4 February 2018

posted 2 Feb 2018, 04:36 by C S Paul

4 February 2018

Scripture reading and Sermon

Based on the Lectionary of the Syrian Orthodox Church

Aneede Sunday - All the Departed Faithful

Reading from the Scripture for this Sunday

Luke 12:32-48 New King James Version (NKJV)

32 “Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 

33 Sell what you have and give alms; provide yourselves money bags which do not grow old, a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches nor moth destroys.

34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

The Faithful Servant and the Evil Servant

35 “Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning; 

36 and you yourselves be like men who wait for their master, when he will return from the wedding, that when he comes and knocks they may open to him immediately. 

37 Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching. Assuredly, I say to you that he will gird himself and have them sit down to eat, and will come and serve them.

38 And if he should come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants. 

39 But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. 

40 Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”

41 Then Peter said to Him, “Lord, do You speak this parable only to us, or to all people?

42 And the Lord said, “Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom hismaster will make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of food in due season? 

43 Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. 

44 Truly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all that he has. 

45 But if that servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’ and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and be drunk, 

46 the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the unbelievers. 

47 And that servant who knew his master’s will, and did not prepare himself or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.

48 But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes, shall be beaten with few. For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.

Role of Departed Faithful in Our Church

by Rev. Dr. Joseph Cheeran

Reference: Luke 19: 11-27

According to our Church Calendar, the two Sundays before the beginning of the Great Lent are designated as the Sundays remembering all the departed priests and all the departed faithful respectively. The reason for including the laity and priests in the liturgy, faith and the calendar is because they are integral part of God’s plan for salvation of the mankind. Christ’s salvation plans does not have any boundaries. It’s beyond regional and seasonal boundaries. The sacrifice on the cross was meant for the whole creation.

Just like the first statement in the Nicene Creed, the salvation plan of Christ, who is the Creator and ‘the maker of heaven and earth, visible and invisible’, includes the visible and invisible planes. The organs coexist actively in the body of Church (whose head is Christ). Similarly, the departed, currently living and the future creations also coexist in the body of Christ. Not only the Christians, but also many of the modern religions conduct several rituals including fasting and almsgiving, remembering and praying for the salvation of the departed souls.

1. The departed were not abandoned in the Old Testament period either. The Jewish Church considers the great fathers of the tribes, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as the symbols of the heavenly Kingdom. In the parable of Lazarus and the rich man, we see Lazarus in the bosom of Abraham. Christ sees Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in Heavenly Kingdom. (Luke 13:28) This must be seen in the light of the Jewish culture. In Egypt, at the time of his death, Joseph entrusts a mission to his descendants (“you shall carry up my bones from hence”: Genesis 50:25). This indicates that the souls are alive after death.

When the Jewish State of Israel was formed, the Jewish settlers in Mattancherry (near Ernakulam in Kerala) took with them sacks full of bones of their departed ones on their return journey to their homeland. This shows their traditional faith in the departed souls beyond doubt.

2. In the New Testament also, in the references about the departed souls, we can see the live nature of the souls. The theme of the story of Lazarus itself is the active nature of the souls. Even when the body was rotten, Lazarus answers the call of his creator-(“Lazarus, come out”). Jesus states that Lazarus was asleep. Jesus spoke about eternal life and eternal kingdom. This indicates life beyond time and space. St. Paul compares resurrection to a sprouting grain. (1 Cor. 15: 34-53). When the wheat grain falls in the ground and gets rotten, a new one sprouts up. The testament of St. Peter regarding the souls is powerful enough to clear any doubts; In 1 Peter 3:19 we read that Christ “went and preached unto the spirits in prison”. Again in 1 Peter 4:6, it’s unmistakably written, “..Gospel was preached also to them that are dead..”

In the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, we see that the rich man who is dead prays for his living family members. If the person who is dead prays for the living, we the living have a greater duty indeed to pray for the departed. The departed are the roots of our culture. They hold us firm on the ground like the roots of a large tree.

3. When we remember the departed faithful, we need to think about the faithful who continue the journey from birth until death. The parable of the talents reminds us that the talents we possess have an owner. The message of the parable of talents is clearly depicted in the Bible verse ‘you got nothing that’s not given’. Resources are not private properties; rather they are talents that are supposed to be dispensed according to the wishes of the giver. Life is the first talent from which other talents originate. We are stewards of resources like health, beauty, talents and good opportunities etc, which are supposed to be utilized for the benefit of others. We should have the attitude that we are the stewards of the universe that consists of our brethren. Talents are not supposed to be buried under the ground. Instead, from the proper utilization of the talents, a just system should evolve. In order to maintain a balanced society, proper utilization of our resources are essential.

4. The time to conduct the audit to determine the profit and loss of trade is not determined by the trader, but by the owner of the resources. Death is uncertain, like the timing in the game of musical chair. This uncertainty is hanging over our head always as a reality. We need to be vigilant because the auditor who can’t be bribed will audit us anytime. Our time, talents, resources etc are our commodities for trade. Be diligent about faithfulness, hard work and dedication in the utilization of your talents.

What gives us the courage to face death is the sense of awareness that our duties are fulfilled in a timely manner. Jesus embraced his death by uttering, ‘everything is fulfilled’. ‘Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit’, he said. Let’s all be inspired by His confident words.

Conclusion: Death is certain. In order to face death with courage, we need honesty and integrity, and a sense of stewardship in the utilization of our talents. God will reward us eternally. Let this message help us evaluate our assets and enable us to be blessed.