Malankara World

Sermons Based on the Lectionary of the Syrian Orthodox Church

Koodosh Eatho - Sermon / Homily on St. Matthew 16:13-23

Devotional Thoughts for Koodosh Eetho (Sanctification)

by Dn. Sujit T. Thomas

Koodhosh Eetho (Sanctification of Church) Sunday marks the beginning of the Church Calendar.

Scripture: St. Matthew 16:13-23

At times the questions posed by Jesus are as important as his answers. Near the city of Caesarea Philippi, Jesus questioned his disciples about popular opinion concerning the Son of Man. The disciples responded by citing what his contemporaries said about Jesus. Jesus quickly shifts the question directly to the disciples and probes their faith. He asks them, “But what about you?’ he asked. ‘Who do you say I am?” (St. Matthew 16:15)

The waves created by this question have rippled throughout the last two thousand years in every place on earth. It is a question posed to everyone – to the believer and to the unbeliever alike.

Standing under the shadows of the Roman Empire, near the capital of Herod Philip’s territory, Jesus asks his disciples the pivotal question. This city had also become the most pagan area in Palestine and was famous for its worship site which had a rock cliff.

We too must confess with St. Peter that Jesus is the “Messiah, the Son of the Living God.” This confession is a declaration of who Jesus is. One dangerous trend in modern religious conversations is to see Christ simply as one among many. But this is not how St. Peter responds to Jesus’ question. He identifies Jesus as the awaited Messiah, the anointed one. Later, when brought before the Jewish council St. Peter declared about Jesus : “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

Seeing Christ as one among many is a modern day relativism. It is proclaimed under the guise of political correctness and tolerance. However it is not intolerant to believe in the uniqueness of Christ. It is the fundamental truth of the Christian faith. Believing in this truth enables us to love our neighbor, believer and unbeliever alike. We are able to enter into a conversation with people of other faiths only by standing firm on our own faith.

Believing in the uniqueness of Christ might be scandalous for the modern mind. Here we must be unrelenting in our confession. “But we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. (1 Corinthians 1:23-24).

Confessing that Jesus is the Son of God is not a matter of the tongue alone. This confession comes from the depth of a person. This confession comes from the divine within us. “God abides in those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God, and they abide in God (1 John 4:15).”

It is upon this divinely inspired confession that the Church is built. This apostolic confession is the “rock” upon which the Church is built. We should remember that the building up of the church is continuing (Ephesians 4:12). At times this building will need some repairs. It is said about Francis of Assisi that Jesus appeared to him in a vision and asked him to “repair my church.” Initially Francis took this quite literally and spent part of his family wealth to restore several churches.

As a new liturgical year begins let us attempt to answer the question that Christ poses to us – “Who do you say that I am?” We will realize that the answer we give will radically change our lives.

See Also:

Sermons and Bible Commentaries for the Koodosh Eatho Sunday

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