20 January 2013

posted 17 Jan 2013, 02:32 by C S Paul

20 January 2013

Sermons Based on the Lectionary of the Syrian Orthodox Church

2 nd. Sunday after Baptism of our Lord Jesus Christ (Denaha)

Gospel Reading for this Sunday

John 1:43-51 New King James Version (NKJV)

Philip and Nathanael

43 The following day Jesus wanted to go to Galilee, and He found Philip and said to him, “Follow Me.” 

44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 

45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”

46 And Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.”

47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward Him, and said of him,“Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit!”

48 Nathanael said to Him, “How do You know me?”

Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.”

49 Nathanael answered and said to Him, “Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!”

50 Jesus answered and said to him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” 

51 And He said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”

Devotional Thoughts for 2nd Sunday after Theophany/The Baptism of our Lord

by Rev. Dr. Mathew C. Chacko, New Brunswick

Gospel: St. John 1: 43-51

1. "We Found Him!" – He found them first, then they found him!

What did they do with him? They found others for Jesus.

As followers of the Law and the Prophets, Andrew, Peter, Philip and Nathaniel knew that the Messiah has come in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. They were privileged to know and to accept Jesus as their Rabbi (e.g. John 1: 38).

Jesus first called Andrew, the younger brother of Simon Peter. Andrew was a disciple of John and when John testified that Jesus was the Lamb of God, Andrew followed Jesus [John 1: 40].

Andrew went home and [found] convinced his brother Peter that Jesus, who called him to be his disciple, was indeed the Messiah, the King of Israel and Son of God. And they spread the word around. Philip a neighbor of Andrew and Peter heard about Jesus from Andrew and Peter. They all followed Jesus and spread the Good News o his birth, death, resurrection and His continued presence around the universe. Thus our forefathers and mothers heard it and accepted it and gave it to us! Praise be to His Name!

2. "We found Him!" – "Did He find us?" Of course, he did What did we do with him?

We the "St. Thomas Christians - Nazranees" were privileged to hear the life-giving Gospel of Jesus Christ from one of his dear apostles Thomas the Twin, immediately after Pentecost and the Church continues to witness to this day. Perhaps, we need to examine the nature of our witness and resolve to move away from negative witnessing to more positive.

God can raise men and women from among us to accept the Gospel truly and show it forth in their words and actions. This is the time we pray for that.

I met an elderly St. Thomas Christian in one of our families a couple of months ago. She came close to me after the House Blessing service in one of our families and started talking about her younger son who is a priest in the Syro-Malabar Church. Having been raised in an Orthodox family, she was married to a Syro-Malabar Catholic Christian. Her first child, oldest daughter became a nun and through her influence this young man became a priest. She was so happy about her life. At this point she is living in North America with her youngest son. The short communication I had with her stays vivid in my mind reminding me of the joy she has as a Christian. The same scenario is there in many an Orthodox family. May the experience of our "We Found Him" continue to witness to the light of Christ, shown forth through the martyrdom of our dear apostle?

3. "We Found Him" What are we doing with him?

This is a question for all that have been touched by the Lord, lay and clergy alike to answer. A lot of good things are happening in our communities, but the general atmosphere of litigation and the after effects of it is destroying our witness on a daily basis. Some thing has to be done to end all this mess and to put us all on the serious business of true Christian living and witnessing.

4. "He found me!" "I Found Him Too!" What did I do with Him?

Fifty four Years ago, while I was at the beginning of my college education, 1st year Seminary at Bishop’s College, Calcutta – age 22, I had a vision where I saw Christ on the Cross and the last two lines of the Hymn, When I survey the wondrous Cross, "Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all". Tears rolled down my eyes and I truly believe that it was when I received an inner call to serve Christ and His Church. I did surrender myself to Him. I thank Him for calling me to serve Him and His Church, as unworthy as I am.

However, the outer call came to me years ago, in 1950 on Ascension Eve at the Old Seminary, Kottayam. His Holiness Baselius Geevarghese II, of blessed memory, after the Evening Prayers called me and my father who were there for Vespers and proclaim that he was going to ordain me a minor order deacon the next day – Ascension 1950. We have never met His Holiness. His Holiness may have heard me singing like a bird, along with the priests and the deacons, the Wednesday Evening Prayers, beginning with Lek Nesh Kashap – [yachikkunnu], of course in Syriac. I knew it all by heart [?] for I was blessed to learn them from Fr. E. Mathews [our present Catholicos at Othara for a year!]. We accepted the call and asked permission from His Holiness to come back the following Saturday night and be ordained that Sunday, the Sunday before Pentecost. As His Holiness directed us, we went to Pathanapuram and got the blessings of Mar Thomas Dionysius, our Diocesan Metropolitan. And we did return as promised and I was ordained "Korooyo" by His Holiness on June 22nd 1950 at the Old seminary, Kottayam. I was 18 years old then.

Thanks to God’s mercies, this vision is clear in my heart and mind to this day and at the final stage of my life, I am laboring to establish a worshipping community that has been given to me by providence. I serve gladly this community of young couples and their children, a group of about 150 individuals presently and counting. The presence and participation of the visiting parents is a real blessing to us all. I ask the prayers of the readers that I be faithful to the vision to serve faithfully the Lord and his people.

Am I faithful to Him? I try hard. Perhaps, I should try harder! I pray for His continued mercies on me and the people who work diligently with me. We have 50 under the age of 18 and I see them as 50 families in 20-30 years. Their witness will be the asset and contribution of this worshipping community to the Church at large and for this local worshipping community. Now that you are reading this, kindly pray for us. The best part I like in our Liturgy is when the priest at the parting blessing asking for the congregation’s prayers. May I, a weak and sinful servant, receive grace and mercy through your prayers!

God bless you.