Malankara World Journal Focus: Emmaus Experience and Saint George
Volume 3 No. 139 April 25, 2013
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
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THIS WEEK'S GOSPEL
The coming Sunday is the Third Sunday After the New Sunday following the Resurrection of our Lord. We had used the previous issues of the Malankara World Journal to highlight the important events after the Resurrection of Jesus. We had covered the Lord appearing to St. Thomas (aka 'Doubting Thomas') on the first week. Last week we covered the reinstallation of St. Peter after his denial of Jesus earlier on Friday. Today, we will cover the Journey to Emmaus - Jesus walking with two disciples to Emmaus. Jesus used this occasion to reinforce what happened - how the prophesies were fulfilled about Messiah with the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. He also opened their "eyes" through the Eucharist. The lectionary reading for this Sunday is John 6:47-58. It is one of the famous "I am" statements of Jesus. Here, Jesus tells the disciples that He is the Bread of Life. Again it highlights the importance of the Eucharist that was officially instituted on Pes'ho (passover). Jesus tells us the importance of the Eucharist in the Gospel passages under reference today.
Tuesday, April 23 is the day we set aside to remember St. George (who is believed to be martyred in AD 304). GeeVarghese Sahada is an important saint of our church. Our Kariangachira Cathedral Palli in Kochi is the first pilgrimage center for St. George in our church. Malankara World Board member Roy achen is the vicar in that cathedral. I had an occasion to visit the church during my last trip to India. During my childhood, Puthuppalli palli was the famous church named after St. George near my home. I recall lot of people walking to Puthuppally to attend the perunnal. It was about a 6-7 miles walk. My mother used to pick a chicken and give it to the pilgrims to give to the church. At one occasion a neighbor asked her, "Do you think that this chicken is going to reach Puthuppally? He would sell that to the toddy shop on the way." My mother answered, "It is between him and Geevarghese Sahada. I did what I wanted to do." That exemplifies our faith. We are not here to judge what other people do or do not do. Judgement is for the God to do. We do what we are asked to do. There is some confusion about the slaying of the dragon by St. George. The articles go over what the horse and dragon represent. We cannot take these literally.
Last Sunday, our Holy Father celebrated His 80th birthday. We offer our birthday wishes to HH.
We also got word that one of our senior bishop from Alleppo, Syria was kidnapped by terrorists while He and the Greek Orthodox Bishop were on a mission to rescue priests held by the terrorists. The driver was killed. Attempts are continuing to have them released. Please pray for their timely release without harm. The civil war in Syria has destroyed most of our churches there. Most of the Christians have fled to Turkey and Lebanon to escape the war. They lost everything. The conditions in the refugee camps are really terrible. Please remember and pray for our brethren who are going through these terrible times.
Last Saturday (April 20), St. Peters Syriac Orthodox Church in Philadelphia was elevated as a Cathedral by HE Yeldho Mor Theethose, Archbishop and Patriarchal Vicar of the Malankara Arachdiocese of the Syrian Orthodox Church in North America. Rev. Fr. Joy John, a big supporter of Malankara World, is the vicar of St. Peters Church that has recently undergone major renovations. Sunitha Flowerhill, Member of the Malankara World Board, is the webmaster of the Church. We extend our congratulations to Joy Achen, Sunitha, and the members of the church for this major milestone in the history of the church.
Please pray for us.
Dr. Jacob Mathew
This Sunday in Church
Bible Readings For The Third Sunday after New Sunday
Before Holy Qurbana
This Week's Features
by Greg Laurie
Someone once asked the great British preacher C.H. Spurgeon if he could put into a few words his Christian faith. "Yes," he replied, "I can give it to you in four words: Jesus died for me."
That is what it all comes down to.
The gospel in a nutshell is that Jesus Christ died for our sins, was buried, and was raised on the third day. That is the cornerstone of our faith. So when you share the gospel, remind those you speak to that Jesus died for them. He shed His blood for them.
Paul the apostle was a brilliant person, known for his majestic and commanding letters. He had a phenomenal grasp of various cultures and languages. If anyone could have intellectually convinced a person of the validity of some proposition, it was Paul. Yet listen to what he said about preaching the gospel: "Dear brothers and sisters, when I first came to you I didn't use lofty words and brilliant ideas to tell you God's message. For I decided to concentrate only on Jesus Christ and his death on the cross" (1 Corinthians 2:1).
We can actually hinder the message of the gospel by complicating it. Remember that it is the simple, powerful, yet profound message of the cross of Christ that has the power to change lives. It changed your life and mine, didn't it?
Here is a simple thing to remember when presenting the gospel: K.I.S.S.
Keep It Simple, Stupid!
Copyright ©2013 by Harvest Ministries. All Rights Reserved.
(A biblical refection on John 6:47-58)
Gospel Reading: John 6:47-58
"He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him" (Jn 6:56)
It really sounds inviting to be able to "abide" in Christ! The Greek word for abide in this passage has connotations of dwelling, remaining, and enduring, all of which point to Jesus' desire to have a close relationship with us.
At the beginning of His ministry, Jesus drew the apostles to Himself with words: "Come and see," and John tells us: "They came and … stayed with Him that day (Jn 1:39). Throughout their time with Him, they learned about the Father's enduring love and the life of faith He was calling them to. They experienced forgiveness of sins, healings, powerful miracles, and godly teaching with authority. Friendship with Jesus was like no other relationship they had ever known.
However, how could this close relationship continue after He returned to the Father? Jesus gave the answer - the Eucharist. In the gift of His body and blood, we hear Jesus saying: "Yes, come and stay with Me. I abide in you; come and abide in Me."
By the power of the Spirit, God has prepared a special place in each of us where Jesus dwells. As we take time to rest with Him and learn from Him, we meet Jesus and we are refreshed. As we continue resting in Him, we are moved to surrender all to Him - our lives, our concerns, all of our circumstances - and we open our hearts to Him. In the intimacy of the moment, we may feel like God is holding us close like beloved children, writing His truths deep within us.
Those who learn to remain in Jesus' presence know the promise of eternal life (Jn 6:51,58). This promise can fill us with hope and trust in God as He gives us a taste of His joy and the strength to endure the trials that are a normal part of life in this world. Let us prepare ourselves for Jesus. He will remain in us as often as we receive Him.
Lord Jesus, as we receive You in the Eucharist today, help us to open our hearts to You. Teach us to abide in You, and show us how fully You abide in us. Thank You, Lord Jesus. Amen.
Source: A Christian Pilgrim
Feast Day: April 23
Died: (around) 304
St. George was a favorite soldier in the army of Diocletian, a pagan emperor who did not believe in God. Diocletian was a bitter enemy of the Christians and put to death every Christian he could find.
When George became a Christian, he went to the emperor and scolded him for being so cruel and gave up his position in the Roman army. He first sold everything he had and gave the money to the poor. Then, free to follow Jesus and bearing the shield of faith, he became a loyal soldier for Christ.
St. George paid a very high price for his bravery. He was cruelly tortured and beheaded at Lydda in Palestine. So boldly daring and cheerful was St. George in declaring his faith that people were filled with courage when they heard about it.
Pictures of St. George usually show him killing a dragon to save a beautiful lady. The dragon stands for wickedness. The lady stands for God's holy truth. St. George kills the dragon because he won the battle against the devil.
The story goes like this … A dragon lived in a lake near Silena, Libya. Whole armies had gone up against this fierce creature, but had died. The monster ate two sheep a day and when he had eaten all the sheep, lots were drawn in local villages, and young women were given as food for the dragon instead of sheep.
Into this country came Saint George. Hearing the story on a day when a princess was to be eaten, he made the sign of the cross, rode to battle and killed the dragon with a single blow of his lance.
George then preached a wonderful sermon, and many of the people in that kingdom became Christians. The grateful king gave George a large reward but George distributed it to the poor and rode away.
Because of his gracious behavior (protecting women, fighting evil, strong faith, strength, bravery, and generosity to the poor), devotion to Saint George became popular in the Europe and he was named the patron of England. His feast day was as popular and important as Christmas.
Many songs and poems were written about this martyr who gave his life for Jesus. Soldiers, especially, have always been devoted to him.
Am I willing to give up something when I know it blocks my loving relationship with God?
by Father George David Byers
Outside of my great friend, Saint Philomena – the veracity of whose existence as a virgin and martyr of the early Church has recently been sustained by exhaustive scientific evaluations of the evidence - outside of her… there is perhaps no saint more scorned as being no more than a figment of pious imagination than Saint George, who, however, boasts of more archeological and historical evidence than most any other saint in the history not only of the early Church, but for some lesser known saints, right into our own day. Churches dedicated to Saint George sprang up in their dozens throughout the ancient world immediately after news of his martyrdom on 23 April 303.
Liberal warning: The most obnoxious denial of the existence of Saint George comes from a super liberal professor of "ecumenism" (which I put in quotes because he had no idea what ecumenism is). Many of my fellow priests today have had Father XXX as a professor in the various countries, seminaries and universities where he's mislead people. Anyway, he had the idea that Saint George couldn't possibly have existed because of the iconography of him slaying a dragon. His arrogant idea was that we're so very smart today, and people of the past were so very gullible and stupid. He laughed his nervous, mocking laugh when I tried to explain a few things about the iconography:
None of this - or the archeological proofs - made any impression on this super-liberal priest, for the last thing he wanted to hear was faithfulness to the Church unto death. That's not what his own life was about. Since he couldn't answer in any reasonable way, he merely laughed his mocking laugh once again. I had to live with that kind of nonsense for… well… pretty much my whole priesthood. Yikes! This kind of thing can occasion an increase in friendship with Christ Jesus and the Saints!
There is great devotion to Saint George in Palestine until today, with about every third boy being called after Saint George.
George's father, Gerontius, was well known to the Emperor Diocletian as one of his very best soldiers. When Gerontius' son George applied to Diocletian to be in the military service of the Emperor, Diocletian quickly made him part of the Imperial Guard and gave him the rank of Tribune. These positions taken together made young George, perhaps in his early twenties, almost as powerful as the Emperor himself. Very few people would have ever had such power, both military and political, and at such a young age. George was an instant phenomenon. Everyone would have known exactly who he was in the entire ancient world.
Diocletian was persuaded by the might-makes-right Galerius to have all his soldiers offer sacrifice to the Roman gods. George, with the zeal of the saints, loudly and with great reason, proclaimed his worship of Christ Jesus, so that he couldn't possibly offer sacrifice to any Roman gods. Diocletian, distraught - for he had never intended this - offered George all sorts of bribes, all of which were scorned by our Saint. Diocletian then set out to make an example of him, first attaching him to a wheel of swords and then having him decapitated.
Saint George and Saint Michael the Archangel sometimes meld into one presentation with wings being granted to Saint George on his white horse. That's O.K. I'm sure they were great friends!
By the way, George is the Name of God the Father: ὁ πατήρ μου ὁ γεωργός ἐστιν (John 15,1). "My Father is George." O.K., so, a pedantic translation would be "My Father is the Farmer" or "My Father is the Tiller of the Ground." Some translations have "Vinedresser." Truth be told, it's γεωργός, that is, George!
Just to be insistent about this: "Adam" means "Tiller of the Ground." "Adam" = "George." Jesus is the New Adam. Jesus is the New George. Yours truly is merely the old George, the old Adam. But Christ has conquered and goes out to conquer still. Thanks be to God our Father that Jesus sets about slaying me so that, dead to myself, I live for Him alone. Yikes!
Source: Holy Souls Hermitage
by Edward F. Markquart, Sermons from Seattle
Gospel: Luke 24:13-35
Very often in life, we don't find what we are looking for because we are looking in the wrong places. For example, for every man and woman who is married, all of them are looking for a deep, intimate, loving, caring, long term relationship with their spouse. That's the way it is with marriage: you want to find that marriage relationship with a person that is deep, intimate, loving, caring and long term. But sometimes this quality of relationship is not found? Why? Often because the man and woman are looking in the wrong place.
Let me explain. Too often in marriage, a couple loses focus and gradually begins to think that the quality of their relationship is to be found in the accumulation of things. It happens so slowly you don't even notice. A couple moves into their first one bedroom apartment and soon they need a two bedroom apartment which soon is filled with things and then a small two bedroom house and then a three bedroom house. The years go by and this couple puts time and energy into accumulating more things, and one day they sit across the kitchen table from each other and discover that they don't like each other any more. They have drifted in different directions. …
Or ever so slowly with no one saying anything about it, the couple focuses on their respective careers. He climbs the ladder a step and she climbs a step; he the second step; she the second step. Both higher and higher on their respective career ladders, and one day while sitting across the kitchen table they discover that they don't love each other any more. "What happened to us?" they ask. …
Or ever so slowly, their focus of attention is on the kids. First one child, then two, maybe three, maybe four. But their primary focus becomes on the children and before you know it, the kids have grown and left the house and the couple looks across the kitchen table and says, "When did we fall out of love?"
If a couple is searching for a deep, intimate, loving, caring, long term relationship, they often can look in the wrong places and not find it. It would be like children at an Easter egg hunt, looking for the Easter eggs out in the front yard but the Easter eggs are in the back yard. A couple can look in the wrong places to find that deep, intimate, loving, caring, long term relationship such as in the accumulation of things, their jobs, their children. And they do not find what they are looking for because they are looking in the wrong places.
And what is the right place where a deep, intimate, loving, caring, long term relationship is to be found? In their relationship. Yes. So obvious. Right there between the two of them with Christ living in the middle, like the space between my index finger and my middle finger. There, right between the two of them, in that relationship between the two with Christ in the middle. Couples can slowly turn their focus on the accumulation of things, their jobs, their children, and lose the focus on and the care for their actual relationship between the two. It happens all the time, when couples look for a happy relationship but look for it in the wrong places.
The same kind of logic applies to our relationship with God and Christ. We, too, want a deep, intimate, loving, caring and long term relationship with God in God. We look for it; we want it; we wouldn't be here today if we did not want that. But sometimes we do not find that deep, intimate, loving, caring long term relationship with Christ because we look in the wrong places. Like the children on the Easter egg hunt, we look for the eggs in the front yard but the eggs are in the back yard.
Where is the wrong place to look for a deep, intimate, loving caring, long term relationship with God? In the programs of the church? Yes, many people become immersed in the programs of a congregation, so much so that they loose their focus on Jesus Christ. We enroll our children in kindergarten, preschool, Sunday School, fifth grade communion class, confirmation, retreats, mission trips and their lives and our lives are totally saturated with church activities. In fact, those church activities become a kind of religious entertainment that are to entice interest.
And after all those years of belonging to a "hot dog" church with "hot dog" programs, one day we wake up to discover that we do not necessarily love God in Christ. We have enjoyed the programs and membership of the church but are not really disciples of Jesus Christ. We don't love Christ and walk in his ways.
What happened in the heart? The programs fade or we grow too old for the programs, and where is that deep, intimate, loving, caring, long term relationship with Jesus Christ?
Another wrong place to look for a deep, intimate, loving, caring, long term relationship with Jesus Christ is in the pastors/priests and our friendship with them. We can become fascinated with the preaching and teaching of the pastor. We can become enticed by the compassion of the pastor. ... And we finally discover that we have become more enamored with the pastor than with Jesus Christ.
The gospel story for today is a clue where to find this deep, intimate, loving, caring, long term relationship with Jesus Christ.
The gospel story is this. Two followers were walking along the road one day near the village of Emmaus, some seven miles outside of the capital city of Jerusalem. The two friends, one named Cleopas, were down in the mouth. They were feeling down in the dumps because Jesus had been crucified, the disciples had run away, a hysterical and hallucinating woman named Mary claimed she saw the Risen Christ, somebody had broken into the tomb and stolen the body, and the Jesus movement was over and dead. They were in a funk, because their Lord and master, Jesus of Nazareth, was killed and it was all over.
As they walked along the road in a funk, a stranger was soon walking with them. The two friends told the stranger about why they were in a funk and how Jesus had been killed. The stranger then started to teach them the Scriptures; he opened up their eyes that the Messiah was prophesied in the Old Testament to suffer and die on the cross. Their hearts started to burn with amazement. The two friends invited the stranger to go with them that night and have dinner. At the meal, the stranger spoke and made gestures: he took the bread, gave thanks, broke it and gave it to them. In that sacramental moment, the two friends realized that this stranger was Jesus, the Risen Christ. Later they said to each other, "Did not our hearts burn within us when he opened up the Scriptures to us?" They also said, "As he took the bread, offer thanks, broke the bread and gave it to them, he made himself known to us in the breaking of the bread."
I am suggesting to you this morning that this story offers us clues as to where to find the Risen Christ, as to where to find a deep, intimate, loving, caring, long term relationship with Christ. In the Word. In the Sacrament. In the conversation between friends that Jesus has transformed. Let me explain.
Christ come to us most clearly in the Word. Knowing that Christ comes to us in and through the Word, you and I are students of the Word, disciple of the Word. When Christ is with us, the Word of God, the Bible, is opened to us and our hearts burn within. Therefore we study the Bible, learn the Bible, memorize the Bible, learn to know the Bible. We know that Christ lives in the Bible and so we spend time in the Bible to know a deep, intimate, loving, caring, long term relationship with Jesus Christ.
We are to read the Bible daily. We can use this analogy. How many of you brush your teeth each day? How many twice a day? Yes, most of us bush our teeth twice a day, perhaps two minutes in the morning and two minutes before we go to bed. That is, we brush for four minutes a day and twenty-eight minutes a week. But let's suppose we brush our teeth one time for twenty-eight minutes every week. That is silly. We know we are to brush our teeth every day. Likewise, we are to read the Bible every day. It is a daily habit. Social researchers tell us that people read the Bible daily or almost never. There is no in between. It is one or the other. We need to daily read the Scriptures to meet and converse with Jesus Christ.
I like the following quotations. Abraham Lincoln, the best President of the United States according to almost all researchers, said that "the greatest gift that God gave to human beings is the Bible." The best gift that God could give you today is the Bible. …
Another President of the United States, John Quincy Adams, who at one time was the best educated citizen in the United States, said that it was a principle of his to read the Bible through each and every year. I wonder why? Except that what is inside the Bible is very sacred and valuable. …
Another great President of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt, said, "A thorough knowledge of the Bible is worth more than a college education." He did not say, "The Bible is worth more than a college education." Nor did he say, "A little knowledge of the Bible is worth more a college education." He said, "A thorough knowledge of the Bible is worth more than a college education." We, as Christian disciples, learn to daily live in the Bible, so we develop a working and thorough knowledge of the Bible.
Goethe, the great German philosopher, said that the beauty of the Bible grows as we grow in our understanding of it. More understanding, more beauty. Spurgeon, the great theologian of the last century, said that people will outgrow the clothing they wore when they were ten years old, but they will never outgrow the Scriptures. We outgrow pants of a little child, but we never outgrow the Bible.
Martin Luther said that the Bible is alive; that it has feet and hands. The Bible has feet and so the Bible chases after us. It has hands and so the Bible grabs us. All of these people quoted above have a deep and abiding appreciation of the Bible.
One of the most famous Christian prayers is the Serenity Prayer which is said at all Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. It goes like this:
I am suggesting to you today that you can change your pattern of not reading the Bible each day. The vast majority of American Christians do not read the Bible each day, and if you are one of those, I am suggesting to you that you have the courage to change your Biblical reading and devotional habits.
Where to find Christ? I am suggesting to you that the Gospel story gives us a clue as to where to find Christ. In the Word.
In the gospel story for today, a second place to find Christ is in the Sacrament of Holy Communion. Let me explain. In the text for today, we hear the specific gestures from Holy Communion: He took the bread, gave thanks, broke it, and gave it to them saying. We hear, "Did we not see him in the breaking of the bread?"
When we kneel to receive the sacrament of the altar, we see and receive Christ. John 6 says,
The Eucharist is soul food, the bread of life for eternity, to feed our spirit and spiritual needs.
It is important to kneel at the altar consistently, week after week, month after month, year after year. Pastor John O'Neal and I work with couples who are preparing for marriage. They are required to take the Prepare Inventory of Compatibility, to attend worship together, attend our membership class together. We have been doing this for many years now, and John and I both agree that the most important indicator of a couple's marital future is their consistency at Holy Communion, kneeling in humble prayer before God, side by side, spirit by spirit, heart by heart. The two of them together, kneeling before God. This is the most important indicator of the couple's future marital harmony, from our point of view.
Also, sometimes we don't realize what is happening during Holy Communion, the sacred banquet of all believers, on this side of the grave and the other side of the veil of death. That is, in this meal, I am in communion with Jesus Christ but also with my mother who has preceded me in death, my father, my grandparents, my cousins, my friends, all those who have gone before me are with me in this sacred meal called Holy Communion. It is not simply bread and wine but the banquet for all eternity.
Where to find Christ? Where to find a deep, intimate, loving, close, long term relationship with Christ? The gospel story for today tells us that Christ revealed himself in the breaking of the bread.
Where to find Christ? In a conversation that Jesus transforms. Two friends were walking along the road and they were down in the dumps. Jesus became part of that conversation and revealed himself through that conversation. Christ can transform conversations so that the conversation reveals Christ.
Let me explain. We all experience great conversations every now and then in life. Those great conversations are never planned; those great conversations are never programmed. They are almost always a surprise; they are serendipitous. … So it is with Christ. If you are looking for Christ, he often reveals himself serendipitously in conversations.
Sometimes, we as human beings, don't find what we are looking for because we are looking in the wrong places. We look in the front yard but what we are looking for is to be found in the back yard. Amen.
Editor's Note: Excerpted from a Sermon
by Father Robert Presutti, LC
Gospel: Luke 24:13-35
Lord, you are the source of all life because you are life itself. Your resurrection gives me the hope of being raised from the dead to rejoice with you forever in heaven. I need to dwell more often on the good you have done for us and on your promises to those who put their trust in you. Thank you, Jesus, for taking up your life again and leading the way home to heaven. I love you, and I want to follow after you with all my heart. I want to cooperate more fully with you in bringing many others there with me.
Lord Jesus, walk by my side. Open up my person to the meaning of Scripture and the events of life. Make my heart burn within me with your words .
1. Two Downcast Faces:
These two disciples had been badly shaken by the events of the last few days. They had courageously left home and family to follow the Lord. They had listened to his words, witnessed his miracles, and even generously gone out and preached in his name. They had expected Jesus to be the longed-for Messiah. And it was precisely at the moment Jesus referred to as "his hour", when he was accomplishing his greatest work, that these disciples broke with Jesus. What when wrong? God worked in a way and with a power these disciples had not expected, and which they did not accept. The cross and suffering had not entered into their plans. A gloriously triumphant path, they could accept; but not a crucified Lord. As long as there were miracles, encouraging crowds and the high of emotion, following Christ was their thing. But when the Cross cast its shadow, they threw in the towel. And so, they are on their way back home, back to their old lifestyle, hopes shattered and faces downcast. Their conversation was a self-pitying reconstruction of events, without faith, without a sense of God, sunken in their own sorrow.
2. Unexpected Questions from an Unexpected Guest:
The two disciples are so centered on their own woes and wounds that they do not recognize who walks alongside them. Feeling sorry for ourselves does not help us go to God, but only immerses us further in our own impotence. What breaks through this situation? An unexpected question that destroys the incorrect assumptions of these two malcontents and invites them to look more deeply at their own situation. Reflection on the obvious, on the real events of our life (and not our own broken, limited plans and hopes) is what begins to open the door to a reborn hope. What are you talking about? Why? Did you fail to grasp something?
3. The Breaking of the Bread:
Christ is the shepherd that seeks out these two stray sheep. As always, he masterfully and gently enlightens their conscience and leads them to the truth. Listening to Christ prepares these two disciples to recognize him when he takes, breaks, blesses and gives them "bread" – the same actions of the Last Supper. After recognizing Our Lord in the "breaking of the bread", their entire dispositions change. Even their way of assessing events and situations changes. They had stopped for the evening, but after experiencing the Lord, they race out in the middle of the night to share their experience with the others.
Conversation with Christ:
Lord Jesus, teach me detachment from self, and acceptance of your glorious plan. Walk always by my side, and help me realize, that as long as I am in conversation with You, even without my realizing it, there is always hope and salvation.
I will let God break my own limited plans and expectations. I will talk to Christ about what goals he wants me to set for my life, impossible though they may seem.
Source: Regnum Christi
Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas, the Prince Patriarch of the Holy Apostolic See of Antioch and all the East and the Primate of the Universal Syriac Orthodox Church, has celebrated His 80th birthday on April 21. (HH was born on April 21, 1933). HH is now on his 33 year as the Patriarch. We wish Moran Mor a blessed birthday and a long, healthy life. Let us all remember and pray for HH.
His Eminence Mor Gregorius Yuhaana Ibrahim, Syriac Orthodox Archbishop of Aleppo, and His Eminence Boulos Yazigi, Greek Orthodox Archbishop of Aleppo, were abducted by unknown terrorists at the outskirts of Aleppo. The driver and another person in the group were killed. Efforts are continuing to seek the release of the two bishops. As of this writing, they are still being held. The following is a joint Communique from the Patriarchates of the Syrian Orthodox Church and the Greek Orthodox Church regarding the abduction. Please pray for the safe return of the shepherds.
The following official joint statement has been released by the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East, and the Syriac Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East.
Joint Communique on the Abduction of Bishop Paul Yazigi and Bishop John Ibrahim
On Monday the 22.04.2013, we were surprised by the news that our brothers Bishop Paul (Yazigi) of Aleppo and Alexandretta and Bishop John (Ibrahim) Syriac Orthodox Bishop of Aleppo, have been kidnapped on their way back to Aleppo after accomplishing a humanitarian mission. We deeply regret what happened as we regret all similar acts targeting civilians, regardless of their belonging and therefore we address to the local and international communities the following declaration:
1- The Christians living here are an essential part of their lands. They suffer the pain every person suffers, work as messengers of peace to lift the injustice off every oppressed: They follow the teaching of their Gospel telling them that love is the basis of human relations. The official positions issued by the spiritual leaders of the various churches, are the best expression in this respect and the mission fulfilled by the two kidnapped bishops is but a further proof of this orientation.
2- The Christians in this East are deeply sorrowed by what their countries are going through, namely violence that is spreading and killing the sons of the one country and exposing their lives to various dangers of which kidnapping, that represents one of its the most horrible expressions due to its absurdity, and ist jeopardizing of the lives of the peaceful and unarmed individuals. We call the kidnappers to respect the life of the two kidnapped brothers as well as everyone to put an end to all the acts that create confessional and sectarian schisms among the sons of the one country.
3- We understand the anxiousness of the Christians because of what happened and call them to patience, to hold on to the teachings of their faith, and to rely on God whose strength lies in our weakness. For defending our land means first of all to hold on to it and to work on making it a land of love and coexistence. We are also aware that all citizens from all confessions suffer the same pain due to such acts, and we pray that the Lord may strengthen them in their difficulties. We support them to raise the voice high in refusing all sorts of violence tearing up our countries and making our hearts bleed.
4- In this painful situation, we can but call the whole world to try putting an end to the Syrian crisis so that Syria becomes again a garden of love, security and coexistence.
Settling accounts should not happen at the expense of the human beings who live here.
5- We also call all the churches in the whole world to stand fast in the face of what is going on and witness to their faith in the power of love in this world. It is necessary to take steps that reflect their refusal to all kinds of violence hitting the human beings living in the East.
6- We take the opportunity to call our partners in citizenship, from all Islamic confessions, to stand hand in hand and work on refusing the misuse of man and deal with him as a product, a shield in the battles or a means for monetary or political bribery.
7- Finally we address the kidnappers and tell them that those whom they kidnapped are messengers of peace in this world. Their religious, social and national work witnesses for them. We call them to deal with this painful accident away from any tension that serves only the enemies of this country.
We pray the Lord in these blessed times so that this crisis quickly ends and that the souls of all our brothers and sisters regain their security and peace, so that our country enjoys the prosperity and peace it deserves.
Patriarch John X Yazigi
Patriarch Ignatius Zakka I Iwas
3 Major Consequences for Sufferers
There are at least two aspects of a misdiagnosis that can cause patients harm, says Dr. Steven Hotze.
"First, it means you are not being treated for what's actually causing illness; second, a misdiagnosis can lead to inappropriate treatments and medicines with side effects that can cause you harm," says Dr. Hotze, founder of the Hotze Health & Wellness Center, (www.hotzehwc.com), and author of "Hormones, Health, and Happiness."
"But there's a quality of life issue that's important as well. Many of my patients are women at or near middle age, and they often suffer from a multitude of symptoms including fatigue, low body temperature, brain fog, weight gain, loss of libido, hair loss and depression. Too often, they're told by their physician that 'nothing is wrong.' "
Women are more apt than men to pay attention to their bodies - and they're right for doing so, he says. A women's body includes a much more complex hormonal balancing act, with dramatic swings involved in the menstrual cycle.
Often, the women who come to him with that litany of symptoms do have a medical issue: hypothyroidism. Hotze calls it a "hidden epidemic" because it is so frequently un- or misdiagnosed.
The condition means the thyroid is not producing enough thyroid hormone, which affects hormone regulation. Hypothyroidism affects women seven times more frequently than men, Dr. Hotze says.
He reviews three ways in which a missed hypothyroidism diagnosis can affect a patient's life:
• Living with unrelieved symptoms.
When a person experiences the constellation of symptoms associated with hypothyroidism and is told by multiple doctors that it's "just a normal part of aging," the future can seem bleak. Many physicians will order blood work and tell the patient she's fine because the results are "normal." However, 95 percent of people tested for hypothyroidism fall within a range considered normal. Also, keep in mind that two different labs testing identical blood samples can provide different results.
• Prescribed unnecessary medication with undesirable side effects.
Wellbutrin, Lexapro, Paxil, Effexor, Zoloft and Fluoxetine - these are just some of the antidepressants that one in four women take, according to a recent report from MedCo. One in 10 Americans, or 30 million people, are taking pills to fight depression, and 30 percent of the women aged 35 to 60 who are taking them are doing so because of misdiagnosed hypothyroidism. Antidepressants can have numerous side effects, from nausea and irritability to sexual dysfunction and homicidal or suicidal thoughts.
• Uncomfortable, unhealthy physical changes.
Untreated hypothyroidism causes weight gain, which can further affect a person's emotional health. The weight gain comes with all the risks any excessive weight brings, from diabetes to heart disease.
"It has long been a cliché in our society that 'pills are not often the answer for our mental and physical wellbeing,' yet pharmaceutical companies continue to dominate treatment in our country," Dr. Hotze says. "Hormone replacement therapy, as long as bioidentical hormones are used, has been proven to be a healthy and effective treatment for women suffering hypothyroidism."
The distinction between synthetic and bioidentical hormones is important, he says; the latter have the same molecular structure as the hormones that are found naturally in the body, which means bioidentical hormone treatments cannot hurt patients. Counterfeit hormones - those that do not perfectly match the molecular structure of hormones in one's body - can be dangerous, he says.
"Hypothyroidism and aging share an important common denominator - diminished or faulty hormone production -- so it's easy to see how doctors can miss a diagnosis," Hotze says. "But that makes it all the more important for physicians to listen to their patients, and that takes time. Hormone replacement therapy using bioidentical hormones help patients who are suffering extreme symptoms in both cases."
About Steven F. Hotze, MD
Dr. Steven Hotze is the founder and CEO of the Hotze Health & Wellness Center in Houston, Texas. He's a member of the American Academy of Otolaryngic Allergy and the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, and is the former president of the Pan American Allergy Society. He earned his medical degree from the University of Texas. Dr. Hotze and his wife of 44 years have eight children and 16 grandchildren.
by Sharon Jaynes
[Editor's Note: The explanation of the traditional Jewish Wedding ceremony given here will go a long way for us to understand many pronouncements of Jesus.]
"For your Maker is your husband-
Friend to Friend
I was five-years-old, just a wisp of a little girl living in a dream world all my own. On one particular afternoon, I gathered my supplies and prepared for the big day. First, I wrapped a long white sheet around my slender body and draped the excess over my shoulder and down my back. Then I draped a bath-sized towel over the crown of my head like a veil and clutched a bouquet of plastic flowers to my chest. I stood at the end of my home's long hallway and the processional began. I could almost hear the organ playing "Here comes the bride," as I sashayed down the "aisle" with imaginary friends and family looking on.
Little girls and big girls dream about the day they will become a bride. And for many, that dream doesn't always turn out the way they had hoped. But here is some good news…some great news; no matter what your marital status this side of heaven - never married, once married, happily married, widowed or divorced, God is your holy Husband who longs to protect you, provide for you, and cherish you through all the ups and downs of life. His name is Ish - Husband.
We first see God's name as Ish or Husband in the book of Isaiah: "For your Maker is your husband - the Lord Almighty is his name-the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth."
In the New Testament, Jesus is also referred to as the husband for his bride - the Church.
I asked my husband what visual image forms in his mind when he reads that he is part of the "Bride of Christ."
"Nothing really," he replied.
Granted, I can't picture Steve walking down the aisle in a pearl studded wedding gown. But oh sister, I can see myself waltzing down the aisle to meet my Jesus. Can't you? What a blessing God has given His female image-bearers as the Bride of Christ, and He our husband!
In the Old Testament Jewish tradition, the father chose a bride for his son. If the woman accepted the proposal of marriage, the groom paid a "bride price" to her family of a few cows, a couple of sheep, or perhaps some gold trinkets. The couple drank from a cup of wine to seal the marriage covenant between them, and would not drink of it again until the day of the wedding ceremony. Then the groom left his betrothed and went back to his father's house to build a home for her. Once the home was completed to the father's satisfaction, the young man returned to whisk away his bride. Usually this took place in the middle of the night with torch toting groomsmen whooping and hollering to let her know they were on their way. Her responsibility was to be prepared - to be ready at all times.
And so it is with your groom. God has chosen you to be the bride for his Son (Ephesians 1:4). Jesus paid the ultimate bride price for you when He gave His very life on the cross (1 Corinthians 6:20). At the last supper, after Jesus and his disciples had broken the bread and drank the wine, He explained to them,
"I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father's kingdom" (Matthew 26:29).
And where is Jesus right now? He is preparing your home. "My Father's house has many rooms," Jesus said, "if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am" (John 17:2-3).
And when his Father says it is time, Jesus will come back like a "thief in the night" to whisk away his bride (1 Thessalonians 5:1-2).
Doesn't that just give you chills!
Whether you are divorced with a heart broken by betrayal, widowed with a bed chilled by loneliness, single with still no promise of a ring on your finger, or happily joined to the man of your dreams, Jesus longs to take you in his arms, not simply "for as long as you both shall live," but for all eternity.
Yahweh Ish, Thank You for caring for me as a husband cares for his bride. Thank
You for Your protection, provision, and never-ending love. I rest in the
knowledge that You are my sacred Ish, not simply "til' death do us part," but
for all eternity.
Now It's Your Turn
Look up the following verses and note how Jesus referred to himself:
What comes to your mind when you think of Jesus as the groom and you as the Bride? Share your answer on my blog page in the comment box.
Source: Girlfriends in God Devotional, Bible Gateway
by John O'Leary
"He's frequently a pain to be with and can be totally hard-headed, but his work is extraordinary and his heart is gold." A business owner said this about her CFO. He just walked out of a meeting with us. He was frazzled by some challenges the business faced and some ideas the team was putting forward.
What amazed me wasn't that he left overwhelmed, but that his boss smiled while talking about someone she hand-selected who was argumentative and pushed back frequently.
It made me think of challenging people I know - and the wisdom on how best to build bridges with them from one of the greatest historical examples of leadership.
Abraham Lincoln and Edwin Stanton clashed politically, in demeanors and in perspectives. Their massive differences often left them at great odds. In fact, Stanton repeatedly referred to Lincoln as "the original gorilla." Stunningly, when Lincoln needed a War Secretary - the most important position during the Civil War - he appointed Stanton.
I'm sure you are thinking why would Lincoln do this, right?
You see, Lincoln was a leader who recognized, despite their very real differences, that Stanton was the right person for the appointment of War Secretary. He recognized that, despite Stanton's ego and propensity to disagree with Lincoln, it was first and foremost his job to keep the best interest of our country in focus.
Many were shocked at this appointment, but historians note that the pair complemented each other in their partnership: they were able to unite their differences into a greater good together than they could amass apart.
My friend, what might our world look like if we were all a bit more like Lincoln? What if we worked tirelessly to unite with our colleagues at work, fellow parents at the school, those people in the community and even members in our own family? What if instead of building up fences of animosity, bitterness, and annoyance we chose to build bridges on the foundation of understanding, patience and mutual gain?
So, can people really build these bridges? Can we really unite countries, companies, communities and families? The final chapter of Lincoln provides that answer.
After freeing the slaves, keeping a fragile Union from falling apart, and securing the coming reunification of the United States, he was assassinated. Thousands mourned in the rotunda where Lincoln's body was laid out. Nearest the casket, and weeping bitterly, was the War Secretary. It has been reported that, through tears, he said, "Now he belongs to the ages. Here lies the most perfect ruler of men the world has ever seen."
Building a bridge of love kept two very different personalities together. They fought for a cause greater than themselves. They discovered in their battles together that, not only was the country unifying, but so were they.
Choose today to create one of the most significant bridges you'll ever build: to destroy your enemies by making them your friends. It changes countries, businesses, communities and families. And my friends, it's certain to change you.
Source: John O'Leary, RisingAbove.com
The professor showed a large cage with a male rat in it. The rat was in the middle of the cage. Then, the professor placed a piece of cake on one side and kept a female rat on the other side. The male rat ran towards the cake and ate it.
The professor then changed the cake and replaced it with some bread. The male rat ran towards the bread. This experiment went on with the professor changing the food every time. And, every time, the male rat ran towards the food item and never towards the female rat.
Professor said: "This experiment shows that food is the greatest strength and attraction."
Then, one of the students from the back rows said: "Sir, why don't you change
the female rat? She may be his wife!!!"
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