UTC Worship

UTC Worship
by Jeba Singh Samuel

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Sunday Chapel Service Sermon by Dr. George Zachariah


George Zachariah

Mary of Nazareth is one of those biblical characters who has been mythologized and sanitized far beyond any historical likeness. Our dominant Mariology is both patriarchal and hegemonic, and it continues to legitimize male domination in church and society through compelling women to internalize patriarchal values. For the Church, Mary is the ultimate ideal of true womanhood, something similar to the Sita of the Hindu scriptures, the epitome of the ideal Indian womanhood. Our Mariology continues to devalue women by valorizing obedience, humility, passivity, and submission as the virtues of women.
When it comes to Marian devotion, we have at least two models of Mary. The Mary of the institutionalized church is a docile virgin who was obedient to the divine will. She is portrayed as standing on a crescent moon, wearing a crown, with rings on her fingers. She has a blue robe embroidered with gold. On the other hand, the Mary of popular piety is an organic deity rooted in the everyday struggles of the people. Our Lady of Vailankanni is known as Arokkiya Annai, the Holy Mother of Good Health, who brings healing in the community. Mariology for the Catholics in Central and Latin America is connected with Our Lady of Guadalupe, whose image shares the features of the people of Mexico. She is considered to be a benefactor of the oppressed. For the common people the Lady of Guadalupe is the maternal and feminine image of the divine who heals them and liberates them. We see a similar Marian devotion during the first week of September in the streets of Bangalore when subaltern communities celebrate the feast of St. Mary at St. Mary’s Basilica, in Shivaji Nagar. What we find in all these Marian devotions is the appropriation of Mother Mary by the grassroots communities, contesting the Mariology of the domesticated Mary of the church.
The model of true womanhood perpetuated through the dominant Mariology of the Church is detrimental for the flourishing of women as it prevents the development of their critical intellect, impairs their capacity for discernment and righteous anger, and disables their moral agency. As Simone de Beauvoir rightly observed, “the supreme victory of masculinity is consummated in Mariolatry: it signifies the rehabilitation of woman through the completeness of her defeat." The exaltation of Mary in the traditional Marian devotion which places Mary on a high pedestal has always been used to denigrate women. Mary’s motherhood has “legitimated domesticity as the primary vocation for women.” Notions of the eternal feminine, essential feminine nature and ideal woman that the dominant Mariology propagates are toxic for women’s survival and development, and hence need to be contested. It requires a new engagement with the Mary of Nazareth, and we need to enable her to speak out.   
As we all know, the New Testament does not give much importance to Mary, either as a historical figure or as a theological symbol. Paul does not refer to Mary by name at all. In the infancy narratives of Matthew, Joseph is the main actor, and Mary plays her role passively. However, in Luke we see a different Mary. She is the protagonist in the Lukan infancy narratives. The angelic visit comes to her. She is consulted in advance and she gives her consent. Her parents or future husband were not involved in her decisions. She is autonomous, and an active agent in Luke’s narrative. She travels to visit Elizabeth without taking permission from her future husband. For Luke, Mary is more than a passive instrument of God; rather she is an independent agent with autonomy, who participates in God’s redemptive mission in history. 
The memory of Mary of Nazareth can subvert our Mariological fantasies. Mary of Nazareth is not the modest and beautiful white lady of artistic imagination, kneeling before her son, acknowledging her inferiority. She is the pregnant and bold teenager, living in an occupied territory, who envisions a world devoid of imperial occupation, economic exploitation, and social exclusion. She was well aware of the consequences of an unwed young girl becoming pregnant in her society. As we read in the gospel of Matthew, Joseph was planning to cancel the wedding because he wanted to protect Mary from public humiliation and social ostracism.  According to Jewish law, as an alleged adulteress, Mary could have been stoned to death.
So it is important for us to revisit the story and listen to Mary to discern why she gave her consent to becoming the mother of Jesus. In this search, the Magnificat, the song of Mary, is the text for us. Our engagement with the Magnificat should begin with questioning the dominant assumption that Mary, as the radiant woman and the handmaid of God, composed the Magnificat peacefully.  The Magnificat belongs to the long Hebrew tradition of revolutionary songs that proclaimed God’s commitment to bring about radical reversal in socio-economic relations. When we discern Mary as a rural peasant girl who boldly sings her song of protest and alternatives, envisioning her dreams of a world without domination, injustice, marginalization, and abuse of power, Mary’s song becomes a radical resource for us in the 21st century to live out our faith relevantly in our context.
Let us reflect upon two important questions that we normally try to avoid. First, why did God choose Mary to be the mother of Jesus? Second, why did Mary decide to become the mother of Jesus?
Why did God choose Mary to be the mother of Jesus? Mary was humble, meek and mild, and obedient to accepting God’s will, even though it would lead almost definitely to a shameful fate. This is the canonized answer of the Church which we are familiar with. Through this answer the Church has constructed the normative model of a true Christian and we all have internalized it; obedient: passive, humble, and conformist. But Luke does not seem to agree with this answer. When Mary says, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of the servant,” she is not valorizing her humility or humbleness. Rather Mary gives us clear indications about her social location and the diverse manifestations of structural evil that she experiences because of her identity as a poor, colonized, rural, peasant woman.  The Greek word for “lowliness” is tapeinosis, and it does not refer to any innate inner virtues or qualities such as humbleness or humility; rather it represents humiliation or unjust affliction and torture by a sinful social order. In other words, Mary here magnifies the Lord for the divine preferential option of choosing the victims of the prevailing order as partners in God’s salvific mission.  So Mary does not sing the Magnificat as a saint or as the epitome of true womanhood, but as a fierce young woman confronting the painful experiences of exploitation and humiliation of her own concrete social location.
Yes, God has chosen Mary to be the mother of Jesus because that is the politics of God: preferential option for the victims of structural injustice and evil. Further, Luke invites us to go beyond an essentialist position here. Of course Mary was a subaltern. But she was intentional about her subaltern experiences and she used her experiences to develop an alternative consciousness. Mary was convinced about the purpose of her life and she did not bother to get permission from her parents or rabbi to become pregnant. The angelic episode reveals Mary’s autonomy over her body and her life and her courage to be the subject of her life and destiny. God chooses people who are deeply intentional about their experiences of imposed marginalization and are committed to transforming the systems that continue to enslave and dehumanize them.  Further we witness here the politics of God which do not ratify dominant notions and practices. We see two pregnant women in this story: an unwed teenage girl and a postmenopausal woman. The politics of God, revealed in the Lukan infancy narratives, proclaims God’s favor on those who are considered as illegitimate, infertile and incapable, and invites them to become mothers to give birth to a new dispensation of divine justice and love on earth.
Why did Mary decide to become the mother of Jesus? As a young, Jewish girl Mary was familiar with the Jewish anticipation of the Messiah who would bring about radical transformation in the world. She was also familiar with the Jewish tradition of songs of protest and alternatives which helped them to keep their hope alive in the midst of imperial oppression and social and economic exploitation. Those songs proclaimed their confidence in the Divine promise “to topple the powers that be, reverse the fortunes of an unjust world, and lift up all those who have been oppressed.” The reversal that the Messiah would bring about was the dream of Mary. The angelic visitation offered Mary the possibility to play a decisive role in realizing their messianic expectation, and she said yes to that call and vocation.
The Magnificat is the theological explanation that Mary offers us to clarify the rationale for her decision to become the mother of Jesus. Even though the church diluted the revolutionary message of Mary’s song, it continues to destabilize and disrupt the prevailing order. We gather from Luke’s narrative that even Jesus was deeply influenced by Mary’s vision, and that is reflected in his inaugural sermon in Nazareth.  When the Anglican missionary Henry Martyn came to Calcutta as chaplain to the East India Company in 1805, he was shocked to know that the British authorities had banned the chanting of the Magnificat at Evensong. Mary’s song was banned in Argentina after the Mothers of the Disappeared placed the words of the Magnificat on posters throughout the capital plaza, calling for nonviolent resistance against the military rule in mid-1970s’. In the 1980s, the Guatemalan government discovered Mary’s song to be too dangerous and revolutionary because it inspired  the Guatemalan poor to believe that socio-economic reversal was possible.  The government had no other option but to ban the public recital of the Magnificat. All these historical narratives prove that Mary’s yes to God’s invitation to become the mother of Jesus was inspired by her politics; the politics of the system-threatening reign of God.
We have tried to engage with two important questions, and our reflections on those questions lead us to a third question. How do we ourselves qualify to sing the Magnificat in our times? Or rather, what is our Magnificat for our times? Perhaps, the 14th century German mystic Meister Eckhart can help us to respond to that question. “What good is it to me if this eternal birth of the divine Son takes place unceasingly, but does not take place within myself? And, what good is it to me if Mary is full of grace and I am not also full of grace? What good is it to me for the Creator to give birth to his son if I do not also give birth to him in my time and my culture? This, then, is the fullness of time: when the Son of God is begotten in us. We are all meant to be mothers of God, for God is always needing to be born.”
We are familiar with the controversy over the title theotokos (mother of God). Our churches are divided over it. Some churches consider Mary as the mother of God, while for others she is only the mother of Christ. We are living in a context similar to that of the context of the young Mary of Nazareth. God is in need to be born in our context, and God wants us to become theotokos to continue the divine mission of reversal in our times. But in order to become mothers of God, we need to have the courage to become illegitimate to the prevailing order. As Mary of Nazareth practiced through her life, we have to become “out of control” of all powers and principalities to give birth to the Divine reversal in our times.
Some of us might have heard the speech of Chief Editor Raj Kamal Jha at the Indian Express award ceremony last month, in which Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the chief guest. Reflecting upon the vocation of journalists, Jha narrated an incident from the life of Ramnath Goenka, former editor of Indian Express. Goenka sacked a journalist when he heard the Chief Minister of a state telling him, “Apka reporter bahot accha kaam kar raha hai.” Your reporter is doing a great job. “Criticism from a government is wonderful news for journalism. Criticism from a government is a badge of honor.” How do we translate Raj Kamal Jha’s observation on the vocation of journalists to our own vocations and ministries? If we get endorsements and applauses from the authorities, it is time for us to examine ourselves and mend our ways.  As French philosopher Allan Badiou reminds us, “All resistance is a rupture with what is. And every rupture begins through a rupture with oneself.”
Jonathan Daniels was an Episcopal seminarian doing his Master of Divinity studies at the Episcopal Theological Seminary in Cambridge, Massachusetts, preparing himself for ordained ministry in the Episcopal Church. One evening he attended the evensong at the seminary chapel, and heard the Magnificat in a new and different way.  When he walked out of the seminary chapel that night, he decided to leave the Seminary and join the Civil Rights Movement and work along with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr to realize the dream of reversal that the Magnificat proclaims. He went to Alabama to assist with voter registration, and finally he ended up being killed as he lived out Mary’s words.
We, as a called out community, are commissioned to bear the hope of the world in our bodies. “We are called to be the containers for God to sow the seeds of hope for the lowly, justice for the downtrodden and new life for the world. It is an invitation to rethink our call and to engage in the business of fomenting a great reversal where the first will be last, and the last will be first. Can we feel the stirring of new life within us? Of new hopes? Of the impossible longing to become possible?” We are all meant to be mothers of God. For God is always needing to be born.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Senior Sermon - Jebin T., BD IV

Temptations:  Challenge to Pastoralia
“It sometimes seems to us that life is nothing but a series of temptations. Generally, when we speak about temptation two biblical stories come to our mind- firstly, the temptation at the Garden of Eden, which led to the fall of humankind and the second the temptation of Jesus that led to the fall of Satan. The narrative (Mathew 4:1-11) is closely related to the preceding narrative of the baptism of Jesus. This connection is found in the key term of this narrative, “God’s son” in v.1. Does the Son exhibit qualities such as trust, obedience, faithfulness that are of God’s son, Israel? Indeed, in this passage we encounter a most interesting parallel with that of the experience of Israelites in the wilderness. The parallel is heightened by the fact that all of Jesus’ answers to the tempter are drawn from Deuteronomy 6-8, the very passage that describes Israel’s experience in the wilderness. This account is placed here deliberately because it serves as an important prolegomenon to the ministry of Jesus.
In facing these temptations, Jesus pioneered a path for us to follow to reach fullness of life, one in which he encountered evil and was victorious over it. This pericope is also found in Luke with four variations and is thus regarded as derived from the Q source. Both the narration has a common pattern: (a) the setting; (b) the words of Satan; (c) the response of Jesus. The spiritual reality in this narrative can be understood by not necessarily believing that there is an individual called the devil or Satan, rather, the focus is, what are we tempted by?

Temptation: Attain Personal Needs by using Privileged Position (Mt. 4:2-4)
Temptation strikes us when we are weak. It came to Jesus when he was hungry. In v. 3 he is asked by the tempter to turn the stones into bread. A tricky plan to use his powers to bring comfort to his body, to use his unique relationship to God as magic wand for his earthly needs. Since there is nothing intrinsically sinful about turning stones into bread, the meaning of the temptation must be explored more deeply. The fundamental understanding of this particular testing of Jesus is the realization that the fasting and hunger are, at this stage, is the will of the father for the son. To turn the stones into bread would be in effect to refuse God’s will and would involve a disobedience that would deny Jesus’ sonship. But the more significant question is this: shall Jesus exercise his messianic power in a way that avoids difficulty and pain or shall he accept the path of suffering (death) that is his father’s will?
Jesus answers the command of the devil with an OT quotation from Deuteronomy. Bread is necessary for life but the words “not by bread alone” throws us the question, is bread alone sufficient? Jesus in John 4:34, said, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me, and to accomplish his will” and here he submits to that will. Jesus serves as a paradigm for the church and we are called to forsake the world. To forsake is not to hate or to reject it. It is not to turn from material goods- food, drink, clothing- and become an ascetic; instead, it is to recognize that not all this world’s goods will satisfy us. Jesus himself rejected the use of his privileged relationship with God to get material goods since he knew that it would not satisfy him.  
How are we using our privileged position as a pastor? One of the major criticisms pastors face is the mishandling of Church funds and properties. Incidences that prove this are many, which we are aware of and some were even caught and convicted. I would like to share one incident, which affected me recently: a year ago, we went for the finance campaign from our college as a team and visited more than 15 churches in a particular area. In many churches, even the poor people contributed generously out of their poverty for the sake of theological education and in some, they assured to donate in the following week. After finishing the work, we all gathered in the area headquarters and the area chairperson took all the collected money from our hands and said he will return everything after collecting from other churches as well. So far, the money has not reached the College. I am not saying that the person has taken it for his/ her pocket. But where is the basic honesty? If church leaders are like this, how can we be a model for our congregation?
 Another incident where after the harvest festival, the office bearers were arguing among themselves on who would get to take an offertory cover of a particular family. The pastor, who was newly assigned to that parish, observing all these things asked, “How can you play with offertory money”? The immediate response was, “you don’t say this to us, we know how the previous pastor flicked the church money.” Not only this, even privileged positions are used to recommend unqualified candidates for higher studies and jobs and in this process lot of diocesan institutions which were founded by the dedication of missionaries has lost its vision and coming to the level of closure. Therefore, friends, let us be aware of the temptation which triggers us to mishandle our privileged position.             

Temptation: Acknowledge the God’s Power only in terms of Success and Security (5-8)
It is interesting that after Jesus responds with a quotation from Scripture, the devil introduces the second temptation by using Scripture itself. This is surely a way in which we can be led into evil and justifying it by using the Bible and would say, “what I am doing is right, for the Bible says it so.” Romans 13:1, “let every person be subject to the governing authorities,” was used to justify obedience to Hitler, in spite of his appalling persecutions. The devil sugared the verses of Scripture and served it to Jesus who replied by quoting another passage of the scripture and showed how we are to interpret the Bible. At first, Jesus is commanded by devil to provide food for himself- to save himself by exercising his messianic power. Here, by contrast, he is commanded to put himself in mortal danger and to force God to save him. It is important to note that the test involves a jump to safety i.e. to rescue by God and not to destruction. By refusing to jump Jesus chooses the path of continuing danger and hardship.    
We would be living in a fantasy world, if events were not allowed to follow their natural course simply because we made an appeal to God when we feel threatened.  The inevitability of human misery can help us start to discover ourselves, to discover what we are and where we are. Reliance on the false religious claims that promise us escape from dangers and suffering, can close us off from an encounter with the reality of God. Sometimes the only way these cover-ups can be taken away from our sight is for us to suffer. We then learn that it is in this kind of world, a world with danger and no immunity from it, that we are to learn to find God, to trust God, and to recognize his love.
We sometimes make our security a test of God’s reality or of his love and assume that if there is a God, he must protect and care for us. Jesus did not call on God to get him out of dangers even on the cross when his enemies wait to see if God would rescue him, and they taunt him he does not call out for help. In the garden of Gethsemane he does not ask his Father to deliver him from an ordeal and in particular from the ordeal of the cross. He is confident of his Father’s love even when he is undergoing suffering.  The love of God is to be understood not apart from human suffering, but by openly facing suffering. Our very “religiousness” may keep us from facing suffering. God is not a means to our ends.
The Post-match interview of Darren Samy, after T20 world cup went viral. He said “ours is a praying team” and “God has given victory.” With much enthusiasm, messages were being forwarded saying that West Indies won because it is Christian team. But team India has also beaten such teams like West Indies, Australia, England on several occasions. Does this mean that God was not on their side during those time? We all believe that God listens to our prayers but giving us success and safety are not the only criteria for experiencing God’s providence.
Pastors face this situation too. People ask: If you are a powerful servant of God- heal my sickness, prophesy about my life, speak in tongues, construct a big church, increase the monthly offerings, membership etc. One of my friends asked me, whether the Bible teaches to deceive others and build churches. I asked him, why? He replied, “While church construction takes place, pastors come to my shop and purchase lot of things for debt promising that they would return it within a couple of months. But they do not and they very well know that they are going to get transferred very soon. Their only intention is to finish the construction and take credit for that without understanding the difficulty of people like us.”         
Our trust in God must not have vested interest such as protection and security. It must not look at the good things of life, and ignore the bad. A pleasant nature can also turn into storms, earthquakes and drought. Thus Paul can write that nothing can separate us from the love of God- neither famine nor sword, sickness nor death (Romans 8: 31-39).    
Temptation: Acquire Power through false worship (9-10)
The main clause in the third testing by the devil contains a promise stating, “I will give you all these things.” Therefore, the conditional clause that follows, involves an actual condition to be met. The devil offers all the kingdom of the world. But God has already promised the messianic king, the son of God by promising, “Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession” (Ps. 2:8; 72: 8; Rev. 11:15). The devil offers him something within his rights (28:18), but at the cost of idolatry saying “if you fall down and worship me.” The question centres on a choice between the will of Satan or the will of God, which involves implicitly the rendering of worship to the one or the other.
Satan places before Jesus the glittering grandeur of the Kingdoms of this world and hopes to attract him. Evil may not show itself for what it is but instead appear as something attractive and desirable. Once five of us, “all utcians” crossed a Jaguar car showroom and started discussing about the price of the car. One of us said, “If I have to get into such a car either I have to become a Bishop or bishop’s chaplain.” This is how power lures us.
Jesus faces the ultimate political temptation for world rule. However, he understands that getting to power is not the answer; instead, unqualified submission and obedience to God is required to do anything good. Jesus turns his back on the possession of worldly power and clings toward the service of God. Power based on evil disintegrates. Sometimes getting to power by doing evil is justified by the good results of being in power. Yet this expedient never works, because the consequences of wrong remain destructive and the end is always compromised and twisted by the sinner who wills it. Jesus does not take the shortcut, the quick route to power and control. The only true political response is to bow before God and obey God. But in today’s world all tricks and shortcuts are applied to somehow get into power and let us be aware of this also. American author Edward Abbey said, “Power is dangerous, it attracts the worst and corrupts the best.” It is also said by Hubbard, “Nothing unmasks a man like his use of power.”   

Finally, in the narration the angels come not simply to minister to a faithful Israelite but to call special attention to the victory of the obedient son. The verse is thus symbolic of the true identity of the Son, which is again affirmed at this point. Theodore H. Epp said, “Lust is the Bud, Sin is the Blossom, and Death is the Fruit.” That is why it is important to nip temptation in the bud. It must be stopped before it can blossom into sin and death. We need material things but not by misusing our power and privileges, we need deliverance but bondage doesn’t mean God is not with us and we can attain power but not through crooked ways.


Senior Sermon - Yajenlemla Chang, BD IV

Mark 7:1-5; 20-23
In March this year, a Dalit man, Shankar was killed by his father – in – law, as an act of ‘honor killing’. Shankar and Kaushalya had an inter – caste marriage, and because of this, they had to pay the ultimate price for transgressing the boundaries of love. Why so? Simply because it is believed that Dalits are impure, and that inter – caste marriage is a defilement. It comes as a wonder that even pastors and Bishops have made statements that inter – caste marriages will dilute the purity of Christianity. This is just one such example where the idea of purity becomes noxious. This morning, with the help of the text that was read and in the light of such happenings, I attempt to speak on reforming purity through transgressive action.
The idea of purity was important for Mark and his community and is quite evident in Mark 7: 1 – 5 and vv 20 – 23, as much as it is evident in the entire gospel. The Jewish law believed that impurity was passed from the hands to the food and to the eater. And so, the ritual of hand-washing was extremely important. This ceremonial washing was done not for hygienic reasons but to remove any stain of impurity that might have been incurred in daily life. In the text, we find the Pharisees and Scribes attacking the disciples of Jesus, and indirectly Jesus as well, for not following this ritual of hand-washing. Jesus, though challenges them, does not disregard purity completely, but rather reforms it in favor of other core values. Drawing upon this background, I would like to bring out three points. My first point:
  1. Purity as a tool for Alienation and Control
The Jewish ritual purity has a deep theology to it altogether. The rituals and religious observance, grounded in the Jewish law was done in order to show gratitude to God and to provide a sense of Jewish identity. Bringing sacredness into everyday lives through purity rituals, was an attempt to get as close as possible to God. This clearly informs us that ritual purity for the Jews was an important aspect of intimacy with God, self and also with the community. However, when we look at the event in the text the question then arises, why was Jesus taking the side of the disciples when they quite clearly violated the ritual law? Jesus could’ve probably just asked the disciples to go and wash their hands. Simple, right? But strange enough as Jesus’ actions always are, he questions their understanding of purity and exposes their hypocrisy. In v. 2 the word used by the Pharisees is ‘defiled’, which in Greek is koinais, meaning ‘profane’. This in some way implies that even if the disciples had washed their hands, they would still remain defiled as they were believed to be defiled by default, because of their social location. The desire to extent priestly holiness to all aspects of life created a barrier between the Pharisees and the Scribes and the so – called outsiders. It gave them the power to establish and control people’s social identity, social classifications, and social boundaries. The Pharisees and the rich Jews administered the purity system as it gave them control over the common people, the economy, and the Temple. Therefore, the Pharisees and Scribes became fearful that the disciples would end up defiling them and also became momentarily powerless when the disciples, perhaps unintentionally, transgressed that particular purity ritual to directly challenge the authority and supremacy of the Pharisees and Scribes.
This system of purity and defilement is very much evident in our contexts today as well. We see that the purity code has crept into our society in various forms and has somehow become an accepted norm by people. Let’s take a look at a few of them. First, on the issue of marriage. The community which I come from, Chang Naga, has four major clans under which all the Chang people are constituted. Marriage within the same clan, though from the same tribe, is strictly prohibited as people from the same clan are considered as brothers and sisters. And so marriage within the same clan will make the couple and eventually their off – springs, impure and cursed. Secondly, on the issue of moral policing. Here we try to thrust morality upon people whom we think are not living or behaving according to our prescribed and fixed morals. What becomes worse is our own projection of self – righteousness, and because of this, we condemn and alienate others as ‘sinners’, ‘outcastes’, ‘deviants’, ‘corrupt’, etc. Third and finally, the biased acceptance of heteronormativity, whereby a superior feeling, “I am straight, therefore I am pure” condemns the LGBTQ communities as being defiled and sinful. All these issues and many more have so many aspects within it, but one underlying factor is the purity concept, which has been detrimental to so many people. Hasn’t purity, then, being a tool of control accounted for alienation?
  1. Inner Purity over Ritual Purity
In v. 21 Jesus goes on to say that it is from the heart that evil intentions come. Why would Jesus say this, if for the Jews the observance of ritual purity was primarily external? It is because the whole idea of ritual purity should have been a matter of intentionality, which unfortunately wasn’t to be. And so Jesus pointed out to the defilement of the heart as he noticed the evil intentions of the Pharisees and the Scribes. Jesus raised a more fundamental issue of purity, which went far beyond the limited question of hand-washing. Jesus once and for all underlined the truth that defilement or impurity does not lie in a person’s external body, social location, economic status, faith community, clan, caste, color, gender, or sexual orientation. For Jesus, their understanding of purity was quite simply a social construct.
How different is the context today? I’m pretty sure there isn’t much. I believe we become defiled when we speak ill of others, deny rights and opportunities to the needy, lurk in darkness hoping to find something worthy of gossip, masterfully craft environments where people whom we are jealous of are bound to fail or lose ground, abuse and slander those who are weaker than us, eye – rape women, take what rightfully belongs to someone else, and the list can only go on and on. By portraying ourselves as the righteous ones, we look down on people whom we think are weaker or poorer than us. What then is our accountability? Where then is our authenticity? We can go on performing rituals and take sacraments after sacraments. But then what about the cleansing of our heart and the intentions that it holds? Jesus clearly gave primacy to inner purity over ritual purity, and in doing so called for radical discipleship i.e., to transgress societal structures that perpetuate oppression and prejudice. This is why I believe the Church of today must encourage and practice inter-caste and inter-cultural marriages; refrain from engaging in moral policing and moralizing sexuality; and transgress human-made barriers and affirm core human values. In doing this the Church would negate external and destructive elements of purity. 
  1. Transgressive action as a means of Reforming Purity
Jesus, in exposing the hypocrisy of the Pharisees and the Scribes and in bringing out the importance of inner purity, in a way reformed purity from its impure political elements. One of the powerful transgressive act that we can perform is the act of embrace. When I speak of embrace, I not only refer to it in the literal and physical sense but also intend to mean accepting, welcoming and affirming transgressive acts. To affirm such acts is to embrace the agents of such acts. Jesus in affirming the rebellious and subversive act of the disciples embraced the disciples. He also embraced those that were considered impure by the society: the tax collector, the prostitute, the poor, and the leper. By virtue of the act of embrace, Jesus became a transgressor. His intentions, actions, and words were a strong critique and protest against the prevailing unjust purity system.
We all need to be able to redeem purity, and it is in performing the transgressive act of embrace, we do so. However, if we harbor evil against each other and if we welcome the privileges that we get from the dominant forces around, we become defiled. And if you and I can become defiled by that, then there is also a possibility for us to become sacred by resisting those forces and embracing its victims. It is imperative that we draw ourselves to ‘grow into’ the lives of those whom we have wronged. This brings about a redeeming participation, both for us and for those who have been victimized; because it redeems both the giver and the receiver of the embrace. And there are times, when we must be open enough just to receive it.

May we like Jesus and the disciples become active engineers of transgressive action breaking every wall that sets one against the other. Jesus endeavored to create a counter-cultural community and his attack on the oppressive purity system and his embrace of the transgressive act of the disciples, I believe has enough potential to inspire us to do the same. To envision a New Heaven and New Earth is in becoming a transgressor. The question is “are we willing to become one”?

Senior Sermon - Samson Praisy, BD IV

Incarnated Christ in the pluralistic world
My understanding about Christian ministry especially pastoral ministry during my first year was preaching the gospel of Christ to everyone and helping the people of God to grow in Christ and whoever wants to follow Christ, give baptism and convert them into Christianity. When we were introduced the concept of religious pluralism in the theological methodology class, I was totally disturbed. The concept of pluralism is to acknowledge the existence and presence of truth in every religion without demeaning each other. It says every religion keeps God as centre and considers religions as way of life and every religion leads to God or the Divine. It is as simple as that, get into any religion, you will reach God. This concept indeed has led me to raise several questions, don’t we have to turn people of different faith towards Christ? Are we not called to proclaim about Jesus to everyone? If their religion is enough for everyone then what is the necessity of Christ incarnation? Scholars even gave answers for these. They say, if you want to proclaim about Christ, go ahead and talk about the historical Jesus, his life and his teachings but never go with the intention of converting them. If they are willing to follow Christ give baptism or do all that is necessary to take them in. Some of the convincing statements which the theologians make are you as a Christian follow Christ and be faithful to Him, similarly let others follow their gods and be faithful to them. Liberation theologians would say that the reason for Christ’s incarnation is there was injustice in the society, Christ came and lived for the cause of justice for the marginalized.
But none could convince me. If that is the only reason, it is not necessary for the death and resurrection; it could have been like ten avatars of Vishnu in Hinduism, because those were happened for the establishment of Justice in the unjust world. I felt, there is something more which God wanted to address through Jesus to the people of the earth. The passage which was read to us gave me an insight to understand about God and the purpose of incarnation of Christ. This passage is the speech of Paul in Athens during his second missionary journey. Paul here addressing to the Greek philosophers and they are the people of different faith. This passage is neither an aggressive talk which calls the Greek to convert and be baptized into Christianity nor it is a passive talk of diluting the work of God in Jesus Christ saying you worship what you like but let me just say about Jesus Christ of Nazareth. He was offering Christ to them with the bold hypotheses.
On considering the verse 22, Paul began his speech by giving a positive note to them saying ‘I perceive that in all aspect you are extremely religious’. For the word deisidaimon both positive and negative notion can be considered whereas in this passage, Paul uses it as a positive notion rather to condemn their piety by saying they are superstitious. In verse 23 Paul says that he was carefully looking at their objects of worship and he found an inscription on the Altar which says ‘to the unknown God’. Some scholars feel that Greeks did not want to miss anything to be worshiped, so erected one altar for the unknown God so that whichever God they unknowingly forgot to worship will be covered by worshipping the unknown God. However, here Paul took this opportunity to unveil the unknown God and expose Christ to them. Therefore, in this verse he reiterated about the unknown God which he was proclaiming, in fact this word of Paul surely might have caught the attention of the Greek listeners because here is a man who is unveiling the truth of the unknown God.
Today as I contemplate on this verse I also would like to pose a question to all of us, are we bold enough like Paul to talk about the God they worship in other religion. Are we in a position to say to Muslims “Allah whom you worship is the same God I am proclaiming to you. Allah is nothing but God in Arabic. Can we say to Hindus the Brahma you worship is the same I am proclaiming to you Brahma is nothing but a creator. We cannot say like this because we are Christians and they are from other religion.  Therefore it is clear that religion acts as a barrier.
Paul doesn’t say whatever they worship is God, in verse 24 Paul exposed the idea of the unknown God who was there since the creation. He says that God is the creator of heaven and earth and all that is in it. Paul continues to exalt God by saying that one who makes world and everything in it is clearly far too great to be in confined in temples that humans build. In verse 25 he further says God is the one who gives life and everything else for human beings and how can such a great God be reduced to lifeless idol. Through this he conveys that what you worship doesn’t glorify God but it puts him down. In verse 26 he says through one man God made all the people and he made them to live all over the earth. In verse 27 and 28 Paul says the God who sets people all over the world wanted him to be searched and to be found. It would not be a justice from the side of God if he doesn’t help the people to find. But In the same verse it says God was indeed not far from us. What does Paul mean by this?? Did they find God?  Yes they found that there is God the supreme power because people in the earlier times seeing all the creation definitely would have thought there would be someone behind this creation as Rom 1:20 says through the visible creation we can find the invisible attributes of God. God would have been happy that his people have found him and after a while disappointment would have started to occupy God. Because, though they found there is God it was exactly like the story of blind folded men and elephant. When they were allowed to touch the elephant and say what it is, one touched the leg and said it is a pillar, one touched the trunk and said it is a tree, one touched the tail and said it is the rope but no one found that it is an elephant. Similarly some found that God is the one who has no limit and who has no end. So they worshipped all that has no limit and end like fire, Water, Light etc. Some found that God is the image of human so they made idols in the image of humans and worshipped. Some found that God is powerful so they made idols of animals whichever is powerful in their eyes. Though they found the different attributes of God they could not find who God exactly is. Because concentrating only on the particular attribute doesn’t make what God really is. Each one with their understanding started to look God differently and made God as a superior Image as Holy, Powerful, and Sovereign and there by created a gap between God and humans. Of Course each one can understand God with their own understanding but is it not necessary to know what actually God is? Therefore God takes an initiative to reveal Himself.
Till these verses, Paul’s viewed picture of God to the listeners as Pluralistic. When they worshiped idols or the creation, God was patient enough but in verse 30 and 31 says God overlooked at the time of human ignorance. God in order to reveal who God really is, to his people God incarnated and became flesh and dwelt among the creation. Though God is Holy, Powerful and sovereign, Jesus revealed Godself in every aspect of Life and finally died on the cross to show that God is love and love is all that is in God. Death was the option because that is the way people can understand what love is by giving up the life for us. Through this the division between God and human is broken, there is no longer God and human relationship as master and slave rather parent and children relationship was established. So in verse 28 Paul quotes one of the Greek poets who said ‘for we are his offspring’. Through incarnation of Christ, God reveals and says, ‘I see you as my own Children and so you look at me as your parent. I see you as my friend, you also see me as your friend. I see you as my own brother and sister and you see me as the same. But don’t see me as an enemy or the master that I always have something against you to destroy you instead I love you’. Therefore the incarnation of Christ has much broader understanding. If such a love is expressed through Christ why is there still a problem in proclaiming Christ?

The main reason for the construction of Religious pluralism is for the religious harmony. We couldn’t understand the revelation of God in other religion because of the religious boundary. Even the revelation of God in Jesus Christ is also not proclaimed boldly to the people of other faith because of the religious boundary. Do we really need such religion to hold on? Christ revealed God for the people of all the earth. Even Apostles and missionaries were martyrs for the sake of Jesus Christ. We need to understand early Apostles did not strive for the religious movements or for the separate religion from Judaism. All that they strived for is to be a witness of Christ and to proclaim Christ for all the people of the earth. They did not want to convert people in to their religion nor did they just show the greatness of their religion, in fact they didn’t have a religion. Only the followers started to call themselves as Christians and later it has become a closed religion. God dint want to reveal himself only in Christianity. It is the human construct which limited the Incarnated Christ within the boundary of Christianity and created the image that He is the God of Christians. So even if someone wanted to follow Christ they have to cross their boundary and come into the boundary of Christianity. God is not a fool to reveal himself only to a particular community and command the entire world to be converted in to that community and follow God. It is us who constructed the religion and limited the works of God. Time has come for us to acknowledge the presence of Christ in other religion and it is our duty to unveil the hidden Christ as have rightly pointed out the Raymond Panikkar. Even religious pluralism tries to bring every religion in unity, but what ultimately happens is it strengthens the religion and dilutes the work of God. Since Christians own Jesus Christ, we have to liberate Christ out of Christianity so that every nation shall know that he is the revelation of God.  As a called out community, ministers of God, are we not responsible to learn and to share the mighty work of God which he has done through Jesus Christ? Are we not supposed to proclaim Christ who is the revelation of God? Are we not supposed to search the works of God in other faiths? Let us be the children of God by proclaiming his work through Christ and not as a religious Christian. God has done a mighty work through Jesus Christ, are we not as a called out community have a responsibility to share with our neighbours? Of course it is a challenging task to come out of religious boundary and proclaim the works of God let us take an initiative to cast out religious boundary and be united as one with Christ in God. Let God grant us power and wisdom to take forward God’s mission. Amen

Senior Sermon - Philemon Koshy, BD IV

Holy to be (Un)Holy: Celebrating Holiness in its fullness
Passage: St. Mark 1:40-45
Prayer: Dear God, Speak to us so that we may learn through your word, which is your Son himself. Help us to learn from the word and to live accordingly. In Jesus’ most holy name we pray, Amen
“We don’t need to refer any online or printed materials to know about Mother Teresa. She dedicated her life, to live and work among the alienated people on the streets of Calcutta. Once a journalist commented her that she cannot kiss the face of a person with leprosy even for 1000 pounds. Mother’s   reply was amazing. She replied, even I won’t kiss the face of a person with leprosy for 1000 pounds, but when I see a man with leprosy, I see Jesus in him. When I nurse him, I feel like nursing Jesus himself. Isn’t that a beautiful experience?
The Passage that we read now, is very familiar to us. Jesus healing a man with leprosy. We all are well aware about the social settings of the Israel community. They live with a complicated chain of laws concerning purity and pollution, rather clean and unclean, holy and unholy. They have clear instructions regarding everything about what is holy and what is not. What is touchable or consumable and what is not. They were very much particular to observe these laws and to abide by it. It is called Purity map which keeps everyone in a particular position of the society attributing to their holiness status.
In this passage, we can see a man with leprosy. Some say it is not leprosy but it is some other skin disease. Whatever it would have been, it was considered as unholy and unclean in the society because otherwise he would not have told Jesus, if you choose, you can make me clean. For the same reason, we can assume, how much risk this person had taken to be in the presence of Jesus when Jesus was in the crowd. Many people could have found him and could have stoned him. Many could have tried to chase him out of the city or to kill him. But Jesus shows a different understanding about Holiness. Even though he was well aware with the societal norms and rules, through this incident he goes against it. He here restructures the concept of holiness and purity.
I.                   Not Ostracism but Acceptance is holiness:

We can see the pathetic state of the life of a person with leprosy. He was alienated in the society and didn’t have any acceptance in family or in social circle. It is very much visible in the gesture of the person. He bowed down with his face to the ground (Luke 5:12), which shows the utmost pathetic condition. . But the societal stigma and alienation (perhaps more than his sickness) put him into such state. So we can see a uniqueness in Markan gospel when it describes Jesus’ feeling. It is written that, ‘Jesus moved with pity’. There is a contradiction among two words here. In Greek Bible, the word σπλαγχνισθείς is used to tell that Jesus is moved with pity. But its nuance is not as mild as it is in English. It is a very strong word. It literally means the bowels gushed out, as in Acts 1:18. It was that kind of pain Jesus suffered when he saw this person. Even though, this word is accepted because of its geographical distribution, there is still another word, used which is more strong. That is ὀργῆς, which means “anger”. Even in NRSV Bible, as a footnote, this word is given to replace the word ‘pity’. Jesus was not obviously angry at the person, but rather at the society which was responsible for this person’s present condition and ostracism. Rather he is getting angry at the system or the rules of holy and unholy which pushed the man into the margin.
But Jesus here is trying to redefine holiness. In Hebrew, the root word for Holiness is קָּדַשׁ  which means to set apart. In Greek also, the root word for holiness is ἅγιος which again means set apart for God. And most of the time, we also use these words in such a sense. We consider our Church Holy because it is set apart for God. But by the very act of calling something ‘Holy’ because it is set apart, we are creating a boundary. We are creating a line of distinction or a boundary to divide things as Holy and Unholy. When we call something “holy” we are labelling others as “unholy”. The old concept of Holiness was so fragile, as it needed to protect itself from unholy matters, or else holy will become unholy. It is clearly said in the book of Prophet Haggai Chapter 2: 12 and 13. If a holy vestment touches an unholy matter, then the vestment becomes unholy instead of turning the unholy to holy. But Jesus’ style of doing it was a bit different. Actually by touching the man, Jesus should have become unholy. So touching him was a challenge to the society. He might have looked around and might have challenged them silently, “look, I am touching a man with leprosy, does anybody dare here to call me unclean?” No one could call Jesus there “Unclean” because, the unholy became Holy there instead of Jesus being polluted.Jesus who is set apart or who is Holy, is making others also Holy or bringing it into the circle of “setting apart” and making the boundary irrelevant as there will be no one left outside the boundary. He did it by extending the hand of fellowship and acceptance to the people, not by isolating or ostracising them. In this context, Jesus didn’t simply say to the man “Be clean”. But he stretched out his hands and touched that person. And Jesus was bringing him back to the fellowship of the society. And was proclaiming he is meant to be in the fellowship or acceptance of the society and not to be ostracised.

II.                Inner Personal Healing to the Social Healing:
As we have discussed, not just the physical healing took place here, but rather he was healing his wounded psyche, or healing the inner being of the person. He was so crushed internally, because, he suffered such great marginalization, and no one was with him. According to the Israelite rule, as soon as he is found as unclean, his robe should be torn and should have an uncovered head and also should make others aware about his presence calling himself “unholy, unholy”. (Lev. 13:45). He should stay outside the city or the society and as far as he is not cured, he should live outside and must not come to the city. The psychological trauma that the person is suffering is even beyond imagination. It was not actually the sickness which made the man unholy rather, it was the system that made the man unholy. Or else, he would have been accepted in the society as soon as Jesus said “I do choose, be clean” and there was no need for Jesus to tell him to go and show to priest himself to be accepted in the society.  So the first priority for Jesus was to bring him into the level of self-actualization. That is why Jesus is telling him to go to the Priest to show himself. It was the prime focus of Jesus.
But the greater healing here happened not to that person, but to that community. Through touching one person who is unholy, through being unholy in the sight of the society, Jesus is teaching the society that, the real unholiness lies with not the man but with the society. There happened an incident in one of the Churches in Central Travancore, in the times of CMS missionaries. One day, CMS missionaries brought some People from Dalit background to an Anglican Church. When the so called “main religious upper caste Christians” saw them at the backside of the Church. They wanted to move out of the Church. But they couldn’t approach the back door, because people from “lower caste” was standing there. So they jumped out of the window and got out of the Church. That is why when Jesus sent the disciples to the people he said to them, “As you go, proclaim the good news, ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near’ Cure the sick, raise the dead, and cleanse the lepers….” Jesus didn’t include leprosy in sickness because it has a larger context and meaning in the societal level. Jesus was also healing the society and teaching them that the Holiness lies not in ostracism but rather in acceptance and fellowship.
III.             Relationship and Reconciliation: Space to Celebrate the Holiness
Jesus actually not only healed the person, but also restored all his relationships. Till that time, his relationship with his family, his friends, and all dear and near ones was broken because of his unholiness. But here when Jesus dared to make himself unholy in the eyes of others, he restored all the relationships back to him. Also he is making the society to reconcile with the person. It is very interesting to read the story of prodigal son here. In the gospel of Luke 15:30 we read, the elder son tells to the Father there, “But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured your property with the prostitute, you killed the fatted calf.” Here the words which are used are very important. He is referring his brother as “this son of yours”. That means he is telling to his Father that, O Father this man is your son and O Father you are his father. But he is not ready to accept him as his brother. So what is the relationship with him to his father. When he was not ready to accept his brother as his brother, or rather when he considered his brother as an unholy man, he lost his relationship with his father. So we can see in V. 28, “Then he became angry and refused to go in.” When he called his brother unholy, he couldn’t enter into the house. Nobody forced him to go out, but he himself couldn’t get into the holiness of the Father. That is why Our Lord has taught us to pray as “Our Father in Heaven…”. It is not my Father, but it is our father. My relationship with my God is based and depends upon my relation with my brother and sister. The moment I call them unholy, I am out of God’s holiness. Until and unless I reconcile with the people who is now in the lower section of the society, which we consider as unholy, we cannot be in God’s Holiness. Another example can be taken from the Gospel of Luke 9 verse 51 onwards. When Jesus was about to pass through Samaria, the people didn’t let him go, because he was heading towards Jerusalem. Here also we can see how they couldn’t accept the same Jesus, whom once they accepted as Messiah, only because they lost their relation with their fellow beings. Without being concerned about our fellow beings, I cannot stay holy on my own. During the days of last lent, Pope Francis urged all the believers to abstain from the “globalization of indifference.” When we do not care for our brothers, sisters, and all other communities of God, we lose our relationship with God. Same thing we can see in the Gospel According to Matthew chapter 25. In the picture of last judgment, Christ is blaming them for not doing the things which they ought to do to their fellow beings. Only when we show or have the empathetic feeling of Jesus towards others, only when we can make ourselves unclean in the sight of the world for others, we can call ourselves holy. That is why Pope Francis titled his book as “The Name of the God is Mercy.” Until and unless we be one with our siblings, we cannot be holy in the sight of God. So Jesus said, in Matthew 5:23, 24 “So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift.” It is more important to reconcile, than to sacrifice. So when anyone from a Dalit background gets marginalized, I lose my relationship with my God. When a woman is downgraded I lose my relationship with God. When any one from LGBTIQ is looked down, my holiness is lost. When anyone anywhere is being made the victim of the societal perspective of Holiness, its me who loses my holiness and relationship with my God. Until and unless I reconcile with them, I cannot get inside the house. 

So it is a question, how do we celebrate our holiness? How do we think we keep it? Is it by making ourselves unholy? Or keeping others unholy?
It is easy to keep others far from us, to preserve our holiness. But is it really the holiness of our Lord?
It might be giving an over importance to the Church, but still, can we really place the Church in the shoes of Jesus? When anyone comes to us and say, if you choose, you can cleanse me, what is the response of the Church? Is our Church available for them? Does the Church choose? Will the Church look around with sympathy and anger? Is the Church ready to stretch out the hands and touch the one with leprosy? The Church also should come out of its structure which is dominant in nature. If we come to a more personal level, could we individually accept such people? It is a difficult question for me. But let this question disturb us and let us be hurt by each act of making others unholy. Let us grow to that perfectness of Jesus together.

Come, Let us make ourselves unholy to celebrate the holiness in its fullness.

Senior Sermon - Kenny Manoj Kumar, BD IV

Sermon: Forget Not, To Forget                                                        Text: Philippians 3: 12-16
Remember, Remember. Can we remember everything and every moment in our lives? Have we ever thought how our memory works? How does our thoughts fight with each other?
Here in the read text, Paul says ‘to forget what lies behind’. Let’s ponder over it, Have we ever tried to do, what Paul has said. Are we straining ourselves forward towards the Goal for which God has called us for?

Let’s analyse the pericope, Paul notes that, because Christ have already laid hold of him, he strives with the single-minded devotion of an athlete to lay hold of the prize to which, God has called him, namely the immediate and unbroken fellowship with God in Christ, which might term the resurrection of life. Few scholars agree that this passage is understood as both accomplished fact and an ongoing process. As Hendriksen and Kent would say, believers could put their past behind them. For Paul this included his former life as a Jewish zealot and all his success went up to that point. In all likelihood, the apostle was thinking about his former life, since he had earlier described his attainments as a pious Jew. Despite all his outward success and dedication to the Mosaic Law, he had failed to acquire God’s favour or personal righteousness. He did not want to recall his former achievements with the intention of, noting how they had contributed to his spiritual progress. Nor did the apostle wanted to dwell on his past sins, for God no longer held these sins against him.
1.      Forget not, to forget our dreadful past
Have we seen to ourselves that, did we forgive ourselves? Does the situations and events in our past bother us? Paul says ‘forget what lies behind’. Every person under this roof wants to forget something or the other, if you would agree it or not. Every person has a past and past does not only have good but the bad and the worse things that have occurred. We hardly remember the good things from our past, but we strongly remember the bad things for sure. For example, in the case of people who commit Suicide, the major things that brings them to consider suicide is that, they cannot forget their sins or the wrongs that has happened or the events that has occurred in their life. It is on that situation that has occurred and they would not forget it. And in this sense that haunts them in every step of their life to go and consider suicide as an option. Forgetting is the major issue that our lives and our minds wants. See the Alcoholics, why they want to drink and doze to the extent that they would not be in conscious. Because they want to forget, they want to forget who they are, they want to forget the events that has brought them to the situation that they are in. First, we need to forgive ourselves, which we see that Christ forgives our sins to its totality and God would not remember it. In Hebrews 8:12, it is said that, ‘for I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more’. When God said he will not remember our sins and forgets them then who are we to hold them back to ourselves. It is the new covenant in Hebrews that God set us free from our sins. ‘Let go’ of the past is the key feature of this new covenant. It is, the ‘Sense of sin’ that remains in our minds, a ‘self-loved’ mind that we tend to remain in it. But we need to see how God deals with the Sins that we have committed in our past. Let’s have God Consciousness instead of sin consciousness which holds to the sins we commit. It is this guilt in our minds which makes to see down on ourselves.
Of course yesterday’s accomplishments and yesterday’s sins were important then, and continue to resonate in our lives even today. However the person who spends too much time polishing yesterday’s trophies isn’t likely to win another trophy today or tomorrow. The person who is wallowing in yesterday’s guilt isn’t likely to have energy to meet today’s challenge or to grasp tomorrow’s opportunities. We must be careful lest we allow our past to overwhelm our present and to sabotage our future.
2.      Forget not, to forget other’s dreadful acts 
‘I will forgive you, but I will never forget what you have done for me’. How many of us said this sentence in our minds? Do we really forgive people with a true heart? If we would have forgiven them we would not said this sentence. We hold grudge, vengeance towards them, seeking an opportunity to hurt them and show them what they did to us. For instance, husband and wife would have fought and abused each other at point of time. But as years passed by they would not have forgotten the situation, and each time they argue and fight they bring back the past events that have happened. Do we call this as forgiveness? And consider the harsh arguments that happen between the mature siblings. These siblings would have got married and would be living luxuriously but they will not even speak with each other even as decades pass by. Is this a forgiving nature that God has commanded? Doctrinally speaking, Forgiveness should be in a method of reconciliation in dual relationships. It analyses the methodology and application of forgiveness with an end result of reconciliation. John Webster says that, reconciliation has emerged as a topic among moral theorists who discuss the ethical issues that arise in the aftermath of everyday forms of wrongdoing, such as transgressions within friendships or family relationships. The ethics of reconciliation says, that it requires a ‘repairing of relationships’ with the sense of reconciliation. For him, the ethics of reconciliation centres on the idea of ‘good human action’. Forgiveness is not only a form of freedom and purification; it is also associated with the idea of forgetting.
We have witnessed recently a person in Delhi, killing a woman just because she didn’t love him back. He was in a vengeful act to an extant of stabbing her almost 25 times. And in the case of acid attacks, we see it’s the act filled with revenge towards the other person by a love failure one. People see it very hard to forget the person whom he/she loved, instead they try to hurt, wound and go to the extent of killing. The real love doesn’t cause evil for others. God revealed his love through Jesus Christ by forgiving our wrong doings and forgetting our sins. Through this God reconciled us so that there would be perfect love between God and us. God’s love wouldn’t be true if he had not forgotten our sins. Forgiveness is incomplete without forgetting. In a same way we should forget others dreadfulness towards us, only then there would be perfect reconciliation and perfect love.
In Conclusion
Is it easy to forget? Is it a command from God to forget? Or is it the inbuilt quality to forget? It is with ‘implicit memory’ in our brains which tells us, how to walk, how to talk and mostly things happen automatically at non-conscious level. With ‘explicit memory’ which deals with the facts and experiences that one can consciously know and declare, in which it requires conscious and effortful work. When remembering an event you need to take notice of the details which stores in sensory memory then retrieve constantly with Short term memory and then retrieve constantly with long term memory. While retrieving from time to time much of work is required and a lot of things go wrong in detailing.

We would have come across times like, Ah! It’s on my tip of the tongue and I can’t remember at all. This will happen because of three things, failing to encode the memory, failing to retrieve and the third, experiencing storage decay. The basic factor for forgetting a moment is that we don’t notice and fail to encode it, thus we don’t remember. Psychologists say that even the memories that have encoded are vulnerable to storage decay or natural forgetting over time. A lot of times forgetting doesn’t mean that our memory has faded to black but it’s because of the retrieval failure. This is called as passive forgetting and it isn’t something you can control it. But it turns out the same process which can be done for active ways to forget things. Researches have done quite an amount of experiments on ‘think no-think paradigm’. It’s on the idea of, repeatedly stopping yourself from thinking about a memory one should eventually forget it. The results of these scientific experiments have proved to an extent that things can be forgotten. So avoiding retrieving often enough, eventually you will forget it. As understood that forgetting is a natural process, but we try to remember again and again that dreadful past which is unnatural. This is what the retrieving process need much work in recollecting the memory. So you don’t recollect or retrieve that past event which has hurt you. Of course we need to remember the good of the past but retrieving of our dreadful past does no better thing in us. Thus let us forget what we need to forget about ourselves and others and try to relate with each other in true nature of forgiving and forgetting where we can have a true relationships with each other. Let us understand the real meaning of ‘forget what lies behind’. May God help us to tune our brains and be good to ourselves and to others. Amen.