Devotional thoughts for May 4, 2008/ Sunday before Feast of Pentecost
- Sunday before the Feast of Pentecost, Mk 10:17-22
Malankara Orthodox Church observes Sunday before the Feast of
Pentecost as also the Sunday of the Monks (Dayaroyo). The Gospel
reading is from Mark 10:17-22. The subject of the discussion
is "Eternal life or Salvation." While Jesus was on the road, one man,
a ruler according to Luke 18:18, came running and knelt before Jesus
asked, "Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal
life?" v17. The soul, life after death or salvation is a fuel for
thought. The belief in the life of soul after death is the basis of
existence of all religions. This belief motivates man to lead a
meaningful present life; that is, should we have our eternity with
the Lord we ought to live a worthy life now! Future is not detached
from the present but a continuation of the present.
Jesus highlighted what was lacking in the man who sought
clarification from the Lord despite his interest to attain salvation.
It is the difficult for those preoccupied with the thought of wealth
and worldly pleasures to inherit eternal life; a mere interest is not
1, the man is a ruler that is in authority, he is wealthy, he obeys
all the commandments from his youth and he is concerned about eternal
life. Youth is the high time when people go after sinful pleasures
but this one points that youth is best period to think about eternity
and seek the Lord.
2, He called Lord, "Good teacher" Jesus does not appreciate the
salutation because the man had no intention to follow but to please
Jesus. Many people do admit Jesus as a moralist, teacher, etc. But
that is not enough for a devotee. A devotee shall have to confess
that Jesus is Lord and God.
3, it is a must and good thing to keep commandments but not enough.
One should also have compassion and virtuous conduct. Think what
prevents our bold entry in the presence of God, it may be wealth,
lust for power, wicked way of life or proud. Lord said to him, he
lacks one thing. In his case it was his wealth, which prevented him
from eternal life. What is in our case, think and cut it off,
anything be it love of money, lust of the flesh or craving for power,
that prevents our eternal life, Lord said. Despite his strong urge to
keep himself worthy of Law, his love for wealth was a hindrance. He
finally opted not to have eternal life. This is great tragedy of the
faithful who does not think properly about how God wants us to live.
It is not a sin to be rich. Abraham was very rich and still he
was the friend of God. Job was very rich and the richness did not
diminish God's favor from him. God honored their intercessions. Why
because they considered wealth as a means to glorify, not to offend
God. They did not fall victims of devil to dishonor God with their
wealth. They gave first priority neither to worldly wealth nor
illicit ways of amassing wealth but to praise God for blessing them.
They put their trust not in wealth but in the saving grace of the One
and only Living God.
4, some thoughts about money:
Newsweek (Aug 4, 98) published a list of top 10 Millionaires in 1918
John D Rockefeller, Oil Magnate, with 12.8 billion US Dollars, was
the top Millionaire in the world then. Bill Gates, Computer Magnate
was at the top since 1997 with 46.4 billion. Bill Gates was relegated
to the third position in 2008 according to Forbes Magazine. Who knows
who will be the luckiest to top the world after 50 years? The lesson
is that neither money nor the way of making money constantly sticks
with one permanently.
Sigmund Freud says in his book, "Civilization and its
contentment," "It is impossible to escape the impression that the
people commonly use false standards of measurements that they seek
power, success and wealth and administers them in others and that
they underestimate what is true value."
Our people are often compared to Judas tree. The surface of its
leaves is coated with a sticky juice, which emits out a strong
fragrance, so attractive and enticing that the insects are attracted
to it. The insects once contact are stuck to it which is poisonous
and the insects die there.
Material things can pose grave dangers. Israelite plundered
Egypt, Ex 20:3; that gold they used to make idol and get into sin and
attracted wrath of God.
People often tend to forget who the ultimate owner the wealth
is. We are only stewards not the owner. Real owner is God. Riches and
honor comes from God, 1 Chr 24: 12.
Money may brighten us to some degree but it cannot heal a
broken heart, remove guilt, and offer inner peace. "Give me neither
poverty nor riches lest I be full and deny you and say who is the
Lord," Pr 30:8.
"If a man runs after money, he is money mad,
If he keeps it, he is a capitalist,
If he spends it, he is a playboy,
If he does not get it, he lacks ambition,
If he gets it without working for it, he is a parasite,
If he accumulate it after a lifetime of hard work, people call him a
fool, who never got anything out of life," London Daily.
"Peace begets prosperity,
Prosperity begets pride,
Pride begets prejudice,
Prejudice begets war,
War begets poverty."
(5) What is eternal life, which the wealthy man took it lightly and
lost it? Anthropologists E. B. Taylor and James Frazer assembled
convincing evidence that belief in future life existed in all
primitive religions in different ways. All the ancient world
religions profess that there is eternal life after this transitory
life. Hindu sages taught four steps namely, "Salokhya, Saameepya,
Saaroopya Saayoojyam" to attain final culmination in the Brahma. They
have also taught that "Knowing the true God is eternal life,"
Brahmadaranyakopanishath. Buddha did not believe in Deity yet,
taught "Nirvana" of the soul as the final culmination of human
destiny. Muslims teach a very odd dogma saying, those who fight and
die for Allah in this life shall be rewarded life with 72 virgins in
Paradise. This idea encourages them to fight against and ruthlessly
kill adherents of all other religious faith whom they call "infidels"
for the sake of Allah. By killing others they are doing a favor to
Allah and in turn they will get 72 virgins. A key was found tied in
the neck of each soldier who died in the Iran-Iraq war in 1990. It
was blessed and given to the soldier by the Grand Ayatollah to enter
the Paradise if they died in war. That is how they encourage suicide-
bombs and merciless mass-murders around the globe.
Jesus said, "And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the
only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent," John 17:3. It is
beyond the faculty of human wisdom, intelligent awareness or an
academic pursuit but being in constant communion with God one is able
to inherit eternal life. Jesus also laid certain conditions,
depending on the occasion, to inherit eternal life. In this case, He
said, "Sell all what you have and distribute to the poor," v22,
because Jesus knew that his love of wealth was drawing him away from
God. Obsession with the thought of wealth and worldly pleasures are
in no way different predicament. To Nicodemus He said, "Be born from
above (again)," John 3:5. St Peter said, repent and be baptized in
the name of Christ Jesus," Acts 2:38, 39. St Paul said, "Believe on
the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved," Acts 16:31.
These conditions are not contradictory but mutually complimentary.
One has to believe in Lord Jesus Christ and His saving grace, repent
for the sins, confess and receive absolution, receive baptism, do
acts of mercies, shun evil way of life, live righteously,
continuously take part in worship services, love fellow beings,
imitate Christ, observe the Commandments, exceed the righteousness of
Pharisee, become child-like, not childish, enter through the narrow
door, bear fruit
Fr. K.K. John