Give Me Some Sunshine, Give Me Some Rain

 John 21: 15-19

When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”

“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”

 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”

The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.  Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.”  Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”

Message

In the movie 3 Idiots, we come across a character whose name is Joy Lobo. Joy who is pursuing engineering has a passion for machines.  In the final year he attempts to make a project out of a helicopter with wireless camera for his Engineering project. The principal Viru Sahastrabudhe mocks his idea and does not give him another chance or extension and also tells him that he won’t graduate that year. He pleads to no avail. Having hit the rock bottom he sings the melancholic song.

Give me some sunshine

Give me some rain

Give me another chance

I wanna grow up once again

We wish it had a better ending but the guy writes “I quit” and commits suicide. The feeling of being a failure is a huge burden to live by. The feeling of inadequacy and not being good enough is a constant battle that we struggle with.

Now when we read about Peter, we understand he too lived with the burden of being a failure. Failure of living up to his own expectations. I believe that when Peter said in Matthew 26:33″Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.”, he truly believed that he will always stand by Jesus. But life keeps showing us that we just do not know ourselves enough. When Jesus said that Peter would deny Jesus, he was not predicting something unlikely. The point is, Jesus knew Peter more than Peter knew himself. That my friend is quite scary. Peter always portrayed himself way better than he actually was. This trait we share with him. If we look at our Facebook accounts and Instagram, we are out to portray the best version of ourselves. With funny posts, filtered photos and selfies, we too like Peter are trying to make ourselves believe in a version of ourselves that is too perfect. But the trouble is, we are not. We crack up and fail. Peter failed not once, not twice but thrice. Jesus knew this would happen. Peter more than denying Jesus, denied his own self-belief and confidence. Now before you walk with me to this passage, remember, this story is not just about Peter. There is a trace of  us in the story of Peter. Let us identify ourselves with the rockstar disciple, Peter.  Peter is swimming in his failure. And Jesus seeks him out. Now before anything let us ask, why did Peter deny Jesus? Is it that he did not love Jesus? He surely loved Jesus. But there was someone he loved more. It was himself. Peter denied Jesus out of fear of losing his life. It is love for self-preservation and the tendency of playing it safe that led Peter to deny Jesus. So here Jesus seeks our Peter. In the Middle Eastern culture and ethos, a thing you say three times you affirm it. Like in Islam, you say “Kabool hai” at wedding ceremony for 3 times and you have given your consent for marriage. In the Isaianic Vision, Angels say “Holy, Holy, Holy” affirming the holiness of God beyond doubt. The same logic applies when we affirm the Kauma “Daivame Nee Parishudhana Aagunnu”(Holy Art Thou O God) 3 times. It is an act of affirmation. By asking Peter “Do you love me more than these?” Jesus is giving Peter an opportunity to unbind himself from the 3 public denials. After every question he commanded to “Feed my lambs.” Take care of my sheep.” “Feed my sheep.” After every affirmation of Peter’s love, Jesus was commissioning him to look beyond himself. Love is shown not just in words, but in action. Get over your selfishness and live for others. Serve others. Take care of my sheep. It was a huge commissioning.

Now verse 18, 19 is an anticlimax to the story thus far. We like happy ending. And Jesus promised Peter a wonderful and prosperous life. But wait, Jesus gives a truly bad prediction. He is talking about Peter’s death. Thanks Jesus, you finally took your revenge, didn’t you? What exactly is he doing here? Now when Peter was just caught up with himself, being a master of his destiny, he set the agenda. He dressed and went wherever he wanted. Whenever Jesus tried to tell about his inevitable suffering and death, Peter tried to stop Jesus. It was not how he planned. Like Peter we wish to take Jesus where we want to go. And when Jesus refused to comply and was adamant to suffer and die, He denied Him. He did not want to lose control. You can continue to live like that and know what a miserable life that is. Jesus now in short says “Peter, you tried to save your life fearing death. But was that life worth living? Now let me tell you, you are going to die. Since that is sure, remember, I have conquered death through resurrection. So now live. You are not in control. I will take you to places you do not wish to go. You will dine with people you do not wish to dine with. You will do works that you would rather never do. You will offend people who you wish to please. “Follow me”. You will be like a candle that will give light, but in the process will die out by melting away. George Abraham

The underlying story of Peter is, you cannot live saving your skin. That is not living. Living is to think beyond ourselves and leading a meaningful life. I recently attended a Conference of National Council of Churches of India (NCCI) at Jabalpur. There I was really bored with the sessions as it was afternoon. And then the voice over the microphone said these words “Life of disability is one of tremendous possibilities.” Within a jiffy my sleep vanished and I looked up. What? Come again? Let me introduce you Mr George Abraham. Read on and I am sure you will jump out of your seats at the end of it all.

George Abraham was born on 31st October 1958 to his parents Mr. M.G. Abraham and Mrs Susheela Abraham. George at the age of 10 months had meningitis which caused permanent damage to his optic nerve making him visually impaired. But his parents took a very bold decision regarding his schooling. They sent him to mainstream school. This had its share of challenges, but his parents read out text book to him and equipped him for the same. George says “My mother is a very prayerful person and her faith always helped me to overcome the many challenges and loneliness I felt in the growing stage. Her faith that God will equip my child against all odds gave me confidence. It is from my father that I inherited the love for Maths.” In 1972, when he wanted to do Maths, the combination of physics and chemistry with his visual impairment was a problem. But he persisted and graduated with Maths from St. Stephen’s College, Delhi.  He did his Masters in Operation Research and entered into the field of Advertisement. His academic pursuits along with his career in advertising was enough to make his story an extraordinary one.

In 1989, he along with his wife Rupa visited a School for the blind in New Delhi. He was deeply saddened by the condition of the life of the visually impaired children. Inferiority complex , poor body  language and low ambitions is what he saw in these children. This was a turning point in his life.  That is the time he realized the impact of the revolutionary decision taken by his parents to send him to mainstream school. Now he had an option to feel lucky and move on in life. George says “I felt the encounter of God to use resources for the visually impaired children. It became a passion and mission. Every Blind and Visually impaired person has a right to live a fulfilling life. I took a tough decision to quit my job and dedicated myself to improve the quality of living of people with blindness and low eye sight.

Sports is an integral part of a human being and people with disability are always kept away from it. George being a cricket enthusiast always wished even visually impaired could play cricket. Therefore in 1992, he organized the first National Cricket Tournament for the Blind where he wrote to 200 schools to participate and 20 responded with participation. George roped in Sunil Gavaskar and Kapil Dev for the tournament to give visisbility and also called the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi to give away prizes. A dream was shaping beautifully. In 1996 to give momentum to Cricket for the blind he founded the Association for Cricket for the Blind in India (ACBI). That very year he initiated the setting up the World Blind Cricket Council (WBCC). This led to the first World Cup for the Blind in New Delhi in 1998 where George played a stellar role in organizing and co-ordinating 7 countries that participated. This was a huge achievement which was unthinkable and now the World Cup is part of the Cricketing calendar.

The question still remained how to impact ordinary people who are visually impaired? It was during the run up to the cup, that George says he discovered that the “real problem was not the blindness but the mindset of the other people and the blind people themselves, to the disability. Everyone, including the blind, believed they just couldn’t lead normal lives. I wanted to change that,”. In 2002, George established the SCORE Foundation, a non-profit organization. The focus of SCORE was to be the information and mentoring centre for the visually impaired. Lack of information and good guidance is what makes blind people settle for mediocre lives believes George. Score launched Project Eyeway as a single- stop knowledge resource for people living with blindness and low vision. Today Eyeway comprises the website http://www.eyeway.org, a weekly radio programme ‘Yea Hai Roshni Ka Karwan’ which is broadcast from 30 cities in India, the Eyeway helpdesk, the Eyeway news SMS service, the Eyeway Talking Book service and the Eyeway training service programme. The impact of his endeavor can be gauged by just one case.

A few years ago, George received a call from a man who lived in Bhopal. He was in his late 20s and was losing his vision at an alarming speed. He had quit his job and returned to his parents, resigned to a life of darkness. “He had heard our radio show and wanted to know what he could do. We convinced him that he could take on home-based assignments to begin with, so that he felt useful. But after a few months, he called back to say while he was earning money, his social life was in doldrums. While his friends went out and partied, he sat at home. His parents refused to let him out alone, lest a car run him over. We spoke to them but they refused, saying they didn’t want to lose their son to a pothole, a ditch or a rash driver. Luckily a few weeks later, we did a radio show with a blind man who had overcome similar odds and was now working in a senior position in a bank. The young man was excited. He wanted us to talk to his parents again. This time, they agreed to let him venture out close by, with a cane in hand, provided they followed him at a distance. This continued for a while. When both the young man and his parents had gained enough confidence, we convinced him to apply for a job. He landed a really cool job at TCS and first moved to Kolkata and is now based in Bangalore. Recently we spoke again and he said now he hopes to fall in love soon and get married! It is stories like these that I live for,” says Abraham.

When George ended the conversation, he said “My faith in the Living God instilled by my parents has kept me strong. Support of my wife has been integral in all the aspects of my life. I believe that we are blessed and are called to be a blessing. That is biblical faith to me, where fear of the unknown is conquered by faith. Do pray that we can reach more and more people who yearn to be independent and want to live a fulfilling life.”

 

P.S. George is married to his wife Rupa and is blessed with two daughters, Neha and Tara. He is a fabulous orator and a motivational speaker. Please visit a module by SCORE where George wishes to equip blind children to have a winner attitude from young age. Check this out and support it. https://www.ketto.org/scorefoundation

Rev Merin Mathew

Bethel Mar Thoma Church

Kolar Road, Bhopal

 

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Are You Ready… To Be Pentecosted?

Acts 2: 1-21

 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

 Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome  (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!”  Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”

 Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.”

 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning!  No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:

“‘In the last days, God says,
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your young men will see visions,
your old men will dream dreams.
Even on my servants, both men and women,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
and they will prophesy.
 I will show wonders in the heavens above
and signs on the earth below,
blood and fire and billows of smoke.
 The sun will be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood
before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.
 And everyone who calls
on the name of the Lord will be saved.’

Message

Two boys join the army and are really looking forward to the challenging life of army men. But first day of the training drill broke all their illusion of what they thought would be a glamorous life. With the exercises and drills, the punishments and never ending runs made the two very very sad.  By now they were just surviving the days at the training camp. Matthew and Deepak are the boys in the story. Half dead with exhaustion, Mathew mourns to Deepak “What a horrible life this is. We are treated like machines. I want to go home.” Deepak says nothing but just agrees with a desperate sigh. And then Deepak tells Matt, “Let’s bunk the training session tomorrow. Let us go out and just have fun.”  Matthew was not sure of the idea but was too desperate for a break and therefore played along. Early in the morning the duo sneaked out of the camp with fabulous precision and both hi- fived each other for the accomplishment that they achieved. Initially after achieving temporary freedom, they now did not know what to do. New to the city, they just were clueless. After roaming around aimlessly they finally settled to enter into a beer bar. Along with the snacks they kept ordering their drinks trying to numb themselves from the daily routine of meaninglessness. After around they lost count of the drinks, it dawned to them that they had to sneak back to the camp. Matt after paying the bills, along with Deepak found it hard to stand on their feet. They helped each other from falling. And The Captain of the platoon who was strolling in the market area happened to recognize the drama outside the beer bar and spotted the two ruffians who had escaped from his camp. He in an intimidating pose stood in front of the duo. Matt thought not recognizing who stood in front of him blurted out “Hi mate, can you help us to get to the Army camp near cantonment?” The captain with an added baritone said “Do you know who I am?” Matt looks very perplexed and started crying and said “Oh dear God, we are in deep trouble, we do not know where to go and this man does not know who he is”

This may be a humorous illustration but it profoundly talks of the two problems that we face. The problem of identity and the problem of finding a purpose in life. We are not sure about our purpose in life and we keep struggling to figure out who we are. We need timely reminders and affirmations to help us align with our purpose and identity. When we examine the passage in front of us, we have 120 witnesses of Jesus’ resurrection. They have seen Jesus ascension to heaven and are asked to wait for the Holy Spirit that He would pour upon them. As they waited, the Holy Spirit came upon them like blowing wind and tongues of fire rested upon them. I am guessing that these 120 people were together to feel secure in each other’s company as they were  hiding themselves from the Roman officials and the Jews. In the meanwhile they elected Matthias as the 12th disciple to feel more powerful, but we do not hear anything of what Matthias did in history. So they were a bunch of clueless people and it is here the Holy Spirit engulfs them. The wind signifies the breath that God breathed into Adam, signifying life(Gen 2:7). And tongues of fire are to set them ablaze on their mission to be witnesses of the resurrected Christ. The wind reminded the people who they are. They have life breathed in them By God and in God and his resurrection is their new identity brought about by the gift of the Holy Spirit. The fire reminds them what the purpose in life is and that is to be witnesses of the resurrection of Christ till the end of the earth.

The people just wanted to be confined in the comforts of the upper room and be safe. They are happy to know ‘Christ is Risen’ and remain quiet and calm. But the Holy Spirit does not heed to their plans. It overflows in other tongues. When they wished to keep the resurrection of Jesus a secret of their exclusive society, Holy Spirit enabled them to speak in tongues intelligible to the many Jews from different nations. When it was clear to the Jews what was being declared, they tried to suppress the voices of the 120 by dismissing them as drunk and stupid people. Jews certainly did not want to hear about the Resurrected Christ as it would mess up their lives and make it extremely uncomfortable. It is here Peter steps in and declares with the help of Holy Spirit that these voices are not to be dismissed. He gives a bold witness to the Life, Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ and how by the promise of Scripture, Holy Spirit is at work. The verses 36 and 37 are the climax. “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”

When the people heard this, they were cut toNew Life English Medium School the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”

Peter boldly declares Jesus as Lord and Messiah and also convicts them that they crucified him. But the response of the hearers is what formed the new community. Holy Spirit made them vulnerable in heart  and they asked in desperation “Brothers, what shall we do?”

This is what opened up to the formation of a new community where people were ready to realize their mistakes and were ready to ask “What should we do?” Do we have those pricking of the heart and we ask “What should we do?” Pentecost reminds us that we are in the Grand story of the Life, Death, Resurrection and Coming again of Jesus Christ. Toughest part is to be witnesses to his resurrection which is denied in all quarters. Holy Spirit strengthens us to realize that our identity lies in the love of Jesus Christ and we should do what Jesus did. The New Community, the church is to do what Jesus did. What he said, we should say. If you look at the story of Jesus in Gospel of Luke and the Story of Church in Acts of Apostles, it is very similar. Just study the parallels of Birth of Jesus and Birth of Church. Luke tries to show that how Jesus lived (as depicted in Gospel of Luke), same way his followers tried to live in Acts of the Apostles. In Gospel of Luke, He fed, he loved, he cared , he preached. In Acts of Apostles, they fed, they loved, they cared, the preached. Was it easy? No. But the people found that their identity lies in who Jesus is. And what do they do? They  did what Jesus did. If you realize this and Holy Spirit takes hold of you, you are officially pentecosted. (Red Alarm, Sirens ringing)

Let me end this meditation by a story of a couple that really inspired me. When I called the protagonist of the story, he was very reluctant to share about his experiences as he felt he was not worthy enough to be written  about  “Achen, I have done nothing. Please do not embarrass me.” So with that warning in mind I venture to introduce you to the couple Mr .P.O. Mathew and his wife Annie.  Mr P.O. Mathew, who is the 5th of the siblings hails from Pallipad. After his education he joined as a professor at Chengannur Christian College and he married his wife Annie who was teaching at Bishop’s Moore College in Mavelikara. In 1968 after being newly married, Mr P.O. Mathew got an opportunity to go to Nigeria as a teacher. He along with his wife worked as teachers in Nigeria for a period of 17 years. After they came back to India the couple joined the Mar Thoma Academy in Tiruvalla, where Mr Mathew was the Principal for 9 years and were well settled in Tiruvalla.  The story thus far is a normal one. Life is secure. Their children have settled. So one would not expect any twist or turn at this stage of the script. No, but the story is not over. In the year 2000 there was a strange request that came the couple’s way. Dr Johny, who was at Christian Hospital, Bisam Cuttack, Orissa, requested P.O. Mathew to help them out with a School of the Hospital as it was not in a good shape. Initially Mr Mathew dismissed it but Dr Johny was insistent. “I was scared to uproot from my settled life but there was a voice that wanted to give this a shot. Therefore on the insistence of Dr Johny I visited the hospital at Bissam Cuttack. The place I found was very backward but I was impressed by the work and witness of the Hospital. The hospital was the vision and labour of Dr Elizabeth Madson, who set up the hospital knowing about the death of women in the village due to the lack of medical facilities. It is the inspired witness of Late Dr Elizabeth Madson that evolved into a 200 bed Hospital called the Christian Hospital. After visiting, we did not have clarity and did not see the sense in uprooting our life but felt the prompting of the Spirit. So I thought of asking the then Metropolitan Most Rev Dr Philipose Mar Chrysostom who was the President of Mar Thoma Academy where I was the Principal. I was sure that the Metropolitan would not relieve me. After initial enquiry and after hearing about Dr Johny, Thirumeni said that the work is credible and gave me the permission to go. I honestly did not expect it. When Thirumeni gave the permission, I knew this was God’s plan and we reluctantly thought of giving it a shot. We decided to go for 2 years in the month of June in 2000. Slowly but surely we could put a system in the New Life English Medium School with 530 students from the village nearby, where Annie was the Head Mistress and I was the Principal. We went for 2 years but remained there for 15 years. We were away from our family, relatives, people and church but God used us. I truly believe I did nothing extraordinary, but realized God was leading us. Initially all the events made no sense to us and the people around. But God used us in ways that we could never imagine and to dear God we are grateful. We have nothing to boast or to put forward. I remember my brother telling me that when I was about to be born there were huge complications. They said we will save the mother and the child will die. After my birth, Doctor said, I will live for 7 days. Achen, today this man who was supposed to live for just 7 days is 72 years, you have called me on my birthday (12th May 2016). Mysterious are God’s ways”

I truly believe Mr P.O. Mathew and his wife Annie were Pentecosted. The couple found their identity in Christ Jesus and the purpose in life was to be the witnesses of His resurrection, whether we like it or not. The Holy Spirit is not what we acquire. Holy Spirit takes hold of us and brings us out of our secure and calculated life. We do not find a purpose. The purpose finds us.  I am reminded that one day one of our member entered in an absent minded way with helmet on. I chuckled. But then I realized, church sure is a very dangerous place. You better sit with helmets  and seat belts on. Because God will not settle for your small plans. He will Pentecost you and that will mightily cost you. So are you ready to be pentecosted?

 

P.S. The Church celebrates the Feast of Pentecost, 50 days after Easter which signifies the Gift of Holy Spirit promised by Jesus Christ and also the Birth of the Church

 

Rev Merin Mathew

Bethel Mar Thoma Church

Kolar Road, Bhopal

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fix Your Eyes On Jesus

Text: Hebrews 12:2

 

Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Message

As a  child whenever we went out as a family to visit relatives I feasted upon the snacks served to the embarrassment of my mother. I saw to it that not even a trace of mixture or sweets remains. Seeing this continuing she took me to task. “The snacks served are not for you to sweep it clean as if you don’t get anything at home. Take only as much as you need.” But when was obedience part of childhood. Next time when we went for our family visit my mom gave me the ‘Statutory Warning’. The snacks were served. And I pounced as instincts dictated me. Had one hand full. Then the next and suddenly conscience pricked and like Peter looked at Jesus after  denying him, I looked at my mom and those eyes that did Kathakalli instructed me to put those snack back. I looked into her eyes and my hands involuntarily became loose. Down went the snack. Power of a look I say.  Next terrain was the church. My friends and I played cross and knots, gossiped endlessly and displayed our art on our sunday school books when the Priest gave sermon in full gusto. This annoyed my mother. And whenever we played or spoke I just gave a glance to see if she is looking and to my disappointment always she was busy rolling her eyes. When I look back in retrospect, looking at my mother’s eye helped me understand what it means to fix your eyes on Jesus. This fixing of my eye on my mother instructed me, disciplined me and it also exuded comfort and assurance. I remember when I was in standard 8 I had failed in the subject of Marathi and when I went home when I broke this news I looked into her eyes. But her eyes said “it is ok.” Try again. How comforting.

The author of Hebrews uses the  imagery of race. The church is made aware of the great cloud of witnesses that would inspire them to run the race by countering all the hurdles that come in the way. The Epistle is addressed to a church that is facing immense persecution and trouble.  Therefore the imagery of race becomes meaningful when the Icon of Jesus as the perfecter and pioneer of faith is used. In vs 2 the author asks the people to fix their eyes on Jesus. The participle aphorontes in Greek which means fixing the eye makes sense in a Greek Olympics where the athlete had to fix the eye on the image of the Greek God that was fixed at the end of the race. This helped the athletes to run so as to become like the God and imbibe divinity through their running. The icon of the Greek god propelled the athletes to overcome the cruelties of the terrain and the competitive attitude of the opponents. In this context the author uses the imagery of the crucified Jesus for them to continue their race and withstand the persecution of the context in order to transcend it.  In such a context the author formulates a response that shows them the possibility of a faith and presents to them a Christ who has taken the shame of the cross and endured it through absolute faith. The hostility and the shedding of the blood of Christ are emphasized for the people to relate to their everyday experiences. In the context of persecution the people had submissive attitudes that made them think low of themselves. Since Christ is what made the community possible, the author makes a self formation possible by presenting Christ as crucified and humiliated. This makes their experiences real and bearable. An imagery that helped them accept the reality of suffering.

My dear friends fixing our eyes on Jesus has two dimensions. One it comforts us to carry on in life when every situation militates against us. It gives us hope to carry on when everything seems lost. Recently one of my friend Abraham George cleared his C.A. examinations. He has been doing it for past 7 years. I really admire him for his tenacity and perseverance. There might have been so many voices that deterred him, there may be millions of self doubts as to the possibility of clearing the exams. When I spoke to him he said in a very emotional tone. “Every single day in the last 7 years I was living and dying. By God’s grace I have made it.” Abraham had fixed his eyes on Jesus to get to his goal. I know many friends who are pursuing some goal at this point of time. Please don’t give up on it. Fix your eyes on Jesus. Slowly but surely by the will of God you will reach there.

The second dimension  of Fixing the eyes is that of responsibility. This eyes disciplines us, helps us to correct our track in life. It helps us to accept our failures to move on. Nobody knew this more than Peter. Let us turn our Bibles to Luke 22: 60- 62

 Peter replied, “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.”  And he went outside and wept bitterly.

It says after Peter denied Jesus, Jesus looked straight at Peter. And then Peter went out and wept bitterly. Anthony DeMello in his book Song Of the Bird says that He wondered why did Peter cry after Jesus looked at Peter. What did Peter see in Jesus’ eyes? Anthony continued “While I was praying I started practicing the Early Church style of prayer where they raised their arms and looked to the sky as if looking into Jesus’ eye. I started it but after a month my heart was filled with guilt. I did not have the strength in me to lift my eyes and fix it on Jesus as I felt in his eye I would find him condemning me for the sins that I have done. I feared his judgment. So for 3 months I continued to pray this way. My soul was restless. I had no peace. And I told myself that tomorrow when I pray I will look into Jesus eye and face the consequences. I can’t live like this. I have to fix my eye on him. The next day when I raised my eye and looked into the Eye of Jesus, I saw in his eyes abundant love for me. I was expecting judgment and I would handle that. But in spite of everything the love was too much for me. I went out and wept bitterly. Then I realized what Peter that day saw in Jesus’ eye. That look restored the denying disciple to become the rock on which the church was to be built.”

Every time when we come to the Lord ’s Table we should be aware of the abundant love that has made us whole. It is a comfort to see love for us in Jesus eye. But let us not stop at that. We have a responsibility to measure up to that love. It calls to be like Jesus. Christian life is not just about being intoxicated by the Grace of God. It is also a life of responsibility where we are called to be healers, comforters, story tellers and beacon of hope in a world that is groaning with pain. My fellow pilgrims let us fix your eyes on Jesus. Amen

ImageRev Merin Mathew

Mar Thoma Syrian Church

Guwahati