Reading: From the Gospel according to St. Matthew 16: 13 � 23.
Dear and Respected Brethren,
As we all know, �Koodosetho� is the first Sunday of the Church Calendar, arranged by our Church Fathers, which literally means �Sanctification�. It is desired that the Church life of a year must start with the sanctification. Sanctified church will be dedicated to God Almighty on next Sunday that is why next Sunday would be called Hoodosetho. In the Old Testament era, all the Israel was considered as Holy (Qodesh), as they were separated for God�s service. (Exodus 30:31) So they were particular to keep themselves holy and separated to that service by observing distinction between holy things and unclean things. (Leviticus 10:10) In Exodus 3:5, 36:1 and 26:33 we read about the person, place or thing being made holy by God. In New Testament we find the term �Hagiasmos� instead of the OT term �Qodesh�, which means separation to God. St. Paul gives utmost importance for the Epistles. (Kindly read I Corinthians 1:30, 2 Thessalonians 2:13, 1 Thessalonians 4:3, 4:7, Romans 6:19, I Timothy 2:15, and Hebrews 12:14)
I am sure that the theme of the biblical portion in the given topic of our devotion for today, is well known to one and all. When our Lord and His Apostles were moving through the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, our Lord took the evaluation about himself by many others. The disciples presented the opinions of others and they were listened by our Lord. They said: �Some say that you are John the Baptist: some Elias, and others Jeremias or one of the Prophets� (Verse 14) In the next verse we find a serious question from our Lord. �But whom you say that I am�? These Apostles were after our Lord for about more than three years. They learned what He was through their close association with Him. Naturally they might have formed an idea about their Master as they were part and parcel of His mission works, teaching, feeding and healing missions. They are the blessed ones who listened most of the divine verses directly from Him. By that time many had approved Him as a social reformer, a good leader, a blessed one to do miracles including raising the dead. The scenes of such events might have flashed in the minds of the twelve Apostles, as soon as the question to them came from their beloved Master. We all should not forget that our Lord is asking each and every one of us �what is your opinion about me� daily. Think what answer we could give. He only freed us from the slavery of sins and Satan. He only gave us His flesh and blood for our spiritual nourishment. Still are we grateful to Him. Are we in a position to acknowledge that �you are my Lord and God, You are my savior and redeemer�. We all pray to God daily and we confess the faith through the recitation of the creed. Let us think, how many of us could do justice to the meaning and purpose of the prayer entrusted to us by our blessed forefathers. We all must confess our faith in God daily. Soon after the canonical prayers every morning, we all must say loudly or in mind �Lord Jesus, I love thee, You are my master, savior, Lord and God� �Have mercy on me, the sinner�.
The correct answer came from St. Peter. He said �you�re the Christ, the son of the living God�. (Verse 16) In the next two sentences we hear the reaction of our Lord. He said �Simon, son of (Bar) Jona, you are blessed: for the flesh and blood has not revealed it unto you, but my Father in heaven. And I say also unto thee, that you are Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it�. Here our Lord confirms that the Holy church is not ours but it belongs to God Almighty. The will of God is to be established in the Church and it must be governed by the will of God. It is He that building the Church. Instead we should not try to be in His place. If we retain Him as the sole authority and owner of the Holy Church, the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. When the will of humanity would try to control the Church of God Almighty, it would not enjoy peace, happiness and the fellowship of the Holy Trinity. Let us submit our Church to Him and pray for His will as it is in heaven. Let us pray sincerely �Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven�.
Verse 19 is the authority of the priesthood granted to the Apostles. (Read St. Matthew 18:18 also) By the keys entrusted to St. Peter, he opened the door of faith and wisdom. (as to the Jews on Pentecost day, at the house of Cornelius, acting as one commissioned by Lord Jesus through the power of Holy Spirit.) We read about the key of knowledge in St. Luke 11:52. In verse 20 we find our Lord forbidding the Apostles from telling others that He was Jesus Christ. Then our Lord gives a briefing about His passion and death on the cross in verse 21. The revelation was beyond their expectations and understanding. So St. Peter requested our Lord by taking aloof from others �Lord: this shall not be unto thee�. We could see our Lord�s reaction to this in verse 23. This reminds us to be more careful in presenting our own ideas before God. We must show patience to see the will of God. In our Church life also, we must wait for the will of God. We should not be prompted to go ahead with our own observations and evaluations. Let us be guided by the Holy Spirit in our Church lives. May God bless us all.
Jose Kurian Puliyeril
St. George Orthodox Church
Member ID # 0905