Hope thirumeni is doing fine with heavenly grace. I am writing this to clarify a practice observed by orthodox community. It is a common practice to observe 41st day remembrances of the departed ones. Recently a member of one orthodox church here passed away from cancer. Her parents and husband are alive. someone in the church is of the view that 41st day of remembrance cannot be observed in this case as she is young and parents and husband is alive. I have seen on numerous occasions this is observed when elder family members are still alive and thirumenis conduct the holy qurbana. I would like to know is there an authoritative explanation for observing the 41st day? Recently i read that 30th day is observed for Ivanios thirmeni.
It is a well known fact that for some of the practices observed by the community no authentic explanations are available. Recently some one asked me why our perunnal rasa is conducted. In these days of noise pollution and traffic jams is it not a public nuisance? I was passing through Mavelikara in January and traffic was blocked for one hour due to some rasa procession..
Recently some bishop of a sister church has issued a kalpana against observing fire works, and traffic blocking rasa. In my opinion this is a welcome progressive step.
It will be very much of a help if thirumeni can throw some light on the 41 st day observance as different people interpret different ways.
with respectful regards
Thank you for the mail.
Remembrance of the departed is part of the faith of many of the ancient cultures and religions. For traditional Christianity though remembrance of the departed is common, the practices related to it are variant. There are people who observe three day lent and then conclude it with H. Qurbana in the Church. There are people who practice it with 16 days and 30 days and 40 days and also 41 days. There are people who keep a white decorated bed in the house for 40 days in remembrance of the departed and on the 40th day remove it after a dhoopam. In Kunnamkulam region there is no white decorated bed practice. They have 3rd day or 16th day or 30th or some 40th day. Yes the 30th day of demise of Ivanios Thirumeni was observed at various churches in Kottayam diocese.
In any case there is no rule or practice that says that when a younger person dies and when the older ones are still alive these are not observed. In many places the detailed feast will be avoided as the mourning will be much intense than in the case of older people. Otherwise there is nothing wrong in having a 30th or 40th or 41st day observance of the young departed person when the older ones or parents are still alive.
Perunnal go around (rasa is not the right word to use. This word is used for go around by the Catholic Church that goes around with Holy bread in a decorated casket. What we do is not rasa, rather it is go around or pradekshinam).
This practice is very old and meant to sanctify the village/ city. This is also related to an Indian practice of the procession with the deity on some one's shoulder or on a cattle or an elephant to sanctify the village/ city. Of course it will be wise on our part to do it without causing any trouble to the traffic and public life.
Regards and prayers
Question No. 2
A lot of unwanted trouble was made in Malankara due to mis-interpretation of John 20:19-24, which lead to questioning the Priesthood of St. Thomas. Could you please give a clarification on this? Why do our Church fathers use these verses connecting Priesthood? Why does the Author give importance to note that St. Thomas was not present there during this time of great importance? If you could clear up this confusion, it will be of great benefit to the laity. Thank you.
Yes you are right; there has been so much talk about the passage in John 20:19-24. Much of it was either due to lack of proper understanding about the principles of Biblical interpretation or to prove a point they raised, which is against the principles of Biblical interpretation.
Now the principle is that any passage in the Bible can be interpreted on two basics only. One, the central message of the Bible as one unit has to be considered in exploring the meaning and message of a particular passage. Two, the particular context of the author and his theological position has to be considered. You can not use any passage in aloofness or independently or as a proof text for any single argument you may have.
Now coming to the text in question, there are three things happening there. One, ‘breathed on the disciples for them to receive the Holy Spirit. Two, sending them out or commissioning of the disciples. Three, giving them authority to forgive or not to forgive sins. One primary point we need to understand is that the Gospel writers have not strictly followed the same chronology of event of the period. Each of these three matters are accounted by the Gospel writers at different point of time.
In Matthew the commissioning has nothing to do with either breathing or gift of the H. Spirit (Mtt. 28:19). Again binding and losing authority according to Matthew was given at a different time (16:19) and was given only to Peter according to this passage. This was before Jesus’ death. This again in isolation has been used by vested interest lobbies. Similar commissioning is recorded in Mark 16:15-16 as given to all the disciples after Jesus’ resurrection. Matthew again gives a similar commissioning in 18:18. This was not only to Peter but to all disciples. According to the book of Acts, the gift of Holy Spirit was given on the day of Pentecost (ch.2).
I gave this detailed introduction to tell you that just one reference some where in the Bible can not be taken as a proof text passage.
Coming to St. John’s passage, the key in the event is given in 20: 29. The first part of the verse “Jesus said to him, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me” is not a statement but a question. So it is not a negative comment on Thomas’ disbelief. Jesus was asking ‘having seen me have you now believed me’? It is to that question Thomas was replying “My Lord and my God”. The answer in other words, ‘yes Lord I do and you are my Lord and my God’. The second part of the verse is a general statement. This is applicable to every one since that time, including we people the ones of the present time who are asked to believe without seeing in Him person. It is also a call to every one not to insist that they should see Him in person to believe because after resurrection Jesus presence in the world was going to be of different nature. Hence any one who believes in Him without seeing Him would be blessed. This again is important in another sense. St. John was using the situation to widen the size of the faith community. If the preaching of the Gospel about resurrection had to be effective and convincing, they had to answer the question from the audience, ‘how can we believe as we do not see Him in person’? John takes this possibility seriously and answers well in advance. It does not mean that John invented this statement of Jesus. He remembered this and used the absence and presence of Thomas to present the answer to his future readers. This does not put St. Thomas in any account in a bad position.
It was not easy for any one to believe that a dead person can ever be resurrected. Of course they had seen the girl and Lazarus being raised from the dead by Jesus. But now the one who did those miracles himself is dead. So who else would do the miracle on Him? Those days only a few, the Pharisees, had any idea of a possibility of resurrection. Thomas and his fellow disciples who were from the grass root level of the society never had such profound thinking ability until they received the H. Spirit. More over there were the Sadducees who vehemently ruled out that possibility. It should also be remembered that those two disciples on the road to Emmaus, after Jesus’ resurrection also did not recognize Him even when they saw Him in person and talked to them for quite a long distance (Luke 24:13ff.). Matt. 28:17 says, “… but some of them doubted”, even after all those events after resurrection. Mark 16:11 says that ‘the disciples did not believe what Mary Magdalene said about the resurrection’. Luke 24:11 says that ‘the report of Mary and others were like “idle talk” to the apostles and so “they did not believe them”. Some saw and believed and some even after seeing had difficulty in believing. But Thomas of course wanted to see Him in person to believe, and when he saw Jesus, believed and confessed Him with a classical and unique statement. Of course we can not find fault on any one for not believing until after the Pentecost event.
Now the question is about Jesus breathing on the disciples and asking them to receive H. Spirit. As said earlier the chronology of events in John’s Gospel is different from that of the other Gospels and Acts. The statement about Thomas being absent the first time Jesus appeared to the disciples is not part of the section on gift of the Spirit. Even if it is applied on Thomas, still we do see him receiving H. Spirit on the day of Pentecost. If we are talking about the authority to forgive or bind sins, it was given to all including Thomas according to Mark 16:15-16 and Matt. 28:19 (This happened after the resurrection and with all the eleven of them, including Thomas, present. Also see Matt. 18:18).
To sum up as it was said earlier, taking one verse from some where in the Bible and making an argument is not a legitimate way of Biblical interpretation. Then the purpose of St. John in 20:19-24 was not to single out Thomas and say that he did not receive the Holy Spirit. Hence any of those things said in the context of Church feud in Malankara does not do justice to either the Biblical testimony of the events or to the way we should interpret Bible passage.
While reading the Old Testament, I saw that there was a lot of bloodshed that took place. There were a lot of fights and wars. Somehow I get the idea that the Old Testament is quite violent. Since it is known that all are God's creations and He is powerful, then why not just put them straight? Why should God kill His creations? For instance, the great flood, the red sea crossing scenarios could have been avoided. What was gained?
The first question in this regard is what is this Old Testament? The answer would be, it is the holy scripture of Jews. When you say Jews, it is a community of just two tribes of the children of Jacob, Israel. They call what we call Old Testament TANAK with three parts in it namely Torah (the Law), Nebiim (the Prophets) and ketubim (the Writings). That means it does not represent even the history and life of majority of tribes or all of Israel. On the contrary its approach most of the time is against the other ten tribes in the North of the region not to speak Canaanites and neighboring communities. Old Testament in general and the historical books in particular comes to us from those two tribes from a time of one of their greatest crises of its life which was their time in Babylon. That was a time of community formation and self realization. But on the one hand they collected all the sayings of the prophets who criticized them, and on the other they took pride in being a community specially chosen by God. We can see both these sentiments in the Old Testament material. In general the writings in OT represent what they thought about themselves, of their neighbors and of God. This does not mean that all you see in there is just subjective stuff. In the middle of predominantly subjective material you can also see the work of God in the life of a community presented in the most open manner. This is especially true with the writings of the prophets. Even in the Psalms you will see songs of hatred and rivalry.
Then you might ask why do you have Old Testament at all as part of the Bible. First we are not considering Bible as some conservative evangelicals or Pentecostal Protestants do. We look at it as it is and try to derive the message and do not read it literally to suit some agenda. Again we have those books because it was the sacred scripture of the community of our Lord. Jesus himself have used it often but had a realistic and critical approach to it. That is why we see Him making several corrections to the prescriptions as recorded in Matthew ch.5 in the Sermon on the Mount. He considered many of the laws said to be from Moses are there because of the hardness of the heart of the people (Matthew 19:8). He did not respect the laws regarding purity as He touched the man with leprosy and allowed the woman with bleeding to deal with Him. Again in the Old Testament irrespective of all that we see unacceptable with the present day standards, we see God at work though and in the history of a people to equip them to work for the liberation of the whole creation (Gen. 12: 3) that suffered the consequence of the sin of Adam.
The rivalry, killing and bloodshed were all attributed on God by those who wrote or composed them. God can only be “love” as Jesus revealed and cannot kill any one rather waits patiently for return. But it should be remembered that some of us like the way it is presented in there as we also have this kind of attitude toward others. In fact what we see in the Old Testament in terms of rivalry, killing and bloodshed are either the interpretation of the writers as to what happened or about those who suffered death or suffering due to their own shortcoming. In the case of people suffering due to their own mistake, even God can not help to stop. But the OT writer who had the idea that every thing happens because of God would say that these things were also God created where as they were human created. This happens even today. Why those innocent people died in shoot out during the Boston marathon? Why so many people are being killed in Syria, Afganistan or in Iraq, or in Bihar or the infants’ death in Attappadi in Kerala? These are man made and God can not be blamed for. But a person who believes in fate these all would be labeled as God guided or known by God in advance who did not stop it.
Again the question why can’t God stop it is a question against the free will of humans which God gave and hoped will be used wisely. God on the other hand keeps on attempting to liberate human from using it in the wrong way. If human was not given this freedom, human would not have been human, but another animal on two legs. The Old Testament is there so that we will learn from history, see the salvific work of God, thank Him for that and will work with God to help us come out of our own misbehavior and wrong way of using the freedom, which is the greatest gift human has ever received from God, so that history will not be repeated.
With regard to ‘great flood’ it was not God created if you think of it in a realistic way, it was human made with their sin (read carefully and just eliminate God from the scene and think of the reason the statement in Gen. 6:5). The Old Testament writer did not know how to explain it otherwise. But if you read the words of prophets closely you will see them talking about it this way (see Isaiah 5:13. Also see Jer. 20: 4; 1 Chro. 9:1 etc). These calamities were not God created. There is also another point to explore. The created world is moving towards perfection. In that movement there will be imperfection and imperfection causes suffering and set back. This has to be explained at a later time. To sum up, God did not cause any bloodshed or bad things happening. It was the way the writers put it. But it certainly brings us lessons of God’s work in history. With God given freedom enjoyed by human, and suffering in the midst due to human error, God is not able to stop what happens in that line.
Dear Thirumeni. I am really happy to see your efforts to interact with public. Let me have a clarification on the argument made by the Marthoma Church. I have heard that when Abraham Malapan left the Old Seminary after losing the case, some body threw a chair used by him which actually was the Malankara Throne over the window. He took it and left with it. Today the Marthoma Church claims that they are with possession of the Throne, so Malankara Metropolitan title belongs to them. What is our perspective on this?
Answer No. 4
Some one really fooled you with his/her ignorance. There is no chair called the Malankara chair. If they are referring to the throne of St. Thomas or that of the Malankara Metropolitan (for that matter the throne of St. Peter too), what is referred here with the word 'chair' or ‘throne’ is not a physical chair with four legs and a back rest rather it is a position or an office of authority. If some one talks about English chair in a university, it does not refer to a chair in its literal sense. It is the official position of the English department. Recently a chair was instituted in the name of H.G. Dr. Paulose Mar Gregorios in Mahatma Gandhi University in Kottayam. There is no specific chair there for the dean of the department to sit on. Malankara Metropolitan or the successor of St. Thomas holds an authority and position in the community and that is called a throne or a chair. The word comes from the terminology of monarchy.
Regards and prayers
Question No. 5
Thanks for the history of the Syrians. Is it not Bible prediction in Ezkiel 29 that Egypt and it's neighboring muslim states will come to extinction for 40 years? Did it already happen in the past any time or yet to happen?
Answer No. 5
The prophecy of Ezekiel is from the time of the Babylonian Exile. The prophet was an very young person when Josiah (639-609 BCE) the righteous king was ruling the Northern state Judah with Jerusalem as the capital. He was killed in Meggido by Pharaoh Necho of Egypt (2 Kings 23:29) and that was a blow to all the expectations the young prophet Ezekiel had regarding the re-unification of Israel and establishment of true worship of Yahweh and a Davidic monarchy in the united nation. This he carried all through his life. His prophecy was done while he was in Babylon in exile (587 - 537). Chapter 29 of the book talks about the imminent fall of Egypt and what is said in verses 1 to 16 comes from 587 BCE. . Being a student of Old Testament, I would not call it a prediction. Prophets were shrewd social analysts too. They were able to see what is going to happen in the near future seeing the line of current events. What Ezekiel said about Egypt happened in six month's time. Number forty (here years in verse 11) doesn't need to be taken literally. It is a symbol of a long period of punishment (Eze. 4:6; Numb. 14:33; 32:13). The names referred here denotes the then boundaries of Egupt. Migdol is the present day Tel el hyer in the northern tip of the nation and svene is in the south on the territory of Ethiopia. The prophecy in verses 17 to 21 comes from 571 BCE. There is no reference to any other country in the region here. Again you can not have any talk about Muslin in the Before Christian Era. It is a Post Christian Era religion.
Yuhanon Mor Meletius
Question No. 6
After I read your blog, something came to mind.....I'll ask it anyway.....not anything I wanted to do on a public blog.
Is there a "law" (man-made, church-made or Biblical) against women receiving the Holy Eucharist when they have their menstrual cycle? I was told not to......it baffled me but decided I'll just do as asked.....but in my mind I don't see it as being wrong.....(its just another bodily function.....why so much taboo, not sure)....
I don't know any other clergy well enough to ask this question, you see......
Answer No. 6
Hey why should it be a private thing? I have answered that question in my blog. Menstruation is one of the most blessed things God has given to a woman. It has nothing unholy or evil in it. Those days when hygiene was a concern and did not have modern facilities, communities prescribed abstaining from public life and hard work. If a woman with excessive bleeding can touch Jesus' cloth and get healed and confront him, why can't a woman with normal bleeding can go to Jesus and get blessed with the H. Qurbana. To your information this question came to me first long back from my cousin sisters when they were growing up. So have no guilt feeling. What is most important is being close to our Lord no matter what condition we are in. Those days people asked backward community people not to come and have H. Qurbana with the wealthy and high class people. During Jesus' time women were not allowed to come out in public and be with a respected person like Jesus. But he allowed that and on the top of it they were his close associates. Those days people with skin disease were not allowed in public. Jesus never cared, but touched them and healed them.So I can say this with confidence that Jesus does not care for these man made statues through which people segregate each other and put them in boxes or make them slaves to cultures. Of course we need to have culture and regulations, But not to make others slaves but to liberate them. That is what our Lord came in to our midst for.
Question No. 7
Thank you Thirumeni for your valuable reply and time. Can I have clarification on one more doubt? Idolatry is strictly prohibited by orthodox faith. The reason is evident from the bible,the 10 commandments.Paulose apostle,in his letter to the romans says that God do not need the creation of human hands,as he is the creator of the universe.If so,is the picturization of God and saints idolatry as they are also hand-made?Is there any mistake in doing that? Please clarify my doubt.
Answer No. 7
Idolatry is worship of hand made things or natural thinks like river or sun or star or mountain or tree as divine and god. In Orthodox Church, we do not consider any picture or material as God. Even the picture we do have in our home or Church, are not objects of worship. There are only representations for visual assistance of some reality. It is just like a mile stone or sign board on the road side. When they write on the sign board ‘Horlicks is good for you’ with a picture of a cup of hot Horlicks, no one would go to take it from the sign board. Or if there is a sign board saying 50 KM to Kottayam, no one goes to the sign board as if it is Kottayam.
Question No. 8
Many newspapers and TV channels play on people's predictable emotional response and avid curiosity and sensationalize incidents to capture people's attention. We need to educate the young not to buy the ideas that the media sells without due discrimination and discernment.
Recently I heard a voice supposedly of Biju Radhakrishnan tell a TV interviewer that Saritha had stayed in the same hotel at Coimbatore where Minister Ganesh was also put up on the same date. The woman on the TV channel put it as "Ganesh and Saritha stayed together in a hotel at Coimbatore.' If I were Ganesh I would sue that woman and the channel for distorting information with malafide intent. The channels and papers need to be taught a lesson by the public by not subscribing to them.
That, in my opinion, is the responsible response of the viewer. That is how they can be hurt. We owe nothing to Ganesh or Saritha but we, the public, need to be respected as intelligent and normal citizens.
The sanctity of family life is targeted by many malayalam serials and shows some of which tries to sell the idea that an unwed mother is a heroine if she remains ignorant of the fact that her child is alive and marries another man hiding her past to save her father's reputation.
We all know which malayalam daily gives us a breakfast dose of rape or sex scandals every day.
When the State reels under epidemics and people are unable to walk around Thiruvananthapuram with its smelly garbage heaps, the media plays along with the political parties and draw the attention of the gullible public to Saritha's Sari and Shalu's Chalu acts, to dilute focus on basic issues and corruption of the administration that affect our lives.
What with Income Tax, Service Tax, Sales Tax, VAT, Education cess, Road Tax, Tolls, Luxury Tax and so on, 50 % of the income of a salaried person who is a honest tax payer is swallowed by the government which then wastes our hard earned money in paralysed assemblies, destroyed police vans, fake projects and project studies, half finished and abandoned projects, leviathans and white elephants as well as security, foreign tours, and conspicuous consumption. The media is supposed to benefit the people and work for them, but actually it tries to fool them. It is easy to fool people as no one has enough time to read or to think.
Salvation has only one path. Right training of the young, intellectually, spiritually and physically. Creating the right paradigm is important. The young must be trained to question before accepting and to accept only that which they come to know as true. The levels would surely change as one gets wiser, just as the same shoe would not fit you at every age.
Religion should not curtail man's right to think and analyze even before it accepts a mystery as such.
Answer No. 8
I fully endorse your thoughts. But sad fact is that we get the kind of government we deserve. How come there is so much garbage on the streets? We do not dispose them properly. We go after selfish motifs. If some one tries to cheat us, we are there to be cheated. We send our children not for ethical education, rather for job oriented education and that itself the job that will bring high position in society and salary with kick back. Those who want to bring out a different voice, there would not be any media to spread it and there won't be any one to read or listen. We are like those who called Jesus a lunatic when he tried to bring in change in the religion and society (Mar. 3:20-30). This is what we read as Gospel lesion last Sunday (6-8-2013). Thirumeni
Question No. 9
തിരുമേനീ ഈ അടുത്തയീടെ രണ്ടു മുന്ന് ചെറുപ്പക്കാർ വീവാഹിതരായീ. വീവാഹം നടത്തീയത് തിരുമേനീമാരണ്. എന്നാൽ ഇവെടുത്തെ പ്രശനം ചീല തിരുമേനീമാർ കപ്പ ധരീച്ചും ചീലർ കറുത്ത കുപ്പായം ധരീച്ചുമാണ് വീവാഹശ്രീശ്രുഷ നടത്തീയത് ഇത് എന്താ ? ഇതു സാധരണക്കാർക്ക് മനസീലാകുന്നീല്ല. ഈ അടുത്ത് ഇടയീൽ സ്ഥാനം ഏറ്റവരീൽ ചീലർ കപ്പ ഇടുകയും ചീലർ ഇടതെയും നടത്തുന്നു. മാവേലികര ഭാദ്രാസനത്തീൽ പക്കോമിയോസ് തിരുമേനീ തിരുമേനീമാർ കാപ്പ ധാരീച്ച് വീവാഹശ്രീശ്രുഷ നടത്തുന്നതിന് എതിരായീരുന്നു. കാപ്പ ധരീക്കുന്ന തീരുമേനീമാരേ പള്ളീ കളീൽ വീളീക്കരൂത്ത് എന്ന് അച്ഛൻമാർക്ക് നീർദേശം കൊടുത്തീരുന്നു തീരുമനസീൽ നീന്നും ഒരു മറുപടീ പ്രതീക്ഷീച്ചു കൊണ്ട് നീർത്തുന്നു - സന്തോഷ്
Answer No. 9
വിവാഹ കൂദാശ സംബന്ധിച്ച സുറിയാനി നടപടി ക്രമം അനുസരിച്ച് വിവാഹ കൂദാശക്ക് പ്രധാന കര്മികന് അംശ വസ്ത്രം ധരിച്ചിരിക്കണം. കാരണം അത് ഏഴ് കൂദാശയില് ഒന്നാണ്. അതുകൊണ്ട് സുറിയാനിക്കാരായ മെത്രാന്മാര് വിവാഹം നടത്തുമ്പോള് കാപ്പ ധരിക്കും. എന്നാല് മലങ്കരയില് മുന്കാലം മുതല് മെത്രാന്മാര് കാപ്പ ധരിക്കുന്ന പതിവില്ല (പാത്രിയര്ക്കീസ് ഭാഗത്തും ഇങ്ങനെ തന്നെ ആണ്). പകരം അച്ചന് കാപ്പ ധരിക്കുകയും മെത്രാന്മാര് കറുത്ത കുപ്പായം ധരിക്കുകയും ആണ് പതിവ്. എന്നാല് ഓര്ത്തഡോക്സ് സഭയില് എന്റെ അറിവനുസരിച്ചു അഭി. ബര്ണബാസ് തിരുമേനിയുടെ കാലം മുതല് ചില തിരുമേനിമാര് കാപ്പ ഇട്ടു നടത്താന് തുടങ്ങി. കൃത്യമായി പറഞ്ഞാല് അതാണ് ശരി. എന്നാല് ഞാന് ഉള്പ്പടെ പലരും കാപ്പ ഇടാറില്ല. ഈ വിഷയം പരി. സുന്നഹദോസില് പരിഗനക്ക് വന്നിരുന്നു. ഇപ്പോള് നടക്കുന്നത് പോലെ തുടരുക എന്നാണ് തീരുമാനം. എന്ന് പറഞ്ഞാല് ഇടുന്നവര് ഇട്ടും ഇടാത്തവര് ഇടാതെയും നടത്താം എന്ന്. ആരും ആരെയും കുറ്റപ്പെടുത്തരുത് എന്ന് സാരം.
Question No. 10
"Thank you for sharing this (Forgotten history of Armenian Church). Indeed a striking thought: deaconess by her calling symbolizing the presence of the Holy Spirit. What is the thought in our church on this issue? Who are the forgotten shining examples from our church?"
I don’t think we have ever thought of that. In the early years of our Church, of course we were Dravidians (or early Dravidians) and among Dravidians women held much a higher position in the society and in religion (divine was predominantly feminine in their religion). But we do not have clear picture of the kind of Church we had as much of it was destroyed by the Latinizing Portuguese missionaries. Later when the Arians came, since they were the lords, we aligned with them to become one like them. What we remember now against the historical testimony is that we were all Brahmins. Thus we lost that Dravidian goodness. We disregarded them feminine elements they had also. Even when we got the Syrian connection, we did not adapt those little feminine elements they had. So now we are a masculine Church. I am not sure whether there is any shining example in this regard.
i have a doubt
according to our orthodox belief
is it like when we are doing a sin it will get paid off for us in future?
my personal perception is like that...
i'm from ….
Answer No. 10
Well, there is nothing like that in Christian belief. People do sin and that can be pardoned if that person acknowledges it, be sorry about it and be ready to correct the ways for future. Otherwise, that sin will follow that person and will have to take the consequence for it some time here or in the world to come. This is why the Church has set confession to give a chance to acknowledge and be sorry about sin they have done. Thirumeni
I really like the examples you gave with the above answer. Nowhere I found such good simple examples.
I have a doubt, a question I saw in a social networking site. They took Numbers 21: 8-9 It says "And the Lord said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live. And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived."
Then question is like this God could have saved people from snake bite in a number of other ways... He is Almighty... But, why did He command to make an idol (A Serpent), while in 10 commandments He categorically says to not to make any idol?
Answer No. 11
Dear God uses humans, objects and symbols to convey messages both of salvation and of punishment. No one can dictate to God what He should be using. We have seen people behaving strange when asked by God to give a sign or message. For example, God asked Isaiah to go naked and bare foot for three years (Isaiah 20:2, 3). We also see a donkey speaking the mind of God (Numbers 22). God can use other nations to speak to His people. God can use nature to speak to his people (eg. Flood, locusts etc.). Here in the book of Numbers 21, God is using a symbol to speak to His people. Idol is an image that takes the position of god, or god represented by an idol. This is what Israel did when Moses was on the mountain talking to God. Read Exodus 32:4 carefully “He (Aaron) took this from their hand and fashioned it with a graving tool and made it into a molten calf; and they said, “This is your god, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt.” This is what is called idol and idol worship. Here Aaron calls the calf he made ‘god’. In this sense even the so called idols of Hindu temples are not idols. They only carry the chaithanyam of the divine for them. They would not call these images in which the presence of the divine is, god. Unfortunately we call Hindus ‘idol worshippers’ without really knowing what they are doing and how they consider those images. You may remember that God asked Moses to make two cherubim in gold to place them in the tent of meeting to cover either side of the mercy seat (Exodus 25). God did not ask them not to make images of any thing, rather He asked them not to make idols. Idols can be images, but all images can not be idols. In this case in Numbers 21:8, 9 God is using live serpents to punish His people and a bonze serpent to save His people. God used during the time of His Son a wooden cross, which was used as an instrument for killing people sentenced to death at that time. To sum up, no, the bronze serpent God asked Moses to make was not an idol, rather a symbol of the salvation God worked out. So looking at that Serpent will not come under the law of idolatry.
Regards and prayers
Question No. 12
In our prayers, priests and bishops wear black dress as a sign of repentance (my vicar told this). In a recent reading I came to learn that it was imposed by the Muslim rulers to Dimmies (non muslims live in a muslim country giving tax) to identify them. Moreover, it is a sign of slavery. Here in KSA women wear black dress only though Quran does not mention the colour or insists it's colour. In addition, the life of the Christians under Ottoman Empire was very terrible and thousands were murdered, tortured and converted to Islam. I know Your Grace might have gone to Syira, Egypt and Turkey which were the part of Ottoman Empire or know the people from those places. I would like to get a clarification on this matter. The answer will be confidential since I know that this is a sensible question.
Answer No. 12
I have already addressed this question about the black dress of clergymen in one of the previous sessions. Go to http://yuhanonmilitos.wordpress.com/2012/07/20/questions-and-answers-5/ for my Question and Answer No. 3 in the blog on July 20, 2012. Each colour will have different implication in different cultures. If black is a symbol of mourning in some cultures, it is the symbol of pride and nobility in other cultures (see the colour of judicial officials any where in the world). In India white is the colour of morning (see the dress code of widows). Among Muslim community of Gulf region, white is the colour of men (in some regions noble men and those of the royal families wear a black outer garment) and predominantly black is that of the women. In some cultures black represents evil or as some people call Satanic. Islamic experts say there is no regulation on black with regard to the colour of dress for Muslim women. Women can wear any colour dress except that of men. There are women who wear gray or blue colour dress. I do not think that the dress of Christian clergy was imposed by Muslims. It is used even by clerics that has no influence on Christian Church. Black colour is used for regular dress of Christian clergy all over the world with very few exceptions. It also is not true that black is the symbol of repentance alone (in the Syriac monastic tradition, this may be true though. But it is not a universal law any way).
Qestion No. 13
The feast of St. George was celebrated in my parish on last May and HH the catholicose was the chief celebrant. In the Morning Prayer, HH the catholicose conducted a part of it and went inside the madbaha while the vicar and other priests were continuing the prayer. There were occasions to say e'Subaho labo..' but any one didn't chant it but said from 'menaolam....'. Don't they have the right to say that?
Answer No 13. Well, strictly speaking there is nothing that prevents a priest or even a lay person from saying Subaho … when a higher clerical official is present. But it is not done in our tradition out of respect to the higher official. Added to that there is no point in saying Men Olam … when Subho … is not said. Men Olam is the response to Subho … When there is no statement that calls for a response, how can there be a response?
Question No. 14: This question is for my father who is a diabetic person and for my son of 6 years old. In our church Holy Qurbana stats at 8.30 a.m and ends at 10.30 a.m. Our home is 5 k.m. away from the church. We go to church at 7.30 a.m. and reach there at 7.50 a.m to attend the morning prayer also. We come back home at 11 - 11.15 am while my son come at 12.30 after the Sunday School. My question is that should they observe fasting to eat Holy Qurbana? Can they eat some thing lightly before going to church? i.e. 2 bread or 1 banana etc.
Answer No. 14 I have addressed this question also in one of my previous posts in my blog. See the answer to the forth question in. http://yuhanonmilitos.wordpress.com/2012/03/23/questions-and-answers-4/
Question No. 15: Do we have the gospels or epistles of other disciples of Jesus? Why the new testament is dominated with St. Paul's epistles?
Answer No. 15. Well, it was Paul who extensively wrote letters to his churches. We do not even hear of other disciples and their activities much. Paul had more than one distinct advantage. He was a Roman citizen that enabled him to travel freely any where in the Roman Empire, meet people, talk to them about his mission. Again he was a well educated person in both philosophy and Hebrew thought. So he was able to intelligibly and articulately present his theory and let people know things and be convinced. Again he had more followers, co-workers and assistants (as far as we know. Again the source for this information is his own epistles) which none of the other disciples had. Of course there are letters and gospels from other sources which claim to be from other disciples like the gospel of Thomas. But the Church did not accept them as authentic due to the un-orthodox content (according to the canon setters of course), time and source.
Remember us in your daily prayers.
Question No. 16
Why the Trisagion Prayer of Oriental orthodox church and eastern orthodox church are different ? Is there any particular reason for our usage “who was crucified for us, have mercy on us” than that of eastern Orthodox version “Glory to the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit, both now and forever and to the ages of ages”
Question No. 16.
The interpretation given by our tradition is that while the body of our Lord was being prepared for burial by Joseph and Nichodemus (the name of Nichodemus is not seen in the Biblical record, but he was also present according to the tradition – see the Passion Friday hymn yauseppodu neechodemos .. ) after the body was brought down from the cross, the angels came down and praised their Lord by singing “Holy are you Oh God, Holy are you Almighty, Holy are you Immortal", He being God Almighty and Immortal. Then Joseph (and Nichodemus) praised Him saying “Crucified for us, have mercy on us” recognizing His salvific work on the cross. This is primarily a faith statement. Technically speaking the Trisagion is addressed to the Son in our tradition instead of the Father or the holy Trinity as they are in other traditions.
Question No. 17
I have gone thru answer qustion reg bible. It was very resanable and easy to understand. If we say bible is only a vresion of history .most of time our achensalways says bible is written under inspirationfrom holly spirit and true to core we sunday school teachers also teach the same way so how can we manage this contradiction . How ever I want to hear more from u .kindly remember me in yr prayer
with warm regards
Answer No. 17
Thank you for your note. I am glad you were able to follow my thoughts. If there is any specific question, I can answer. A quick response to your statement on the Bible. Yes they are right in saying Bible was inspired by the Holy Spirit. That does not mean that there was and is nothing else inspired by the H.Spirit. The inspiration you got to listen to my interview was from H. Spirit. The inspiration for scholars to do historical studies is from the H. Spirit. The inspiration to study medicine and treat people is from the H. Spirit. The inspiration to climb the coconut tree and pluck the coconut for people to use them comes from the H.Spirit. The inspiration for the fishermen to go out in to the sea and catch fish comes from the H. Spirit. Every thing and any thing that happen in this created universe for the better, positive and educative purpose of the creation comes from the H. Spirit. The only problem is when people say Bible is the only inspired material in the world. Then you are stuck with nothing other than Bible for your life in this world, edification and growth and you are limiting the work of H. Spirit which is God Himself and therefore liming the possibilities of God who is all able and eternal.
Regards and prayer