BISHOPS BEING HOLY
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Recently I came across many comments regarding bishops being holy. Some say they are humans and hence sinners. One question was if we could be critical about our holy fathers.
Let us examine it in the light of the word of God and the teachings of our church.
1. Old Testament: At the time of Our Lord the high priests were appointed by the roman emperor for a period of time. The motive of the high priest in those days was making as much money as he can in his period; like some modern day political ministers in India. So, if someone brought a cow or goat to be sacrificed, the high priest would reject it saying that it has blemishes. Then the faithful have to buy the goat from the agents of the high priest, which would eventually be accepted as blameless. The original one would be bought by the agents at a low price and resold again to another believer. Our Lord whipped them out of the temple. About those high priests Our Lord said "Blind Leading the Blind"
2. New Testament: Our Lord after resurrection came to Peter at the seashore and asked a specific question. Peter, Son of Jonah; Do you love me more than others! Peter said yes! Then only Peter was given authority to tend the sheep. The sheep included all the other disciples, including John whom Jesus loved. What was Our Lord doing? He is the creator and sustainer of the universe. He knew Peter's mind. But Our Lord made the point very clear that if Peter be the shepherd he has to love Jesus more than all the others who are to be shepherded. The shepherd has to proclaim by his words, actions and deeds every minute of the day that he loves the Lord much more than all and everything.
3. The teachings of our Church: The main doctors of our church who wrote on priesthood are St. Gregory Nazianzen and St. Chrysostom. St. Gregory says that the bishop can only be compared with the chief shepherd Jesus Christ. He is the physician of the soul. Would you go to a doctor for your heart-pain because you are friendly with him? No, we would go only to someone whom you know for sure treats heart problems. To do otherwise, you would be an ignorant. Now if you stick with a bishop who is the physician of your soul, whom you know is not holy, you yourself do not believe in the eternity of the soul. If you believe in resurrection, how can you follow a foolish physician.
4. The achens and deacons are ordained. The bishop is consecrated. Anything/body that is consecrated is holy. He is not one among the people. He is compared to Jesus only. Hence we call them THIRU-MENY (Holy Body); Hasyo in syriac. He is chosen, called, separated and consecrated. He is the replacement of the old testament priest-hood. This replacement was foretold in Ezekiel 34. This may happen again? May be the second coming is imminent; as it is foretold when you see the un-holy at the holy place, the reader be cautious that the SON OF MAN is coming soon�. In the biography of John 23rd, journal of a saint� he says people call me holy father, holy I shall be
5. The only job of a Syriac Christian bishop is to preach the word of God and interpret the word according to the faith of the church.� We pray Sathya- vachanathe sariyayi-padipikunna edayan-mare athil-ezhunelpikaname. Our church has a non-priest administrative body for the non-spiritual side of the administration of the church.
6. �Moses is a minimum requirement of the new testament high priest.� In Psalms 106: 23 we read Had not Moses His chosen one stood before Him in the breach. To turn away His wrath, lest He destroy them�. The story is given in exodus 32. The bishop has to be a spotless mirror reflecting the loving kindness of the chief shepherd, Jesus. If our bishop is real, he has to become sinless day after day; day by day sanctification for himself. As he gets more saintly, he see the finest stains in himself and cry out Lord I am a sinner; Have mercy upon me
At the end of every Qurbana, he confess himself as a sinner before the congregation. He pleads for� the mercy of God.� But he declares Psalms 26 before God Looking east. Vindicate me, O Lord for I have walked in my integrity Examine me, O Lord.. He challenges God to judge him.
7. The priests and bishops have a special order of burial; with 8+ parts. Most of them are negative, meaning only the stainless would get to heaven. We proclaim that the priest/bishop shall be judged by their priesthood.
8. Are we allowed to criticize a bishop:-� In our church we are allowed.� It should be in a laudable way.� St. Gregory Nazianzus in his second oration paragraph 82 explains it.� If your faith or you have reason to believe that someone else's faith will be jeopardized by the words or actions of the bishop we should protest against him.� The bishop can only take the kings highway.�If he falls, he can only fall in to goodness.� Our fore-fathers did it.�The protest should not be for someone else other than the shepherd of all, Jesus Christ.� It is His Church; bought by His Blood.�If you feel you are saved by�His blood, be truthful to His blood. DO NOT BE AFRAID; HE SAID
Dn. Monsy Jacob Manimalethu
Ref: 1) Exodus 32; 2) Psalms 96 :23; 3) Ezekiel 34; 4) St. Gregory Nazianzus, oration-2 In Defence of his flight to Pontus� (this oration is available online) 5) St Chrysostom on priesthood.