by: Susan Eapen, Bangalore
This post is partly as a response to the news that a Marthoma Family that I know has migrated to 'All People's Church' in Bangalore. This family has members aged above 50 and members in their 30s.If we look carefully, we find that migration is from Apostolic Churches like Catholic, Jacobite & Orthodox and Marthoma- who also believe in apostolic succession. I think the main reason for such migration is people's loss of faith in the foundation of these Churches- mainly 'Apostolic Succession' and 'Sacraments'. The migrants also point out that they do not need saints as there need to be no one between themselves and God. When the foundation is eroded, can a building stand? People once considered the priests as holy men. Now when we see that the priesthood is no better than the political caucuses, are the people to be blamed for loosing faith? When it is this kind of priest who performs the sacraments, then how can they believe? Look carefully and see whether you find anyone migrating from a congregation headed by a priest who walks his talk, who loves his congregation, who visits the weak in faith, who does not hate the dissidents at the General Body, but answers with wisdom and love or at least keeps silence and is not provoked into retaliation, (first sign of knowing God) who does not resort to physical attacks ever (what does that show?), who is honest and transparent in his dealings, who respects the poor and the humble as much as the rich, who sees his position as the servant of Christ, His steward, doing what He would approve, not what the Bishop wants. Am I asking too much? Is priesthood just a secure employment? Evangelism is a way of life and not a way with words. When we see injustice growing even in Church and priests behaving as if they are not accountable to God, but is only accountable to the Bishop, then what should we believe? All of us look up to the priest to set example and to be our role model in our attitude to God and Life. When the priest acts as if God is not to be feared it puts us in confusion. This kind of dilemmas are not there in Heavenly Feast. There is no claim of Holiness or Apostolic succession to live up to. We are witnessing an erosion in standards and its results. I know many priests who are good, but more who just compromise and a few who are selfish and greedy and vindictive. I have read that a true saint, a truly holy man, need not even open his mouth to communicate God's presence. People now seek God at Heavenly feasts. Others idolize saints. There was never a time when the Orthodox and Jacobites were looked upon with so much scorn by others. Winning accolades by inviting some Minister or Swamiji to some function is only an eyewash. May be this is what is called a 'White-washed Sepulcher". It hurts to see the destruction of something precious. I know that Bible says that the gates of hell shall not prevail against the True Church, but that is when the Church is True. Are we the True Church in reality just because we are Orthodox?
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