The Journey 117: 95 Years Young, Faithful and Blessed Life
Read: Acts 10:30-45
Philipose Mar Chrysostom Marthoma Valiya Metropolitan– Every church is known by its leaders and the role that they have played not only in the context of their pastoral role, but also in the way they have sharpened the voice of the voiceless and the common people, and also in shaping the direction of a society, a state and a nation. I as a clergy of the Marthoma Church feels happy that I could do my ministry under Valiya Thirumeni under various capacities, and that I have lived at a time of history when Chrysostom thirumeni was leading the church. I am also proud about the fact that my church has some of most illustrious leaders leading our church today. As Chrysostom Thirumeni celebrates his 95th birthday, it is a joyous occasion for the Marthoma Church, a time when the church is thanking God for giving us a leader of the stature of Philipose Mar Chrysostom Valiya Metropolitan. I believe we should not say that thirumeni is 95 years old on the contrary we should say that he is 95 years young, looking at the way he still zig zags across various nations, meeting different people from all walks of life. One of the most touching moment this month, during his visit to Kuwait was when Thirumeni met his close family friend and also a close associate of his brother, the former health minister of Kuwait-Dr. Hela Al Sayer. A Bishop who has friends and associates across nations, culture and religion. Thirumeni started his ministry as missionary in Ankola Ashram and then became the missionary bishop of the church. Sometimes I feel that we may need today a Bishop with that “title and that responsibility”. One cannot believe that his ministry has spanned almost 68 years, wherein he has been a bishop for more than 59 years. This is a record of all sorts. But more than his office it is his contribution to the mission and ministry of the church for which thirumeni is well known for. He has been a pioneer in starting some of the novel methods of ministry and mission. He has crossed the boundaries of religion, caste and creed and if there is one leader who is accepted by people of all religion, caste and creed today in Kerala and in India, I believe it will be one and only Chrysostom thirumeni. I think thirumeni through his life has brought about paradigm shift in the ministry of the church. To think and work towards a church without boundaries.
This week we are meditating on the theme “ Transformation in my parish”. The portion that we will base our meditation is from Acts 10: 23-46. The portion speaks about the encounter between Peter and Cornelius. The portion of Acts 10: 32-46 has to related also with the dream of Peter in Acts 10: 9-22. This is one of the most landmark portions in the Bible where God convicts Peter with regards to his attitude to believers who were basically gentiles. In v: 24 Cornelius meets Peter and that is when Peter says that as Jew he is not supposed to associate with a gentile but then God has shown that what He has made clean, we are not supposed to call it unclean,. V: 27. Later Peter also says that he realized that God accepts men who fear him and do what is right. V: 34, 35. This was the incident that made the early church to take the decision to allow the gentiles not to go through the rite of circumcision but only through the action of Christian baptism as a mark of their conversion to the gospel message, unlike the way the converted Jews used to do. Here is God speaking of breaking man made boundaries so that the message of the good news transcends culture, and other barriers so that church the body of Christ is made relevant and existential to the people of the world. Terrible is the situation today when every church creates more and more hurdles for another person to join the church on issues ranging from doctrines to administration. It is in this context that the life and ministry of Chrysostom thirumeni is an eye opener for all of us. Let us work so that we also do our ministry and mission in such a way that the body of Christ-the church starts existing without any boundaries or at least with a minimum structure of boundaries