12 May 2013

posted 9 May 2013, 20:42 by C S Paul
12 May 2013

Sermons Based on the Lectionary of the Syrian Orthodox Church

Sunday after Ascension and the Sunday before Pentecost 

Gospel Reading for this Sunday

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

John 17:13-26  New King James Version (NKJV)

John 6:35-46

I am the bread of life

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[b] 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.

I am the Bread of Life

by Rev. Dr. V Kurian Thomas Valiyaparambil

This Sunday is the first Sunday after Ascension. 

Theme: "I am the Bread of Life."


There are several "I AM" statements of Jesus that are found in the gospel of St. John. They include:

1. I am the bread of Life which came down from heaven (6:35,41,51)
2. I am the light of the world (8:12; 9:5)
3. I am the door of the sheep (10:7,9)
4. I am the good shepherd (10:11,14)
5. I am the son of God (10:36)
6. I am the resurrection and the life (11:25)
7. I am the way, the truth, and the life (14:6)
8. I am the (true) vine (15:1,5)

Each one of the "I AM" statements represents a particular relationship of Jesus to the SPIRITUAL needs of men and women. Jesus is the LIGHT in the darkness, the GATE to security, and the SHEPHERD that guides. He is the WAY, the TRUTH and the LIFE. In every one of these we see that Jesus wants us to receive him, not for the gifts he can give us, but for what he can be to us. Right after the feeding of the 5 thousand, Jesus made the first of the recorded I AM statements.

This week we witness an important revelation of Jesus, "I am the Bread of Life. He who believes in me has everlasting life. I am the bread of life. Your forefathers ate manna in the desert, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes from Heaven which a man can eat and not die. I am the living bread that comes down from heaven. If anyone eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh which I will give for the life of the world."

Jesus says the words he speaks of is about the spirit. It is the spirit that gives us the life, not the flesh. By faith we partake in Christ. Eating and drinking is the reception of God's grace by believing in Christ. Seeing and believing in Christ is equivalent to eating and drinking his flesh and body. Jesus underlines the necessity of feeding on him by faith to have eternal life. The Eucharist (Holy Qurbono) represents the communion of the believers in his body and blood. The Lord's supper signifies our participation in Christ by faith and the benefits of eternal life through him. Eucharist is the fulfillment of Jesus' sacrifice. Receiving his body and blood through Eucharist is absolutely necessary of salvation.

In this context, Jesus is referring to the spiritual needs of the people. It is the spiritual food that Jesus is offering instead of the physical food. The physical food will not satisfy our spiritual hunger. We need the spiritual food for eternity.

Jesus' words that he is the bread of life and the way to eternal life were not what the crowd that followed him wanted to hear. They wanted Jesus to provide them food the way Moses had provided manna. They wanted more of the feeding of the 5,000 type miracles. They wanted to satisfy their physical hunger. So they rebelled against him.

The reaction of the Jewish leaders to Jesus' claim made them also hostile to Jesus. These leaders were waiting for Jesus to say or do something they could jump on and ridicule him.

The Jewish leaders saw Jesus as a carpenter from Nazareth. They refused to listen to him with an open heart.

Jesus emphatically said, "He who believes in me will have everlasting life." Again Jesus said, "I am the bread of life," linking this statement with meeting man's everyday basic needs, hunger and thirst. Jesus said this could be permanently cured. When their forefathers ate manna in the wilderness, only their physical hunger was met. Jesus said the bread of life he provides is the spiritual food which is the word of God. Jesus offers himself as the bread of eternal life from heaven.

There are many people around us who are hungry for Jesus' words of hope and comfort. When we develop such a hunger, it would be satisfied. If we take the Bread of Life into our life, our lives can be restored to the true way of Christian spirit. Without the spiritual food, our soul will wither and die. In the satisfaction of that spiritual food, we will discover it is not "eternal youth" but "eternal life" that we are searching for. That moment will bring perfect contentment in our life.

John 17:13-26

13 But now I come to You, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves. 

14 I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 

15 I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one.

16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.

17 Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. 

18 As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.

19 And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.

Jesus Prays for All Believers

20 “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; 

21 that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. 

22 And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: 

23 I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.

24 “Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. 

25 O righteous Father! The world has not known You, but I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me.

26 And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it,that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.

Devotional Thoughts for the Sunday before Pentecost 

by Rev. Fr. M. K. Kuriakose

Gospel: St. John 17: 13-26

The passage is part of the High Priestly Prayer of our Lord. Prior to His suffering and death our Lord uttered this solemn prayer. A true prayer of the Son of God that could be adapted as a model for those who intercede for others. This prayer has not only some appeals but also some affirmative statements. In fact a true intercession includes confessions or affirmations and appeals. Those affirmations are indicative of the Father's relationship with His Son and the people. Some of the statements are indicative of the nature of the human world and its relationship to the disciples of Christ. Each sentence is extremely carefully said in this passage. Some of the fundamental teachings of our Lord on God-Man relationship are seen here. The following are some of the reflections:

1. Our Lord prays for redemption from the adversary. The Lord knew that when He is gone the disciples needed protection from the enemy. The influence of the enemy in our life is a reality. In this world we have too many attacks from this enemy. This world is the place where we have to live in faith. We cannot escape from this world. Living in this world we should be able to overcome the adversary. This is a huge challenge. We can overcome the world only through the power of the Lord. In the absence of the Lord, one cannot do the fight against the adversary and defeat him. This is an ideal prayer that the parents can do for their children.

2. Sanctification through Truth of the Word of God (v. 17-20). Without proper knowledge of the Word of God one cannot understand truth in its fullness. Without the knowledge of truth sanctity cannot be acquired. Therefore, the Lord says that He is sanctifying Himself for the sake of his followers. Sanctity or holiness is the fundamental attribute of God to which the creation is called. We humans are invited to share this sanctity in its fullness. All efforts in this world should be to come closer to this holiness everyday.

3. Unity with God and with people. In the Ecumenical world these verse (v. 21, 26) are often quoted. Also when talk about unity in the Church all denominations use this verse fluently but never understood or practiced. Unity among the children of God is God's priority. This unity begins with His elected ones that is the Church. Unfortunately the Church itself is in disarray and unable to unite the minds of various Christians who ostensibly make the claim that each of them is the "perfect Church". When the Church fails in uniting itself, how much can we expect the world to be united? It is nearly impossible.

4. The purpose of Unity is not seen as a political motto. Normally that is what we humans do. We have different kinds of unities or unions that are politically oriented. Each Church calls for unity when it faces crisis within. There is only ONE MOTTO for this unity. That is nothing but the glorification of God's name in this world. The world will come to know of His presence in the world through the unity of the Church. This is why the Christian Church became a scandal today. In the Early Church non-Christians (the term used was pagan) used to commend, "see how these Christians love one another!" Unless we lose our ego and make an all-out effort to lose our ego and get united with rest of our separated brethren, we can never bring glory to the name of God. Today who would call us "children of God?"

5. Unity in the Godhead is the ONLY model. The way the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit are untied, we are to be united. The book on "Classless Society" of Mar Osthathios, one of our present senior bishops and known theologian, based his theory on the Holy Trinity. The perfect understanding among the persons of the Holy Trinity is therefore the model for us. Unfortunately in our structures classlessness is impossible. How can I preach classlessness when I, as a priest, live in a `clergy class' unwilling to lose my false identity ( I call this `Achanism' with apology to my colleague achens)? We have the theories but much less in practice. No matter who we are, from top to bottom we live in a `class society'. Most of us are happy with this system. Who can change this? Only Jesus can. There is severe Impact for a classless society. There you can see each person caring for the other. Therefore, there will be no poverty, no discrimination, hatred, war, etc. The Early Church lived this faith not just preached.

6. Finally vs. 26 "the love wherewith Thou hast loved me may be in them and I in them". Ultimately the love of Christ is the factor that can unite all of us. Indeed when our Lord said this to the Apostles at that time, He meant the unity and love of the Apostles but today it is much more deeper and wider a meaning and implication for the Church, the society and the whole world. That is the purpose of the prayer, "Thy Kingdom come"!

It is time for us to rethink about the earnest prayer of our Lord as we remember the "waiting upon the Holy Spirit" for the next 10 days beginning from Ascension and ending on the Day of Pentecost. If we wait upon the Holy Spirit with these humble thoughts, He will empower us to walk in the words of our Lord.