Epiphany: The Baptism of Jesus

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We need to “get baptized every day” to live a meaningful Christian life, as baptism is a process of reaching back to the beginning of the adventure.

The Baptism of Jesus: Luke 3:15-22 (NRSV)
15 As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah,[a] 16 John answered all of them by saying, “I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with[b] the Holy Spirit and fire. 17 His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

18 So, with many other exhortations, he proclaimed the good news to the people. 19 But Herod the ruler,[c] who had been rebuked by him because of Herodias, his brother’s wife, and because of all the evil things that Herod had done, 20 added to them all by shutting up John in prison.

21 Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, 22 and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved;[d] with you I am well pleased.”[e]

The Second Sunday After Christmas

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Each human being makes life choices that God uses to fulfill the covenant of salvation…

The Return from Egypt: Matthew 2:19-23 (NRSV)

19 When Herod died, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, 20 “Get up, take the child and his mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who were seeking the child’s life are dead.” 21 Then Joseph[a] got up, took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And after being warned in a dream, he went away to the district of Galilee. 23 There he made his home in a town called Nazareth, so that what had been spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled, “He will be called a Nazorean.”

THE SUNDAY AFTER CHRISTMAS

THE SUNDAY AFTER CHRISTMAS new_001Do not forget to bring Jesus with you, while returning from the church…

 

CHRISTMAS QUIZ 2013

1. Whose birthday is celebrated as Christmas?

a. The Father God
b. God the Son
c. The Holy Sprit
d. None of the above

2. What is the meaning of the name Jesus?

a. Salvation
b. God saves
c. The lord is help
d. All of the above

3. Which two Gospels have the details of the birth of Jesus?

a. Mathew & Luke
b. Luke & Mark
c. Mark & John
d. John & Mathew

4. Which Gospel has the best and detailed description about the first Christmas?

a. Mathew
b. Mark
c. Luke
d. John

5. Who all visited baby Jesus on his birth day?

a. Shepherds & the Wise men
b. Shepherds
c. Wise Men & Angels
d. None of the above

6. The wise men searched for Jesus in__

a. The manger
b. Bethlehem
c. The Palace of King Herod
d. Nazareth

Answers
1. B; The father God send his only son to this world as part of his salvation plan. This is to reinstate the connection and fellowship with God, which was lost in the Garden of Eden.
2. D; Jeshua (Hebrew Yeshua) is a later abbreviated form of the name Joshua; which means The Lord is Help, or Salvation or the God saves. So the correct answer is all of the above.
3. A; Mathew and Luke do mention about the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem. There is little reference in other two gospels about the nativity.
4. C; Luke 2: 1-7 describes the birth of Jesus; verses 8-20 describe the annunciation to shepherds and their visit.
5. B
6. C; the star appeared on the east was there indication that the savior was born. But they searched for the savior in the palace of King Herod in Jerusalem. The king secretly called the wise men and learned the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem. They further followed the star and may be many months later they finally saw the savior. They offered three gifts; gold, frankincense and myrrh.

Let’s celebrate the 10th consecration anniversary of Mor Theethos Yeldho

On the top of Pyramid of the Sun, Mexico

The tenth anniversary of the metropolitan consecration anniversary of our Archbishop His Eminence Yeldho Mor Theethos will be celebrated on January 4, 2014 at St. Mary’s Syriac Orthodox Church, Paramus, NJ. Mor Theethos was consecrated as bishop by the Patriarch of Antioch His Holiness Ignatious Zakka I on January 4, 2004 and enthroned as the bishop of the Malankara Archdiocese of North America on February 28, 2004.   He will be completing ten years of service as the bishop of the diocese in a couple of months.

Under his eminent spiritual leadership the diocese has achieved many significant milestones in its organizational growth. He was instrumental in binding the churches and congregations of the Jacobite faith scattered across US and Canada. His attempts to initiate, implement and integrate the systematic functioning of churches and the diocese were remarkable. Despite several stumbling blocks, he was persistent in his faith, traditions and obligations to his master, the Almighty God. People remember him as a simple yet fully dedicated servant of God.

His visionary interventions in sustaining the second generation of Indo-American origin in Churches were extraordinary. He ordained many youths as deacons and were trained to be the youth leaders in local churches. His dream of a Malankara-American seminary is almost come true as the diocese has now purchased its headquarters in New Jersey.

He has extensive theological training from the premier orthodox theological centers like Malelcruz Dayara, MSOT Seminary, Kerala, St. Ephrem Patriarchal Seminary, Damascus, and from St. Vladimir’s Seminary, New York. He is currently pursuing doctoral studies in Theology at the Trinity Seminary, Newburgh. Moreover, he is a postgraduate in Mathematics, holds a Bachelor’s degree in Education and worked as a teacher of Mathematics in Kerala for a couple of years.

He started serving the holy altar at the age of nine years, and was ordained as a deacon at the age of 12 years by the Late Kadavil Paulose Mor Athanasios, Metropolitan of the Evangelical Association of the East. He travelled across the world and visited many monasteries for short-term studies. Some of the famous spiritual places he stayed are St. Gabriel Dayara, Turabdin, Kurkuma Dyara, Turkey, St. Mark’s Monastery, Jerusalem, St. Ephrem Monastery, Amsterdam, St. Jacob’s Monastery, Warburg-Germany and St. Eugin’s Monastery, Switzerland.

His wide spread social involvement includes serving as the President of SCMI (Student Christian Movement of India) in Union Christian College, Alwaye- Kerala, State Chairman of the University-YMCA in Kerala, and the State Vice-Chairman of YMCAs of Kerala. He also served as the Administrator of the St. George Simhasana Bethsaboro, Perumpally, Kerala from 1999 to 2001.  He belongs to the famous Pathickal family in Perumbavoor.

The Archdiocesan council of the Malankara North American Diocese of the Syrian Orthodox Church has decided to celebrate the anniversary in an auspicious way with the participation of all the parishes.

Our church is also celebrating this even in a very special manner; the Board of Trustees have already decided to have Holy Qurbana at Church followed by a Special Meeting  on January 4th 2014 to congratulate His Eminence, and to extend our support to all his endeavors for the development and prosperity of the diocese. Let’s join this celebration wholeheartedly to praise the Almighty God for giving us this wonderful spiritual leader.

ദൈവീക നടത്തിപ്പിന്റെ പത്തു വർഷങ്ങൾ

972170_156649347847773_779391768_n-300x280കടൽ കടന്നു വന്ന കാറ്റ് പൂവിനോട് ചോദിച്ചു. എന്താണിവിടെ ആഘോഷം ?  പൂവ് മന്ദഹാസത്തോടെ കാറ്റിനോടോതി; അറിഞ്ഞില്ലേ, തീത്തോസ് പിതാവിൻറ്റെ മെത്രാഭിഷേക വാർഷികമാണ്. ഒരു തൂവൽ സ്പർശമായി  കാറ്റു പൂവിനെ തഴുകി കടന്നു പോയി.

ചെറുപ്രായത്തിൽ തന്നെ ദൈവീക വേലക്കായി വേർതിരിക്കപെട്ട   പാത്തിക്കൽ എബിയിലെക്കു പൌരോഹിത്യ നൽവരങ്ങൾ ഒന്നൊന്നായി ദൈവീക നിശ്ചയ പ്രകാരം വന്നു ചേരുകയായിരുന്നു. സുറിയാനി ഓർത്തഡോൿസ്‌ സഭയുടെ കാറും കോളും നിറഞ്ഞ മലങ്കര-അമേരിക്കൻ ഭദ്രാസന സാരഥ്യം ഏറ്റെടുക്കുമ്പോൾ, തൻറെ ചുമലിലേക്ക് വരുന്ന ഭാരത്തിന്റെ തൂക്കമൊ, നിലനിന്നിരുന്ന അന്തചിദ്രങ്ങളുടെ ആഴമോ മനസ്സിലാക്കുന്നതിനുള്ള പ്രായമോ പാകതയോ  അദേഹത്തിണ്ടോ എന്ന് പലരും സംശയിച്ചു.

പൊങ്ങച്ചങ്ങളുടെയും പുറംപൂച്ചുകളുടെയും ‘മറുനാടൻ സംസ്കാരത്തിൽ’ അദ്ദേഹം ഒറ്റപെടുമോ എന്നും സന്ദേഹിച്ചു. സ്വാർത്ഥമതികളെയും സ്ഥാനമോഹികളെയും കൊണ്ട് മറ്റേതു ആത്മീയ നേതാവിനും നേരിടേണ്ടി വരുന്ന മുള്ള് മെത്തയിലൂടുള്ള യാത്രയാണ്‌ അദേഹത്തെയും എതിരേറ്റതു. പണത്തിനു മീതെ ‘പ്രാവ്’ പോലും പറക്കാത്ത നാട്ടിൽ സാധാരണക്കാരനായ മെത്രാനായി അധികനാൾ വാഴില്ല എന്നുപോലും പലരും പ്രവചിച്ചു.

എന്നാൽ മറ്റാരും പതറിപോകുന്ന ഭരണ സാഹചര്യങ്ങളിൽ നിലനില്ക്കുക എന്നത് ശ്രമകരവും അതിലുപരി ദൈവനിശ്ചയവുമായിരുന്നു. അതിസമർത്ഥൻമാരുടെയും അതിബുദ്ധിമാൻമാരുടെയും സൂത്രശാലികളായ തന്ത്രഞ്ജൻമാരുടെയും ലോകത്തിൽ ‘സാധാരണക്കരനായി’ ഇടയ ശുശ്രുഷ നടത്തുക എന്നത് അദ്ദ്വാനിക്കുനവന്റെയും ഭാരം ചുമക്കുനവന്റെയും അത്താണിയായ അരുമനാഥാന്റെ നിയൊഗമയിരുന്നുഎന്നത് സംശയമന്യേ വിശ്വസിക്കാം. മോർ തീത്തോസിൻറെ കഴിഞ്ഞ പത്തുവർഷങൾ അതിനുള്ള തെളിവാണ്.കടന്നു പോയ വഴിത്താരകളിലും ഇടപെട്ട മനുഷമനസുകളിലും ‘സിമ്പ്ലിസിറ്റിയുടെ’ സുവിശേഷം യഥോചിതം പകരുവാൻ ഈ ഇടയനു കഴിഞ്ഞു. ഈ ‘സാധാരണത്തൊo’ ആണ് തീത്തോസ് പിതാവിലേക്കും അദ്ദേഹം ശുശ്രുഷിക്കുന്ന ഇടവകയിലേക്കും ആത്മീയ ചൈതന്യവും കൃപയും അനവരതമായി ദൈവം ചൊരിയുവാനിടയായത്‌.   സാധാരണത്തൊത്തിൽ അസാധാരണത്തൊവും   ചൈതന്യവും ദർശിക്കുന്ന കിഴക്കൻ ചിന്തയുടെ പ്രതിഫലനമയിരുന്നു അദ്ദേഹത്തിന്റെ ഇടയ ശുശ്രുഷ.

കാലാതീതമായ പാരമ്പര്യ ആരാധനകളിലും ശുശ്രുഷകളിലും ഉറച്ചു വിശ്വസിക്കുന്ന  അദ്ദേഹം, ആധുനിക ലോക സമസ്യകളോടും ആവശ്യങ്ങളോടും ക്രിയാത്മകമായി സംവേദിക്കുവാനും ശ്രമിക്കുന്നു. രണ്ടാം തലമുറയിൽപെട്ട  അനേകം അമേരിക്കൻ  മലയാളികളെ സഭാവിശ്വാസത്തിൽ നിലനിർത്തുവാനും, അതിലുപരി അവരുടെ ദൈനംദിന ജീവിത സംഘർഷങ്ങളെ പാരമ്പര്യ വാദിയായി നിന്നുകൊണ്ട് തന്നെ മനസിലാക്കുവാനും തീത്തോസ് പിതാവിന് കഴിഞ്ഞു.

അനേകം യുവ ശെമ്മാശൻമാരെ പട്ടംകെട്ടി പരിശീലിപ്പിച്ചു  സഭാ ശുശ്രുഷക്കായി സജ്ജരാക്കുന്നതിലൂടെ വരും വർഷങ്ങളിൽ യുവജനങ്ങളുടെ ആരാധനാ പങ്കാളിത്തം ഉറപ്പിക്കാം എന്ന  പിതാവിൻറെ ദീർഘവീക്ഷണം എടുത്തു പറയേണ്ടത് തന്നെ. തൻറെ അദ്ധ്യാപന പാടവവും , പ്രായോഗിക സുറിയാനി ഭാഷ പരിചയവും ഭദ്രാസനത്തിനും യുവ ശെമ്മാശൻമാർക്കും വൈദീകർക്കും ഒരു മുതൽകൂട്ടാണ്.

ദീർഘവീക്ഷണവും ലക്ഷ്യങ്ങളും മാറിപോകാമായിരുന്ന ഒരു കാലഘട്ടത്തിൽനിന്ന് കെട്ടുറപ്പുള്ള ഒരു കുടുംബമായി ഇന്നു  ഈ ഇടവക മറികഴിഞ്ഞിരിക്കുന്നു. എന്നാൽ ഒരു മെത്രാച്ചനും കുറെ പട്ടക്കാരും കൂടി തുഴഞ്ഞാൽ ലക്ഷ്യത്തിൽ എത്തുന്നതല്ലലോ സഭാ   ദൌത്ത്യം . ഇടവക ഒന്നായി ഒരു മനസ്സോടെ പ്രാർത്ഥിക്കുകയും പ്രവർത്തിക്കുകയും ചെയ്യുമ്പോൾ   ആണല്ലോ സഭക്കും സഭമാക്കൾക്കും സമൂഹത്തിനും പരിവർത്തനവും വളർച്ചയും ഉണ്ടാകുന്നതു. അതുകൊണ്ട് തന്നെ ഇതു കേവലം മെത്രാഭിഷേക വാർഷിക ആഘോഷങ്ങൾ മാത്രമല്ല. മറിച്ച് ബാലാരിഷ്ടതകളിൽ നിന്ന് ഉയരത്തെത്തെഴുന്നേല്ക്കുന്ന സുറിയാനി ഓർത്തഡോൿസ്‌  സഭയുടെ അമേരിക്കൻ ഇടവകയുടെ ദ്രുതഗതിയിലുള്ള വളർച്ചാ കാലഘട്ടത്തിന്റെ തുടക്കം കുറിക്കലാണ്.

ഈ ആഘോഷങ്ങളിൽ നിറഞ്ഞ ദൈവീക സ്തുതികളോടെ, ഈ നല്ലിടയനെ നൽകിയ ദൈവത്തിനു ഒരായിരം നന്ദിയുടെ പൂചെണ്ടുകൾ സമർപ്പിച്ചുകൊണ്ട് ഒരു ഭദ്രാസന ഇടവക മുഴുവൻ പങ്കെടുക്കുന്നു. കഴിഞ്ഞ പത്തു വർഷക്കാലം ദൈവീക നടത്തിപ്പിന്റെ ദിനങ്ങൾ ആയിരുന്നു. വരും കാലങ്ങളിലും ദൈവീക വാഗ്ധാനപ്രകാരം ആ ദിവ്യനടത്തിപ്പ് തുടരുകതന്നെ ചെയ്യും. അതുകൊണ്ട് തന്നെ പൂക്കൾ മന്ദഹസിക്കുകയും ഇളം കാറ്റത്തു കിളികൾ പാട്ടുപാടുകയും ചെയ്യും; നല്ലിടയാ വരിക സസമാധാനത്താലെ…

-       ഡീക്കൻ ഡോ.  രഞ്ജൻ മാത്യു

THE SUNDAY BEFORE CHRISTMAS

THE SUNDAY BEFORE CHRISTMAS

 

Genealogies are common in Hebrew bible and were a matter of pride.  Mathew’s portrait of the genealogy of Jesus Christ is an amazing testimony to God’s power to overcome the sin of humankind. This stylized ancestral tree consisting of roughly three groups of fourteen: from Abraham to David, from David to the deportation to Babylon; and from the deportation to Jesus. The numerical value of David’s name in Hebrew is fourteen, which may account for this arrangement.

From an Orthodox perspective, these three phases represent the three states of human life. The first phase represents the uniqueness and dignity of humanhood, and the continued fellowship with God in the Garden of Eden.  The separation and lost fellowship with God when they committed sin represents the second phase. But God never abandoned the humankind. The salvation plan by sending the Son of God for the remission of human sin and the reinstatement of the fellowship with God represents the third phase.

Jesus genealogy is unusual, not simply because it includes women, but also because it features non-Israelite women, some of questionable repute (e.g., Tamar, Rahab). In short, despite Mathew’s intention to prove that Jesus is a true Israelite, this genealogy is by no means a “pure” family tree: Judah visited prostituted women; Rahab was a prostituted woman; David committed adultery and murder; Solomon flirted with idols. The inclusion of women (and/ or with questionable repute) may prefigure Mary’s own marital dilemma and the coming mission to the gentiles.

Yet through these imperfect people, God was able to preserve his promises and shape earthly events to prepare the way for the savior Messiah. Today, let’s think about what all ways in which we have departed from God’s will for us? Think about how God has called us back. Despite our spiritual dryness and (perceived) distance from God, can’t we see God’s working to keep us back on track with his purposes?

Today’s Gospel reading gives us the hope, that despite we slipped away we can come back as he came to call not the righteous but the sinners.

REVELATION TO ST. JOSEPH

St. Joseph: The ‘special’ chosen for the heavenly mission

REVELATION TO ST. JOSEPH

Joseph was a poor carpenter. He was simple, humble and lovable. Yet God choose this simple man to carry out one of the most important heavenly mission in the salvation plan. We are living in a world where everyone is ‘special’; we are proud of our ancestral family, our education, our occupation, our talents, our beauty, our skills, and the list continues. God always needs specials, but not according to human terms.

What made Joseph special? Though he thought of abandoning Mary, he does not want her to be disgraced in public. How will we cover ourselves, if we are going to be blamed in public? Aren’t we smart enough to play the ‘blame game’? But Joseph was righteous. He was extraordinary not to play the blame-game and the dream made him complete turnaround. The angel in his dream informed that the baby born in Mary is of the Holy Spirit. He took the word of the Angel as that of God. There is no doubt about the good understanding of Joseph. Neuroscience says we dream every day during the REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep. But do you have any dreams that made a complete 180? Let’s pray to the Almighty God to have good dreams to help us to get inspired for a purposeful life.

From today’s Gospel reading, we can see that though simple, Joseph was a man of compassion, integrity, decency and love. He honored God’s will in his life, and was totally committed to act on God’s will. He was concerned about what God wanted out of his life than about what he himself wanted. This is the ‘special’ that made him chosen for the heavenly mission.

God is still looking for special people He can use to carry out His will in the today’s world. Are we ready to be the ‘specials’ in his list?

Birth of St. John the Baptist and ‘Zechariah’s Prophecy’

Birth of St. John the Baptist_001
Most of the orthodox prayers are filled with praises and thanksgiving to the Trinitarian God. In addition to the traditional prayers, personal prayers and meditations are inevitable in living a meaningful Orthodox life. Although we pray a lot, most of our prayers tend to be “wish lists”. In today’s Gospel reading, Zechariah’s prayer is full of thanksgiving and acknowledgement of what God has done in the past and will do in the future. He worships God using the special name “Most High” and proclaims God’s tender mercy. Today, when we gather together for family prayers read and meditate ‘Zechariah’s Prophecy’. During our personal meditation, try finishing these sentences:
“God, I praise you because you have…”
“I look forward to the day when you will…”
“O God, I am filled with awe and wonder that you…”