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Soonoyo Perunal

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  • Fr. K.K. John
    Soonoyo Perunal- Aug 15. Today s reading is from John 19:25-27. Jesus Christ is beaten, bruised and nailed to cross. He bleeds, suffers acute pain and agony
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 14, 2002
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      Soonoyo Perunal- Aug 15.

      Today's reading is from John 19:25-27. Jesus Christ is beaten,
      bruised and nailed to cross. He bleeds, suffers acute pain and agony
      and yet fully conscious. Just before committing His soul to God the
      Father, Jesus sees his beloved mother bitterly wailing at the foot of
      the cross. He said to his mother, "Woman, behold thy son and then to
      the disciple whom he loved, Behold thy mother. From that hour that
      disciple took her to his own home." This is one of the seven verses
      Jesus said on the cross, according to four gospel accounts.
      Other relevant readings for the day are from Mathew 12:46-50, Mark
      3:28-35, Luke 2:42-51, 10:38-42, 11:23-32, and John 2:1-11. These
      Gospel portions either directly or indirectly involve St Mary. I do
      not wish to go into all those details now.

      This instance best portrays the perfect human nature and sentiments
      of Jesus, a dutiful and loving son. Even in the midst of
      severe forsakenness, pain and agony Jesus showed genuine concern
      about safety and welfare of earthly mother in his earthly absence and
      ensures adequate protection. Jesus was a perfect Jew, law abiding and
      fully conscious of his earthly obligations. The Jewish law was
      explicit; it was non-negotiable duty of sons to ensure adequate
      provision and care of parents in their old age. Sons, or daughters in
      the absence of sons, were bound to take care of all needs of aging
      parents and society and religion looked upon them to fulfill such
      obligations without grumbling. Parents especially sick and
      incapacitated were not considered excess or source of encumbrance
      curtailing freedom of youngsters. Old-age homes were totally unknown
      in Jewish community. Sons invariably considered it a high calling and
      eagerly waited to receive parting blessings of parents rather,
      parting blessings were considered a treasured inheritance. Thus we
      see patriarch Noah blesses his sons, Gen 9:26-27, Isaac blesses his
      sons Jacob and Esau, Gen 27:28-29 and 39-40, Jacob blesses his sons
      and sons of Joseph, Gen 48:15. Esau was thoroughly heartbroken when
      Isaac told him that Jacob subtly took all the blessings from him.
      Esau bitterly weeps and pleads with Isaac for blessings, Gen 27:38,
      which shows that parental blessing was held in high esteem and
      necessity. In our contemporary individualistic, free, self-centered,
      scientific and technically advanced nuclear family setting this
      important aspect is almost vanished or forgotten that as children we
      miss parental blessings and grandchildren miss love and affection of
      grandparents, which in turn has considerably contributed to moral
      apathy in society. I hope this would enable at least to review one's
      relationship with parents.

      Pertinent question why Jesus committed his mother to the disciple,
      who are brothers, etc I have already dealt with in my article, "Mary-
      Yoldath Aloho" and hence avoid repetition. Here, I would rather
      consider a sermon perspective not doctrinal perspective, why our
      Church gives utmost importance to St Mary, even higher than all
      saints and the apostles and reasons thereof.

      1, Mother of humanity, Jesus created a new relationship between the
      most blessed mother and believer by committing her to disciple John,
      that is, she is mother of all believers. I have no shame but rather
      extremely proud to call St Mary `my mother' for she gave birth to `My
      Lord and My God Jesus Christ.' Blood of Christ that streamed on the
      cross of Calvary is the best and the only detergent that washes off
      my sins and debts. That blood was drawn from the fragile earthly body
      of Mary and hence she deserves adoration and respect more than any
      other human beings.

      2, Mary is blessed of all women, said archangel Gabriel, Luke 1:28,
      (Malayalam CMS/Bible society edition omitted this verse but KJV has
      it.) Blessedness according to worldview is radically different and
      opposite to biblical perspective. The worldview says, one who posses
      good fortune, social influence, position of authority, talents, etc
      with which one can lead a trouble-free, worry-free, pleasurable,
      successful life is blessed. Unfortunately this predicament misled
      many a people to adopt many nefarious means to attain the goal they
      desired. But the facts prove otherwise. These may help one attain
      certain degree of comfort but not blessedness at any rate. Angel is
      not the only one who declared and confirmed Mary was blessed; there
      are also others. 1, Elizabeth, "Blessed are you among women", Luke
      1:42, 2, Holy Spirit through the mouth of Mary, "Henceforth all
      generations will call me blessed," v 48, 3, Woman from the
      crowd, "Blessed is the womb that bore you and the breasts which
      nursed you," Luke 11:27. (In Jesus' reply to it Malayalam Bible
      society edition has, "No" but KJV has "Yea," v28.) When we closely
      study Mary's life we would marvel if Mary ever had a blessed life!
      The first salutation of Archangel caused trouble in her mind. She
      traveled long way, about 100 KM, from Nazareth to Bethlehem when she
      was weak and unable to undertake journey being full pregnant with
      child. She had neither friends nor relatives to help nor a place to
      rest in Bethlehem and in her utter helplessness she delivered Baby
      Jesus in a cave. She had no good clothe to wrap the babe according to
      Jewish custom, which any mother would reasonably wish but she had to
      content with swaddling clothes. She was so poor that she could not
      afford a goat or ram to sacrifice in the temple. In the temple, old
      Simeon said, "A sword shall pierce through you your own soul," Luke
      2:35, which invariably escalated her grief. After census registration
      she moved back with the child. Before fully settling in Nazareth the
      angel advised Joseph to escape to Egypt to protect the child and
      mother from Herod the tyrant. She fled to Egypt with the child and
      Joseph, needless to mention the difficulties on the way. After death
      of the cruel king Herod, the angel advised return to Nazareth with
      the child and she obeyed. Then she faced turmoil when Jesus was not
      found among the caravan. She witnessed the arrest, false charges,
      trials, beatings, mocking, stripping naked and hanging on the cross
      like a worst criminal forsaken by even the chosen disciples. In the
      worldview, she was most despised, poor and afflicted woman and yet we
      call her blessed, which adds a new dimension to the
      concept, `blessed.' It is not the externals such as wealth,
      popularity, power, authority, charisma or poverty, afflictions,
      sufferings, etc that makes one blessed but the internals such as
      peace of mind, togetherness with God, and freedom that one enjoys in
      Christ. In this respect assuredly Mary was blessed for God was with
      her.

      We see many blessed persons in the Bible namely those who are called
      by God, Is 51:2, who are chosen by God, Ps 65:4, who are disciplined
      by God, Ps 94:12, who put their trust in God, Ps 2:12, who fear God
      and walk in His ways, Ps 128:1, who are undefiled, who walk in the
      law of the Lord, who keep His testimonies and seek Him with whole
      heart, Ps 119:1-2, who know Christ, believe and suffer for Him, Gal
      3:9, who endures temptation, Jas 1:12, who keep off from sin, who is
      righteous, who show mercy, who are poor in spirit, who make peace,
      Mat Ch 5, whose transgressions are forgiven and whose sins are
      covered, Ps 32:1, who has part in resurrection, Rev 20:6, etc. St
      Mary qualifies to be blessed by all these standards.

      3, She is full of grace or highly favored according to certain
      versions, which also archangel Gabriel said, Luke 1:28. Grace is
      unmerited favor, which God gives when a recipient is not expecting or
      deserving. It was not that Mary deserved by virtue of her
      extraordinary birth or deeds but God in his infinite veracity so
      chose to favor and dwell in her. God was gracious to Israel by giving
      them prosperity, delivering them from distress, from enemies,
      forgiving them, etc. Grace is given at the sole discretion of God. In
      other words, He favors whomsoever He pleases, Ex 33:19. Apostle
      elucidates grace in relation to love of Christ. God demonstrated his
      own love toward us that while we were still sinners, Christ died for
      us, Rom 5:8. Believer receives salvation by grace, not by merits.

      4, Trinity manifested in her person. This happened on seldom
      occasions such as 1, at creation of man, Gen 1:26. 2, at Babel tower
      to diffuse language, Gen 11:7. 3, At Mary's conception, (a) Holy
      Spirit will come upon thee, (b) Power of the Highest will overshadow
      you -Father, (c) Holy one who is born will be called the Son, Luke
      1:35. 4, when Jesus baptized.

      5, God is with her, the angel told, which entitles her unparalleled
      Excellency. This assurance made her frank and fearless. She was aware
      of the possible hazards ahead if she were found pregnant because the
      rigid Mosaic Law required death by stoning in such cases. She could
      not imagine that Joseph, her betrothed spouse, would protect her but
      that did not deter her to accept the challenge because she
      experienced God's presence and she believed nothing was impossible to
      God. Who shall we fear if God is with us? God assured Moss, "I will
      be with you," and Moses did great things. After the death of Moses
      Joshua was a bit shaky but God assured, "I will be with you as I was
      with Moses," which strengthened and encouraged him, Josh 1:5. We are
      far more privileged because He sent Holy Spirit to dwell with us
      permanently and made us His temple, 1 Cor 3:16. Conviction of such
      inseparable togetherness with God radically transforms the believer
      into a new creation. How blessed is the situation being God with us!

      6, Mary willingly submitted to God's plan of redemption
      saying, "Behold maidservant of the Lord, Let it be to me according to
      your word," Luke 1:38. The word servant has special significance,
      which we are unable to comprehend in the present social situation.
      Servant had no rights other than what the master gave on those days.
      Servant was considered no better than animal. Master could sell or
      kill servant, no one would dare say a word. Servant had no identity
      independent of the master. Knowing fully these constraints Mary
      said, "your maidservant," which meant perfect dedication, forfeiting
      all her individual rights in favor of master's will. Mary's perfect
      obedient submission is the most important factor in the divine plan
      of redemption. Her unconditional submission to the ultimate will of
      God is a worthy example for all of us to follow. World has never
      before or after produced a better model of humility and for the same
      reason God exalted her above all others. Jesus also taught us the
      value of servant-hood. Are we willing to accept servant-hood? God
      wants each one of us to accomplish greater things, which are possible
      only when we submit in humility, `Here I am Lord, be it according to
      your will.'

      7, Mary's soul magnified Lord, her spirit rejoiced in God. Though
      Mary was not highly educated her song of praise in Luke 1:46-55 known
      as "Magnificat" is of considerable poetical and theological value and
      we recite it in all our prayers, which well explicates Mary's utmost
      desire to glorify God. She has fatigue out of the just finished
      tedious journey and yet she is more curious to glorify God than to
      relax. Do we have such an urge to glorify God before everything? Very
      purpose behind creation of human beings is to glorify God. But we
      often fail. Man has an innate tendency to exalt himself rather than
      God, which is great sins and reason for all failures!

      8, She is first Christian. Christians through faith and by baptism
      put on Christ, Gal 3:27 and yet, real Christian is the one in whom
      Christ lives or in substantial union with Christ. St Paul said, "I
      labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you," Gal 4:19. "I
      have been crucified with Christ it is no longer I who live, but
      Christ lives in me," Gal 2:20, "For me to live is Christ and to die
      is gain," Phil 1:21. Christ was formed, grew and lived in the womb of
      Mary. Word took flesh from her, thus she became Mother of God and
      first Christian at the same time.

      9, Mary was the most loving and compassionate of all human beings
      ever lived. She took courage to be at the foot of the cross and saw
      her beloved son dying in pain without least fearing soldiers or
      inimical Jews because she loved her son so ardently. John says there
      is no fear in true love, 1 John 4:18. She was only an invitee at the
      wedding of Cana but when there was a deficiency she voluntarily
      extends her helping hands. John adds that the first ever miracle was
      performed at the mediation of the blessed mother thus becoming guest
      and host at the same time not only at the wedding at Cana but in
      every believers home for, there is no Christ without mother and no
      mother without Christ; both are so naturally together at all times.

      10, She was law-abiding citizen. She was very feeble being in
      advanced pregnancy, (Choodan malarum ghanamai thonnum dohada
      kaalathil, Ullor) when law required her to go a long way to Bethlehem
      with Joseph for census she obliged happily without hesitation. She is
      a precious model for all mothers, wives and womanhood.

      11, She was devout in prayer, meditation, family matters and well
      known in the society. Venerable Church fathers expounded, `Angel
      appeared to her when she stood before God in prayer.' Behind the
      success story of every hero in the bible there is a committed prayer
      life.

      12, She was meek and always in self-control. She had neither pride
      nor ever claimed self-righteous. She thought lowly about her, not
      boasted though she could and kept cool both in times of joy and
      sorrow. It was unprecedented that an angel would appear to a young
      girl, heralding good news that she was "full of grace" (`Highly
      favored one' is translation error) followed by another salutation
      from aunt Elizabeth as "Mother of my Lord," unnatural events at birth
      of Jesus Christ such as host of angels singing/praising, special star
      rising in the sky, wise men from the east offer presents and worship,
      shepherds come and worship, Simeon blesses saying, "Mine eyes have
      seen Your salvation" and the Child is "Glory of Israel and light of
      Gentiles" and Anna the prophetess thanks Lord, and much more had
      sufficient reasons for her to feel fulfilled and pride. But instead,
      she kept these things in mind, Luke 2:51. Even in times of extreme
      sorrows she does not get over-stricken by grief, for example, Joseph
      doubted her integrity to the extend of forsaking privately, she had
      to hurriedly journey to Bethlehem with Joseph in her advanced
      pregnancy, had to flee to Egypt for safety of the child with Joseph,
      she saw her son, despised, mocked, stripped naked, beaten, bruised,
      bleeding and dying on the cross like a defenseless criminal. No one
      in history suffered the affliction she endured and yet kept cool at
      all times which is rare quality attributable to great
      souls. "Swabhavam na jahaathieva sadhurapath gathopisan; Karpura:
      pavakasprustam: Saurabham labhathetharaam," which means, `good people
      would not forsake their character even in danger; Camphor (karpuram)
      emits more fragrance in fire.'

      13, She was holy. Holy God cannot dwell in unholy places. Jehovah God
      admonished Israel, "Be holy for I am holy," Lev 11:14. Holy Spirit
      sanctifies everything. Mary was sanctified and purged from the
      original sin just at the moment of conception of the Word consistent
      with the holiness of God. She was free from all personal sins too.
      She was not defiled by human lust any time. Joseph having self-
      convinced beyond doubts on the basis of his personal encounter with
      the angel and affirmation received thereto about her chastity and
      divine indwelling treated her with awe and wonder and indeed kept her
      in high regard without a ray of thought to defile her for, he was
      just, the gospel says. St Paul had in mind the exemplary sacrifice
      rendered by Mary in conceiving the Word of God and her immaculate
      life thereafter when he exhorted every believer to, "Present your
      bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your
      reasonable service," Rom 12:1. What is thronos in our Church? It is
      the seat of Jesus Christ, King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Thus St
      Mary is the hallowed living-thronos to a believer. What is Madbaho
      (Kduskudisin) or Holy of Holies? That is where God dwells, right?
      Then, St Mary is Holy of Holies where God dwelt for a believer. The
      celebrant holding the bread and chalice says, "This is my body and
      this is my blood." When the celebrant says these foundational words
      of the Eucharist he visualizes Mary bearing baby-Christ. Priest is
      thus endowed with great and divine privilege to hold the redeemer in
      his fragile hands even as St Mary held.

      14, She is first of all saints. Saint is the one who is set apart for
      God's holy purposes. Church is the holy body of those sanctified in
      the name of Christ and who live in union with Christ. Believers who
      are baptized into the body of Christ are saints, though we recognize
      certain saints for their total devotion in a special way. Same way
      Mary is first saint and saint of all saints. Church fathers rightly
      exalted her above all saints. She is also the first and foremost
      intercessor. She tirelessly supplicates for the entire world. Jesus
      Christ grants her supplications. The Holy Trinity is pleased to grant
      her request not as the one coequal but as the one highly favored,
      which favor no other human beings ever enjoyed. She stands out in the
      crowd!

      Conclusion: Two months ago a gentleman, member of various Internet
      forums, wrote an email requiring certain clarifications regarding
      Nestore. I sent my two articles, Nestor.doc and Nisha.doc, dealing
      with the subject. He responded, `after intense research for 11 years
      I found certain ancient reliable documents, which the church does not
      have, clearly stating that after the birth of Jesus, Mary delivered 5
      children fathered by Joseph whose names are found in gospels. Nestore
      was justified in teaching that Mary was not God-bearer but only
      Christ-bearer. I replied, `the holy Church had ample discussion on
      the matter. I would dare not unsettle an already settled matter.
      Whoever says that Nestore was right or Mary delivered again or Mary
      is not God-bearer, is the first born of Satan who is father-liar from
      the beginning, opposed to Holy Spirit, cursed by the Holy fathers, by
      all saints and accursed in the Church. I refuse to have any contact
      with such devilish thought.' He replied, `there were hundreds of
      priests in Bethlehem at the time of Jesus birth. Because of such bad
      attitude of the priests as I showed the angel ignored all of them and
      opted to inform the lowly shepherds, etc.' God forbid, such nasty
      thoughts against Holy Spirit. May her prayers strong be refuge to us!
      Oh Morth Mariam Basluth Yoldath Aloho pray for us.
      I attest confidently, St Mary is mother, helper and intercessor for
      all those who repose confidence in her. Supplications directed to her
      will not go unheeded. Fr John KK. 8/15/02

      ------
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