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Features MGOCSM News

Practice what you preach: Mar Polycarpos to youngsters


Practice what you preach: Mar Polycarpos to youngsters
Maha Edavaka Muscat’s MGOCYM activities for 2011-12 formally opens

MUSCAT: The activities of the Mar Gregorios Orthodox Christian Youth Movement (MGOCYM), Muscat for 2011-2012 were formally inaugurated after the Holy Qurbana on April 29, 2011 by Yuhanon Mar Polycarpos, Metropolitan of Angamali Diocese and President of Orthodox Christian Youth Movement at St Thomas Church, Ruwi.

In his inaugural speech, the Metropolitan reiterated that the youth are the backbone of the church. However, they can work fruitfully only if they work in co-ordination with others.

We give our ear to good teachings but only when we go by it, life becomes meaningful. Mere listening is not enough, he said and added that it should be accompanied by good deeds in our day-to-day life. His Grace based his address from the book of Psalms 34:8 and Mark 6:1 onwards.

Mar Polycarpos lit the traditional lamp signalling the beginning of the activities for 2011-12.

Fr James Geevarghese, Vicar, Mar Gregorios Orthodox Maha Edavaka, Muscat delivered the welcome speech. Shaiju K Philip, a member of the youth committee presented a bouquet to Mar Polycarpos.

Byju Babu John, Secretary, gave a brief account of the MGOCYM activities in the month of April as well as the proposed activities for the New Year.

Church co-trustee Cherian P Thomas felicitated the youth of the church for their stupendous work and wished them good luck in the New Year.

MGOCYM Vice President Mathew K A proposed a vote of thanks.

Fr Varghese George, Church Trustee Abraham Mathew, Co-Trustee Cherian P Thomas and Secretary Joseph Varghese also graced the occasion.

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Features News Southwest America

Consecration of Seattle St. Thomas Church on May 6 and 7


SEATTLE: The consecration of the newly constructed St. Thomas Orthodox Church will be held on May 6 and 7 2011. Alexios Mar Eusebius, Metropolitan of the Diocese of South-West America will be the Chief Celebrant on the occasion.

St. Thomas Orthodox Church is the first Church for the Diocese with own facility in the Greater Seattle Area after the consecration. The Church is located at 11651 188TH ST SE, 98058.Fr. T.U. Jacob serves as the Vicar since its inception.

The Consecration of the new Church will be done in two parts. The first part will follow evening prayers at 6PM on Friday, May 6, 2011. The second part will begin at 7AM on Saturday, May 7 and will be followed by the Holy Qurbana. The Consecration shall conclude with a luncheon reception.

News Sent in: Maggie John

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Features Gulf News

Children shouldnot be given mobiles, unless its needed

Family is a miniature Church: Dr Mar Seraphim
‘Children shouldnot be given mobiles, unless its needed’

MUSCAT: Dr Abraham Mar Seraphim, Metropolitan of Bangalore Diocese, Malankara Orthodox Church, has said that the family is the foundation of a society and its constitutes a ‘miniature Church.’

The Metropolitan was addressing the St Paul’s Mar Thoma Yuvajana Sakhyam, Ghala at the ‘Family Meet – 2011’ on Monday, April 25 at the Catholic Hall.

Dr Mar Seraphim, the youngest bishop of Malankara Orthodox Church, was the main speaker at the Family Meet on the topic ‘Family in relation to Church and Society.’

Presently in Muscat as guest of the Mar Gregorios Orthodox Maha Edavaka, the Metropolitan touched upon various issues such as marriage, parenting, role of husband, wife and children.

“A person should know the kind of partner, whom he or she is marrying and a lot of preparation is necessary before they exchange their wedding vows,” Mar Seraphim mentioned.

Commenting about the influence of TV in the society, Internet and use of mobile phones, the Metropolitan was of the view that children should not be given mobile phones until they complete Class 12. “If it is really necessary, then give them mobile phones without Bluetooth, MMS and a camera facility,” he pointed out.

Rev. Jacob Paul, Vicar, St Paul’s Mar Thoma Church Ghala presided, while Fr James Geevarghese, Vicar of Mar Gregorios Orthodox Maha Edavaka, Muscat was also present.

Over 150 people attended the Family Meet held in the evening.

Yuvajana Sakhyam Joint Secretary, Aby Thomas, welcomed Dr Mar Seraphim and the gathering and elaborated on the activities of the Sakhyam for 2011-12.

Oommen John P, Program Convener and Yuvajana Sakhyam Vice President thanked Dr Mar Seraphim for his enlightening speech adding that it would encourage families to play a vital role in the growth of the Church.
He also thanked Fr James for facilitating Mar Seraphim’s participation in the family meet.

Princy Thomas sang a solo on the occasion while Viji Varughese compered the two-hour program.

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Articles We Believe Youth And Faith

Christ Is Risen, Indeed He Is Risen


The empty tomb of Christ is a historical reality for every orthodox. The four gospels were written by four different men on different occasions and for different purposes. All of them clearly certify that Jesus rose from the dead without any doubt.

Recently a United Methodist bishop was reprimanded by his church for his heretic view that Christ did not resurrect from His tomb. In recent times there were many western theologians, who had proposed that the resurrection of Christ was just a myth. We wonder why these so-called theologians and liberal clergyman are speculating against resurrection when Paul clearly says that our faith has no meaning without resurrection. If a theologian attacks the virgin birth of Christ and His resurrection what else is there for a theologian to theologize! If Christ is stripped from His virgin birth and resurrection, what else is there for us to BELIEVE in!

The apostles of Christ were terrified of what had happened in connection with the crucifixion of Christ. They were even afraid of getting out, because they thought that they lost their leader and His movement. They were a defeated group. Even after the resurrection of Christ, which was reported by some lady-disciples of Christ, they were still afraid of getting out. Jesus Himself had to appear to them in order to convince them of His resurrection when they were hiding in a basement. But it took a mighty wind blown by the Holy Spirit to power them for preaching the resurrected Jesus. All, but one, were martyred for this faith. Who is going to show his neck to the sharp edges of a sword if he does not have a convincing reason to die! Who is going to stretch his hands for crucifixion, if he does not have Master, who conquered the cross and death on it! Yes, the suffering of all apostles demands a convincing reason behind it. The reason is that unique event in the history of mankind: Christ conquered death by His resurrection. That is what gave them hope.

Our Christian life is meaningless without our resurrected Lord. It is also meaningless without a resurrected life. We are all buried under our sins, our voluptuous desires, our carnality, and our selfishness. Our resurrection takes place through true repentance. It is not enough that we are sorry about our fallen lives. It is important that we convert to Christ, by rejecting our sinful and carnal way of life. It requires determination and resolution; the determination for conversion to Christ, and resolution not to sin again. Then only can we be sure of our own resurrected life.

In our Liturgy of Resurrection, there is a moving component, which is the announcement of resurrection to the public. Immediately after the announcement the faithful attending the liturgy greet each other with the following: Christos Aneste (Christ Is Risen)! The response is also suggestive of the great joy every Orthodox experiences when listening to this glad news: Alithos Aneste (Indeed He Is Risen)!

WE WISH ALL OUR READERS A VERY BLESSED EASTER AND A JOYFUL SPRING SEASON!

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Articles We Believe

And Isaac Carried the Wood on His Shoulders…


There are many vivid Old Testament narratives that refer to the passion and death of Jesus Christ and one among them is the story of Abraham going up on to the Mount of Moriah to sacrifice Isaac. We read the unfolding of a touching account of a father climbing upon the Mountain to sacrifice his only son in Genesis 22.

God told Abraham one day to sacrifice his only begotten son Isaac. The place was specified as the top of the Mount Moriah. It was somewhat three days away from where Abraham lived. Third watch of Tuesday night vigil has a very detailed description of this event, which includes the promion and sedra. We attempt here to have a close look at the event on the background of the above mentioned prayer to better understand salvation effected by the Lord Jesus Christ.

Word Meanings

Abraham means ‘merciful father’. Isaac means ‘he laughed’. Moriyah means ‘my Lord is Yahweh’ or otherwise ‘considered or ordained by the Lord’. Yahweh Yireh means ‘Lord is the provider or the Lord will provide’. However Yahweh Yireh in Hebrew has other derived meanings as well, like ‘the Lord will look after or the Lord will take care of or the Lord will foresee the goodness’ etc.

The Event in a Nutshell

After the Lord took care of Abraham and proved that He is the Lord to him, He wanted to test Abraham to make sure of his commitment. The Lord said to him to sacrifice his only son Isaac as a burnt offering at the top of a Mountain at the land of Moriah. Next day, Abraham saddled his donkey and set out early in the morning with his only son Isaac, some young men as servants with wood for burnt offering, fire and a knife to kill the animal to offer.

Abraham saw the place at a distance and he said to his servant men to remain there with the donkey. Once he worshipped, he would come back, he said to them. He took the wood, laid it on his son Isaac and he himself took the fire and knife.

Isaac asked his father, “Father, the fire and the wood are here, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?”

Abraham replied, “God Himself will provide the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.”

When they came to the place that God had shown them for the offering, Abraham made the wood in order on the altar that he maid, caught hold on his son, laid him on the wood and tied strongly thereupon. Took his knife and swung it to cut his son before the burnt offering. At once, an Angel of the Lord appeared and told Abraham to not to kill his son. “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son form me”, said the Lord.

Abraham looked up and saw a ram, caught in a thicket by its horns. He went, took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place Yahweh Yireh or ‘the Lord will provide’.

The Angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven and said; “By myself I have sworn, says the Lord: Because you have done this, and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will indeed bless you, and I will make your offspring as numerous as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of their enemies, and by your offspring shall all the nations of the earth gain blessing for them, because you have obeyed my voice.”

Thereafter Abraham and the young men went back.

Exposition

Jesus Christ was called ‘Son of David, who was Son of Abraham’ (Mt 1:1). The same Jesus said to the Jews that being God He was God Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (cf. Ex 3:6, 15, 16; 4:5; Mt 22:32; Mk 12:26; Lk 20:37; Acts 3:13; 7:32). Abraham wished to see His day and has seen to be happy, and before Abraham I was (Jn 8:40, 52, 57, 58). Jesus, therefore, was surely the God of Abraham. Yet, in the above mentioned event Abraham stands for God the Father. The name Abraham means merciful father and Isaac stood for Jesus. Just as the Son, the second person of the Holy Trinity, is the Only begotten Son of God the Father, Isaac was the only begotten son of Abraham, the Patriarch.

Isaac was seated gloriously on the donkey until the Land of Moriah and Jesus was seated on the donkey until Jerusalem. The young servants took care of Isaac until he reached the land of Moriah and the people of Judah, especially young ones, shouted Hosanna to the Son of David, Son of Abraham until Jerusalem. Just as Jesus carried the wood of the cross, Isaac carried the firewood, the wood for the burnt offering upon him. Just as Jesus said to the Father, “My Father, if possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want, but what you want”; Isaac inquired about the animal for burnt offering to his father. Just as the Son laid foundations to the earth in complete accordance with the Father, Isaac made the altar for the offering with his father Abraham. While binding him on to the wood Isaac was quiet and silent, Jesus did not resist his crucifixion. Just as a ram was miraculously made visible from a thicket, Jesus was born from the virgin in a fashion only known to God. Just as the ram saved Isaac from destruction, Jesus saved the whole humanity from destruction and dissolution. Just as Sarah was pleased to see Isaac again, the virgin was pleased at the resurrection. Just as Isaac means ‘he will laugh’, the humanity was happy and content at the final result of Jesus offering on the cross. It is also a proof that the Lord will provide, will look after or will take care or will foresee the goodness for the humanity, Yahweh Yireh.

Some notes on Mount Moriah

In the course of time the mountain had acquired an aura of sanctity and the subject of many traditions. Indeed, its sacred status may date back to the early Canaanite period, when it perhaps was the cultic center of ‘El Elyon,’ god of Melchizedek, king of Salem: “And Melchizedek, king of Salem, brought out bread and wine; he was a priest of God Most High (El Elyon). He blessed him, saying, Blessed be Abram of God Most High, creator of heaven and earth” (Gen 14:18).

The tradition of ‘Jacob’s Dream’ is also identified with Mount Moriah: “He came upon a certain place and stopped there for the night, for the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of that place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place. He had a dream; a stairway was set on the ground and its top reached to the sky, and angels of God were going up and down on it. And the Lord was standing beside him… Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the abode of God and that is the gateway to heaven” (Gen 28:10-18).

This is perhaps the most colorful representation of the essential nature of the site which some would later claim was the ‘navel of the world’. At the summit of Mount Moriah, traditionally, is the ‘Foundation Stone,’ the symbolic fundament of the world’s creation, and reputedly the site of the Temple’s Holy of Holies, the supreme embodiment of the relationship between God and the people of Israel.

The northern area of Mount Moriah’s summit lay desolate for long after Zion’s capture by David. It was in fact still the private property of Araunah, the city’s former Jebusite king. For various reasons David did not confiscate the site but preferred to buy it from Auranah for full value: “So David paid Ornan (Auranah) for the site 600 shekels’ worth of gold. And David built there an altar to the Lord and sacrificed burn offerings and offerings of well-being” (1 Chr 21:25, and a slightly different version at 2 Sam 24:18-25). Traditions say that Abraham wanted to offer Isaac exactly on the same place, where David built the city of Jerusalem.

Upon the completion of King Solomon’s Temple, famed for its sumptuous splendor, the Ark of the Covenant was placed within its confines. The sanctity of the site is reflected in the graphic description provided by the Book of Kings: “the priests came out of the sanctuary for the cloud had filled the House of the Lord and the priests were not able to remain and perform the service because of the cloud, for the Presence of the Lord filled the House of the Lord…” (1 Kg 8:11).

Solomon built his palace in the ‘miloh’ (infill) area which separated the summit of the mountain and the Temple from the city below. This was also a concrete expression of the divine inspiration that was attributed to his kingship. Other palaces were also built nearby, such as the “House of the Forest of Lebanon” and the House of Pharaoh’s Daughter. Solomon used dirt to fill in this east-west lateral rift, hence the area’s name: ‘miloh’ (infill), or Ophel, from a Hebrew word referring to the road that ascended to the Temple from the city which at that time was topographically lower.

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Features News Uk And Europe

Holy Week Services at St. Mary’s Indian Church, Coventry, UK


COVENTRY: St. Mary’s Indian Orthodox Church, Coventry, UK had conducted Holy Week services as the last phase of the forty day lent. Fr. Philipose Phillip, Vicar of St. Gregorios Orthodox Church, Edmonton, Canada,was the chief celebrant for the week long services.

Faithful in that area attended the service with reverence.

photos

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Features MGOCSM News

Dr Mar Seraphim launches MGOCSM at Maha Edavaka, Muscat


MUSCAT: Dr Abraham Mar Seraphim, Metropolitan of Bangalore Diocese, relaunched the Mar Gregorios Orthodox Christian Student Movement (MGOCSM), the student wing of Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, at the Mar Gregorios Orthodox Maha Edavaka, Muscat.

The announcement was made by Rev Fr James Geevarghese, Vicar of Mar Gregorios Orthodox Maha Edavaka, after the Holy Eucharist on Easter Day.

The over 30-member nominated list includes:
Feba Hanna George as Vice President
Jubin M Titus as Secretary
Alina Merin Tony as Joint Secretary
Kevin Tom Philip as Treasurer

Dr Mar Seraphim thanked Ahmedabad Diocesan Metropolitan Pulikkottil Dr Geevarghese Mar Yulios, for permitting him to launch the student movement on his visit to Muscat for the Holy Week celebrations.

The Metropolitan in his brief address said MGOCSM had its beginning in 1908 as the as the Syrian Student Conference with its motto of ‘Worship, Study and Service.’

The high ideals behind the finding of the Movement includes bringing together Orthodox Christian students of different educational institutions into one body in order to get them rooted in Orthodox faith and traditions and also to strengthen them in spiritual life and Christian fellowship.

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Features News Southwest America

St. Thomas Orthodox Church Dallas to Celebrate Feast of St. Thomas


DALLAS: St. Thomas Orthodox Church Dallas to Celebrate Feast of St. Thomas April 29 to May 1, 2011. Alexios Mar Eusebius, Metropolitan of the Diocese of South-West America will be the Chief Celebrant on the occasion.

Rev. Fr. T. A. Edayadi (Thumpamon Diocese) will lead the devotional address on Friday evening and Metropolitan Alexios Mar Eusebius will lead the devotional address on Saturday evening. The Holy Qurbana starts at 8:30 AM on Sunday, May 1, 2011

Sunday, April 24, 2011
10:00 AM – Flag Hoisting

Friday, April 29, 2011
6.30 PM- MGOCSM Class, Fr. Joshua (Binoy) George, Vicar, St. Mary’s Orthodox Church, Houston
7.00 PM- Evening Prayer
7.45 PM- Convention Message,Fr. T. A. Edayadi, Thumpamon Diocese

Saturday, April 30, 2011
6:00 PM – Reception to Thirumeni and Evening Prayer
7:15 PM – Convention Message, Metropolitan Alexios Mar Eusebius
8:30 PM – Rasa & Benediction

Sunday, May 1, 2011
8:30 AM – Morning Prayer
9:30 AM – Holy Qurbana, Metropolitan Alexios Mar Eusebius
11:45 AM – Intercessory Prayer
12:00 PM – Rasa, Benediction, Nercha Vilambu & Lunch

For information contact the Vicar Fr. Rajesh K. John : 214-930-1682

News sent in : Shinoy

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Columns Opinions

Meeting point and Mission Model: Where do we find the Risen Jesus Today?


Contextual meeting points providing a mission model

In today’s context where we are in the age of Face Book (FB), Twitter, Weblog etc, we have many forums as our meeting points without travelling or rather travelling into each other’s space. It is indeed amazing to see how we can get connected with our friends

The way we get connected online is amazing but it also excludes a majority of people who cannot have this facility and affordability to use internet everyday or even once in a way. Exclusion is at its peak. Even for those who meet online, there are hindrances such as getting connected online or getting the range to use the mobile to be connected… However, in relation to God, we can all irrespective of the place we are in, however remote and rural a place on earth, even if we do not have any of these technologies, instantly anyone who want to and wishes to can get connected with God. Any number of persons at any time – round the clock, all through the year, how amazing it is!!!

We get connected with God and speak to God and listen to God. Today, as we ponder on the Easter story once again, we are going to look at the “Meeting point and Mission model: Where do we find the risen Lord Jesus?”

I am so grateful to God who enabled me to complete my eight year term with the Council for World Mission (CWM) as the Executive Secretary for Mission Education. One thing that I miss so much after leaving CWM which taught me to love people beyond cultures, regions, religions and languages is meeting and being with people. Therefore FB has indeed provided a fine forum for me to get connected with people across the world of course, I realise that it does exclude many who do not have an access to internet and that is indeed hurting.

I had a memorable 50th birthday recently when my FB friends made it so special with their good wishes and greetings. Since my husband does not believe in celebrating anything, I decided to make this day different by spending a little more time on FB meeting my friends there. Each one brought such rich memories of how they have contributed to my personal, spiritual and mission formation. Not all are Christians, yet everyone has contributed so profusely, more than I could express and witness to. I owe a great deal to them and many others for what I am now at fifty! I am very grateful to all of them as I remember the UBUNTU concept from the African context which means, “I am what I am because of what you are (the community rather communities in which we live) to me.” They believe that it takes a community to rear a child.

As I reflected more on this FB forum of meeting point, what the basic requirements to build a community of friends, I could trace a few similarities from one of my perspectives on FB. FB is just a tool to link us at a superficial level with a web of friends. Like any other tool, be it a blade or a knife or medicines etc, we have clearly defined ways of using them for our benefit as well as the humanity’s and the benefit of the world. Our perspectives are important and based on them tools can be used constructively or destructively.

Meeting Point and Mission Model

Why is a meeting point necessary? Be it an airport, train station or Bus station or any other public place, very often we find a specific place with a sign board ‘Meeting Point’ or its equivalents in English or the local languages. It is very easy for a person to meet another person specially an unknown person at a meeting point. It clearly guides the person arriving and the person going to pick up or meet with the ones arriving. Even to meet known people or friends in a strange place, meeting points make it so easy and simple. So, where do we find Jesus our friend, the risen Christ today? If we find him and follow him, we will be following the best Mission model as he is our only Mission model. God sent him and he sent the disciples and continues to send us. The Holy Spirit sent to us continues to work in us and send us out again and again in mission, but where do we begin all this?

Even if we keep somewhat a superficial relationship with friends on FB, it helps us to get connected share our thoughts, moods, our inspirations and connect with specific people such as good old friends, childhood friends and neighbours, schoolmates. College-mates, teachers or colleagues. What is important and essential is the manner in which we come to this meeting place – the humility with which one comes. Meeting points are therefore only initiators or keeps us connected at a surface level so that we can trace each other and provide necessary support through other means when necessary. It is also a forum where you share with many others your inspiring thoughts, reflections and views.

These meeting points help us to connect with our friends crossing and transcending all the barriers of age, gender, our titles, our positions, roles, our socio-economic contexts, cultures, languages, traditions etc. I would like to mention here about a good old friend of mine from the time we studied together at the United Theological College, Bangalore. He is now a Bishop in the Orthodox Church in US . Statistically, he has been noted as the Bishop with maximum friends on FB!!!! He has about 3,300 friends from all circles, all ages and from all professional, cultural and religious backgrounds. As I look at him on FB being connected so well, I see that he has taken many risks that many other Bishops or people of his rank would much hesitate to – to leave behind his title, rank, position etc and come as an equal to relate with ordinary people, youth, children and be ready to communicate with them and let them communicate in the way they are used to. It is very nice to see youngsters dialoguing with him on various issues be it even mundane issues as what to eat or avoid! So unless we leave behind many of the baggage that we carry around with us constantly, we cannot come to this meeting point to have a wider fellowship and friendship. This is the same I feel with our relationship with the risen Lord Jesus, we are challenged to leave behind many of baggage that we constantly carry with us to remind us of our positions, roles and powers. What risen Jesus requires is for us to meet him at Galilee, why?

Importance about Galilee as the meeting point

Jesus even during his ministry on earth had a definite goal that “All be one”. All his teachings beginning with the inauguration of God’s reign and extending it on earth, loving God and neighbour, bridging the gap between the humanity and God, promoted this spirit of oneness. This oneness could be attained only by moving up the standard/quality of life for people at the fringes or margins of the society. The reality of this oneness could become true only by including the excluded. Therefore, the Mission mandate that he proclaimed in the beginning according to Luke 4:4ff made it very clear who will be the prime beneficiaries of his mission. A great deal of Jesus’ work was very obviously in Galilee which is a place by the sea where majority were from the poorer sections of the society. Jesus loved to serve in this region. This was Jesus’ preferential option for his mission and ministry to fulfil the mission mandate/manifest that he had proclaimed. He knew where mission and ministry had to begin to bear the genuine mark of reconciliation, bridging all inequalities and gaps that existed in all relationships – be it between Humans and God, between human beings or between the Humans and the created world. The meeting point for this transforming mission had to be Galilee that had the poorest, underprivileged and marginalised sections of the society in his time in the context that he lived. Just as we today in our project work believe that resources should be spent on the “Right target, right tasks and right time” to make the most of it, Jesus knew that the human resources that he had shaped, formed and initiated needs a place like Galilee to come out with a successful mission.
How does the risen Jesus reveal himself and point to a new Mission model?

Risen Jesus reveals himself to world in many ways. He actively participates in people’s lives revealing himself. He puts people “Back on the track” to continue in his mission. Let us see how Jesus reveals himself as he arose from the dead and also today in our lives as he beckons us to a transforming mission.

Risen Jesus Conquers

Risen Jesus conquers death and all evil forces bringing liberation and life to the entire creation, not just the human beings. He promises us the eternal life. The living presence of the risen Jesus among and within us enables us to move forward in life with hope, without fear and doubt. Risen Jesus challenges us with a call to enhance life in all its fullness – so it is not just eternal life – life after death but life before death is also equally important. That is why he calls us to Galilee to meet this risen Jesus to follow him and continue in his mission. He is our Mission Model.

Risen Jesus Confronts

Risen Jesus confronts all oppressive structures and exploitative systems to break the shackles of bondage whatever it may be. He challenges us with a call to break all the forces that deprive, deny and destroy life through unjust means that keep people, the natural world or even keep Jesus himself imprisoned. These happen with our limited and limiting faith that puts a fence or barrier around Jesus through our church traditions that are oppressive be it to women, youth, children, or specific groups of people in our midst which need to be conquered.

Risen Jesus Comforts

Risen Jesus comforts those who are worried about the hurdles that block them from meeting him. The women who were there at the foot of the cross until the last and come to the tomb first are so worried as to who will roll the stone for them? They still did not give up their journey to meet the dead Jesus. They found the stone rolled away for them and also receive the good news that Jesus is risen from the dead. However big the problems may be that prevent us from meeting Jesus, he is ready to remove those barriers even before we reach there. Jesus is ready to meet with his disciples even with closed doors.

Risen Jesus campaigns for new models

It is such a visible change that the risen Jesus makes in his mission and ministry. The risen Jesus brings about a radical paradigm shift in the model of his ministry. As we all know the sends a woman (Mary Magdalene) as the Apostle to the Apostles!!! If anyone has to find the risen Jesus, then they need to meet him in Galilee and that is the mandate that still stand valid – unless we are prepared to meet him in the Galilees of our contexts, we will never see the risen Jesus. When we meet him and follow him, we will never be scared to bring in a paradigm shift in our structures too. If we want to bear witness to this risen Christ we are called to make these drastic changes too.

Jesus meets people in their own contexts and opens their eyes, ears and changes their mindset once in for all. The risen Lord chooses to incorporate women in mission and ministry, he travels with those who journey away and helps then to “get back on the track”.

Risen Jesus meets his disciples who decide to go back into fishing at the shore. He meets them with love, kindness, mercy and due care and concern to feed them and nourish them. Jesus does not disqualify them but rather enables them to go through a refresher’s course with him and this helps them to “Get back on the track”.

Risen Jesus comprehends and merges with contexts

We see the risen Jesus appearing in different contexts and it is very amazing that the risen Jesus becomes so very flexible and transcends the given local identity that he had as the historical Jesus with limited identities. Risen Jesus appears as a Gardener to Mary in the garden, as a traveller to the Emmaus disciples going to Emmaus, as a fisherman to disciples who went back to fishing – Peter considers him as an expert fisherman initially. So, it is not very easy to identify risen Jesus as one could do with the historical Jesus. Even people who lived in close association with him could not identify him at a glance but through his voice, or his actions. That is where risen Jesus becomes visible. Mary Magdalene recognises him with his voice, Emmaus disciples through his act of breaking the bread, and Peter when he catches a huge load of fish instantly recognises him and jumps into the sea again in order to appear well dressed before his master! Risen Jesus surpasses his identities as an historical Jesus – a male, Jew, carpenter’s son, a teacher etc. This risen Jesus meets us in different ways in our lives today. Are we ready to recognise him?

The risen Christ is waiting for us to meet with him in the different and specific areas in our own regions that are equivalent to Galilee. Today’s financial stress and financial crisis are creating more places like Galilee where Jesus is actively present. Are we ready to meet him at this specific meeting point in our own contexts? It requires us very often to shake off the many titles, being conscious of our positions, roles etc but keeping in mind the responsibility that he has given us and showed us – to be with Galileans and work to bring about transformation. This risen Jesus who transcends his historical identities is also capable of revealing himself in and through other faiths, religions and cultures. Are we able to see this Jesus. We may not be able to grasp his identity through his appearance but definitely through his voice, actions, and attitudes.

Risen Jesus Compels us to spring in action

Risen Jesus convinces us of his loving presence, convicts us of our detour in and through our attitudes and actions and compels us to spring in action. Jesus does it by just disappearing as soon as people recognise him as if his mission ends there. Yes his mission ends when he puts us on that track!!! As soon as Mary recognised him, he assigns her mission and disappears. There she goes and tells the disciples that Jesus is risen and they need to meet him at Galilee where he will be. They need to now make a conscious journey to Galilee and the disciples know that context well. As for the Emmaus disciples, again Jesus disappears as soon as they recognise him and they return to Jerusalem to proclaim that Jesus is arisen indeed!!!

Risen Christ Commands and calls

Risen Jesus commands us to love one another genuinely and experience the peace which he leaves behind for each and every one of us. We can experience this peace only when we can love others unconditionally. We are called to meet the risen Jesus in Galilee. We are called to recognise the risen Jesus through his voice, attitudes and actions that are seen everywhere – outside our homes, families, churches, communities and societies.

Even as we wonder where God is or risen Jesus is in the recent Tsunami in Japan, we can boldly say that God is in the midst of this tragedy. Risen Jesus is there already as it poses a Galilean context. How can we hear Jesus’ call from this Galilee? How can we hear Jesus’ call from different contexts that we cannot just imagine? How does Jesus reveal himself today through other faiths, denominations, religions etc. Can we hear his call and respond to build communities of peace and wholeness?

Insights from Meeting point and Mission Model through Risen Jesus

The birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus keeps resonating ‘fullness of life for all”. This fullness of life and eternal life point us to a forward life. I often fancy looking at this word ‘Forward’ in its short form – FWD. It is very interesting to see what this has to offer to a mission model.

As we look at the world around us – be it the Tsunami or the financial crunch or the world insecurity on account of the arms race and wars, it stirs up a lot of heat and dust through Fear – fear of the natural calamities like fire, floods, Tsunami etc. The financial crunch that explodes with soaring number of unemployed intensifies worries about the future, worries about tomorrow and worries about our own existence. Finally the element of doubt that gets magnified in suspecting ‘the other’, not trusting and becoming paranoid ends up in nations cutting down their budgets on very important portfolios such as Children’s Education, University education, helping older citizens etc. On the other hand, nations are busy building their own military and defence systems, spending on nuclear weapons and so on. The obsession with security has unfortunately led us into further insecurity. The element of doubt drives humankind to become more divisive, violent and vulnerable. It is in such a context that FB as a metaphor for a Mission Model helps us to forward.

Today, the risen Jesus once again comes into our midst and says, “Peace be with you” and says “Do not Fear, Worry or Doubt – FWD“. This alone will help us move forward in our life. When doubt sets in, it manipulates people, contexts and communities. We need to “Get back on the track” by overcoming fear. Worry and doubt constantly with the power and strength of our RISEN JESUS in order to move forward (FWD) towards fullness of life before death and life eternal after our physical death.

The article was published in the April 2011 issue of CSI Life Magazine

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Dr Mar Seraphim: Resurrection of Christ is a reality to be experienced


MUSCAT: After over a month of prayer and fasting, the Malankara Orthodox faithful celebrates Easter, the resurrection of Jesus Christ, regarded by Christians as their most important religious feast.

His Grace Dr Abraham Mar Seraphim, Metropolitan of Bangalore Diocese in his Easter message to the faithful says the cloud of fear, distress and uncertainity over us has given way to an abundant feeling of ‘resurrection’ and the presence of Jesus Christ is a testimony which is experienced personally by all. “The presence of risen Christ, the Prince of Peace, is for all and is available for each one of us. We feel his presence if we really need it,” he says.

Dr Mar Seraphim further notes that this reality of resurrection experienced by all of us is not story or a rhetoric in the present century.

The Metropolitans Easter homily focuses on four incidents connected to the glorious resurrection from the Gospel of St John.
The first instant relates to Jesus appearing to Mary Magdalene (St John 20:16 onwards). Mary was saddened and crying when she came to the tomb and saw that the Lord’s body had been taken away with the rolling of the stone. Comparing this with similar present situations in life, the Metropolitan says that unhappy and sad incidents give way to hope and peace.
Second is the appearance at a gathering of disciples. The disciples were in the midst of fear of not seeing the Lord after he had risen. St John 19. From a phase full of fear and gloom, comes a new phase of happiness and hope.

Thirdly, is the scene of Jesus and Thomas (St John from 20:26). St Thomas was in total disbelief of not seeing Jesus and then Jesus appears to him in a locked room and said, “Peace be with you.” This Easter is also about moments of true belief in the Lord, says Dr Mar Seraphim.

Finally, Jesus appears to seven disciples (St John 21: 1-12) at Lake Tiberias. The disciples had set out to catch fish and were futile after several attempts to net a good catch. They had lost all hope and were thoroughly disappointed. At his moment, Jesus appears to them and tells them to throw the net as per his direction. “From disappointment we notice there is a moment of gladness and acceptance.”

Dr Mar Seraphim points out that all these four incidents had connections with Jesus Christ. Thoughout they were sad and were not convinced about the truth that is ‘Jesus.’ That is why, He appears to them repeatedly four times at different instances. He convinces them to become a reality and to get accepted.”

The Metropolitan further points that Christ is present for all, available to all and to all those who need him.
Dr Mar Seraphim has extended his Easter greetings to the Vicar, members of the managing committee and all members of the Mar Gregorios Orthodox Maha Edavaka, Muscat.