Baptism. This is why infant baptism is such a clear and beautiful display of the Gospel, because it visually demonstrates our complete dependence on God and His grace. There we see so clearly that every Christian, every believer is a tiny child in the arms of Jesus.

Everyone in the kingdom of heaven is the greatest! Everyone has the Spirit of God dwelling in him. God perfects everyone for His glory. For those who are in Christ, for those who have faith in Him: All are made perfect. All are great. You are no greater than anyone else. You are not less than anyone else. Because every believer has the righteousness of Christ – and that is what matters. The peace of God that surpasses all understanding, keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

22 July 2018

posted 20 Jul 2018, 22:14 by C S Paul

22 July 2018

Scripture reading and Sermon

Based on the Lectionary of the Syrian Orthodox Church

Ninth Sunday after Pentecost

Reading from the Scripture for this Sunday

Luke 14:7-11 New King James Version (NKJV)

Take the Lowly Place

So He told a parable to those who were invited, when He noted how they chose the best places, saying to them: 

“When you are invited by anyone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in the best place, lest one more honorable than you be invited by him; 

and he who invited you and him come and say to you, ‘Give place to this man,’ and then you begin with shame to take the lowest place. 

10 But when you are invited, go and sit down in the lowest place, so that when he who invited you comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, go up higher.’ Then you will have glory in the presence of those who sit at the table with you. 

11 For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Moving Up Higher

by Dr. Janet Hunt

In my experience it's not all that often in our culture that we encounter such a formal situation that we know what it means to be 'moved up higher.' As in the time of Jesus, at wedding receptions perhaps. And on airplanes.

My station in life has meant that I've never been one who ever really aspired to be seated at the front of the plane -- which is why I can remember the three times I was unexpectedly 'moved up higher.'

The first was when I was flying standby with my family... trying to get from Boston to Chicago after Hurricane Bob. (You probably don't remember Bob, but yes, it was an actual hurricane which did its share of damage on Cape Cod in August of 1991.) As a result of the storm, our vacation had gone on longer than had been planned. I was glad to be 'alone' for a few hours. A kinder person, perhaps, would have offered that seat to one of her parents. I did not.

Another time was when my flight was delayed by weather and I missed a connecting flight in Dallas, got too little sleep in a nearby hotel --- and someone, apparently noting my unpleasant experience late the night before, was kind enough to put me in a seat where I could actually nap between there and San Antonio.

And the last one? Well, our group was in the airport in Nairobi, waiting to board Ethiopian Air for Washington, D.C. If you've ever traveled to East Africa, you know it can be a grueling journey. I've done it a few times and every other time I've arrived home convinced that the human body is simply not meant to hurtle across time zones like that. In fact, that's not it at all. We're just not meant to hurtle across time zones curled up like a pretzel.

So as I said, we were waiting to board when I was called to the desk. Apparently the coach was overbooked and they were going to put our group leaders into First Class. I didn't say no and was overwhelmed by the difference it made to be able to simply stretch out for that endless flight. Once or twice I ventured back into coach to check on my friends there, but I quickly retreated as the close quarters in the rear of the plane were leading to building resentment among my fellow travelers --- no doubt because their experience contrasted so with the imagined luxury I was enjoying.

On all three occasions I was invited to 'move up higher' and I did so with gratitude and few regrets, although each time I did feel a bit like an impostor. Like I didn't quite belong. Indeed, remembering those times I find myself recalling now yet another time when I received such an unearned gift.

It could be that it's because I just passed a milestone anniversary year that I find myself remembering the following incident from my senior year in college. Or it could be that for reasons which will soon become obvious, I will simply never forget it. Either way, this is how it was:

It was the night before my last final that May. Apparently I must have thought myself well prepared, for friends and I had gathered at the local bar that was located just off campus. It wasn't long in that small college community that we were joined by a number of faculty --- one of whom was my college advisor: the same professor who would grade my last final in the days to come.

I had had many classes with him as had my friend sitting next to me and I suppose by then we were as much friends as people could be under such circumstances. Still, what happened next was entirely unexpected. For as the evening was nearing its end, our advisor looked at the two of us and told us not to come to the final the next morning. We stole glances at each other, not knowing whether he was serious or not. A few minutes later he repeated himself and when he said it yet one more time, his colleague looked at us and told us he was serious when he said not to show up as our A's were assured. He was offering us a gift which we surely had not earned. We were being offered first class seats for which we had not paid.

My friend and I walked across campus a while later giddy with how this was playing out. When we approached our respective dorms we agreed on a plan... that we would, in fact, not show up for that final test --- but that we would also hide out in our dorm rooms until well after the test was over so as not to raise suspicion. So far as I know that's exactly what he did. I know it's what I did the next morning. Still, for obvious reasons, I never felt right about it. Putting this in print here I still wonder these thirty years later if I might yet be found out.

I wonder how it would have been in the time of Jesus for the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind, who Jesus told his host to invite to his next party. I wonder if he actually did and I wonder if they got over their surprise and showed up. And I wonder if they worried still about the reactions of others --- or if they felt entirely out of place themselves having lived their lives with second class status or worse --- some of them their whole lives. I wonder if they felt they really didn't deserve it --- or if they simply settled into the party and had the times of their lives.

I wonder about all these things in this life, but I don't wonder about these so much in the next one. For so much of what Jesus offers has to do with reversals --- the sort we hear about in his words today. In ways so very different from how this world usually works, in that time and place humility will be rewarded and associating with the poorest people we encounter will have eternal dividends. No, I don't wonder about this in the next life for with Jesus such examples are just glimmers of what will one day be. For then only by God's gift will I once again be one of those upgraded to first class --- Indeed, I have been promised an "A" grade I never actually earned. And I expect the same will b true for my neighbor, my friend, my enemy. No, indeed, I won't have to worry about being found out -- for Jesus knows me through and through and he has still issued an invitation with my name on it --- and yours, too, --- to move up higher for we will one day be among those who gather for that great banquet in heaven. I won't ever be able to earn it nor deserve it and what a party that will be as we all celebrate in the certainty that each of us is there only by God's grace. What a wonder that will be!

15 July 2018

posted 14 Jul 2018, 03:39 by C S Paul

15 July 2018

Scripture reading and Sermon

Based on the Lectionary of the Syrian Orthodox Church

Eigth Sunday after Pentecost

Reading from the Scripture for this Sunday

Mark 8:1-10 New King James Version (NKJV)

Feeding the Four Thousand

In those days, the multitude being very great and having nothing to eat, Jesus called His disciples to Him and said to them, 

“I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now continued with Me three days and have nothing to eat. 

And if I send them away hungry to their own houses, they will faint on the way; for some of them have come from afar.”

Then His disciples answered Him, “How can one satisfy these people with bread here in the wilderness?”

He asked them, “How many loaves do you have?”

And they said, “Seven.”

So He commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground. And He took the seven loaves and gave thanks, broke them and gave them to His disciples to set before them; and they set them before the multitude. 

They also had a few small fish; and having blessed them, He said to set them also before them. 

So they ate and were filled, and they took up seven large baskets of leftover fragments. 

Now those who had eaten were about four thousand. And He sent them away, 

10 immediately got into the boat with His disciples, and came to the region of Dalmanutha.

Miracle of 7 Loaves of Bread

by Jose Kurian Puliyeril

Gospel Reading: St. Mark 8:1-10

In today's reading we find the incident which we have meditated two weeks back. In the first sentence of today's reading we listen "In those days the multitude being very great, and having nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples unto him and said unto them, I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now been with me three days and have nothing to eat". Here our Lord is taking care and the initiative to feed the multitude. (It is not recorded that they were murmuring or shouting for their food. They did not agitate or make a disturbance. We must watch them carefully and see what they were doing. They were learning about the Kingdom of God and they were so thrilled for three days together. They were not willing to care their worldly basic needs and they were fully engaged in learning the mysteries of the Kingdom of God. Let us think what would have been our attitude, if we were in their place. We know what would be our attitude if and when the sermon of a week might prolong for 10 more minutes. Why it is so? When we go to church on Sundays, we plan a lot of things to do immediately after the church service. That is why we could not concentrate on the Holy Eucharist or any other important worship. When the celebrant would exhort us to send our minds to the heavenly place, where our Lord is seated on the right hand side of God the Father, we would send our minds to the places, where we are supposed to go after the service. This is a pity condition. We have to rearrange our priorities.

In the third verse we read, "And if I send them away fasting to their own houses, they will faint by the way, for divers of them came from far." Our Lord while teaching them about the kingdom of Heaven, he learned about them too. What they did? They simply came to Lord Jesus to hear and study from Him. Likewise if we would attend the divine services, our good Lord will see us and He will make a note of our needs, without a formal request or supplication. The Pentecostal and sectarian churches are always inviting multitudes from the Episcopal churches saying: "you all will be blessed here, you will get more and more riches". Our Lord is quite sure about our needs. He will grant all our needs without asking him.

Our Lord asked the Disciples how many loaves you have, when they complained: "how a man satisfy these men, with bread here in the wilderness?"

When the disciples told our Lord that they had seven, he collected them with him and blessed, broke and served along with the few small fishes. They all ate and were satisfied. When our Lord taught the only one prayer, He insisted to pray for the daily bread. Our Lord wanted us to have a "come-in-union" (It became communion later) with Lord God on all possible occasions. So He insisted and taught us to pray for the daily bread or to get the bread every day. When we say this prayer in Malayalam, many use the term "Ahaaram" instead of "appam". We should not forget that the ahaaram is for the worldly life and the appam is for the spiritual life. So kindly use "njangalkku aavasyamulla appam innum tharaname".

Our Lord says that He is the bread that came from heaven and differentiates himself with Manna, a sort of bread which was granted to the children of Abraham during the days of their pilgrimage through the wilderness. Our Lord establishes that the heavenly bread is good enough to grant us eternal life.

The Holy Church honors the sacrament of Holy Eucharist as the crown of all sacraments and it is taught that unless and until the Holy Eucharist is administered, all other sacraments would not be complete. Let us examine our usual response to the Holy Eucharist. Let us analyze how far we are trustworthy to the divine blessing. May God bless us to make use of the heavenly bread always.

8 July 2018

posted 6 Jul 2018, 09:11 by C S Paul

8 July 2018

Scripture reading and Sermon

Based on the Lectionary of the Syrian Orthodox Church

Seventh Sunday after Pentecost

Reading from the Scripture for this Sunday

Mark 3:20-30 New King James Version (NKJV)

A House Divided Cannot Stand

20 Then the multitude came together again, so that they could not so much as eat bread. 

21 But when His own people heard about this, they went out to lay hold of Him, for they said, “He is out of His mind.”

22 And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, “He has Beelzebub,” and, “By the ruler of the demons He casts out demons.”

23 So He called them to Himself and said to them in parables: “How can Satan cast out Satan? 

24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 

25 And if a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. 26 And if Satan has risen up against himself, and is divided, he cannot stand, but has an end. 

27 No one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man. And then he will plunder his house.

The Unpardonable Sin

28 “Assuredly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they may utter; 

29 but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is subject to eternal condemnation”— 

30 because they said, “He has an unclean spirit.”

Devotional Thoughts for the Seventh Sunday after Pentecost

by Rev. Fr. Geevarghese Erakkath

Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. Seventh Sunday after Pentecost

The real knowledge about God is the essential factor for the spiritual growth of earthly man. It will make him realize the limitations in life and conscious of his sins. This leads him to depend on the grace of God. Through our daily prayers and reading the Holy Bible, attending the liturgy and constant participation in the Holy Communion we could familiarize with and understand that the healing touch and casting out of demons by Jesus are from heavenly power.

Here in the gospel according to St. Mark, Jesus healed a man who had a withered hand, in the Synagogue. He touched and cured those who came from all over Galilee and beyond the territory. He appointed twelve disciples to share and follow after him the ministry of preaching, healing and casting out demons. He did all these things with Godly authority and power where as the scribes from Jerusalem together with the Herodians said “ He has Beelzebub and by the ruler of the demons he cast out the demons”. Jesus disproved the argument with a parable. The parable of a house divided. An important principle is laid down here. An organization or an institution standing against its own interest will be lead to destruction. ‘ United we stand divided we fall’ is a famous saying. The most effective way to destroy a mighty empire is to saw the seeds of an internal conflict.

Jesus said that the sin of acquisition against the Son of God and all the unworthiness of Man would be forgiven. He made a warning that the denial of the beauty of moral values, ignoring the goodness of others (Jesus’ healing) accepting the limitations of our own, the negligence of hearing the voice of God are all blasphemies against the Holy Spirit. ‘ He who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness but is subject to eternal condemnation’. It was the worst habit of the Jewish hypocrites as Jesus called them to envy at the goodness of others. They try to misapprehend the holy deeds of the savior. It is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, which is a sin that does not deserve forgiveness.

Here St. Mark symbolically depicted the liberation proclamation by Jesus from the demonic bondage to total humanity. The regained soul of every man can enjoy the characteristic spirit of the original creation through the salvation work of our savior. At this time, let me pray to God Almighty to enter the house of my mind with the help of the spiritual strength I attained so far, to bind the satanic thoughts in it and cast out every evil. I may enjoy the peace of mind where God dwells.

25 June 2018

posted 24 Jun 2018, 06:18 by C S Paul

25 June 2018

Scripture reading and Sermon

Based on the Lectionary of the Syrian Orthodox Church

Fifth Sunday after Pentecost

Reading from the Scripture for this Sunday

Luke 9:10-17 New King James Version (NKJV)

Feeding the Five Thousand

10 And the apostles, when they had returned, told Him all that they had done. Then He took them and went aside privately into a deserted place belonging to the city called Bethsaida. 

11 But when the multitudes knew it, they followed Him; and He received them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who had need of healing. 

12 When the day began to wear away, the twelve came and said to Him, “Send the multitude away, that they may go into the surrounding towns and country, and lodge and get provisions; for we are in a deserted place here.”

13 But He said to them, “You give them something to eat.”

And they said, “We have no more than five loaves and two fish, unless we go and buy food for all these people.” 

14 For there were about five thousand men.

Then He said to His disciples, “Make them sit down in groups of fifty.”

15 And they did so, and made them all sit down.

16 Then He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed and broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the multitude. 

17 So they all ate and were filled, and twelve baskets of the leftover fragments were taken up by them.

Time for a Feast - The Feeding of the Multitude

by Philip Jones

One of my favourite television programmes is QI in which Stephen Fry and his guests discuss unusual and quirky facts. One of the things I learned recently from this programme is that only human beings have the in-built perception to recognise one object as a pointer to something beyond itself.

If I use my arm to point in a particular direction, a cat or a dog will look at the end of my finger: only a human being follows the direction of the finger and looks to where it is pointing.

And I think the same holds true for some of the stories we encounter in our scriptures: we can either look at the story, especially if it includes a miracle or other dramatic event, or we can lift our sightline and see where the story is pointing.

In fact, the more we look at the component parts of a miracle story, the more we are likely to tie ourselves in knots about the reality of the event and the sheer practicality of what we are being told. Yet, if we can think about what we’re being shown by the story rather than simply what we are being told – by looking where the finger is pointing rather than gazing at the finger itself - we can still find a truthful message with a contemporary significance.

The story of the feeding of the five thousand is the only miracle which features in all four of the gospels. Its message was clearly important to the early church as those communities began to record their oral tradition from around 70AD and onwards into the early years of the next century. It has entered our consciousness as a memorable part of the Christian heritage. These facts all make it highly tempting to visualise the crowds of people, and the loaves and the fish and the baskets of left-overs, whenever we bring the story to mind. Those are the eye-catching features of the story; they are probably what we would paint if we were asked to represent the scene for a typical illustration in a children’s Bible.

But I want us to go today and get alongside the disciples who were caught up in this event – those people whose shoes we fill in the here and now. What did they see? How did they feel? And, most importantly, what did they come to understand about it all?

If we piece the story together from all four gospel accounts, this is the picture we get.

The disciples have returned from a mission. They are both exhilarated and exhausted. Words tumble out of them as they tell Jesus the whole story of their actions and adventures. They need a rest, a break from the multitudes. And Jesus, too, is dealing with grief. He has heard of John the Baptist's death and burial and asks the disciples to join him in a solitary place where they can rest and regroup together.

But the crowds learn where Jesus is, and they follow him. So there Jesus is in this deserted place along the shore of Lake Galilee, far from any town, and for hours and hours Jesus teaches and heals in this lonely place and speaks from his heart to the huge crowd about his Heavenly Father and the kingdom of God.

The disciples come to Jesus at the end of a long day and ask him to close the meeting so the people can get something to eat before they begin the long journey to their homes. This has been no planned gathering. It has been spontaneous, spur of the moment. The crowds have given no thought to provisions or distance. Their only thought has been to hear Jesus and see him heal others. Now they are miles from home, their stomachs beginning to send hunger signals, and the sun is beginning to go down. Surely it is time to close, the disciples say.

Jesus's reply is startling! "You give them something to eat."

Faced with such an odd response, the disciples protest. It would take a staggering sum to buy bread for all these people, a sum way beyond what Jesus's circle are carrying with them.

But Jesus pushes the disciples even further: “How many loaves do you have? Go and see." In other words, “You don't have bagfuls of money, but what DO you have? Check your resources and tell me what you DO have”.

There is some heated discussion among the disciples at this, and they go scurrying about looking in bags and asking people close by. They find some food that a boy's mother has packed as a lunch for him, and he is willing to let Jesus have it, so they bring it forward; "We have only five loaves of bread and two fish -- unless we go and buy food for all this crowd", they say.

Now here is where we look at where the finger is pointing rather than focusing on the fingertip itself. Did Jesus need the disciples' pitiful five loaves and two fish? If a miracle is going to be the answer to the problem Jesus faces, does it matter what he starts with? Will the outcome be any different?

Well, yes: it does matter where we start when we consider our task as disciples of Jesus. There are some very simple principles of ministry around how the disciples were called to respond to the realities of the situation by Jesus. And the principles still apply:

1. Our first stage is to recognise that our own resources are often woefully inadequate to meet the need we face.

2. Our next step is to take inventory, and bring what resources we have to Jesus.

3. Then we place them in his hands to do what he wishes with them, and in the process, release control to him.

4. And He, in turn, blesses them and places them back in our hands, multiplied, more powerful than we could have imagined.

And all of this is a faith process, a faith experience.

Too often we are overwhelmed by the vastness of the need and give up. Or we belittle our resources to the point that we never release them to God, but selfishly hang on to them because that is all we know and all we have. We are inadequate, we know, but we refuse to let go. Or we insist that God should perform the task as solo effort, without our participating in the process even in a tiny way.

Perhaps, when the disciples sat down together at the end of that exhausting day when the multitude has somehow all had their fill, and the left-overs have been gathered, and another remarkable day with their Master is over, perhaps they understand – and we understand – that we must release our resources to Jesus in trust. Their smallness in our eyes must not be an obstacle.

He is leading us a on a journey of trust, and it must be accompanied by our learning to trust him by doing what he asks, even if we have no idea where he is going with it.

And so when he says to his disciples down the ages “You give them something to eat” perhaps that is when the Kingdom of God breaks into the here and now. The feeding of the multitude has come down to us a miraculous event. It was certainly a remarkable lesson for those who journeyed with Jesus in trust. They learned the joy of being basket-bearers of Jesus’s food to the multitudes. And they were there to pick up the left-over pieces and marvel at the weight of God’s abundance.

Following Jesus in trust, feeding his people no matter how poor our resources may seem, and marvelling at God’s abundance, are all lessons that you and I face repeatedly in every dimension of our faith.

Perhaps this story of the multitude, so widely known wherever the Christian heritage reaches, shows us some essential lessons in this school of discipleship where each of us here is hard at work, and where the signs of our trust are living examples for each of us.

17 June 2018

posted 16 Jun 2018, 00:46 by C S Paul

17 June 2018

Scripture reading and Sermon

Based on the Lectionary of the Syrian Orthodox Church

Fourth Sunday after Pentecost

Reading from the Scripture for this Sunday

Matthew 14:14-23 New King James Version (NKJV)

14 And when Jesus went out He saw a great multitude; and He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick. 

15 When it was evening, His disciples came to Him, saying, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is already late. Send the multitudes away, that they may go into the villages and buy themselves food.”

16 But Jesus said to them, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”

17 And they said to Him, “We have here only five loaves and two fish.”

18 He said, “Bring them here to Me.” 

19 Then He commanded the multitudes to sit down on the grass. And He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed and broke and gave the loaves to the disciples; and the disciples gave to the multitudes. 

20 So they all ate and were filled, and they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments that remained. 21 Now those who had eaten were about five thousand men, besides women and children.

Jesus Walks on the Sea

22 Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He sent the multitudes away. 

23 And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there.

The God of abundance

by Trygve David Johnson

There are times in my life when I feel like I’ve got nothing to give. There is no gas in my tank. No food in my fridge. I’ve got nothing left to say.

When I feel this way, however, my life doesn’t stop. The trickle of e-mails keeps dripping into my inbox. The phone keeps whining for attention. The next sermon is in ten minutes. My to-do list looks like 5,000 hungry people.

At such moments of emotional scarcity, I like remembering this story of Jesus feeding 5,000. It reminds me of a fundamental truth—that the ministry I serve in Christ pivots not on how much I have or what I can give, but rather on how much God gives by multiplying what I have.

You know this story. After the news of the murder of his friend John, Jesus retreats to a lonely place. I imagine to mourn. The locals get wind that Jesus has come. The crowd is overwhelming and needy. Jesus heals with compassion. The crowd stays late, and the disciples want to send the people away so they can get something to eat.

But Jesus has another idea—what we call in the business “a teachable moment.” Jesus wants to teach his disciples something fundamental about the nature of God. It is a lesson, if we take it seriously, that frees us to re-imagine the world.

Jesus says, “You feed them.” The disciples look puzzled. They have nothing. No food. No reserves. They stare out at a hungry mass of people that looks more and more like a hungry mob.

The disciples respond, “We have nothing—only five loaves and two fish.”

Jesus says, “Bring your nothing to me.” He blesses the fish and bread and proceeds to distribute food to the masses. As Matthew tells the story, “All were filled.”

This story reminds me that sometimes Jesus is asking me to simply give my nothing—my little loaves and fishes—and then to stand back and watch Jesus teach a different kind of economy, an economy grown by God’s abundance.

This is a challenging thought. The God of Jesus knows no limitation. Out of nothing, God creates bara—something. The economy of the kingdom of God is abundant and knows no scarcity. My fridge doesn’t always have to be full for Jesus to take what I have and feed others.

This isn’t an invitation to be frivolous or live beyond our limits. Even after an experience of abundance the disciples still gather up and conserve wisely the leftovers.

A question to explore in a sermon is why we buy into the myth that there is not enough to go around. The world operates with economic assumptions of scarce resources. The energy crisis pivots on not having enough. In the name of national and economic security, we exercise influence in far-reaching places to secure enough energy. It is a worldview of scarcity. Billions starve because our culture operates with a system that limits distribution of goods and resources in order to protect the security of the few.

I’m guilty of this. I live out a vision of scarcity with my own checkbook, time and resources. This story of Jesus challenges me to re-imagine my life and live into an economy of God’s abundance. In the kingdom of God we don’t have to hoard—there is always enough supply to meet demand.

10 June 2018

posted 8 Jun 2018, 22:17 by C S Paul

10 June 2018

Scripture reading and Sermon

Based on the Lectionary of the Syrian Orthodox Church

Third Sunday after Pentecost

Reading from the Scripture for this Sunday

John 6:35-46 New King James Version (NKJV)

35 And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst. 

36 But I said to you that you have seen Me and yet do not believe. 

37 All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out. 

38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.

39 This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. 

40 And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”

Rejected by His Own

41 The Jews then complained about Him, because He said, “I am the bread which came down from heaven.” 

42 And they said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How is it then that He says, ‘I have come down from heaven’?”

43 Jesus therefore answered and said to them, “Do not murmur among yourselves. 

44 No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. 

45 It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me. 

46 Not that anyone has seen the Father, except He who is from God; He has seen the Father.

Bread of Life

by Jose Kurian Puliyeril

Our Lord and Savior established the sacrament of Holy Eucharist for the continuation of His blessed master plan of salvation as well as for the confirmation of the salvation of the coming generations. By the grace of God, we have to meditate the verses spoken by our Lord at the time of the establishment of the Sacrament for the salvation of the faithful. First of all, our Lord introduces Himself as the bread of life. The people who are starving could only enjoy the taste, greatness and satisfaction after having the bread or what we call the food. Those who are spiritually hungry only could enjoy the taste and satisfaction of the Holy Eucharist, which is the real spiritual food. Though the Holy mystery, the body of our Lord looks like the worldly food, its greatness and uniqueness would be experienced by the ones who would partake it.

We must make it a point not to attend the sacrament only as onlookers. Whereas when we would participate the sacrament with proper spiritual preparation, devotion, expectation and prayer, we could also experience the difference. Our Lord promises "the ones who would partake from this bread and drink will never hunger or thirst."

"Whoever drink of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst, but the water I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up in to everlasting life" St. John 4:14. Again in St. John 7:37 we read: "If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink". And also in Revelations 22:17 we read, "And let him that is thirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life free". We will have to think well how long we could ignore the free promise of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. In our Lord's version, God the Father is giving the faithful to Son the God. (See the 37 th verse) Immediately after this, our Lord exposes His precious and highly valuable promise. "Him that comes to me I will no wise cast out."

How many of us are so strictly following the above verse of our Lord and acknowledge it, though we have accepted our Lord as our Lord and God and we might attend the Holy Eucharist every week and accept the Holy Eucharist as and when possible? We will have to think about it so seriously. When we might have a worldly problem or when things might not end as we expected, or if we happen to be a patient or so, what would be our position? Would we be strong in our faith that our Lord God is sufficient for all our needs? Or would we lose all our hope? We turn to be people like who lost all their hope and faith. Where goes our faith and how our hope gets vanished? Why we lose our hope as we have meditated several times on the following verses from the Scriptures, including: "Behold, God will not cast away a perfect man, neither he help evil doers". (Job 8:20) and "Come now and let us reason together, says the Lord, though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If you be willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land" (Isaiah 1:18-19)

Now let us look at the 40 th verse of today's reading. "And this is the will of the one who sent me that everyone who sees the Son and believes on him may have everlasting life; and I shall raise him up at the last day." Where we have to see the Son? How we could see? We have to think about these and find out the answers for such small questions. Only because of the answers for these questions we often go to Church as congregation and attend the traditional prayers and the Sacraments.

In our daily lives we come across many who might question us. "What is the need to go to Church, Can't we pray anywhere we like, after all are we not praying to Lord God?" etc. This is the answer for such who advocate the sectarian teachings. Our Lord only taught us to believe him by seeing him. We have to look at the living and life giving body and blood of our Lord. When we look at His body and blood we could see Him. Our Church is strictly following the Holy Sacrament in lines with the instruction of our Lord and savior. But still we must think whether we could see our Lord God properly even though we attend the divine services regularly. Think whether we could realize our Lord properly. May God Almighty enable us all to attend the holiest worships with the full presence of our minds and bodies and to learn more about our God and to realize Him by tasting Him.

Now let us look at the 45th verse of today's reading. "It is written by the Prophets and they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that has heard, and has learned of the Father, comes unto me". How true are these verses? How much we have heard about our Savior and we have studied about His wonderful salvation mission. Are we attracted to Him by our Father in heaven? Think whether we could follow the teachings of our God. God promises in Isaiah 54:13 that our children will be advised by Jehovah and their peace will be great. May God enable us to accept God's instructions and advises on the spot. Let our and our future generations' minds be filled with the peace of God.

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