SUNDAY SERMON



SUNDAY SERMON

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

Syrian Orthodox Church

20 September 2020

posted 19 Sep 2020, 02:43 by C S Paul   [ updated 19 Sep 2020, 02:43 ]

20 September 2020

Scripture reading and Sermon

Based on the Lectionary of the Syrian Orthodox Church 

First Sunday after Sleebo/ the Feast of Holy Cross 

        Reading from the Scripture for this Sunday

30 Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. 

31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away. No One Knows the Day or Hour

32 “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 

33 Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is. 

34 It is like a man going to a far country, who left his house and gave authority to his servants, and to each his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to watch. 

35 Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming—in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning— 

36 lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. 

37 And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!”

Second Coming of Jesus Christ

by Rev. Dr. V Kurian Thomas, Valiyaparambil

Message:

The Second Coming of Christ is confused by several false teachings. Prediction books have been written picking the exact date of Jesus' return. These books have sold several copies, but they mislead their readers. As soon as someone predicts the day or time of Jesus' Second Coming, that prediction is found wrong simply because only God the Father knows when it will be - Jesus doesn't even know.

Here is a story I have read in the "Wikipedia Encyclopedia." (The story is paraphrased.)

In the late 19th century in America, there was a wave of enthusiasm for prophesies predicting the actual date for Jesus Christ's Second Coming.

One such prophet was a Seventh Day Adventist leader by the name William Miller. (1782-1849) And it is in his movement that both the Jehovah Witnesses and the Seventh Day Adventists find their roots.

Miller first predicted that Christ would return on 21st March 1842. Several thousand followers jammed the Boston Seventh Day Adventist Temple, only to be disappointed. The movement didn't die. It continued to grow.

Miller decided to recalculate his date - April 3, 1843. When the messiah did not show up on that date either, there was frustration and some followers left the Adventist ranks.

Undeterred by these failures, Miller came up with a third date - 22nd October 1844. This date was published as real and rallied his followers in full strength. They spread the new date of the second coming with great enthusiasm that had not been seen before. Church members who did not accept this message were denounced as agents of evil.

One account notes that "Fields were left unharvested, shops were closed, people quit their jobs, paid their debts, and freely gave away their possessions with no conditions of recovery.

Huge press releases of Adventist publications warned the public that "The Time is Short", "Prepare to Meet Your God," and "The Lord is Coming."

Miller himself began to supply white "ascension robes" to the faithful, many of whom waited for the miraculous event in freshly dug graves.

As we all know, the Second Coming did not occur on 22nd October 1844. In fact, if they had read Mark 13: 32-37 they would not have been taken in by Miller's false prophesy. For Jesus speaking about the Second Coming said in Mark 13:32, "No one knows about that day or hour not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father."

The Ana-Baptists, a radical Protestand Christian Reformation movement in the 16the century believed that the Second Coming of Jesus Christ would occur in 1533. When the prophey failed, the Anbaptists became more zealous and claimed that Enoch and Elijah had come in the form of Jan Matthys and Jan Bockelson, the group's two top leaders.

Charles Russell, the first president of the Watch Tower Society, predicted Jesus Christ would return on March 8, 1889. That day passed uneventfully.

The 2011 end times prediction made by American Christian radio host Harold Camping, a former civil engineer, stated that the Rapture and Judgment Day would take place on May 21, 2011, and that the end of the world would take place five months later on October 21, 2011. The Rapture is the taking up into heaven of God's elect people. Camping, president of the Family Radio Christian network, claimed the Bible as his source and said May 21, 2011 would be the date of the Rapture and the day of judgment "beyond the shadow of a doubt". Camping suggested that it would occur at 6 p.m. local time, with the rapture sweeping the globe time zone by time zone, while some of his supporters claimed that around 200 million people (approximately 3% of the world's population) would be 'raptured'. That day passed and nothing had happened.

Previously back in 1992, Camping had also predicted the world coming to an end on September 6, 1944. He then said on September 7, 1944 that his prediction didn't come true due to a mathematical error.

On June 9, 2011, a day ofter his recent end time prediction, Camping suffered a stroke and was hospitalized. A neighbor, according to reports, stated that his speech had become slurred as a result of the stroke. He has since then been moved to a nursing home for rehabilitation. On June 21, Camping radio station announced that it wold replace Camping Show with new programming.

Catherine Wessinger, a professor at Loyola University in New Orleans who studied doomsday prophesies, suggests that the interest in doomsday predictions is a reflection of the uncertainty of people who face a slumpy economy. A lot of times those prophesies gain traction when difficulities are happening in the society.

Jesus said, speaking about his Second Coming in Mark 13:26-27: "At that time men will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And He will send his angels and gather together His elect from the four winds, from the farthest part of earth to the farthest part of heaven."

Again, "It is like a man going away: Leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with his assigned task, and tell the one at the door to keep watch. Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back--whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping". (Mark 13:34-36)


13 September 2020

posted 11 Sep 2020, 23:06 by C S Paul

13 September 2020


Scripture reading and Sermon


Based on the Lectionary of the Syrian Orthodox Church 


Fifth Sunday after Shunoyo / the Assumption of St. Mary 


Reading from the Scripture for this Sunday

The Lamp of the Body

33 “No one lights a lamp and puts it in a place where it will be hidden, or under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, so that those who come in may see the light. 

34 Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are healthy, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are unhealthy,your body also is full of darkness. 

35 See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness. 

36 Therefore, if your whole body is full of light, and no part of it dark, it will be just as full of light as when a lamp shines its light on you.”
Woes on the Pharisees and the Experts in the Law

37 When Jesus had finished speaking, a Pharisee invited him to eat with him; so he went in and reclined at the table. 

38 But the Pharisee was surprised when he noticed that Jesus did not first wash before the meal.

39 Then the Lord said to him, “Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. 

40 You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? 

41 But now as for what is inside you—be generous to the poor, and everything will be clean for you.



6 September 2020

posted 4 Sep 2020, 22:39 by C S Paul

6 September 2020


Scripture reading and Sermon


Based on the Lectionary of the Syrian Orthodox Church 

Fourth Sunday after Shunoyo / the Assumption of St. Mary 


Reading from the Scripture for this Sunday

Reading from the Scripture for this Sunday

6 And he went out from thence, and came into his own country; and his disciples follow him.

2 And when the sabbath day was come, he began to teach in the synagogue: and many hearing him were astonished, saying, From whence hath this man these things? and what wisdom is this which is given unto him, that even such mighty works are wrought by his hands?

3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him.

4 But Jesus, said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house.

5 And he could there do no mighty work, save that he laid his hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them.

6 And he marveled because of their unbelief. And he went round about the villages, teaching.

"I Know That Boy"

by The Rev. J. Curtis Goforth, O.S.L.

The best man in my wedding, Greg, had this really eccentric grandmother. I never knew her real name, because everyone just called her Grandma. She was a real character. She lived with my friend’s family and every time I visited she would be watching the news or Chuck Norris in Walker, Texas Ranger. She was a lot of fun to talk to because she would always tell you about the way life used to be when she was growing up in Ohio. Grandma was convinced that everything bad that happened in the world was a result of “that dope” as she would frequently comment.

She never could get my name right either. She always called me Cletus and said that she would never forget that my name was Cletus because she knew a man named Cletus who used to bring her black walnuts and I looked like him. So, I just didn’t have the heart to tell her that my name was Curtis and not Cletus. And Greg and all our friends would even call me Cletus when we were around her. But I will never forget a conversation I had with her one day. She was watching Chuck Norris as usual, and during the commercials an advertisement came on for this show whose premise was that the Apollo 11 moon landing was all a big fake and that it was shot in a film studio somewhere. I made the comment that I thought that was just a silly show not worth watching. She got all upset and told me that the moon landing was the biggest hoax ever played on the world. I never saw grandma when she wasn’t in that wheelchair, but she got up out of her wheelchair to educate me on this so-called hoax!

Grandma went on to tell me how Neil Armstrong lived on the same street as her when he was growing up and that he went to school with her son. She said that he always used to get into trouble and was just good for nothing. She said “I know that boy and there ain’t no way he ever did anything good in his life!” At one point she made reference to that show Leave It To Beaver and said that he was just like that Eddie Haskell boy. To her dying day, she refused to believe that we landed on the moon or even went into space.

Well, I don’t know how you feel about Neil Armstrong and the Apollo 11 mission, but my friend’s grandmother’s ideas about it seem remarkably like those of the crowd in Jesus’ hometown when he came through. Our gospel lesson this morning is commonly called the rejection of Jesus at Nazareth. The folk who lived on the same street as this carpenter’s son just couldn’t believe that someone from their block could have done the wonders and signs that Jesus was reported to have been doing around the region.

It makes one think about that statement, “Familiarity breeds contempt.” The problem was that the people of Nazareth thought they already had Jesus figured out. They knew who he was, they knew his family, his brothers and sisters. But even more than knowing who his family was and what they did, they knew his place in society. He was a craftsman, not a nobleman. Jesus was a carpenter, not a rabbi; a lower class blue collar kind of guy, not a priestly learned teacher.

The Greek word used here that’s typically translated as “carpenter” is the word tekton and it was a blanket term for a craftsman who built something whether it was a table or a house or a cart. And on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being the high society folks and 1 being the expendables or untouchables, tektons (carpenters) were about a three. So, Jesus wasn’t an expendable or an untouchable as the Hindu equivalent might be, but he was certainly well towards the bottom. Whereas, rabbis would have been about an 8 on that same scale. And here was Jesus the carpenter, going all around the region working miracles and teaching large crowds of thousands of people about God and the Kingdom of God, convincing many people that he might actually even be the Messiah himself. You can almost hear the crowds saying, “I know that boy and there ain’t no way he ever did anything good in his life!”

The people in Jesus’ hometown thought they had Jesus figured out already. They thought that they already knew him. They knew where he had come from, they knew what his place in life was, and they saw him acting like somebody from a different world, and it made them uncomfortable and Mark tells us it even offended them. As you hear this story you’re probably thinking to yourself, “If I had been there I would have certainly known who Jesus was and not rejected him.” But let me be the first to remind you that we do the same thing now.

Just like the people of Nazareth, we think we have Jesus figured out. We know who he is, what he did, what he taught. But the reality is that we don’t know squat about Jesus! Mark is constantly telling us stories about how the disciples didn’t know who Jesus was—and they were with him day and night for three years! If you remember back to our gospel lesson from a few weeks ago when Jesus stilled a storm on the Sea of Galilee the disciples are frightened by the storm but they are absolutely terrified after Jesus calms the storm, saying to one another, “Who then is this that even the wind and the sea obey him?” How is it that we think we know better than the disciples? At best we might spend a few hours out of the 168 hours in each week trying to get our hearts and minds around who Jesus is.

There’s something very troubling about this story, particularly verse 5, “And Jesus could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them.” It seems as though Mark is saying that Jesus could have done so much more had the spiritual climate of Nazareth been more open to the real presence Jesus embodied there. Jesus wasn’t robbed of his powers by the unbelief in Nazareth, but he was limited by it. I can’t help but ask us all the question, “Are we doing something, anything, that might limit the power and kingdom of God in our own midst and in our town?” I hope we are not doing anything as individuals or as a church to limit the presence and power of God in our community.

That’s what the people of Nazareth were doing though. They put limits on Jesus. They tried to put him in a box. They said in their hearts that there was no way that the carpenter, the son of Mary could change the structure of the world. And, I want you to notice something else. The people of Nazareth call him the son of Mary, not the son of Joseph as would have been the cultural norm. And in so doing, they are actually insulting him and calling him illegitimate. It’s just one more example of how the people that thought they knew Jesus so well started putting limits on him and on what he could do.

As humans we are made constantly aware of our limitations. With each day that passes we seem to be made to feel more and more aware of just how limited we are. And we can’t help but direct those same feelings toward others as well. “I know that boy, and there ain’t no way he ever did anything good in his life.” My friend’s grandmother refused to believe that someone she knew could do something as miraculous as walk on the moon. The people of Nazareth refused to believe that a carpenter could one day be the savior of the world. We are good at putting limits on things, on people, and even on God.

But know this—God has put no limits on us. And just as he sent out his disciples long ago, so he sends you and me today to remind the world of his limitless love. I just hope that it’s enough to make you want to get out of your wheelchair. Amen.

    30 August 2020

    posted 29 Aug 2020, 05:16 by C S Paul

    30 August 2020


    Scripture reading and Sermon


    Based on the Lectionary of the Syrian Orthodox Church 

    Third Sunday after Shunoyo / the Assumption of St. Mary 


    Reading from the Scripture for this Sunday


    Matthew 17:22-27 King James Version.

    22 And while they abode in Galilee, Jesus said unto them, The Son of man shall be betrayed
    into the hands of men:

    23 And they shall kill him, and the third day he shall be raised again. And they were 
    exceeding sorry.

    24 And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, 
    and said, Doth not your master pay tribute?

    25 He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What 
    thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their 
    own children, or of strangers?

    26 Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free.

    27 Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and 
    take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt 
    find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee.

    Carrying out the will
    by Rev. Fr. Shebaly, Philadelphia

    Discussion:

    Our Lord Jesus Christ here foretells us his own sufferings to come. What he foretold was concerning Him--that he should be betrayed and killed. He perfectly knew, before, all things that should happen to him, and yet undertook the work of our redemption. His passion greatly commends his selfless love; and this love to man made all sufferings easy to him.

    (V 22&23) He started proclaiming it well in advance to his disciples (ch. 16:. 21); and, finding that it was incomprehensive to his disciples. Any way Jesus saw it was necessary to repeat it, for there are some things which God speaks once, or twice, and man does not perceive it.

    But see, how the disciples conceived this; they were exceedingly sorry. Here it appears their love towards their Master as a person, but with all their ignorance and mistake concerning his unique role in the redemption of the humankind. Peter indeed did not say any thing against it. But all others lamented on it.

    It is very important to note that because Jesus knew the will of God about him, his whole life was committed to carry out his fathers Will in him. He was born and brought up as poor. He lived in poverty and never worried of his life situations. Through his life situations he reminded the humankind to seek God's kingdom first and promised them that the rest will be added to them.

    (V 24-27) In order to teach the disciples how God's people should act towards the temple of God and how God cares for those who seek and work for him, he drew the attention of Peter in this given situation.

    Here Jesus Christ was at Capernaum, where he mostly resided. The tax demanded was not any civil payment to the Roman powers, but to the church, which was strictly collected by the publicans.

    Their question was, does not your teacher pay the temple tax? Some think that they sought an occasion against him, designing, if he refused, to represent him as disaffected to the temple-service, and his followers as lawless people, who would neither pay toll, tax, nor custom. It should rather seem, they asked this with much respect, intimating, that if he had any privilege to exempt him from this payment, they would not insist upon it.

    Peter presenting his word for his great Master; "Yes, certainly; my Master pays tax; it is his principle and practice; you need not fear moving it to him." He was made under the law (Gal. 4. 4); therefore under this law he was paid for at forty days old (Luke 2. 22) Jesus was agreeable in contributing to the support of the public worship of God. If we reap spiritual things, it is fit that we should return carnal things also. That was his law. The temple was now made a den of thieves, and the temple-worship pretence for the opposition, which the chief priests gave to Christ and his teachings; and yet Jesus paid this tax.

    Note, According to Jesus, Church-duties, legally imposed, are to be paid, irrespective of church-corruptions. We must take care not to use our liberty as a cloak of covetousness or maliciousness, 1 Pet. 2: 16. If Jesus paid tax, who can ask for an exemption?

    Now, He appeals to the way of the kings of the earth, which is, to take tax from strangers, of the subjects of their kingdom, or foreigners that deal with them, but not from their own children that are of their families.

    He applies this to himself; then the sons are free. Jesus is the Son of God, and Heir of all things; his Father's house (John 2. 16), in it he is faithful as a Son in his own house (Heb. 3: 6), and therefore not obliged to pay this tax for the service of the temple. Thus Jesus asserts His right, not to paying this tax.

    It is interesting to note that for what reason Jesus waived his privilege, and paid this tax, though he was entitled to an exemption. He said, "We should not offend them". Few knew, as Peter did, that he was the Son of God. Here Jesus drops that argument, and considers, that if he refuses this payment, it would increase people's prejudice against him and his teachings.
    The way he took for the payment of this tax was out of the mouth of a fish (v. 27), as bible says.

    Here the poverty of Jesus is accountable. He had no money at command to pay his tax, although he cured so many diseased; it seems, all his service was free and for our sake he became poor, 2 Cor 8: 9. In his ordinary expenses, he lived upon alms (Luke 8: 3), and in extraordinary ones, he lived upon miracles. He did not order Judas to pay this out of the bag that he carried and which was intended for the benefit of the community.

    The power of Jesus Christ, in fetching money out of a fish's mouth for this purpose. Whether his omnipotence put it there, or his omniscience knew that it was there, it seems all to one; it was an evidence of his divinity, and to show his duty bound life and care for his disciple who work for him.

    Jesus intended, Peter must catch the fish by casting a hook in order to pay the tax for him and peter. Even in miracles he would use means to encourage our involvement. Peter has something to do, and it is in the way of his own calling too, to teach us diligence in the job we are called to, and called in.

    Do we expect that Jesus Christ should give to us freely and doing nothing in return? Let us be ready to work for him to see a miracle.

    The money was just enough to pay the tax for Jesus and Peter. Here Jesus could have easily commanded a bag full of money, instead he teaches us not to be greedy, but to having sufficient for our present situation. Jesus Christ made the fish his cash-keeper; and why may not we make God's providence our storehouse and treasury? If we have enough for today, let to-morrow take thought of it, for the things.

    Peter fished for this money, and therefore a part of it was given for his use. Those that are workers together with Christ in winning souls shall shine with him. Jesus said, 'Give it for you and me' and Jesus paid for himself and Peter. What Jesus paid for himself was a debt; what he paid for Peter was a courtesy to him. Yes! The word of God assures us that those who seek his kingdom first will be rewarded in this world and the world to come. Love to work for him. You will be rewarded!!

    23 August 2020

    posted 26 Aug 2020, 22:21 by C S Paul

    23 August 2020


    Scripture reading and Sermon


    Based on the Lectionary of the Syrian Orthodox Church 

    Second Sunday after Shunoyo / the Assumption of St. Mary 


    Reading from the Scripture for this Sunday


    Evening


    • St. Luke 17:22-24
    • St. Luke 18:1-8


    Morning


    • St. Luke 18:9-17
    • Before Holy Qurbana
    • Genesis 6:3-12
    • Ecclesiastes 7:1-3
    • Psalms 12:1-9


    Holy Qurbana


    • II Peter 3:8-14
    • I Thessalonians 5:1-6
    • St. Luke 11:9-20


    Keep Asking, Seeking, Knocking


    9 “So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 


    10 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 


    11 If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? 


    12 Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? 


    13 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”


    A House Divided Cannot Stand


    14 And He was casting out a demon, and it was mute. So it was, when the demon had gone out, that the mute spoke; and the multitudes marveled. 


    15 But some of them said, “He casts out demons by Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons.”


    16 Others, testing Him, sought from Him a sign from heaven. 


    17 But He, knowing their thoughts, said to them: “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and a house divided against a house falls. 


    18 If Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? Because you say I cast out demons by Beelzebub. 


    19 And if I cast out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. 


    20 But if I cast out demons with the finger of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you.


    Seeking God

    by Dn. Sujith T. Thomas, NY


    St. John Chrysostom states, "Prayer is a precious way of communicating with God, it gladdens the soul and gives repose to its affections. You should not think of prayer as being a matter of words. It is a desire for God, an indescribable devotion, not of human origin, but the gift of God's grace." We ought to have this earnest and deep desire for God. Our prayer should be to possess God. The Holy Gospel portion for the second Sunday after Assumption of St. Mary reminds us of this desire for God.


    This particular Gospel portion (St. Luke 11:9-20) includes firstly Christ's teaching on prayer and secondly narrates the casting out of the demons from a mute person and the conversation surrounding the exorcism.


    Firstly Christ reminds his listeners of the need to actively seek God. The three images of prayer that Jesus uses are asking, seeking and knocking. All three imply that prayer is an active process. The Psalmist speaks of the righteous one who 'seeks the face of God' (Psalm 24:6). The Lord looks down from heaven to see if there are any who seek after Him (Psalm 14:2). We seek God because of the earnest desire deep within our soul. The more we experience God, the more we desire God.


    In our daily lives we are often busy chasing after many things. We are deceived by the illusions of this world and assume that we can find fulfillment in this world. The Blessed Augustine stated this condition of the soul in his famous work The Confessions. He stated, "Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you! You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you. In my unloveliness I plunged into the lovely things which you created. You were with me, but I was not with you. Created things kept me from you; yet if they had not been in you they would have not been at all. You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness. You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness. You breathed your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant for you. I have tasted you, now I hunger and thirst for more. You touched me, and I burned for your peace."


    Ultimately Christ's promise to those who pray is that the heavenly Father will give the Holy Spirit. In other words God's response to our prayer is to give himself to us. What an amazing gift!


    Secondly we ought to distinguish between good and evil and stand for good. In the second section of the narrative we read about an exorcism that Jesus performs and the reaction of the crowd. Some in the crowd said among themselves that he is casting out demons by the ruler of the demons. Christ the author of all things good had compassion on the mute person. However his enemies could not attribute any goodness to Christ. There are many who blur the distinction between good and evil. Even when we see something good there are many who stand aside and attempt to label it as evil. The reverse is common as well. Many try to disguise evil as good. The tendency to blur the distinction is prevalent in the world because it is the deceit of the evil one. When warning of the false apostles and deceitful workers within the Church, St. Paul reminded the Corinthian church, "Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light" (2 Cor. 11:14). Christian life demands that we take a stand; we must position ourselves on the side of good. We hear the same message echoed in the Epistle reading as well. "For you are all children of light and children of day; we are not of the night or of darkness" (1 Thess. 5:5).


    As we approach the feast of the Holy Cross, may the Holy Cross protect us from the evil one

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