Psalm 23 is easy to recite and a marvelous poem. One of the psalms written by King David. Being David’s favorite psalm, which portrays God’s holy, divine and unfailing love. This psalm can be read during times of joy, sadness, loneliness or hopelessness. After meditating on each six verses of the psalm, you shall seek comfort and peace.
Psalm 23 speaks about the Lord Jesus (vv.1-3) and to the Lord Jesus (vv. 4-6). We (sheep; see also Jn 10: 1-5) identifies Him as my shepherd (vv. 1; see also Jn 10:14), thus indicating a close relationship with Him. And in this relationship of shepherd and sheep, we lack nothing, for example, the green pastures of kingdom life (v. 2; see also Jn 10:10) ;the still waters of baptism (v.2; see also Jn 3:5) and the conversion of the soul to the paths of righteousness (v.3; see also Jn10: 3,4 -7). In speaking to the Lord, we are grateful to Him
(1) for deliverance from the fear of death (v.4; see also Heb 2 :14,15)
(2) for the Eucharist (v.5; see also Lk 22:14-20)
(3) for a lifetime of mercy (v.6; see also Lk 1:50,54).
Psalm 23 helps us to understand mercy and kindness of Lord Jesus. King David was not only a poet, but also was a prophet who prophesied about Christ in his psalms. David who , with profound love, claims God as “my shepherd”. Showing a sweet and caring nature of our God, we need to fear nothing. We will be taken good care by our Lord.
Testaments promises us salvation and new testament fulfills old testament by the coming of foretold Messiah. Above references is a proof that all things are carefully and majestically orchestrated by our Lord through judges, kings, queens, prophets and prophetesses. Jesus came down from heaven, became man, sacrificed Himself, died on the cross, rose again from dead, ascended into heaven, is with Father Jehovah and shall come again to take us to a new heaven. Christ redeemed us from our sins. God, the father, sacrificed His only son for mankind. His love is the greatest gift to us all.
For God says my sheep knows my voice, they would follow me. We all are his sheep, aren’t we? All we need to seek Him and He will answer. For He has the power and authority which no one has. For it’s written in the bible, a good shepherd for his own sheep would fight wild animals to protect his flocks. Though a hired servant would prefer to run away for his life leaving the flocks to wild animals. Christ for us fought Satan. It’s not hard to be His sheep, repent for your sins, love and honor God. Start talking to God, through prayers and hymns, you will be surely answered. God loves us all, you, me and everyone. Love God and you shall seek peace.
I am from Indian Malankara Orthodox Syrian church, that is oriental orthodox christian background. I believe God Jesus is my eternal Father and He wants us to be with Him by believing in Him , by calling out to Him. Satan tempts us with earthly pleasure to separate us from our heavenly Father. It’s not the length of prayer or your offerings God needs, but a good heart. You know why psalm 23 uses shepherd because king David was a young and good shepherd of his father Jesse’s sheep. This psalm is very personal to king David. Notice the striking similarity, how Lord Jesus is a good shepherd of Father Jehovah’s sheep and we are His beloved sheep.
Interesting science fact, the sheep are usually very quiet and gentle, holding themselves aloof from the world. In a herd, all the sheep tend to listen to their leaders and show esteem to them. Because of the obedient character, sheep are among the most popular animals beloved by mankind.
Today, everyone thirsts for affection but ironically we sometimes take someone for granted knowing deep down in our hearts that they are always there for us. Someone who cares for you like parents, siblings, teachers or spouses, anyone. Although, human love is imperfect, complex and can be conditional. Knowingly or unknowingly human emotions can corrupt or change with regards to worldly influences. Christ’s love is simple, divine and pure. Christ loves us unconditionally, we are not perfect but seek near perfection to praise perfect God. For Christ highlights two important commandments, love your God with all your heart, mind and soul. Second, love your neighbors as yourself (Good Samaritan parable was the told for explaining who our neighbor is). Love and kindness heals any ailment, mentally or physically. Love God, believe in Him and be good to others. Hope nothing in return, for expectations not met causes immense pain. I do hope that this was helpful. I want to conclude by quoting, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” (v. Mt 7:7)
Indian Malankara Orthodox Syrian church has focused it’s belief mainly in serving Christ with all their mind, soul, heart. Which involves discipline and unadulterated faith. In doing so we have beautiful traditions made by our early church fathers. Traditions which signifies life, death and the second coming of Christ. Traditions which are the sole essence and backbone of our church.
Today, I am sharing one such religious tradition which holds a beautiful meaning to it. The canonical hours of our prayers. Something which might look so unadorned at one simple glance but is really very symbolic. You wonder, Why? Let’s not waste anymore time and get straight into it.
In Indian Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, we have 7 canonical hours of prayers. Roman Catholic Churches also practices similar canonical hours of prayer but our prayers are different from theirs. We all should pray incessantly; as talking to God or doing good deeds is also accounted as a part of prayer to God. St. Paul teaches us to pray incessantly (1Thessalonians 5:17).
The seven canonical hours of prayers are:
1. Matnis/Prime (morning prayer, 6am)
2. Terce (third hr, 9 am)
3. Sext (sixth hr, 12 noon)
4. Nones (ninth hr, 3 pm)
5. Vespers (evening prayer, 6pm)
6. Compline (soothara, 9 pm)
7. Nocturn (night prayer, 12 midnight)
Chapel of Mar Gregorios Orthodox Syrian Church, Chembur
~pc: Aebin Thomas
Mar Gregorios Orthodox Syrian Church, Chembur also known as Mini Parumala Church. Bishop Geevarghese Gregorios of Parumala is the patron saint of this church. Special intercessory prayers to Mother Mary and Parumala Bishop is done on fridays. Evening prayers are seldom held here. One of the holy churches were people of different faiths have witnessed the power of Christ and have testified, sometimes in form of discrete letters.
In ancient India, time was measured using units of twenty four minutes known as “Naazhika”. One day was divided into sixty “Naazhikas”. the present day measurement of time using ‘hours’ was nor prevalent then. One hour was equivalent to two and a half “Naazhika”. A time unit consisting of seven and a half “Naazhika” was called a canonical hour (i.e 3 hours interval).
Prayers of canonical hours are related to the Passion of our Christ. Jews prayed three times a day. But King David used to pray seven times a day. (Psalm 119:164)
Nocturn – Jesus Christ is taken captive (St. John 18:12)
Matnis/prime – The trial of Jesus (St. John 18:28)
Terce – Pontius Pilate sentences Jesus Christ to be crucified. (Three hours after dawn; St. Mathew 27: 2-26)
Sext – Crucifixion of Christ (St. Mathew 27:45)
None – Christ dies (Three hours after noon; st. Mathew 27:46)
Vespers – Jesus Christ is taken from cross (st. Mathew 27: 57)
Compline – Jesus Christ is entombed (compline means guard; St. Luke 23:54)
In monasteries and convents, canonical prayers are said in specific hours. In homes the prayers of seven canonical hours are allowed to be said as morning and evening worship.During Three days and Great Lent fast, the prayers of canonical hours are said in three sets- Morning, noon and evening worship. the prayers for the canonical hours of Terce, Sext and None are included in noon worship. At the end of noon worship forty prostrations are done during these lenten days. Those who won’t be be able pray during working hours should do this worship along with morning prayers.
Sometimes for lay person it might be difficult to keep up the prayers with respect to time. Sometimes the prayers are skipped because of several genuine reasons. Many a times churches can reschedule the time for convenience of people or for the sake respecting the law of the country. So one might ask if prayers can’t be held on time so what’s the purpose of the organized timetable. I remember a joke, once a man wanted to board a bus but the bus was very late and behind it’s schedule. He approached ticket checker and angrily said,” if buses are so late, what’s the purpose of the time table? The ticket checker calmly replies,”if you didn’t have a schedule then how would you know that the buses are late.”
Law and order are made to avoid chaos. It also makes things easy and controlled, so does timely prayers with good heart. Pharisees and Sadducee prayed to display. But John, the baptist and our Christ referred them as vipers or hypocrites for their heart was not right in the eyes of God. For God said their action would be rewarded as in punished.
“And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.”
– Mathew 6:5
The parable of pharisee and the tax collector (Luke 18:9-14) by our Lord Christ teaches that pharisee who paid his tithes in time, was arrogant. He considered himself superior than the tax collector and was full of pride. Meanwhile the tax collector, who stood little far and dared not to lift his eyes towards heaven, prayed to God to forgive him cause he is a sinner. Christ assures that God heard the prayers of the tax collector rather than the phony pharisee, this parable teaches that a prayer with a good humble heart is heard than than the haughty hearts which follows all the rituals. Also, let’s be honest in this time and day of pandemic, earnest prayer is really required.
A prayer to God at specific time also symbolizes the conversations that used to happen in Eden Garden with Humans and God.(Genesis chapter 3:8) When Adam and Eve talked with God, before the grave sin they committed. God along with His creation, made in His image, walked in the garden together and shared everything. We pray hoping to walk with God in this world and in His new Heaven. I conclude this blog by praying that may we all be blessed and our sins be forgiven, so that we be reunited with God.
So powerful and poetic title of the the blog, right? Some might disagree about the title wholly but it’s okay, I guess. I think I will able to help you and persuade you with my insight for love. Let’s just all agree though that love has been discussed from ancient times and still remains debatable for it’s unique experience to each individual it touches. Hope I can present this post as interesting and differently as I intend it to be.
I only want to project what I came across or learnt. Feel free to join with me. Christ is all about love and forgiveness and I happen to witness that love. So, I share this post with nothing but with love.
How do we know we are acting in love? (1 Corinthians 13:4 ) The passage,1 Corinthians 13:4-8, gives specific characteristics of love:
it suffers long, is patient (1 Th 5:14);
it is kind, gentle, especially with those who hurt (Eph 4:32);
it does not envy, is not jealous of what others have (Pr 23:17);
it does not parade itself, put itself on display (Jn 3:30);
it is not puffed up, arrogant, proud (Gal 6:3);
it does not act rudely, brashly, mean-spiritedly, insulting others (Ecc 5:2);
it does not seek it’s own way, act pushy (10:24);
it is not provoked or angered (Pr 19:11);
it thinks no evil, does not keep score on others (Heb 10:17);
it rejoices not in iniquity takes no pleasure when others fall into sin (Mk 3:5);
it rejoices in the truth, is joyful when righteousness prevails (2 Jn4);
it bears all things,handles the burdensome (Gal 6;2);
it believes all things, trusts in God no matter what (Pr 3:5);
it hopes all things, keeps looking up, does not despair (Php 3:13);
it endures all things, “puts up with everything” (John Chrysostom), does not wear out (Gal 6:9);
it never fails, the only thing love cannot do is fail (1 Cor13:4).
Love lays as an important core in a good heavenly virtues. It happens to be the foundation in any relationship like parenthood, marriage etc. Everyone has their own perspective and experience towards love i.e to some it’s sweet or to some it might have been bitter or left a scar. I recollect a joke in a newspaper comic strip, an English teacher asks students, “If you see me stopping a donkey getting beaten up by his master. What virtue do you think I have? ” A child innocently replies,”brotherhood!”
According to Aristotle, virtue is essential to the pursuit of happiness. We can acknowledge that love towards parents isn’t same as love towards spouse, teachers or siblings. So there are different types of love, right? For in English love remains as an only word but in Greek, for love is specifically categorized in four different words.
The four loves in Greek
Storge – empathy bond.
Philia – friend bond.
Eros – romantic love.
Agape – unconditional “God” love. (Agape is the highest form of love)
Once a lay person asked a monk what is the difference between love and like. Monk replied,”It’s simple, when you stroll in a garden and see a beautiful flower, when you like the flower you pluck it. But when you really love the flower you let it be and adore it for it’s beauty. ” Love is divine and can be intensively laborious.
For Love includes:
Trust & Respect. (How much trust you have, the more respect and hope is exhibited )
Forgiveness & Patience. (How much patient you are and willing to forgive )
Privacy & Intimacy. (How much you are willing to share )
Compassion & Devotion. (For Compassion and devotion goes hand in hand )
Saving & Sacrifice. (How much you are willing to give up or give in)
Let’s try this in some scenarios. We love our parents but as we grow older our privacy or seclusion with them also might naturally grow as to make them less worried but there is still love and respect for them.
While in siblings or best friends, the respect would be less as compared to the amount given to parents. But trust and intimacy might reach to its highest peak than towards your parents. Later it might diminish to half with respect to your increasing age as you intend not to trouble them but still there is love.
Marriage is slightly different, as every aspect in it should be in decent ratio to make it successful. It’s more like a team of tennis players in doubles for the rest of life. If one falls short other has to compensate. It’s challenging and fun. Might be a good time to be thankful to your parents or to wish that you could be a heavenly couples as you desire it to be. God’s love, Agape is the highest form of love cause it is sacred,it is present in every love and without it other remaining three form of love losses it’s essence and purity. Agape is the beautiful truth which can’t be denied.
“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” (Ephesians 5:31). Here let’s give emphasis on becoming one flesh or soul rather than on leaving your parents for its just a figure of speech or a comparison to highlight the importance given to your spouse as they are a part of your own soul. Please refrain from completely abandoning your parents in this pursuit cause it’s wrong and Bible never encouraged it in the first place. Read Ephesians chapter 5, a portion of St.Paul’s epistle speaks about marriages, as one of the verse goes- “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” (Ephesians 5:25)
When it came to love, Aristotle believed that self-love is a prerequisite to loving others… Yes, but there is an unseen boundary for that too. For less self love and you will be less confident or have low self esteem. Too much self love and you will be coined as narcissist. Aristotle was a philosopher. Even concept of love can differ because of exposure in professional interest or knowledge.
Medical field might just comprehend humans as an interesting cluster of cells. For some rationalist love would be just secretion of certain hormones one of it is – Oxytocin (Found highly in women and also present in men). Also called the “love hormone,” oxytocin is a naturally occurring hormone and a neurotransmitter that is produced in the hypothalamus and transmitted into the bloodstream by the pituitary gland. Other happy hormones are dopamine and serotonin. While “I love you” to some people associated with software and internet would remind them of a computer virus found in mails. FYI! When you feel depressed you can hug a pillow, as hugging releases oxytocin which might be a temporary solution. Did you know when patients are treated with certain care and love their body recovers faster or has high chance of recovering from illness. It’s called as Mother Teresa effect.
Fascinating, right? Some thought to manipulate your feelings and hack your data by sending spam mail while other can breakdown your feelings into simple chemical compounds. We are not here for chemicals or computer viruses but we are here to know what love really is.
Christ’s life on earth revolved around teaching love, humility and forgiveness. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believed in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believe in him should not perish, but haveeternal life.” (John 3:16)
Lord Jesus Christ shared His heavenly love to everyone. For we were God’s servants but by Christ becoming unblemished lamb, we are blessed to be called the children of God. God’s love is so divine and pure as it also instructs to love our enemy. “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44 KJV). Christ told to love thy neighbours when someone tested Christ asking, who my neighbour is? Christ replies them with the parable of the Good Samaritan.
The parable of Good Samaritan is, when a Jew was badly hurt and robbed. His own nationality people and a levite (priest) left him to die but a Samaritan; for in those days Jews and Samaritans were not on friendly terms. In the parable the good Samaritan pitied on the wounded Jew, helped him and payed a very good amount for his treatment. After replying in this parable Jesus asked the man, who he thinks in this parable is the neighbour? He answered that it eas the Samaritan.
Jesus Christ being born as Jew, descendant of David tells this parable which symbolises that even enemies are our neighbours who should be loved. So, love and respect everyone.
Talking about love and skip about Valentine’s day, that’s inevitable. The whole world celebrates or knows about Valentine’s day, the day when shops offers discounts on sales, couples go merry and singles sober. Valentine’s day is romantic and dedicated for couples. Ever wondered why? To answer that I might have to start from the origin, don’t fret cause I will simplify the story of St.Valentine.
February 14, the valentine’s day commemorates to remember St. Valentine, a roman catholic saint of Terni, an important town of Umbria, in central Italy. There the king and his kingdom were in a war with other nation. They happen to be losing the war. The King inquired with his ministers what the reason was and they came to a conclusion. That there were few new recruits, as less young soldiers in the army and these youth didn’t prefer war. As they would rather marry and settle for a peaceful life. So King banished marriage in the entire kingdom. St.Valentine secretly consecrated or officiated the marriages of young couples and was once caught. He was sent to prison and later charged with execution sentence for spreading Christianity. At nights, the saint would receive flowers through his prison window. As the young couples who got married by him were expressing their kindness and support in this manner. In prison he met a jailer and his daughter, who was blind. St. Valentine healed the jailer’s daughter in Christ’s name. Both jailer and his daughter confessed Christ name and accepted Christ. St. Valentine signed a letter “from your Valentine” to his jailer’s daughter, whom he had befriended and healed from blindness. Thus the famous line,“your Valentine” was adapted by lovers and is still used. Because St.Valentine was martyred for marriage, romance and love. The world celebrates his martyrdom as Valentine’s day.
Though there are some confusions about history of events in regards of place and order amongst historians. Yet centuries pass by Valentine’s day is still celebrated for love and nothing else.
Love is divine and we, Christians, actually acknowledge it as a gift of the Holy Spirit. “And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.”(1 John 4:16)
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
So, if you are having problems in your relationship i.e with your children, spouse, siblings or friends, anyone. Just pray to God and I must admit it works effectively. For some rationalist it takes intense prayer to miraculously secrete certain hormone, as certain humans have shunned their emotional side and excuse themselves as modern scientific or consider themselves as epitome of evolution. We humans love something or another, either we love a person or wealth or cars, etc. For without love one would self deprivate and loose into depression or worse.
“Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”(1 John 4:8 ). I would like to conclude by saying,”Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”(Mark 12:30) For God’s love is most beautiful and doesn’t corrupt with time. For His love is highest, purest and most reliable form of love which can rejuvenate your wisdom and your love for others.
The post which no one asked for or to put it precisely no one cared for and with my intensions to entertain you though it may just be my blunt hopes that I carry upon. Let’s just see where it leads us.
If I had a perfect pretext for my blogs it would be – Well, I am so simple minded and spiritually enlightened that I thought to share with all via blog… No! That is just so wrong and hypocritical that I might even make myself laugh in hysteria. I enthusiastically worked on all these blogs to present the things what I was taught to abide by from my childhood, something which really makes me happy to share about. I share to you all about Jesus Christ in an Indian Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church perspective.
Let’s just start with how I stumbled upon the idea of blogging. Say you believe in fate and find it funny sometimes? Well I do and so it goes, I once eavesdropped a conversation between some random strangers about creating a website but it required some coding skill. The idea of owning a site made me all excited except I never actualy had knowledge about it. So gradually the idea left me.
A year or two passes by, now a guy from different department of my college again induced into me the idea of making a site but this time it came with a hefty price. A price of making me join in a money chain laundering scheme under him. Yeah even the idea of getting a penny, that too being able to spend it unreasonably or to be unaccountable for it from my beloved parents is a nightmare, something I have as the definition for the word impossible. I ain’t sure but I think money chain scheme is illegal in India. That plan was presented before me like brilliant wild storm but eventually it brushed away like a soothing calm wind for I had dropped the plan and sobered up quickly.
Later time leisurely took it’s toll on me and then it happed. SSO(https://theartisticsoulweb.wordpress.com/), a friend of mine shared her site which had her poems. I was so smitten by her expressive poems, the vocabulary she used and they way she presented it in her site. Never in past I knew that she was a such a good poet. But for her site, did she do coding? Now SSO, not knowing that she is an angel in disguise to me. I genuinely appreciated her poems and seeked my answers. To my surprise she was humble and patient. I knew she and her sister were a vivid readers cause in my childhood when I happen to visit her house on the occasion of Christmas carols and prayer meetings I always noticed lots of children digest magazines, Twinkle magazines and some thick hard bound children books.
Yep, now I got some lead to build a site which might even charge me nothing but wait, what will be my site about? It never bothered to me to have a definite plan for my site. So, the dilemma begins.
Then it hit me. Hey, I can write about Indian Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church. Why? No, not because I am an expert at it or I acknowledge myself a saint. Far from it, it’s because I was a Sunday school teacher who taught teens on Sundays about their Christian beliefs for around 3-4 years. Taught bunch of teens in my adolescence, then I found I had a knack for it. Teens can be a bit rebel but I managed to handle it. To them I was lenient and interesting. Here I am not boasting that I was too good but rather implying that I wasn’t bad either. This was enough to boost me up, my impulse took me off and it seems that I finally began to get back on track.
Let me tell you, I started as a substitute for a charming model teacher Mr.J Thomas who was tall, handsome, lovable by all and a good orator. Every trait I found, he was good at it and It was clear that I had big shoes to fill.
I was assigned to teach class 8, I was thrilled cause my favourite sunday school teacher taught me in same class. Back then my teacher for class 8 was Ms. Bincy Benjamin. She was young and cool with us. I saw this as a good omen and decided to adopt her teaching methods. Then slowly I got the complete charge cause he got busy and shifted away due to his office work. First it was chaos later I got the hang of it. The sunday school wasn’t such walk in park for young me. There was an invisible unwritten judgement panel tier. Panel starts with every vicar of my church, then teachers around me, then students, then the parents and later the rest of the esteemed church members. Can’t blame them cause to them I am a just a medium built guy with a medium complexion who smiles a lot, talks very less and is goofy who is in his mother’s shadow(My mother is a social jolly person while I am a shy introvert. Apparently they didn’t care to know about it). I didn’t bother to correct them much, hoping that my work would speak up for myself. Somehow, somewhere it did but many a times it was a disaster.
I analysed everything and I convinced myself that I can be credited about the context I write even as a lay person. Also I had some trusted sources. I always loved Lord Christ for this that I can be me with clear conscience – just me with good conscience for He loves us and forgives us all. Back to the sunday school class, one or two batch of students were real horror. But to be honest I had my share of fun and got some real good opportunities too. I am thankful for everything to God.
So, it was settled that I will just post about Christ and Christianity. Why blogging? Cause it might be something that when I depart and be in a wooden casket that people might say hey he was silent but wasn’t that bad and had interesting perspective. I posted my first post from few sources which I could really rely upon. Unacceptably the first post got some real good response but later my audience wavered which was painful.
Then I started to share my site personally on social app to few of my Christian contacts. Earnestly, I only did that to tell them that I am alive and hoped to know about how they were coping during this pandemic. I really regretted after sharing the site. I felt that I was forcing my blogs onto others. Many of my friends weren’t so called readers anyway, then the idea of sermons isn’t exactly they are really into. Forget about others my parents didn’t bother to read much. I really got furious cause they took time to read my personal diary. Something which was cringey and I was unwilling to share but blog which I want them to read, they won’t read. The diary which I had tried to write for once to vent out my frustrations, organise my ideas and thoughts as per some motivator, had miserably backfired. For the first time I jotted down something embarassing and they happen to read it but my blogs – No!!! Being a single child with no siblings and my 90’s parents with their parenting techniques of trial and error methods were costing me more. So of all people I really felt the urge to seek God otherwise I knew I might doom and I would have to owe it all. God save my soul!!!
I never wished to post poems cause that wasn’t my cup or my thing. Then I feared that I might make SSO feel that I am stealing her thunder or might portray myself as a creep stalker to which she might be uncomfortable to share her poems. Then I realised she doesn’t overthinks like me. I don’t have much real good friends (Me, a shy introvert) or in touch with them (my friends). So, losing a friendly face is more like getting a bullet in my head now. That’s why it makes a big deal. I saw the difference in her and my work. I smirked accepting that her posts are too good and neat. I can learn much from her.
The first poem I penned down was somewhere near 2018 when I was feeling blue and suddenly out of mind came the first line – They talk while you mumble. They walk while you stumble.
I developed few more lines and felt I might even get few accolades or recognition. Nothing such happened. Till then I had developed some immunity to disappointments in my expectations. By then, I had expectations to build a time machine or was expecting to get hit by some random meteors. Many absurd expectations that didn’t catch up. Soon I had came across an Italian movie called,”Life is beautiful”. This movie thought me innocence, sacrifice, love and perspective does matter.
Now with my primitive poetic skills I got, it came in handy to write riddles for treasure hunt for mgocsm bizonal conference, a christian youth meet held on 2019.
The first poem that I had written earlier. I uploaded it to a community of wannabe poets like me. Handful yet upon receiving decent response I was happy. Soon I thought I can fill my blog posts with poem to make people entertained. Again to which I felt I might be pushing my luck too much but it takes time to make certain relevant Christian blog and poems are good filler posts.
I only want to share about Christian community beliefs. I have nothing to be preachy about or to change anyone, it always depend on their own choices and their approach. Though some posts looks like a sermon but I just meant to present what I came across or learnt. Nothing more or nothing less.
The reason for this particular post is to open up a bit of myself, to compensate for a future relevant post, to entertain and to learn to improve my site. I also have a blog post in my mind which might take sometime. Hope this was as funny and interesting as I had in my mind. Take care, God bless us all and praise to His holy name.
Christians are the ones who steadfastly believe that Christ is indeed the son of God, the prophetic messiah. The universal church is founded by our Lord Jesus Christ. It was in Antioch that the believers were first called Christians. (Acts 11:26).
The internet today brief Christianity just as an Abrahamic monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. Sure, but there is more to it that meets the eye.
Me, being asked which christian I am and upon learning that I am an Oriental orthodox christian. Many give me a puzzled look as if the idea of existence of something other than Catholic or Protestant christian is unfathomable. I simply smile and explain to them that St. Thomas, one of the chosen apostle of Christ, traveled to India in AD 52 and converted the inhabitants with their own will and consent. Thus we came to be known as Orthodox christian. This is true about orthodox but not the whole truth. For it may require a real substantial amount of time to explain it properly. So, let me. I really hope that I keep it to the point.
I am from Indian malankara orthodox syrian church, under the patron St.Thomas ( one of the apostle of Christ). The history of my church is very interesting and if I do happen to share it some day, you would surely be intrigued. Cause the history of my church contains fight for our own heritage, oppression from other christrian missionaries (they thought we were not authentic christians and burned most of our religious texts and relics), honorable martyrs, internal division, a famous oath we took, the legal battles and atlast the sweet victory we deserved (For St. Thomas had built 8 churches in south of India, which would have been lost and in worst case scenario we would have been termed heretics or would have been non-existent). But today, I just want to present the whole christian church denomination.
Like most of the other widely accepted religion have denominations or hierarchy among them, so does Christians have denomination.
There are three main groups :
The Orthodox Church
The Catholic Church
The Protestant Church
These three are the main parent denomination while there are subdivisions. The denomination had occurred because of difference in religious or theological opinions.
Our lord Jesus had been preparing His beloved apostles for the ministry of Christ, foretelling them everything about trials and persecution that they must endure in His name. Remember what I told you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. (John 15:20)
After our Lord sacrificed Himself on the the cross till the time of His resurrection, His apostles couldn’t really spread God’s message. Cause they lacked courage(gift of Holy Spirit), fearing the Pharisees, Sadducee, Roman officials and Jewish chief priest. Lord Jesus knew their tender heart. He gathered His flock together which were scattered, comforted and guided them.
On the day of Pentecost, Holy Spirit descended upon Mother Mary and the twelve apostle in the upper room, Jerusalem. The Holy Spirit came like strong wind then what seemed like a tongue of fire rested on each one of them. After receiving Holy Spirit apostles started to speak in different tongues which was understood and marveled by the other foreign crowd who had came to Jerusalem for pilgrimage purposes. People from Parthia, Medes, Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea, Cappadocia, Pontus,Phrygia, Pamphylia, Egypt, the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs (refer Acts 2: 1-12) heard the apostles speak in their language. St.Peter, now full of Holy Spirit, proclaimed about Christ. The crowd received the word of God, willingly repented their sins and got converted to Christians. It is accounted that 3000 were converted that day.
The Apostles and evangelists preached the word of God around the world. Thus many new believers continued to profess the love of God even amidst tribulations faced. Through the fierce persecution the word of God still bloomed and spread around everywhere. Churches were built with the blessing of their patron saints. Bishop, priests and deacons were appointed to look after the flock of Christ. Those era there was only one faith and one widely accepted church i.e Christ till there were certain theological dispute which created several fraction.
In AD 330, the Roman EmperorConstantine (now a vivid christian believer) shifted his capital to Constantinople. This caused a lot of political and ecclesiastical changes. In AD 395, Emperor Theodosius divided his administrative setup into Eastern and Western segment and this was one of the causes for the division between East and the West.
In AD 451, the Council of Chalcedon was held after the council of Nicea, Constantinople and Ephesus. The Council of Chalcedon was a church council held from 8 October to 1 November, AD 451, at Chalcedon, a town of Bithynia in Asia Minor. The Council was called by Emperor Marcian to discuss the human and divine nature of Jesus Christ. The council concluded with adapting that the Christ had two perfectly combined nature but some strongly disagreed to the council and rejected it. They believed that Christ had one and only one nature at a time. That Christ is complete God and took complete human form on earth. Thus there was a split, the oriental orthodox is the sect that rejected idea council of chalcedon. I am from Oriental orthodox church, Indian Malankara orthodox syrian church is what I represent.
Later, the christian church got divided into eastern and western in AD 1054. The Roman catholic church stood with the western fraction whereas the orthodox (eastern) churches stood with eastern group.
The causes of this division is as follows:
Changes in faith and rituals
The Pope’s and Patriarch’s love for power
The controversy of filioque (the question of the procession of the Holy Spirit).
The arguments between the western and the eastern churches reached to it’s zenith when heads of churches issued censures and excommunications against each other. In 1043 AD the patriarch of Constantinople Michael Cerularius and in later years Pope Leo IX of Rome issued excommunications against each other. Pope asked the Patriarch who turned against of the Roman church, to appear before him. The Patriarch refused to receive the Papal representatives and these representatives excommunicated the Patriarch in the name of Pope. The Patriarch retaliated by excommunicating the Pope and his delegates. Thus the Roman church and Byzantine (Eastern Greek) church got divided into two.
The consequences of the divisions:
Ecumenical activities were disrupted.
The mutual relationship between the churches was shattered.
It activated missionary work.
Latin became the official language of the western church and greek became the accepted language of the Eastern church. The western church added new faith like purgatory and filioque, the eastern church denied them and remained faithful to the unadulterated Apostolic faith.
The further division of Catholics is one of the major event occurred in the history. It all started when Reformation took place, 500 years ago, as Martin Luther (1483-1546) tried to reform the Catholic Church. His attempt to do so instead led to a schism in the church.
Roman Catholics at some point was not just a dominant religious group but also had become politically powerful. They could control the administration or were so influential that they governed a kingdom. Roman catholics believed that their patron saint St.Peter, being eldest among the twelve apostle, makes them superior over other Christians. They proclaimed Papal dogma which gave the Pope the ultimate power and so no lay person could question Pope.
So now bishops and priests started enjoying their new power. This lead into sins like gluttony, greed and hypocrisy. Questionable traditions were practiced, among them were the buying of pamphlets to absolve the sins committed.
The monk Martin Luther (1483 – 1546) is frustrated by the Catholic’s Church practice of selling indulgences, which allows people to buy spiritual salvation. He finds the practice fundamentally wrong in terms of theology.
His Bible study has left him with the unshakeable realization that a sinful person who believes in an all powerful and absolute God is made righteous in the eye’s of God. This very belief and God’s mercy and not through money, God pardons ones sins.
Luther is convinced that the faithful can turn to their creator directly through prayer. They need neither church nor priest as a middle man, a radical idea that breaks the power of the Catholic Church, starting with its religious doctrine.
Luther’s conclusions open the door for new freedoms. But the decades following his famous“Ninety five Theses”, supposedly nailed to the door of the Wittenberg Church on October 31, 1517 . Thus the birth of Reformist or Protestant Christians occurred. There are many reformists churches, each differ slightly with certain belief and order of worship. The Caholics for few short span of time really tried to subdue the new reformist christians but they failed miserably. Reformist churches are today very well known in the world and among other Christian group.
I really do hope the you got the gist of schisms or denominations among christians. I just wanted to throw light at the major Christian denomination. I have no anti-catholicism agenda, later history also witnessed that Catholics made peace and regretted their wrongdoings. Pope and Patriarch are in friendly terms. I pray that there be tranquility and harmony among humans irrespective of different beliefs.
This is really interesting to understand that even though the path of our religious practice or the wagon of belief is different but our destination is the same, i.e Christ’s new heaven, to sit at the right hand of our heavenly father. We all are meant to be called children of our lord Jesus Christ. For now I can truly contemplate and understand when the Christ’s disciples (Here the the disciples can portray our church denomination of different saints) argued about who is greatest among them all. Christ took the little child and set an example of being humble as the child, for that is the true sign of being greatest (refer Mathew 18:1-6).
For humility, faith and repentance before God is everything which counts. And He said, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace. ( Luke 7:50) I would like to conclude by saying let’s love our God Jesus and be humble before Him, for everything belongs to Him.
A soulful psalm written by king David, a psalm with intricate emotions and metaphorical lines which earnestly seek God’s mercy.
Our Lord so loved David for his dedication, reverence and humbleness that God had abundantly blessed King David. Yet, David committed a grave sin to which God has furious and to which David repented, as psalms 51 can testify itself. God forgave king David, for his heart was seen by God. Psalm 51 is read to reconcile and reconnect with the most high. Let me be honest, during this epidemic, we are in so much need of this psalm at this day and age. This blog is to provide a brief about psalm 51. Everything around about psalm 51 is presented, hope I could make it as interesting as possible.
Psalm 51 teaches the nature of genuine repentance which is the reason it is used so often in the services of orthodox church. Historically, King David committed the transgression of adultery and murder. However, He obtained mercy from God because of his repentance. Many fall into sins but never come to repentance: therefore, no one can use David’s sin as an excuse to sin. For sins and transgressions in themselves do not draw down the mercy of God. Genuine repentance, characterized by such things as confession to God; inward purity and inward humility draws the mercy of our divine God.
Ps 51 is used daily in our services of Orthros, the Third hour and Compline and it is also recited in every Divine Liturgy by the priest as he censers before the Great Entrance.
The treacherous sin which made King David compose this beautifully repentive psalm. The story of David’s adultery with Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah the Hittie. This happened during a war against Ammonites. A King who should have been leading the armies and commanders into battle but king David had stayed behind, this blog will be used to ellaboratively explain the sin in proper sequence.
The roofs of early Israeli house were typically flat and allowed it as a cool place to relax in the evening. David spied Bathsheba, bathing atop her house and was smitten by her beauty. He had her brought to him for the purpose of adultery. Bathsheba conceives and sends the word of her pregnancy to David.
David calls for Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband, to be brought home from battle so that Uriah would sleep with his wife, hoping to cover his own sin in this fashion. Uriah, however, refuses to sleep with Bathsheba, as soldiers in battle were prohibited from doing so. (Levi 15; 1 Sam 21:5)
His first plan having failed, David arranges for Uriah to be sent forth to the front lines for battle and then to retreat from behind, virtually ensuring his death. David’s second plan to conceal his adultery has succeeded through Uriah’s murder on the battlefield. Hearing the death of Uriah, his wife Bathsheba mourns. Following the mourning period, David takes her as his wife and she gives birth to a son. It is clear David’s actions were evil in God’s sight.
Realization and reconciliation
It is the Lord himself who sends Nathan, the prophet, to rebuke David for his sins of adultery and murder.
When prophet Nathan came to him, he narrated a parable, “There were two men in one city, one rich and the other poor. The rich man had many flocks and herds. But the poor had nothing but one little lamb he had brought and nourished and reared; and it grew up together with him and with his sons. It ate of his own food and drank from his own cup and lay in his bosom, and it was like a daughter to him. And a traveller came to the rich man. The rich man, who refused to take from his own flock and from his own herd to prepare for the foreign traveller who had come to him; but he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him”. (2 sam12: 1-6)
David listens to Nathan’s parable and then pronounces the sentence on his own head. Nathan propheises to David, saying you are the man in the parable.
There was a twofold punishment: warfare for all the rest of David’s days’ and rebellion from within. Additionally, the child born to Bathsheba would die.
King David grieved and repented for his sins. God forgave him and spared his life but he was punished. Now, this line doesn’t make sense, I know. God has laid rules for his every creation, to which planets, mighty wind, gigantic mountains, oceans, flora and fauna obey and follow. This rules are set to keep the balance and peace in check. When King David took a life, God spared his life but his son conceived by Bathsheba, was born feeble, had died. The current situation, we are in, justifies the rules of restoration and balance.
This epidemic is harming humans but the nature is recovering. The injustice, crime rate, pollution, destruction of nature all went down. God is not only the master of humans but to all the things visible and invisible. Best way to put, “Do not be deceived; God is not mocked. For whatever a person sows he will also reap”. (kjv Gal 6:7)
Psalm 51 is prayer from a king, a prayer for us all to apologize for his/her transgression. Psalm 51 consist of parts, like it opens with seeking mercy, for our God is merciful. Later comes acceptance, accepting the sin committed with humility. Then comes heartfelt repentance following reconciliation and ends with offering. ( Observe the psalms clearly states God doesn’t need your material offering but your heart He sees, He knows you. He needs a just, a contrite heart ).
The parable of prodigal son (Lk 15:11-32) in the new testament tells us when a human sins, they drift apart from their eternal Father.
The Father who is waiting for His son, patiently at the gate, for his prodigal son’s return. Where the return of the second son, the depiction of the sinner, is celebrated with joy. So, even the return of one sinner is rejoiced in heaven. Seek God Jesus, He forgives you cause you are His child. You know what I like about Christianity than human rational minds is that the concept. The concept even you among the zillions, among this vast expanding universe, does matter to Him, the most. While the rational minds prefer making choices like, “millions can be sacrificed for billions sake”. The parable of the lost sheep, in which the master leaves 99 of his sheep to find that one small lost lamb, tells us everything about God’s love. (refer Luke 15:1-7)
This epidemic, we all should remain calm and pray in our homes. Seeking God and repent like people of Nineveh did during the times Jonah (refer Jonah 3:5-6). I would conclude this blog with quoting from Luke 1:37, “For with God nothing shall be impossible.”
Since the birth of our Christ till His ascension to heaven, is a testimony of God’s love and mercy towards mankind. This love (Agape, the highest form of love and “the love of God for all humans ) is pure,holy, divine and truly the most valuable treasure to us.
Today, through this blog, I want to share small but important details and show wider perspective from Indian Malankara Orthodox for the spiritual growth. Stay strong and continue believing in Lord Christ. For Satan even tempted our Lord Jesus Christ thrice, during 40 days fasting, in desert. (Mt 4: 1-11)So we, his mere creation, too will be tempted, tested and persecuted. So we need the spirit of God to fight Satan. I hope this blog would be helpful to enrich the souls and to attain the spirit of God.
THE PALM SUNDAY
Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem is celebrated by the church on Palm Sunday. During Christ’s era, Jewish nationalism had led to the expectation of a political Messiah to deliver them from Roman control and to reestablish David’s kingdom. What they couldn’t grasp is, Messiah did come but not to save our mortal bodies but our soul. Through parables and acts of humility, Jesus shows that He has not come to establish an earthly kingdom rather prepared for us a heavenly kingdom. He did not ride on a horse nor in a chariot (like earthly kings and queens), but on donkey- a sign of humility and peace (Zechariah 9:9), thus again Christ fulfilling the old testament prophesy. This entrance into Holy City declares the establishment of the Kingdom of God. It is also a promise of Christ’s final entrance into the heavenly Jerusalem with all believers and of His accepting the new Jerusalem (promised paradise) as His pure bride (Rev. 21:2).
Donkey, has been used as a working animal for at least 5000 years, who is untied portraying that we too are untied from the bondage of our sins. The colt and the donkey, both representing faithful Jews and gentiles who are brought together in the kingdom. At our Vespers(Indian Malankara Orthodox’s evening pra) of Palm sunday, we sing. “You are riding on a foal prefigured how the untamed and uninstructed gentiles would pass from unbelief to faith”.
A story goes like this ( just an animated fictional folklore, a tale to convey a moral ), the donkey, on which our Christ chose to ride , was enjoying all the attention by the people of Jerusalem. The donkey started to believe that it was the donkey for whom the carpet of clothes and palm leaves spread. Here we are this foolish donkey, who gets all the praise and attention by others and forget that it is only because of our Christ, the merciful giver, we receive this short lived recognition. Let’s be humble. For Christ our God, taught us humility, our savior had chose a donkey to ride upon and not a horse. We must thank God for every talents, gifts and blessings.
The people who spread their clothes before Jesus did so as paying reverence to a King. It is spiritually interpreted as our need to lay down to our flesh and indeed our very lives for Christ.
“Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” (Mt 21:9), this cry comes from Psalms 117:25,26. Hosanna means,”Save, we pray!”
THE PASSOVER MEAL
The Passover (Jewish Passover ) commemorates God’s deliverance of Israel from slavery in Egypt to the Land of Promise.(Ex 12-14). In remembrance of this, the Jews would slaughter an unblemished lamb and partake of it with unleavened bread.
Passover commences on the 15th of the Hebrew month of Nisan and lasts for either seven days (in Israel and for Reform Jews and other progressive Jews around the world who adhere to the Biblical commandment) or eight days for Orthodox, Hasidic, and most Conservative Jews
The Passover prefigures the Passion of Christ, in which the only-begotten Son of God is slain (God became man, from shepherd to become a sacrificial unblemished Passover lamb) in order to deliver His people (all believers ) from their bondage to sin and death. The new Passover (christian passover) also indicates, God’s redemption of all humanity from sin and death, and entrance into the promised Kingdom.
Whether the first day of the feast was Passover or the day before Passover is debated among the Fathers. What is certain is that lord Jesus regarded the meal with disciples to be the Passover meal.
Passover meal is one of the very emotional and painful segment, for Lord Jesus knew that His time has come to fulfill the prophesy and one among His own disciple would betray Him. Again here Christ taught disciples to be humble by washing their foot, saying he has not come to be served but to serve. Even foretelling them about the crucifixion of our lord Christ and His second coming.
Christ has a fervent desire for this Passover because this meal will impart the mysteries of the new covenant to His followers and also this event will inaugurate the great deliverance of humanity from sin ( Adamic sin) through power of the cross.
Jesus institutes the Eucharist, the long- awaited messianic banquet, to which He admits even Judas (compare Est 7), seeking by all means to save him. Because of his wicked heart, Judas’s participation leads to his condemnation (1cor 11:27-30).
Christ’s words are repeated in the divine liturgy, inviting the faithful to receive His body and blood. In holy communion, we are truly united in Christ. He gave thanks (from the Greek word for “Eucharist”) to teach us
how we are to celebrate this sacrament,
that He comes willingly to His Passion, and
to accept sufferings with thankfulness, knowing that God can use sufferings for ultimate good.
The old testament was sealed with blood of bulls and goats. The new testament is sealed by the gift of Christ, who shed His own blood to conquer sin and death and to reconcile us with God. Christ calls it the blood of the new covenant, which is God’s promise and the fulfillment of the law. By new, He means this covenant brings immortality and incorruptible life; this covenant will always have the quality of newness (in heart, mind and soul).
One of the most important day in a Christian’s life. Not only we are saved are from our sins but have become His children, by being able to participate in His holy communion and through His death on the cross we are cleansed.
Cross was used earlier as a means to punish killers, thieves and bandits, by publicly disgracing them. Christ completely changed the meaning of cross, which now is sign of hope and salvation. Moses made a bronze serpent in midst of desert, by the command of God Jehovah, for one’s who look at the bronze serpent would be miraculously healed from the venomous snake bite (Numbers 21 :8-9). Likewise those who look at the holy cross with belief would be saved.(Jn 3 : 14-15). The parable of the wicked vineyard tenants (luke 20:9-19) is about heavenly Father sending His only son to tend His work and Jewish leaders casting Him out, eventually killing Him.
Messiah sacrificed himself willing and knowingly on cross like a blameless sacrificial lamb. To redeem us from our sins, Adamic sins and now we are cleansed. He was crucified between two thieves, the one on the right repented and he received salvation. Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor, inscribed a note on Lord Christ’s cross, on which it was written INRI.
The initialism INRI (Latin: Iēsus Nazarēnus, Rēx Iūdaeōrum) represents the Latin inscription (in John19:19), which in English translates to “Jesus the Nazarene, King of the Jews”, and John 19:20 states that this was written in three languages—Hebrew, Latin, and Greek—during the crucifixion of Jesus.
The title “King of the Jews” is only used in the New Testament by gentiles, namely by the Magi, Pontius Pilate, and the Roman soldiers. In contrast, the Jewish leaders use the designation “King of Israel”.
Lord Jesus, our God became complete man and was born from a virgin as foretold in scriptures of Isaiah. Mother Mary, even though knowing about the fate of her holy born child from beginning was very disheartened and in immense pain during the crucifixion because of the maternal nature but knew this had to done.
St.Mary along with Mary Magdalene, St.John;the beloved and few other women followed Christ weeping and witnessing all the cruel things that had been happening to Christ. Lamenting about humiliation of Christ, lashing, receiving the five holy wounds on Christ, the provision of vinegar when Christ was thirsty and till Christ’s burial.
When Mother Mary, mother Mary’s sister, Mary; the wife of Clopas, Mary Magdalene and St.John were at foot of the cross of Jesus. He saw His mother and St. John, said to His mother, “Women, behold your son!”. Then He said to St.John,”Behold your mother!”(John19:37). In calling Mother Mary “Women”, Jesus is using a term of dignity and affection. Contrary to the certain modern usuages, this is a sacred title in scripture, an address conveying deep respect and distinction.(Jn 2:4; 4:21;8:10;20:13; compare to Genesis 2:23). This shows that Christ cared for His mother, as he makes sure His youngest disciple takes care of His mother after His death (wedding at Cana, also depicts His complete love towards His mother).
It is believed when the sun lost it’s light and there was complete darkness. When no one was able to comprehend the situation, for short period there was a small secret conversation between Christ and Mother Mary. On the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice saying ,”Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Jesus had quoted Psalm 22, which foretold the very details of crucifixion. Taken without the rest of the psalm, His cry of “Why have you forsaken me?” could be misinterpreted as a cry of despair.
When Christ to fulfill a scripture said He thirsts, instead of water He was given the sour vinegar soaked on sponge. So, when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said”It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit. “Finished” is better translated “accomplished” or “fulfilled”- not meaning Christ’s life is ended but showing His divine plan of salvation has been completed. St. John Chrysostom emphasizes that Jesus Christ first bowed His head amd then willingly gave up His spirit.
Easter is the most beautiful elegant thrilling climax. As on Easter, three days after the death of our Christ on cross, Christ defeated death and was resurrected.
Here lies the beauty of Christianity, not only Christ was born as a human amongst us. Shepherd (God Jesus) became the sacrificial lamb (incarnated human) who willingly sacrificed for everyone on the cross, died, was buried and was resurrected on the third day. For so much He loved us that he gave His own life and redeemed us, defeated death and made a place for righteous ones in His new heaven.
Easter was symbolically foreshadowed in old testament by Jonah. As when Pharisees even after witnessing Lord Jesus Christ’s miracles asked for a sign from Jesus to prove them that He is the real Messiah. Jesus replies –
39 But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonah:
40 For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. (Matthew 12:39-40)
The sign of Jonah is
the fact the rebellious Ninevites were willing to repent at Jonah’s preaching and
that Jonah coming out of great fish prefiugres Christ rising from the tomb.
Similar new testament passage symbolises resurrection. Jesus Christ’s authority was once questioned by Cheif priest and Jews, in Temple of Jerusalem. They asked Christ for a sign of His authority upon Christ openly protesting that the house of His heavenly Father is now turned in a house of merchandise.
18 The Jews then responded to him, “What sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?”
19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.”
20 They replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?” (John 2:18-20)
Here the temple is Christ’s body. Lord Christ is careful not to reveal Himself to scoffers, He answers in a hidden way: the ultimate sign will be His death and resurrection.
Prayer and fasting are the two wings of lent. Lent is a tool which enlighten us to understand about spiritual matters. Spiritual matters are more esteem than material matters. Lent helps to defeat earthly desires and to nourish the soul. To suppress carnal desires and to alert the soul, matters relating to God and to win over Satan. Lent is a commandment given by God to Adam and the Jewish church observed it. Our Lord ordered and put it into action. Disciples observed and the church confirmed it.
“This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting”(Mark 9:29). Here, “This kind” (v.29) refers to all powers of darkness, not simply that cause a particular illness. The banishment of demons requires faith, prayer and fasting. For there is no healing and no victory in spiritual warfare without all three.
How to observe?
Isaiah 58:2-7 ( refer the passage). In the day of the lent, do not find pleasure (T.v/soap opera, games or anything which is avoidable and gives you pleasure) and not to exploit your workers. Do not fast for strife and debate, and to strike with the fist of wickedness. Be humble, bow your head like a bulrush and to spread out sack cloth. Loose the bonds of wickedness to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free and break every yoke. Share your bread with hungry, bring to your house the poor who are cast out.(you can do charity for homeless,orphans) When see the naked, cover him.
When you pray during lents to God, the heavenly Father or give alms to poor make sure you earnestly do and not do it for a show before some audience, as the reward for just a gimmick is just some earthly approvals or nods. For it is written,”Therefore when you give your alms, do not sound trumpet a trumpet before you, as the hypocrite do in the synagogues and in streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say to you, They have their reward .” (Mathew 6:2)
Benefits of Lents
8 Then your light shall break forth like the morning, Your healing shall spring forth speedily, And your righteousness shall go before you; The glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. 9 Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; You shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’
“If you take away the yoke from your midst, The pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, 10 If you extend your soul to the hungry And satisfy the afflicted soul, Then your light shall dawn in the darkness, And your darkness shall be as the noonday. 11 The Lord will guide you continually, And satisfy your soul in drought, And strengthen your bones; You shall be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail. 12 Those from among you Shall build the old waste places; You shall raise up the foundations of many generations; And you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach, The Restorer of Streets to Dwell In.
13 “If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath, From doing your pleasure on My holy day, And call the Sabbath a delight, The holy day of the Lord honorable, And shall honor Him, not doing your own ways, Nor finding your own pleasure, Nor speaking your own words, 14 Then you shall delight yourself in the Lord; And I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth, And feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father. The mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
How many Lents? (As per Syrian Orthodox belief)
Wednesday is the day of annunciation to the mother of God and hence to the well being and prosperity of the family, this day is observed as a day of remembrance of the mother and also observed as a day of mourning as on this day Judas Iscariot betrayed Lord Jesus.
Remembering the persecution and suffering of the Lord on this day of crucifixion, the church observe this day as lent as a day of sorrow.
The Church father Mar Polycarp of Smyrna of second centuryexhort to observethese two as lent. Like exhortation is seen in a book written in the second century “the Hermas the shepherd “. Jews observed Mondays and Thursdays as lent days. We christian church changed and decided to observe Wednesday and Friday as days of lent. On Saturdays, Sundays and maranaya feast we don’t observe fasting.
Above, other than these two days lent. There are five canonical Lents the church insist, these are:
The Great Lent
Yeldho Lent (Lent of advent)
1) Nineveh Lent (The three days Lent)
The church started to observe the lent from the fourth century. This lent falls in January or February every year. The three day fast of Nineveh commemorates the three days that Prophet Jonah spent inside the belly of the Great Fish and the subsequent fast and repentance of the Ninevites at the warning message of the prophet Jonah according to the bible (Book of Jonah in the Bible).
When prophet Jonah proclaimed that great danger is very imminent to Nineveh. To escape from the anger of God, the king, subjects and animals fasted without taking food and water , wearing sack clothes sitting on ashes. God saved the city out of mercy. This lent is in remembrance of this great experience. Even before Jonah, at the time of Esther, Nehemiah and Daniel three day lent were observed and received mercy from God and we learn this from scriptures.
Pharisees asked a sign from Lord Jesus, Christ answered them saying,” no sign shall be given except the sign of prophet Jonah.For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” (Mt 12:39-41 ) Three days and three nights is a prophetic type of Christ’s three day sojourn in the”heart of the earth” i.e Sheol or Hades or place where deceased soul would go. Christ raised from the dead on the third day. Notice the beauty of fulfillment of prophecy and greatness of our living God.
2) The great Lent ( fifty days Lent)
It started from AD 325. This lent is observed for forty days as the Lord Jesus observed plus ten days to remember His persecution. This lent highlights the salvation of the mankind through the incarnation of God.
40 days lent was observed not only by our Lord, Moses and Elijah also observed them. It is written by early church fathers who lived in the fourth century that this lent was observed by the beginning church in it’s early days. The date of this lent is arrived in accordance with the date of resurrection fixed by the synod of Nicea in AD 325. Every year the date of the lent changes.
Jesus after being baptized by John, the baptist, went to desert and fasted for forty days. Satan tempted Lord Christ thrice. First, by saying convert this stone to food. Second, asking God to jump from a height and His angels will hold Him. Even quoting from psalms.Third, asked God to bow before him for all wealth. God Jesus succeeded from temptation thrice.
Notice during fasting how satan tempted. First by food, to which Jesus replied,”It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceed out of the mouth of God”. Second by misinterpreting the passage of psalm. To which Christ replied,” It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. ” Third by wealth. To which Christ replied,” for it is written, Thou shall worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve”.
3) Apostles Lent (thirteen days Lent)
It is observed since six century. We observe this lent in the name of apostles numbering 12 plus one, our Lord. Every year this lent falls between June 16 and 29.
12 Apostle of Christ are: Peter; James; John; Andrew; Philip; Bartholomew; Matthew; Thomas; James; Thaddaeus or Judas; Simon the Cananaean; Matthias (Matthias was in place of Judas Iscariot, refer Acts 1: 26)
During the lent we commemorate the trials and hardship they went through, while spreading the good news of Christ with all dedication. We also remember Peter and Paul during the the lent. Peter is the first to convert a gentile and st. Paul is known the apostle of gentiles. We ask the apostles to intercede for us.
4) Assumption Lent (Fifteen days Lent)
From sixth century this lent is observed. It is observed in the name of the mother of the God and in remembrance of her assumption. This lent ends on the the day of assumption of the mother of mother. Every year we celebrate this from August 1 to 15.
Mother Mary is regarded the most holiest and blessed among saints. For Mother Mary was a virgin, who was blessed to be called the mother of Christ (theotokos) because word of God was bestowed upon her. During the wedding at Cana, we can see that Jesus respects and loves His earthly Mother. Even though it was not the right time but Jesus listened to Mother Mary and performed miracle. During this lent ask Mother Mary to intercede for us.
5) Lent of Advent (Twenty five days Lent)
It started from sixth century. It is connected with birth of Christ. Every year it falls between December 1 to 25. It ends on Christmas day.
This is a time of joy for both heaven and earth rejoiced as our savior is born among us. Christ taught the virtue of humility through His parable and life. Our King chose to be born in a manger, visited and adored by shepherds and 3 magi. Prophecy of coming of Messiah by prophets like Isaiah, David and many more was fulfilled.
Lent is something which is important to us, why? Lent helps us realize the beauty of life and attain peace, not worldly peace but divine spiritual tranquillity. It’s not just starving for a half a day (avoiding, meat, egg or fish and any dairy product) and reciting prayers. The Church insist to observe five canonical lent diligently(we do observe other lents like assumption of mother Mary but canonical lents are strictly meant to observed). We, Indian Orthodox fast till 12’o clock noon. Fasting, avoiding certain food materials, being continuously in contact with God, through bible reading and prayer, are some of the observation during lent.
Orthodox faithful should pray 7 times a day. This scheme of worship is known as prayers of seven canonical hours. Lenten prayers of suthoro / compline (at 9 pm) and lilyo/midnight (at 12) consist of prayers of repentance. Prayers of other hours contain descriptions of fasting and related petitions.
Prayers is something talking to God with humble and righteous heart. We share to Him like a small naive child shares everything to their parents. For God said when you pray make sure you close the door and no one hears you except you and the Father in heaven.(refer Mathew 6:6) Parable of tax collector and Pharisee (refer Luke 18: 9-14) also teaches us the same. It is also said in the bible, while fasting apply some oil to your hair and always have a smile than an look which shows other that you are fasting. For such fasting are worthless.
Fasting is also a way to empathize to those who are poor and hungry. In empathy you would acknowledge their troubles and act kindly. This also helps perceive to be thankful to God for each blessings we have.
Many times we become arrogant of the things we possess and start complaining of the things we don’t own. Then we are succumbed to feel uneasy, lost and greedy. God loves us, just be true to yourself, that’s all what God wants. We all are God’s children. God wants us to be happy and kind. Everything the Father said Lord Jesus, the son, obeyed. Gods wants us to be more human towards fellow being. I will end this blog by quoting Galatians 6:7-9 , “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”