Malankara World Journal No: 35 (Oct 20) is available online
- The Malankara World Journal Issue 35 (dated October 20, 2011) is now
available online at:
We are into autumn in North America. It is beautiful all over with
colorful foliage. In another week or so all the leaves will be down and
we will be staring at the trees without any leaves - a ghost of a
landscape. It is hard to imagine the drastic changes in the landscape
here in North America when we are in Kerala.
The church also goes through the change in seasons next week. The church
year officially starts on Sunday, October 30 with Koodosh Etho - the day
of cleansing. This is a good time to do some introspection and clean
ourselves too. Throw away some of that load of sin we have accumulated
in our lives; go for a confession and start fresh. This edition of
Malankara World Journal is designed do just that.
As this week's gospel shows, everyone who are invited by Jesus to follow
him will not be able to accept his invitation. We need to get rid of the
things that keeps us away from God.
'The Window from which we look' tells us, in a powerful way, that what
we see in others is greatly influenced by our own experiences and
prejudices. It depends on the purity of the window through which we look!
We often feel that we have to become someone else to do an effective
job. A laity says only a priest can do that; a priest says only a bishop
can do that; etc. Fr. Patrick Brennan, in his article, 'Power, Pleasure
and Wealth' tells us that we are wrong on that. We are all given talents
and we can do much if we come with an attitude of service and love as
demanded by Jesus. According to Fr. Brennan, "Jesus calls all of us to
service, to be servants—whether we teach or drive a truck, whether we
pick up garbage or do brain surgery—in all that we do, we are to be
servants. The goal of our lives can not be to just pick up a pay check."
"Archbishop Rembart Weakland of Milwaukee once said that the most
important role of the laity is not to spend a lot of time doing Church
work, but rather, in whatever role they play in the career we chose to
do, to give witness to Christ alive in them. The real challenge of being
a disciple of Jesus is to be a servant, as Jesus was, in whatever work
that we do.
Servant leadership, leading by serving is the essence of life in the
Reign on Kingdom of God."
We, in Malankara World, had been big proponents of 'Servant Leadership'
and 'reflecting the light of Jesus on us'. This gives us another
opportunity to think about this powerful teaching from Jesus. I strongly
recommend that you read Fr. Brennan's article from beginning to end. It
is one of my favorites. (There are also several articles in Malankara
World as well as in the back issues of the Malankara World Journal.)
If you ask any Christian, they will say that one of the most destructive
habit of us is "gossip." Gossip can destroy families; it can destroy
churches; it can destroy friendships. Dave Burchett's article on "why
Christians gossip?' may be an eye opener for us.
Alex Crain talks about 'Seven Habits of Truly Effective Living' based on
"In Psalm 92, the ideal end that God depicts for our life is that of
being a righteous person who is filled with spiritual vitality. Even at
the end of life when the temptation to grumble and express radical
selfishness is often the strongest, we are to be full of spiritual
health. Instead of complaining, his lips are filled with
praise—declaring that there is no unrighteousness in God, his Rock (v. 15)."
The roots for such vigor of soul are woven throughout Psalm 92 where we
see seven habits of truly effective living unfolded, according to Alex.
A very timely article indeed!
Heart disease is something all of us are interested in. So, our health
feature this week with a prominent cardiologist in India will be of
Read the rest of the Journal. It is choke full of goodness to help us in
our spiritual journey.
Table of Contents: Malankara World Journal Issue 35
Bible Readings for This Sunday
Sermons for This Sunday
Inspiration for Today: The Window from which we look
Power, Pleasure and Wealth
Featured This Week: Two Reasons Why Christians Gossip
Book Excerpt: Lesson: 9: 'Pray the Lord of the harvest' Or Prayer
Seven Habits of Truly Effective Living
Family: Understanding the Shadow Side of Your Man
Health: A Chat with a Heart Specialist
Humor: Where Was Jesus Born?
About Malankara World
Bible Readings for This Sunday (Oct 23)
Sixth Sunday after the Feast of Sleebo (Holy Cross)
St. Matthew 19: 13-26
St. Mark 10: 17-27
Before Holy Qurbana
Genesis 42: 29-36
Isaiah 43: 16-25
Acts 21: 27 -40
I Corinthians 5: 6-13
St. Luke 18: 18-27
Sermons/Homilies for This Sunday (Oct 23)
This Sunday's gospel reading is from St. Luke chapter 18. It is also
covered in Matthew chapter 19 and St. Mark chapter 10. It is the
familiar story of the rich man coming in front of Jesus and asking Jesus
what he should do to obtain eternal life. Jesus knows that he already
follows all the commandments prescribed by Moses. Bible says that Jesus
"loved him." It is not too often that one come face to face with a
sincere person who follows all the commandments. Jesus was sick and
tired of all the Pharisees and scribes who were hypocrites - behaving
one way in public and leading a double life in private. Jesus looks at
this ruler and asked him to sell everything he had and donate the
proceeds to poor people and then to follow Him.
This is a confusing passage. Does it mean that we have to sell
everything we have to become a disciple of Jesus? Are all the prosperity
gospel evangelists wrong? Yes, God provides our riches; we don't own
them. He can take it back anytime as he did to Job. Abraham was a very
rich man. Jacob accumulated lot of riches when he was working for his
uncle. Solomon was one of the richest kings of Israel. So, it is not
that God is allergic to us having money.
In fact, recall that Jesus did not ask Zaccheaus, who was the richest
tax collector in town, to sell all he had and give it to the poor. Jesus
did not ask Joseph of Arimathea, who the Bible says was rich, to sell
all had had and give it to the poor. Jesus did not ask Nicodemus, the
wealthy man from the Jewish Sanhedrin or Senate, to sell all they had
and give it to the poor. Nor does Jesus ask us today to sell all we have
and give it to the poor. To think such thoughts would misunderstand
Jesus and the text.
Jesus was putting the rich young ruler to a test to see whether he
personally and specifically loved God and his neighbor more than money.
This test was similar to the story about Abraham in the Old Testament
when God asked him to sacrifice his own son, Isaac. God was testing
Abraham to see if Abraham loved God more than his son. Similarly, Jesus
was testing this rich young man to see if he loved his riches more than
God. That is what the story is about. God is testing us to see if we
love our money and material possessions more than God. We remember
Jesus' teaching when he said: "Where your treasure is, there will be
your heart." The man's heart was in his treasures.
Bishop William H. Willimon from Birmingham, Alabama, presented this
story of Jesus and the rich man in a college dormitory Bible study. He
then asked the gathered students, "What do you make of this story?"
"Had Jesus ever met this man before?" asked one of the students.
"Why do you ask?" he asked.
"Because Jesus seems to have lots of faith in him. He demands something
risky, radical of him. I wonder if Jesus knew this man had a gift for
risky, radical response. In my experience, a professor only demands the
best from students that the professor thinks are the smartest, best
students. I wonder what there was about this man that made Jesus have so
much faith he could really be a disciple."
Another student said thoughtfully, "I wish Jesus would ask something
like this of me. My parents totally control my life just because they
are paying all my bills. And I complain about them calling the shots,
but I am so tied to all this stuff I don't think I could ever break
free. But maybe Jesus thinks otherwise."
Bishop Willimon was astounded. What he had heard as severe, demanding
BAD news, these students heard as gracious, GOOD news.
Many had come and followed Jesus. All of the disciples, standing around
witnessing this encounter, had left much and had followed Jesus. The
journey had not been easy for them. Jesus never promised them a rose
garden while on earth. When they were asked to follow him, they left
everything and followed him. They paid the price of being a disciple of
Now, here, someone else is being met by Jesus, face-to-face; someone
else is being asked to become a disciple. And after hearing how much it
costs to be a disciple, the man slumps down and walks away sorrowfully.
The story, then, is about someone like us being met by Jesus and asked
to follow, but who decides that it is not a way he wants to go. He walks
away. Bishop Willimon says that this is the only call story in all the
gospels in which someone refuses to follow Jesus. A person like us is
being invited to be a disciple of Jesus, and this person like us walks
in the other direction.
Jesus invites people to be his disciples: "divest! Break free! Let go of
your stuff! Follow me! I believe you can do it!" Are we?
You can read more bible commentaries, bible analyses, sermons and
homilies based on this week's Gospel reading in Malankara World.
The Window From Which We Look
A young couple moves into a new neighborhood.
The next morning while they are eating breakfast,
the young woman sees her neighbor hanging the wash outside.
"That laundry is not very clean", she said.
"She doesn't know how to wash correctly.
Perhaps she needs better laundry soap."
Her husband looked on, but remained silent.
Every time her neighbor would hang her wash to dry,
the young woman would make the same comments.
About one month later, the woman was surprised to see a
nice clean wash on the line and said to her husband:
"Look, she has learned how to wash correctly.
I wonder who taught her this."
The husband said, "I got up early this morning and
cleaned our windows."
And so it is with life. What we see when watching others
depends on the purity of the window through which we look!
Power, Pleasure and Wealth
by Fr. Patrick Brennan
A very kind man from the business world asked me a question recently
that momentarily caused me to pause. I have been the pastor of a large
northwest suburban parish for three years now. Focusing on my role as
pastor, the man asked me: "Are you happy with where you are at
career-wise?" I had not thought of my role as pastor in those terms; so,
I paused for a moment.
My immediate answer was one of frustration. "I wrote twelve books before
I was named pastor," I said. "Now I do not have the time to write a few
pages of a chapter...and I have been trying to complete a doctorate in
psychology for some time. I have all the course work done. What remains
are final exams, part-time internship, and dissertation. Because of the
time demands with being a pastor, I am stalled in completing my doctorate."
I continued more positively: "But Holy Family Parish fascinates me. It
is a progressive parish, which is none the less respectful of Catholic
tradition. It is a parish dedicated to Evangelization, small Christian
communities, and the re-imagining of parish systems. I spent a good part
of my priesthood directing such efforts for the Archdiocese, as well as
teaching in these areas. So, the parish and I seem to be in a good
I say to all of you today, being pastor is contributing toward my
growth, conversion and healing. And I hope, believe that my presence at
the parish is helping the parish and parishioners also. I hope, believe
that there is some mutuality of benefit happening.
For followers of Jesus, the gentleman’s question needs some expanding
and deepening. Some expanded, deepened questions would sound like this:
as a pastor, am I a servant? Am I a servant leader? Do I lead by
serving? Do I seek to serve God’s people? Do I seek to serve God? Is
service my motivation in living out my role?
Let me expand the field of focus. Jesus does not just call male,
celibate priests to service. Jesus calls all of us to service, to be
servants—whether we teach or drive a truck, whether we pick up garbage
or do brain surgery—in all that we do, we are to be servants. The goal
of our lives can not be to just pick up a pay check.
A doctor friend of mine was telling me recently that he has become
concerned about a peer of his, another doctor. This other doctor’s
number of patients has risen exponentially. But as patients have
increased in number, the doctor’s bedside manner, and style of
inter-acting with patients have deteriorated. My doctor friend’s concern
about his colleague is this: something seems to have become more
important to him that the purity of the Hippocratic oath, and his
original commitment to service. That "something else" seems to be money
Archbishop Rembart Weakland of Milwaukee once said that the most
important role of the laity is not to spend a lot of time doing Church
work, but rather, in whatever role they play in the work would to, give
witness to Christ alive in them. The real challenge of being a disciple
of Jesus is to be a servant, as Jesus was, in whatever work that we do.
Servant leadership, leading by serving—as Robert Greenleaf has described
it—is the essence of life in the Reign on Kingdom of God.
My dad, who is deceased, was a wonderful example of service to me. He
did not make a lot of money. He did not have a lot of education. He
worked for the city for many years at a water pumping station. He
monitored the working of pumps making sure that people had water in
their homes on the southwest side of the city of Chicago. The job would
seem to be meager, not all that important to many people. But my dad had
a great sense of service and responsibility about his job. He was
serving the people of Chicago as he monitored those pumps. Similarly, I
had an uncle, John, who several times as a fireman had to be
hospitalized for injuries incurred trying to rescue people from burning
buildings. He also was a model of service to me.
But I also saw another side in my family. A couple of relatives started
out in service professions, but then something went wrong. Their lives
ended in public scrutiny regarding possible misuse of office or
position. Some things became more important to them than service, things
like money, homes, cars.
Service as motivation for our lives brings us into close personal
contact with brothers and sisters in the human family. Its antithesis,
power, on the other hand distances us from one another; it causes
disconnection. A life of power often also disconnects us from God.
In the 10th Chapter of Mark, verse 35 and following, James and John ask
Jesus for power places in His future, coming Kingdom. This sets off some
arguing with the other apostles. Here and elsewhere in the gospels, the
apostles, while good people, are portrayed as ambitious, concerned about
power. The encounter gives Jesus the opportunity to teach to us how true
greatness is found in service, how one ranks first in the Reign of God
by serving the needs of all. He explains that He has come, not to be
served, but to serve, to actually give His life as a ransom for all of us.
Ambition, grabbing for power, can manifest itself in the Church also.
Some men begin as fine priests, but as they progress upwardly, on a
hierarchical-career track, it becomes difficult to discern what they
believe in—God? or their role? or power? Similarly, in this age of lay
ministry, the laity need to beware that they do not take on the errors
of clericalism, namely using what should be a role of "servant" for
one’s own needs for importance and power.
Relative to those of us who are clergy, the venerable Msgr. Jack Egan
used to tell us as younger priests: "you have to make a decision—do you
want to be a bishop or a priest?—and that decision will influence the
rest of your life." He was not criticizing all bishops, for obviously
there are many fine ones—historically and in our midst today. I do think
Msgr. Egan was saying, in your priesthood, you need to decide whether
you are going to be a careerist or a servant and that decision will
influence the rest of a clergyman’s life, like the rest of anyone’s life.
Jesus’ warning against power needs to be connected to another warning He
gives in Mark 10, verse 17 and following—a warning against stockpiling
wealth. This is the exchange He has with a rich man, challenging him to
sell all that he has, give to the poor, and come follow Him. Stockpiled
money and things, like power, can disconnect us from brothers and
sisters in the human family. Because of wealth and possessions, people
can develop a pretense that somehow they are better than, ahead of,
different from others—when, in fact, we are all pretty much the same,
and we will all leave this world the same way—through the passage way of
death. Elsewhere in Scripture, Jesus, Paul and others warn us about
another spiritual landmine—self-focused pleasure. Take, for example, the
gift of human sexuality. It has been given to us for connection,
commitment, communication. If used in an immature, irresponsible, or
immoral way, sexuality—or any pleasure—can disconnect us, cause
alienation among and between us. So often in marriage counseling people
will report feeling great "loneliness" after moments of so called
"intimacy". In such cases, people or a person have been self-focused in
using a gift that should bring people into greater unity or communion
with each other.
Power, wealth, pleasure—they are goods in themselves, given to us to
bring us into closer connection with God and each other. Misused, they
cause distance and divisiveness.
I was thinking about hell recently. What might the experience of hell be
like. I think at root, hell must be isolation from brothers and sisters
and God, an isolation that begins during this life through a
self-deceiving misuse of power, wealth, or pleasure, and then continued
after death for eternity. Isolated eternally: that must be what hell is
If someone asks you if you are happy with your career, answer honestly.
But then, ask yourself more important questions:
Am I serving?
Am I connecting with brothers and sisters, my fellow human beings?
Am I, more and more, trying to place God at the center of my life?
[Editor's Note: Father Patrick Brennan is the pastor of Holy Family
Parish in Inverness, Illinois. He served as the Director of the Office
of Evangelization for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago for more
than a decade, where he developed innovative renewal programs for local
churches. Father Brennan is a psychotherapist and the author of several
books, including 'Spirituality For An Anxious Age' and 'The Way of
Read the rest of this week's Journal at:
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In HIS Service
Dr. Jacob Mathew
Malankara World Journal
ID No: 956