Text: Luke 8:26-39
26 They sailed to the region of the Gerasenes, which is across the lake from Galilee. 27 When Jesus stepped ashore, he was met by a demon-possessed man from the town. For a long time this man had not worn clothes or lived in a house, but had lived in the tombs. 28 When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell at his feet, shouting at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, don’t torture me!” 29 For Jesus had commanded the impure spirit to come out of the man. Many times it had seized him, and though he was chained hand and foot and kept under guard, he had broken his chains and had been driven by the demon into solitary places.30 Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” “Legion,” he replied, because many demons had gone into him. 31 And they begged Jesus repeatedly not to order them to go into the Abyss. 32 A large herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside. The demons begged Jesus to let them go into the pigs, and he gave them permission. 33 When the demons came out of the man, they went into the pigs, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and drowned. 34 When those tending the pigs saw what had happened, they ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, 35 and the people went out to see what had happened. When they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone out, sitting at Jesus’ feet, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. 36 Those who had seen it told the people how the demon-possessed man had been cured. 37 Then all the people of the region of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them, because they were overcome with fear. So he got into the boat and left. 38 The man from whom the demons had gone out begged to go with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, 39 “Return home and tell how much God has done for you.” So the man went away and told all over town how much Jesus had done for him.
Exorcism is one of the important ministries that Jesus performed during his lifetime in the world. He displayed his passion to resolve the uncanny riddles in human life. Many a time with a reasoning mind, it is difficult to explain the exorcism because the cognitive impulses
become blurred in the world of mysteries. Mysteries in life are enormous because of the facts we believe and the perceptions and a partial truth. And the call to a Christian is to realize the fullest truth in grasping the eternity while living in a temporal world. The incredible power of God is beyond all human scales and generates a sense of breaking the barriers which dehumanize humans to attain his/her inalienable blessings of God.
The above text poses many arguments, and I would like to argue about this demon possessed man with following points. We need to understand the reason for his possession. “Possession” whether a choice or forced upon him is one of the arguments that sprouts in the analytical mind. Perse would have been forced to live in segregation, and that would have made him to be an anomalous person from the general stream. This man was naked and did not live in a house but in tombs. I feel it’s a symbolic representation of a state that one lacks his/her own self -realization when they have the ability to do so. A naked man can be mapped as the one who lacks respect for his own body. Even though we have different philosophies spinning around the world, normally in a modern view, clothes do give some status to the body. Specially in a caste ridden society the outcaste is denied to wear a top and denied to wear his/her own sandals. Thirdly, he lived in the tombs. We can interpret tombs as a symbolic representation of
segregated settlements in a casteist and racist world. I do understand this interpretation as a limit because some people like isolation. The key point is that when it becomes a choice it can be appreciated, but when it is forced on someone, then we need to challenge it. Because choice is one of the traits of freedom and freedom enhances one's self-dignity.
The text quite frankly tells us that Jesus travels from one shore to another to set this man free and transform the man to realize himself, respect himself and to live with self- dignity. Jesus calls us today to continue to help people to realize themselves. Defining who am I will be the first self in liberation. Defining the “I” must be relative and mutual. Everyone is in the image of God, and we need to restore that image to those who have lost it; that is our call. The human and mundane structures have collapsed the divine design of equality and liberty. The divine Jesus and his moral philosophy demands we restore human dignity to all for a decent life.
May God bless these words.
Text: Luke 8:22-25
22 One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side of the lake.” So they got into a boat and set out. 23 As they sailed, he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger.24 The disciples went and
woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown! ”He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. 25 “Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples. In fear and amazement they asked one another, “Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.”
1. “Let us go over to the other side of the lake.”
Change is the unchangeable phenomenon in life. Static becomes the sign of death, but mobility is the sign of life. Life never ceases for those who believe in mobility. For Christians, even physical death is an entry to eternity. Life can't be ceased; it belongs to God. The text tells us that God always travels with us on our journeys. He invites us to walk our journey. The providence of God is a perpetual promise for those who are committed to follow His path. “God is with us” can be understood when we retrospect about our own journeys, whatever they may be. Traveling with God is a commitment and a call. Life becomes hard when we confine ourselves with a side. Life has many ends and sides which have to be taken notice of to perceive the reality in life. Mobility and openness are interrelated concepts of life. The disciples were open for surprises, and they followed Jesus. Jesus can be conceptually understood as the Truth, the Life and the Way. When we follow the truth, we don’t need to worry because God is truth, and it is eternal. Let us travel with Jesus; travel with truth.
2. “As they sailed, He fell asleep.”
Truth sometimes is hidden. The falsified notions threaten us and spins our life in an unpredictable domain. The miseries in life delineate our committed journey because the forces of the world pose their authority on us as ultimate. But God is All and God is the Beginning and End of life. A faith journey always accompanies a struggle because it is rooted in life and enhances it. True faith never destroys anything but creates hope and peace. Faith is one of the faculties to travel with God and for God. Here, the sleeping Jesus is in the midst of the disciples who were struggling with the wind and storm; this could be interpreted symbolically as the loneliness of an individual or a group who is left alone in the world of mendacious complexities surrounded by fears. But the assurance of God in our struggles is the greatest power to endure the situation. Faith in God is the key to face the threatening agencies at their faces. Let us have faith in God and his promise; let us travel with Jesus; travel with faith.
3. “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!”
In our life journey, we need to be nailed with Christ. Christ becomes our apex. He is the true gravity of our life and those who walk with illusions and fantasies need to devote themselves to the life of Christ because life has many mysterious knots which keep life a mystery. A devotee of Christ will rely on the power of God and not by his own strength to untangle a tangible life. A devotee of Christ always understands his limitations and humbly submits to the will of God. He also wrestles with God and searches for resolution. Devotees of Christ will constantly work for resolutions and never let the forces destroy their journey for life. We, as the followers and devotees of Christ, are called to wrestle with God together with God in finding the resolutions created by the forces of the negative world.
May God Bless these Words. Amen.
Text: Luke 8:19-21
19 Then his mother and his brothers came to him, but
they could not reach him because of the crowd. 20 And
he was told, “Your mother and your brothers are
standing outside, wanting to see you.” 21 But he said to
them, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear
the word of God and do it.”
The family is a basic unit of society and initiated by God, the Creator. While giving them the Ten
Commandments, one of the powerful commandments is, “Honor your parents”. In the Hebrew bible we can trace,
“כבד את־אביך ואת־אמך למען יאריכון ימיך על האדמה אשר־יהוה אלהיך נתן לך .”
meaning, “Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God commanded you, so that your days may be long and that they may go well with you in the land that the Lord, your God, is giving you”.
This pronounces a blessing of longevity, and no other commandment complements its subjects
except this one. It is mandatory for children to take care of their parents, and if they dishonor
them by striking, then it is a highly punishable breach of the Torah and even leads to stoning.
In Jewish literature, the responsibility of the children is elaborated in a fascinating way, “What
is it that women (and men) are obligated to do it for their parents?” The rabbis say that
reverence involves not sitting in a parents’ place, contradicting a parent, or arguing with a parent.
Honor is defined as offering food and drink to one’s parents, helping them get dressed, and help them to go out and in (Bavli, Kiddushin 31b). The many anecdotes that the Talmud brings to illustrate honor to parents all feature old and sometimes even demented parents. The conclusion is that the Torah, according to the rabbis, is not telling parents how to keep rebellious kids in line—which is what many parents erroneously think the verse is saying—but rather telling adults in the prime of life how to deal with their aging parents. The Torah is saying that children must take care of aging parents’ day by day, meal by meal. This is surely a taxing demand. Most parents today would not dream of asking their children to look after them, and most children today could not imagine doing so. But that is how the rabbis understand the Torah. And since they make no distinction between good and abusive parents, the rabbis imply that the same rules hold for all parents.2
In such a background and context, Jesus’ new hermeneutics invites us not to evade from the
Torah, rather, it helps us to see a larger family. Here he qualifies and defines the real mother
and brother of Jesus. We never knew he visited them later, but some propositions force many
to misunderstand this text. I would like to share a few thoughts.
1. Say No to nepotism: I feel Jesus did not play any nepotism while doing the mission of God. On the other hand, he was responsible to the family, even while carrying the cross, by asking his own disciple to take care of his mother, Mary, who suffered in enacting the plan of God. Jesus always insisted on the universal family. Family of God is always inclusive, which includes the forgiver and the forgiven. The Lord’s Prayer is so self-evident about Jesus’ understanding of God’s family which is grounded in fullness for all. It never excludes anyone and anticipates the deliverance from evil.
2. Say Yes to God’s Will: In life, the self- emerging will is a contra to the general will. The general will is not the will of the majority but the will of the least, last and lost sections of the society. Philosophical realms speculate over this ultimatum of life, which envisions peace and justice for all in a broken and unjust society. Jesus was equipping the people through his passionate words to live a divine life. God’s ill will be discerned in a context which may encounter challenges while actively executing it. Persecutions and oppositions are inevitable, but faith in God will empower us in this engagement.
Let us continue as a church family to say, we are one in Christ, and we are united to the whole human bond as brothers and sisters. By living such standards, we will continue to transform the world that is divided and self-centered.
God Bless these words! Amen.
1 Hebrew Bible. Exodus 20:12
Text: Luke 8:16-18
A Lamp Under a Jar
16 “No one after lighting a lamp hides it under a jar, or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a lampstand, so that those who enter may see the light. 17 For nothing is hidden that will not be
disclosed, nor is anything secret that will not become known and come to light. 18 Then pay attention to how you listen; for to those who have, more will be given; and from those who do not have, even what they seem to have will be taken away.”
The philosophy of dialectics is very powerful in the realm of spirituality. Good and bad are identified as two different states of spirit and matter. We always vacillate between good and bad because we are connected to the immanent and transcendent phenomena of life. Everyone wants to be good, however in reality we struggle to achieve the perfect goodness. Paul clearly states the conflicts between the good and evil nature of humans in Romans 7:15-17, 22-25.
“15 I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good. 17 But in fact it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me.” .... 22 For I delight in the law of God in my inmost self, 23 but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind, making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!
The law of God encapsulates the active love for self and for others. But the law of sin brings forth hate and destruction for self and the community at large. When a person accepts Christ as the true savior, he/she is bound to the law of love which is always transparent, just and loyal. There won’t be any hidden agenda in the spiritual realm as well as there is always trust in any sort of relationship. The purpose of Jesus' coming is to restore a relationship that was broken. Drawing nearer to God is possible only when we draw close to the broken relationships as well to engage in possible ways to transform the brokenness into wholeness even at the cost of life. Jesus is the only model to substantiate this quality through the way of cross. He never compromised with evil, but helped people to understand the conscious and unconscious operation of evil. He wanted them to be true to themselves and others which pleases God the father. Amen! Such quality creates an imperishable light to dispel the negative thoughts and the perception of life, and consistency promotes decency and dignity for all. Secrets are dangerous when it is done for some destructive actions. Jesus was plotted at the back door. Jesus was always prophetic and vociferous for a sustainable transformation in life.
He wanted his followers to be the agents of truth and wanted them to be advocates of the same in public. The corrupted world delineates from the law of God and manipulates every single iota in life. But the power of truth vanishes the mendacious notions around us and within us to create a beloved community of Christ.
I am sure as the body of Christ; we are called to continually practice truth with love for the other and shed the light to dispel the darkness in the world that propagates injustice and discrimination. When we translate our faith in action, it’s going to produce good because the Christian faith always advocates for egalitarian traits and consistently protests against dehumanization of anyone.
The parable of light calls us to continue our bold and sincere call of God in realizing a matured community of God to display the gospel of Christ. “Love that makes the world go round.”
Thanks be to God.
Text: Luke 8:1-15
8 Soon afterwards he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. The twelve were with him, 2 as well as some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, 3 and Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them[a] out of their resources. 4 When a great crowd gathered and people from town after town came to him, he said in a parable: 5 “A sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell on the path and was trampled on, and the birds of the air ate it up. 6 Some fell on the rock; and as it grew up, it withered for lack of moisture. 7 Some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew with it and choked it. 8 Some fell into good soil, and when it grew, it produced a hundredfold.” As he said this, he called out, “Let anyone with ears to hear listen!”
9 Then his disciples asked him what this parable meant. 10 He said, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God; but to others I speak in parables, so that ‘looking they may not perceive, and listening they may not understand.’ 11 “Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. 12 The ones on the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. 13 The ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe only for a while and in a time of testing fall away. 14 As for what fell among the thorns, these are the ones who hear; but as they go on their way, they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. 15 But as for that in the good soil, these are the ones who, when they hear the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patient endurance.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German theologian who opposed the rule of Hitler and stood boldly against the Nazi ideology, writes about realism as “turning away from the phraseological to the real.” For him Christianity could never be merely intellectual theory, doctrine divorced from life, or mystical emotion, but always it must be responsible, obedient action, the discipleship of Christ in every situation of concrete everyday life, personal or public.”1 This affirmation in Christ and life ended his life in prison and boldly faced death for raising the voice against the Nazi Hitler without any fear. the word of Christ, per se the message of Christ empowered him to live the will of God in spite of challenges and worries about life.
Today’s parable indicates the quality of the receiver of the word of God. There are four sets of people who Jesus highlights. I would like to shed some light on the following annotations from the text.
1. “Some seeds fell on the way;” - Hears of the Word but not doers. One of the most misunderstood books is the Bible. The sacred text gives us varieties of perspectives over life, but the blinded imagination and rigid inflexibility to human need and pain halts the power of the Gospel. The humongous truth of God gets subverted and confused because we fail to discern the message of the text to our common good. Predominantly, the narrow understanding of the scripture converts our ways as God’s way, and our destiny into God’s destiny. The inconsistency to heed the passionate voice of God leads many to interrupt the clarity towards God’s will. Eventually, the faith factors into different polarities which are pressurized by our existential instincts. “Seeds on the way” also communicates that the divine/good thoughts are prone to be corrupted or destroyed by the selfish desires of this world. Which Jesus tells the devil destroys the meaning of the WORD and misguides its listeners.
2. “Seeds that fell on rocky ground”- Here, the word is received with joy but lacks to root itself in the Truth. The path of truth is hard but natural. “Know the truth, and it will set you free”. Many Christians know what is true, but their silence to truth and insensitivity to oppose the mendacious notions destroy their own existence. We die if we partner with lies; we live eternally when we stand with truth. The hard lies never allow life to attain its fullness. When we are rooted in Christ, death becomes life; but when we are rooted in cults or personalities, then our life becomes death. The outward expressions attract, but attractions are ephemeral and ostentatious. When we are not sure about ourselves, we cannot understand anything in the world. We are called to understand our roots; we basically belong to God. Whatever we do we must be grounded in Christ so that we may reflect the truth. Being truthful is more important than being successful. Success is temporal but truth is eternal. Truth always wins at last.
3. “Seeds that fall among thorns” Challenges are inevitable in life. The word of God gives us the courage to face those challenges at face value because as 1 John 4:4 cites, “Little children, you are from God and have overcome them; for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world”. Worries sprout when we treat the challenges with fear. Trust in God will evade us from worries. by worrying we cannot change even an iota of any issue. However, the affirmation of God in us will give us courage to do the will of God even at the cost of life. Otherwise, the fear around us will subdue us and destroy our growth. Jesus clearly says that whoever does the will of God becomes his brother and sister. The thorns of fear will disappear when we are with God in Christ.
4. Seeds that “fell in good soil” - The everlasting spring of Goodness is none other than God. The ultimate reality, God, is the source of life, and Jesus wanted us to feel that connectivity with God. No doubt our world needs healing, and it commences with a perfect relationship with God and the space to activate our relationship in a creative way of love. We will be productive in our faith when we heal the broken world. We can reflect the unfathomable God through the acts of loving every creature of God. As Cornel West quotes, “Justice is what love looks like and, in public, demands that our imaginations and actions corroborate for an affirmative action to generate life.
May God bless these words.
1 Doberstein, John W, Life together- A discussion of Christian fellowship of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Harper & Row, Publishers, New York and Evansron, 1954. This book was a translated copy of a German book “Gemeinsames Leben”.
Text- Luke 8:1-3
After this, Jesus travelled about from one town and village to another,
proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him,
2 and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary
(called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; 3 Joanna the wife
of Chuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna; and many others. These
women were helping to support them out of their own means.
Jesus was very busy traveling. He consistently engaged in equipping people to be truthful and
lovable. Truth and love were the obverse and reverse of his gospel. He wanted everyone to live
a life with a meaning and purpose. Luke’s perspective in projecting Jesus as a women liberator is
one of a phenomenal work of the Gospel. In a patriarchal domain, Luke’s inclusive presentation
about the disciples of Jesus befits the radical initiative of Christ in treating women as equals
to men. The Movement of Jesus is primarily a movement of women.
From the beginning of Gospel, Luke illuminates a newness in activating God’s mission that centers the marginalized and women in the salvation paradigm. When women are branded as polluted beings by the Jewish tradition, Jesus trained them as effective leaders for transforming the society to carry the Good news to all. Women recorded in Luke 8:1-3 were pictured as the special people by Luke. They were healed by Jesus as well as cleansed by him from the possession of evil spirits marks us an interesting study. Because these women are more thankful and followed Jesus even to Cross and they are the first ones to visit his tomb after the sabbath. Women were always truthful to the Lord. They were loyal to their master and their love never ceased even though Jesus became the victim of the empire and religion.
Women disciples were not power oriented rather they are attached to truth. “In the area of
religious practice, women were in many ways overlooked. Men were required to pray certain
prayers daily, but women were not. While the study of Scripture was regarded as extremely
important for men, women were not allowed to study the sacred texts. Rabbi Eliezer, a first-
century teacher, is noted for saying, “Rather should the word of the Torah be burned than
entrusted to a woman.” At the Temple in Jerusalem, women were restricted to an outer court.
In synagogues they were separated from the men and not permitted to read aloud. They were
not allowed to bear witness in a religious court. But Jesus defies these expectations.” 1But Jesus,
equipped women to be leaders, facilitators, entrepreneurs and counsellors. He gave them a new orientation about life which made women as equal subjects in the world to do God’s mission along with men counterparts. They were very much convinced about Jesus' divinity and believed him to be the true messiah and at last became the first evangelist to propagate the message of hope, Resurrection message even to the apostles. Especially Mary Magdalene became the Apostle to Apostles. We have read some special insights on Mary and Magdalene in the earlier bible studies so today I like to focus on Joanna, Susanna.
Joanna: Joanna means “God is Gracious”. She is the wife of Chuza. I feel that Luke purposefully
records this to tell us that married women were part of Jesus' movement. Apparently, we see
that Chuza was a manager of Herod Antipas household estates. A man certainly who was
influential. Jesus’s movement was able to influence all people and crossed boundaries, because
Joanna seems to represent a privileged group. She was also quoted in Chapter 24 when women
disciples accompanied one another to the tomb of Christ. It’s not the miracles and healing beyond that the message of Christ pulled them and grounded them deep is an intriguing insight. I also feel without her husband's consent she would have not joined the movement which so self-evident that families were associated with the movement. Wherever women are they are the key educators and the true builders of families. They always build families and net the subjects to truth with the help of God.
Susanna: She is one of the women named by Luke in Chapter 8. Susanna means “Lilly”. We don’t
have much information about her but she and Joanna were noted for their support and helped
them by their own means along with some unnamed women. I feel probably these women were in constant touch with the local communities and kept the ethos of the new movement of Jesus, which spoke about peace and Love. They would have travelled with Jesus and had a good exposure about the predicaments of people and would have committed themselves to bring change. From Luke we can map that these women became the agents of change and thus the movement of Jesus sustained facing imperial dominance for nearly three centuries.
Women disciples were loyal to Jesus, supported the mission of Jesus through various means and became the channels of change through the quality of endurance. Amen!
Text: Luke 7:36-50
“One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and took his place at the table. And a woman in the city, who was a sinner, having learned that he was eating in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster jar of ointment. She stood behind him at his feet, weeping, and began to bathe his feet with her tears and to dry them with her hair. Then, she continued kissing his feet and anointing them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw it, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what kind of woman this is who is touching him—that she is a sinner.” Jesus spoke up and said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” “Teacher,” he replied, “speak.” “A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty could not pay. Interestingly, the creditor. cancelled the debts for both of them. Now, which of them will love him more?” Simon answered, “I suppose the one for whom he canceled the greater debt.” And Jesus said to him, “You have judged rightly.” Then, turning towards the woman, he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has bathed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore, I tell you, her sins, which were many, have been forgiven; hence she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.” Then he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” But those who were at the table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
Every week, we consistently engage in the study of the Gospel of Luke. Today, I would like to focus on certain thoughts from Luke 7:36-50 which record in depth arguments on sin, sinners and forgiveness. These subjects are predominantly misunderstood dogmas in the Christian domain and limited only as rituals. In fact, rituals are one of the greatest art forms in exercising spirituality, which serves the base to reimagine our praxis for Christ in the divided world.
Every dogmatic construction in the scripture is the product of the Church and has its own influence from culture and a specific world view. When we crystalize these dogmatic constructions, we can lucidly trace two worlds, one world with God and another without God. God’s world must be understood properly. Many times God is misunderstood when using only with subjective prism and the worst effect in this understanding turns to be more fundamental which sprouts the fastest and polarizes values. Such spectrums do halt the harmony of human life and keep the world under sin.
This text deeply articulates the perspective of many men about a woman who anointed Jesus at Simon’s house. I strongly feel that the sin of judging others escalates rottenness in human relationships. Here, the degenerating views about the women blinded them to participate in God’s grace. We judge people
because we are influenced by a particular worldview. Lack of openness and transparency blinds us to see the aesthetics of creation and its interconnectedness. If our world view is broad and inclusive with a sense of positivity, it represents the world of God, spontaneously. Supposedly, if it negates the other with exclusive instincts, then our world view of God is limited. It causes great damage to the finest design of coexistence and peace in the society and de-harmonizes the rhythm of life.
The Jewish community, being misogynistic, subdued women and viewed the gender as sinful. This construct is a colossal wreck and a reflection of the patriarchal traits. The eyes of Jesus were so different, and they were divine. He accepted her unconditionally because God accepts everyone who turns to Him. He never bothers about who we are; he rejoices when people turn to him. “Turn to God” implies a deeper meaning; it’s understanding God's love that assures new life and always grounds in truth and justice. Without any doubt she approached Jesus and her infallible love to God was approved by Jesus. Let us continue to have Jesus’s eyes in us. Oh Holy Spirit help us to have the right perspective.
Keeping this in mind, I invite you to ponder over the following questions.
1. What is sin? 2. Who is a sinner? 3. What do we mean by “forgiveness?”
Sin is a state that alienates man from God. It is an act of estrangement from God’s presence. Can we escape God? It's impossible because we believe the God who is present everywhere. So, it's a state of mind that deviates from God’s will or God’s viewpoint of life. Here, the woman became a saint since she turned to God, but the people who were judging became sinners. Preoccupied thoughts about the other, maintains a stagnation in relationships and fails to celebrate the true essence of life.
When we lack the consciousness of God we become a sinner. This definition will map everyone as sinners because we all vacillate and oscillate between different instincts every day. St. Paul clearly elucidates that accepting the other is the true qualification of saints. 1 Timothy 1;15 highlights, “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance; Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners— of whom I am the worst.” St. Paul calls himself a chief sinner because of the consistent struggle between the world views.
“Forgiveness” is a state of realizing our true self with God and others. It is an assurance of the abundance of God’s grace for redemption and renewal of a sinner. It is a state of being feeling the eternal hope in the context of guilt and remorse. God always forgives because his love is genuine. God also empowers the forgiven to forgive the other and to heal broken relationships. Building relationships is the basic call of a Christian. The forgiven saint will have the eyes of God and the heart of God and imitate Christ by accepting every one.
Let us continue to be an accepting church, cherishing the world view of God to realize the offer of grace through the blood of Christ. Amen
God bless these words.
The Feast of St. Martha and Mary of Bethany
Text: Luke 10:38-42 and John 11:1-44
Luke 10:38-42 38 Now as they went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. 39 She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. 40 But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; 42 there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”
John 11:1-44 11 Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 Mary was the one who anointed the Lord with perfume and wiped his feet with her hair; her brother Lazarus was ill. 3 So the sisters sent a message to Jesus, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” 4 But when Jesus heard it, he said, “This illness does not lead to death; rather it is for God’s glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” 5 Accordingly, though Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, 6 after having heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. 7 Then after this he said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” 8 The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now trying to stone you, and are you going there again?” 9 Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Those who walk during the day do not stumble, because they see the light of this world. 10 But those who walk at night stumble, because the light is not in them.” 11 After saying this, he told them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going there to awaken him.” 12 The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will be all right.” 13 Jesus, however, had been speaking about his death, but they thought that he was referring merely to sleep. 14 Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead. 15 For your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” 16 Thomas, who was called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”
17 When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. 18 Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, some two miles away, 19 and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them about their brother. 20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary stayed at home. 21 Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.” 23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” 27 She said to him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.”
28 When she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary, and told her privately, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” 29 And when she heard it, she got up quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet come to the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. 31 The Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary get up quickly and go out. They followed her because they thought that she was going to the tomb to weep there. 32 When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. 34 He said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus began to weep. 36 So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” 37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”
38 Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. 39 Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead four days.” 40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” 41 So
they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upward and said, “Father, I thank you for having heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.” 43 When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”
“I am the resurrection and life” was one of the powerful entitlements of Jesus. He told this to Martha when she had a dialogical discourse over the death of her brother Lazarus. Many heavily lofted theological constructs underpinning the divinity of Jesus is articulated in the Johannine text. It centers around the faith in Christ. As we are celebrating the feast of Martha, sister of Mary and Lazarus of Bethany, I would like to share a few things about Martha and Mary in today's study.
In Luke, even though Martha complains about Marys’ insensitivity in sharing the household work in the preparation of food, Jesus appreciates Mary for choosing a better part in listening to Christ. He instructs Martha not to worry about the things that stress our daily life and wants Martha to be part of the faith community that listens to God and discerns the Will of God. Jesus’s movement is a faith movement that configures the resolution in uncertain life with the basic faculty of having trust in God. Many times, people in general worry about the things that are ephemeral and temporary and lose their connectivity with eternity.
1. Questioning: Martha and her sister Mary, as for me, belongs to the tradition of questioning the realities which hamper the harmony of human life. Their faith in their master made them question Christ in a subtle way by saying, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” I feel that they were questioning Christ for his absence and his late response to their call when Lazarus was ill. They had a strong faith to question Christ, because love always seeks truth and truth always leads to love and perfection. Questioning is a basic faculty of faith and it always clarifies the doubts for a constructive change and adaptability. However, Martha’s added statements envisage certain insights for us to ponder.
2. Believing: “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” - These words from Martha explicates her belief in the person of Jesus as a “Son of God”. She had a strong faith in Christ because even today we know that Christ is our high priest who constantly prays for us, (Hebrews 7:1-3) and he remains as our priest forever. Saint Paul entitles him as perpetual high priest in the priestly order of “Melchizedek” - (“melacha” means “King” + sedekah means righteousness in Hebrew). Jesus continues to pray for us and helps to deliver us from the impediments of this world. This statement fails not to say that she had a certain amount of belief in Jesus’s divinity and also with some shallowness about the imminent presence because there is always a struggle between reason and faith. Faith cannot be tested by reason completely because faith does cross visible boundaries and realities. We all vacillate between different polarities of life.
3. Affirmation: while carefully reading the dialogue between Jesus and Martha, the following text: Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the Resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the Resurrection and the Life; Whoever believes in me, though he dies, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”
This text exhibits her unequivocal affirmation about the Divinity of Christ. She was clarified by Christ that faith in Him will connect us to eternal life. Faith becomes complete only when there is action. Faith in God does not end in time; it's an everlasting bond and life with God. Even though Lazarus died again, this passage communicates that in-Christ we will live forever through faith. Death cannot prevail over the life in Christ. Let us continue to affirm the life in Christ and devote ourselves to live for Christ till our last breath.
Text: John 20:11-18
11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look[a] into the tomb; 12 and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. 13 They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” 14 When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew,[b] “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher). 17 Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” 18 Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her.
Why are you weeping?” These were the first words from the resurrected Lord, Jesus. In the post resurrection accounts of John’s Gospel, Jesus first spoke to a woman. This narration exemplifies numerous theological shifts in the ministerial paradigm of the Christian/Jewish community. Even though women were considered second class citizens in the then Jewish community, Jesus’s teaching, life, and witness empowered and equipped women to affirm their place in creating an egalitarian society.
As we are celebrating the feast of Mary Magdalen on this day, I would like to share some information on the personality of Mary.
1. The nomenclature of Mary Magdalen gives us two names. The last name, Magdalen, is attributed to Mary based on the native identity: from the village of Magdalen.
2. Some theologians believe Mary was healed by Jesus from her demonic possession, and some treat her with a certain derogatory past identity.
3. She was one of the prolific disciples and supported the ministry of Jesus with material possessions.
4. Based on the multiple propositions that are articulated to this personality, the traditional church strongly believes that she accompanied St. John, the gospel writer, to propagate the “good news” of Jesus.
I’m not about to validate or invalidate the identity of Mary, but rather, I am interested in highlighting the qualities of Mary in relation to doing the mission of God.
1. Consistency: The love for Jesus has never ceased in Mary, whether he’s alive or dead. The passage clearly projects the love of Mary for our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Mary tasted liberation in a new life experience in the movement of Jesus. The inclusivity of women in the movement established a new order and generated new identity to the marginalized people, to claim themselves as the Children of God. So the search of Jesus’s body in the tomb reflects the love of Jesus from Mary. Today, predominantly, people wear masks and their love seems fake because their love changes between the presence and the absence of a person. But Mary tells us to be consistent in our relationship and love for others.
2. Search for truth: Mary displayed a great quality in searching for the truth behind the missing body of Christ. Even though the male disciples showed some negligence towards the missing body of Christ, we see Mary wrestling with the situation. She approached the disciples for help and peeped into the tomb to sort out her doubts, but she failed. The appearance of Jesus, the Theophanic experience, failed her in finding the truth. Finally, we were able to see the appearance of the Resurrected God, which also blinded her from seeing the truth. But she experienced the truth by the words of Jesus which were from a very personal and affirmative God. Even today, when we search for the truth, God is always near us, and he’ll tell us what to do. No other agency can tell us the truth except the broken body of Christ which was resurrected by the Power of God. Every broken body will tell the fullness and the abundance of God's life to be accomplished with the help of God, amen.
God bless these words.