Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Devotional Thoughts for Sunday Nov 2nd 2008/Kudos Eetho Sunday

I wrote on the subject before in general and how it is
significant to the spiritual life. That is still relevant. Here
I shall comment briefly on the bible portions for the day. The
gist of today's readings are, (1) sanctification of the
faithful; body, mind and spirit and (2) foundation of faith.

The Old Testament (1) Exodus 33:7-11. Moses pitched the
Tabernacle away from the camp. When Moses went into the
Tabernacle, cloud filled the tabernacle. God spoke to Moses as
if to a friend. People stood at the door of their own tents. As
they watched they worshipped God. Note: Moses pitched the
Tabernacle away from camp to keep it undefiled. Christian
churches are built in the same manner as tabernacle. Following
this tradition; ancient churches in Kerala are situated on
hilltops. This reminds the faithful to keep in and around the
church undefiled at all times. Enter into it with clean body and
heart. "Blot out O Lord God, by thy tender mercy, my great and
manifold sins and the sins of all thy faithful people," our
prayer of absolution, is fervent appeal for spiritual and body
cleansing. Avoid jokes, idle talks, lazy and disrespectful
demeanor in the church. The purpose of coming to the church is
to hear from the Lord. This is possible only if we are
physically clean and spiritually pure. Children need be taught
how to present and conduct themselves in the church. Some
parents are not keen enough in this matter. Keep in mind Eli,
the priest, who did not nurture his sons in the Lord's
discipline was punished, 1 Sam 3:13. Undivided attention is
imperative. We chant, "Our thoughts, minds and hearts are with
the Lord up above," "These mysteries are given to the holy and
pure," are we honest?

(2) Exodus 40:17-38. Moses raised the tabernacle
(portable) and arranged everything in it exactly as God said.
Journey was strictly according to God's directions; they set
journey when the cloud moved above the tent. Note: The cloud was
symbol of God's presence which every Israelite experienced and
adjusted their lives accordingly. We are pilgrims and sojourners
in this transitory life. Do our worship experiences influence
our thoughts and actions? Do we reflect God's presence of in our
private life? Do we lead our life as God dictates? If not, why?

3, Isaiah 6:1-8. Isaiah saw God sitting on high and exalted
throne in heaven. Six-winged Seraphim hovering around uttered
incessantly and in loud voice, glorifying the Lord, Holy, Holy,
Holy. The glory filled the whole earth and the temple. Isaiah
cried aloud, "Lo! I am undone; I am sinful standing among the
unclean; for I have seen the King, the Lord of universe."
Seraphim took out a hot coal with tongs, flew down and touched
his lips saying, "Your sin is taken away." Then he heard a voice
from Lord, "Whom shall I send, who shall go for us?" Isaiah
replied, "Here I am, send me." Note: The purpose of going to the
church is to see the Lord. The Holy of Holies (Kdoos kudishin),
where the Lord's throne is placed, is built high and above the
sanctuary symbolizing the vision of Isaiah. The celebrant
represents the Lord. Altar-assistants-the angels, lighted
candles, incense, and chanting of glory are modeled after the
vision of Isaiah. "Holy" is repeated three times is because God
was not a monad but trinity. When the faithful glorify God,
God's glory fills them, which is true worship experience. Sight
of the Lord changes people. Some people complain that they are
not getting heavenly experience in orthodox worship. The sole
reason is their lazy and unclean approach. The awesome sight of
heaven's glory, made Isaiah conscious of his sinful situation."
'Holy Spirit convicts of sin,' said Jesus, Jh 16:8. One who goes
against the dictates of conscience is working against Holy
Spirit. This makes people insensitive to sin. Isaiah received
commission only after he was cleansed from defilements. This
live coal was type of Christ's body and blood which the faithful
receive in the Holy Eucharist, (Esaaya Nibiku Doothan kodutha
paavanamaaya kanalum ithu than). Thus the faithful come out of
the worship service, sanctified and free of sins, enlightened by
the Lord to lead a righteous life and do the will of God. Each
faithful need be sanctified and renewed daily for the Church is
not merely mud and mortar edifice but the living faithful
members in it. Koodos Eetho is mark of a new beginning.

Epistle 1 Pe 2:1-12. Peter invites the faithful to partake
the Eucharist, laying aside all malice, envy and hypocrisies.
Comparing the faithful with newborn child gives a strong message
that complete sanctification is expected of us. The Lord is the
chief cornerstone and when we near him, we become living stones,
the spiritual temple of God, a holy nation and royal priesthood
called out of darkness into his marvelous light to glorify God
by honorable conducts, which is complete transformation into His
likeness; that is the fullness of salvation.

Epistle 1 C6:15-20. Apostle reminds that our bodies are the
organs of Jesus Christ. We have been bought with a price that
is, blood of Christ. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit. Keep
it clean by fleeing away from all sinful acts especially, sexual
immorality.

Gospel portions bring to our attention about the
foundation of the Church. For morning, we have John 21:15-22.
Resurrected Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved Him more
than others; disciples and world. Peter repented and confidently
affirmed, "Yes Lord, you know that I love you." Jesus entrusted
him with the responsibility of shepherding, men, women and kids
in the Church. The Church as bride of Christ is founded on love
of Christ producing the fruit of the Holy Spirit; goodness,
righteousness and truth, Eph 5:9. Shepherds are not to rule with
iron fist but to shepherd with sacrificial love. Where there is
no love of Christ there is no love for fellow-beings. Loving
'self' more than Christ is the root of all evils where, evil
spirit, instead of Holy Spirit takes lead and guides the people
causing heresy, discord, dissention, disunity, violence, riot,
fight, and litigation among members. By all standards such a
church belongs to Satan, not to Christ. Think for a moment; see
for yourself where we are heading to; to Christ or to Satan?

We have Mathew 16:13-23 for evening and Mark 8:27-33 for
Holy Eucharist. Both have the same subject. Jesus asked two
questions to his disciples (1) "Who do men say that I am," v13.
(2) "Who do you say that I am," v15. For the first question the
disciples said what they heard from the other people, that Jesus
was prophet, John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah, etc. For the
second question, Peter said, "You are Christ, the Son of the
living God." Jesus attested, not that Peter intellectually
understood Jesus as the Christ, but God revealed to Peter. Jesus
said, "Blessed are you Simon, You are Peter, upon this rock I
will build my Church," etc. Church is founded on the Apostle's
unwavering faith that Jesus is Christ, Son of the living God.
"Holy Church, which is firmly established on the rock of faith,"
St James Anaphora, 1C10:4, Eph 2:20.

Over the centuries philosophers and intellectuals debated
seriously who Jesus was and many heresies sprang up. Some said
Jesus was a prophet, for others Jesus seemed like man but sort
of phantom, for some he became Christ when he was baptized, yet
others said he was good teacher, moralist, philosopher, and now
pluralist!; the dispute is still alive. But for a faithful,
Jesus is very God of very God, Lord and Savior. God is
understood not by intellect but by revelation, hidden to the
wise but revealed to children. Church is founded on this
cardinal essence.

Being Omniscient God he knew what the disciples and others
thought, why then Jesus asked these questions? Disciples ought
to know who they were and what others said about them. Let us
think (1) 'who I am' and (2) 'what others say bout me'?
Self-awareness is the greatest knowledge. The whole bible can be
summarized, according to Dr S Radhakrishnan in one phrase, "Know
thyself." Holy bible gives us self-knowledge more perfectly than
all other books. "Our greatest protection is self-knowledge and
to avoid the delusion that we are seeing ourselves when we are
in reality looking at something else. This is what happens to
those who do not scrutinize themselves. What they see is
strength, beauty, reputation, political power, abundant wealth,
pomp, self-importance, bodily stature, a certain grace of form
or the life, and they think that this is what they are. Such
persons make very poor guardians of themselves: because of their
absorption in something else, they overlook what is their own
and leave it unguarded. How can a person protect what he does
not know? The most secure protection for our treasure is to know
ourselves: each one must know himself as he is, and distinguish
himself from all that is not he, that he may not unconsciously
be protecting something else instead of himself," St Gregory
Nyssa. Self-criticism is an effective self-cleansing tool to
keep on the right path. When it is absent others will criticize
and spoil one's fame and future. "Gnanar inthenth aar ithinapta
bandhu, enthe bhalam, kim mama kalameth, maataarum
aarennariyunna kaaryam, kaarthaahi bhumandala chakravarthi." St
Paul defined the virtues of a deacon, "He must have good
testimony among those who are outside," 1 Tim 3:7 which advise is
applicable to all faithful.

- Johnachen.

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