Malankara World Journal - Christian Spirituality from an Orthodox Perspective
Malankara World Journal

Jesus Appears to Disciples and Thomas

Volume 3 No. 137 April 11, 2013

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Jesus appears to Thomas after Resurrection
My Lord and My God

Jesus Appears to St. (Doubting) Thomas after the Resurrection

TABLE OF CONTENTS
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Foreword: "Thomas"

It is interesting that the story that gives Thomas his infamous nickname, is the same story that has Thomas making an earth shattering confession of faith. Look at his confession, "My Lord, and my God." Not teacher. Not Lord. Not Messiah. But God! It is the only place where Jesus is called God without qualification of any kind. It is uttered with conviction.

Bible Readings for This Sunday (Apr 14)

First Sunday after New Sunday

http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/Library/Lectionary/Lec_1st-sun-after-new-sunday.htm

Sermons for This Sunday (Apr 14)

Sermons for the First Sunday After New Sunday

http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/Library/Sermons/Sermon-of-the-week_1st-sunday-after-new-sunday.htm

Prayer

Featured: Easter: Post Partum

Can Easter change your daily life? I believe it can. Let's look at a few Bible characters we can emulate. Thomas, the skeptic, wanted proof: rock-solid evidence. Jesus, in His compassion, gave him just that. ...

The Presence of Our Lord Jesus Christ - A Biblical Reflection

In the new age of resurrection the Lord Jesus Christ is now to be found in the mission of the Church which has the power of God's Spirit to proclaim the Kingdom, to cast out evil and to heal the broken-hearted. In the quietness of personal prayer, the believer discovers that the Lord is present within the privacy of one's own heart. The believer "has life through His name" (Jn 20:31). ...

Believing Without Seeing vs. Come And See - Reflection

Like Thomas, Christ calls us to fill the holes left by the instruments of the passion in His Body with our own hands so that our lives and the verbal witness that we give proclaim His Resurrection. Our senses could betray us, but we know that we have met the Risen One and we have recognized Him! ...

Believe In Order to See

For Thomas, seeing was believing. For us, however, the opposite is true - believing is seeing. Barring those saints who have been gifted with ecclesiastically approved apparitions, none of us have seen Jesus in a physically recognizable form. ..

Peace be with you

Peace of conscience is the most authentic form of happiness. It helps us to be strong in adversity; it upholds the nobility and freedom of the person, even in the direst situations; it remains our lifeline, that is to say our hope... when despair would have the upper hand... This matchless gift of interior peace is the Risen One's first gift: he immediately instituted ... the sacrament able to bestow this peace, the sacrament of forgiveness, that forgiveness which raises us up (Jn 20,23). ...

Breakthrough:  A Biblical Reflection on John 20:19-31

We need faith to persevere when we cannot see our goal or to be patient when we cannot see any results; we need faith to make decisions when we have little evidence to go on or to pray when we're not sure if anyone is listening, let alone speaking to us. ...

When You Are Beset with Worry and Fear: A New Pattern of Thought

The world's patterns of thought tell us our worth is measured by our weight or bank account, our job or spouse, by the number of our friends, or if we are able to have children. And if we do have children, the world tells us we're only good parents if our children behave 'just so.' ...

Health: Tips for Avoiding Infection

"Hospital-acquired infections are the most common complication of a hospital stay, affecting nearly 2 million Americans a year and killing nearly 100,000," according to the Centers for Disease Control. ...

Recipe: Agua Fresca

A quick healthy and refreshing drink for a summertime party!

A Lesson From Abraham Lincoln on Persuasion

The 16th U.S. President, Abraham Lincoln, was one of the best when it came to mastering the art of positive persuasion - what I often refer to as, Winning Without Intimidation. He knew how to make friends out of enemies, and keep conflict to a minimum. ...

Family Special: Preparing Your Teen for Challenges

Parents today contend not only with yesterday's worries -- drug abuse, bullying, teenage sex and delinquency - but new challenges. The digital age has introduced adult predators and other online hazards ...

Humor: Watch and You'll See

About Malankara World

Foreword: "Thomas"
If I were to mention the names of certain disciples to you and ask you to write down the first word that comes into your mind, it is unlikely you would come up with the same words. If I were to mention the name of Judas many of you would write down the word "betray" but not all of you. If I were to mention Simon Peter, some of you would write down the word "faith," but not all of you. If I were to mention the names of James and John, some of you would write down the phrase "Sons of Thunder," but not all of you. But when I mention the word Thomas, there is little question about the word most everyone would write down. It would be the word doubt. Indeed, so closely have we associated Thomas with this word, that we have coined a phrase to describe him: "Doubting Thomas."

You may be interested to know that in the first three gospels we are told absolutely nothing at all about Thomas. It is in John's Gospel that he emerges as a distinct personality, but even then there are only 155 words about him. There is not a lot about this disciple in the Bible but there is more than one description.

When Jesus turned his face toward Jerusalem the disciples thought that it would be certain death for all of them. Surprisingly, it was Thomas who said: Then let us go so that we may die with him. It was a courageous statement, yet we don't remember him for that. We also fail to point out that in this story of Thomas' doubt we have the one place in the all the Gospels where the Divinity of Christ is bluntly and unequivocally stated.

It is interesting, is it not, that the story that gives Thomas his infamous nickname, is the same story that has Thomas making an earth shattering confession of faith? Look at his confession, "My Lord, and my God." Not teacher. Not Lord. Not Messiah. But God! It is the only place where Jesus is called God without qualification of any kind. It is uttered with conviction as if Thomas was simply recognizing a fact, just as 2 + 2 = 4, and the sun is in the sky. You are my Lord and my God! These are certainly not the words of a doubter.

Source: Sermons.com

This Sunday in Church
Bible Readings for This Sunday (Apr 14)

Sermons for This Sunday (Apr 14)
This Week's Features

Prayer
God of everlasting mercy,
who in the very recurrence of the paschal feast
kindle the faith of the people you have made your own,
increase, we pray, the grace you have bestowed,
that all may grasp and rightly understand
in what font they have been washed,
by whose Spirit they have been reborn,
by whose Blood they have been redeemed.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
+Amen.
Featured: Easter: Post Partum

by Julie Barrier

Satin banners sagging. Lilies drooping. Extra chairs are stowed. Pastors tall and short, old and young, slump in an exhausted heap after leading a bazillion services during Holy Week. The large chocolate bunny I consumed after church has gone directly to my growing thighs. Easter is over.

Why do I describe the aftermath of Easter Sunday as a time of post partum depression? Wikipedia defines post partum depression as the letdown that occurs in women after they have carried a child. Symptoms include sadness, fatigue, crying episodes, anxiety, and irritability.

You may not experience ALL of these symptoms, but Easter is the joyful climax of the liturgical year. You can't top Jesus jumping out of the grave. The whole Bible leads up to that amazing, holy moment.

Jesus' disciples did not experience post-Easter letdown. You don't have to either.

The miraculous event catapulted ordinary people into dynamos exhibiting joy, boldness and supernatural power.

Can Easter change your daily life? I believe it can. Let's look at a few Bible characters we can emulate.

Thomas, the skeptic, wanted proof: rock-solid evidence. Jesus, in His compassion, gave him just that.

John tells us in his gospel:

26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!"27 Then he said to Thomas "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe."28 Thomas said to him, "My Lord and my God!" John 20:26-28. NIV

Jesus was no longer his teacher. Doubting Thomas became convinced that Christ was God Himself, His Lord and Master. Thomas preached the Gospel fearlessly and faithfully to the ends of the earth. Historians tell us that the old apostle was stabbed with a spear in 72 A.D. while in prayer on a hill in Mylapur, India.

You don't have to wonder about Jesus. Touch His nail-pierced hands and wounded side. His resurrection proves you can follow Him as your Lord and your God. His power becomes your power. Don't be a wimpy Christian anymore. Jesus is bigger than that. And so are you.

John, the beloved disciple, was purported to be Jesus' cousin by many historians. He probably remembered playing stickball with Jesus as a little boy. John probably visited Jesus' carpenter shop many times. He was the only disciple who watched Christ's brutal crucifixion and promised to care for Jesus' aging mother. John saw the gory blood. He grieved as he witnessed his cousin's last breath. But three days later, John was transformed by Christ's resurrection. No earthly miracles Christ had performed prepared him for this:

"Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulcher, and seeth the linen clothes lie,7 And the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself.8 Then went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepulcher, and he saw, and believed."
John 20:6-8. KJV

John was filled with wonder and awe at what He saw. Jesus' mangled corpse was wrapped in 75 pounds of spices. A linen napkin was placed over His face. Easter morning, the gigantic boulder was rolled down the hill. The sixteen cracker jack Roman Special Forces team was nowhere to be found. And to top it off, the bandages were not unrolled, they remained in the shape of the corpse. Jesus had dematerialized folded His head napkin, and laid it on the other side of the tomb.

John was filled with a sense of wonder. Every day, for the rest of his long life, John was in awe of His Master. Ninety-year-old John, imprisoned on the island of Patmos, was the one Jesus trusted to write Revelation-the heavenly vision that predicted the glories of heaven and the end of time.

We can live lives of wonder because of Christ's resurrection. Post-conversion, most Christians slug their way through daily living in apathy. The Bible is boring and the events of Jesus' life, death and resurrection seem like holy mythology. Nothing is fresh or new.

But have you ever taken a child to Disneyland? Their eyes are as big as saucers, and every mouse, princess and teacup seem magical and amazing! If we truly believe Jesus conquered death and the grave, we can live our lives with a sense of wonder. We can wake up every morning, just waiting to hear our Savior speak, looking for Him in creation and seeing Him in the lives of your Christian brothers and sisters. Don't let your Christian walk become mundane. Open your eyes and marvel at His work.

Finally, you don't have to experience post-partum depression after Easter because God is a God of second chances. Jesus cooked breakfast for Peter and restored him to ministry. Nobody messed up more than Peter. He denied Christ. He always said the wrong thing. And he picked up his nets and went back to the fishing business after Jesus died.

Jesus gently spoke to Pete as he chewed his trout sandwich.

2 Jesus said to them "Come and have breakfast. "None of the disciples dared ask him, "Who are you?" They knew it was the Lord.13 Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. 14 This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.15 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."16 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." 17 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." John 21:12-17 NIV

The four words in Greek for "love" are different: eros, storge, phileo, and agape. The first "love" implies agape, Divine love. Peter's response meant phileo "like you a lot." So Jesus said, "Peter, do you love me with Divine love?" Peter replied, "Lord, you know I like you a lot…" Jesus repeated His question to Peter. "Peter, do you love me with Divine love?" Again Peter answered, "Yes, Lord, You know that I really like you a lot." Jesus pushed Peter further. "Peter, do you even like me a lot?" "Yes, Lord, you know that I like you a lot." "Then feed my sheep."

Peter loved Jesus imperfectly. Jesus assured Him it didn't matter. He called Him to do the most important task in the world. Peter took on Christ's mantle, the mantle of a shepherd. The flawed, bumbling apostle became the rock Jesus knew he could be. Peter preached at Pentecost, and pastored the church in Jerusalem. He even shared in Christ's crucifixion. In 34 A.D., Peter died in Rome, choosing to be crucified upside down because he felt unworthy to be executed in the same manner as his Master.

So how can Jesus' resurrection change you? You now have hope. Jesus doesn't care about your past failures or your stupid words. You may have denied Him. You may be on God's plan "Z" for your life. You can begin again, and Jesus can infuse your life with unbelievable resurrection power. You can change the world. Yes, you!

So lay aside your doubts and failures. See the wonder of the Divine every day. Embrace the hope that He offers you. He is risen indeed!

Source: Live It devotional

The Presence of Our Lord Jesus Christ - A Biblical Reflection
Gospel Reading: John 20:19-31

The Scripture Text

On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, "Peace be with you." When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you." And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any they are retained."

Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord." But He said to them, "Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and place my finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in His side, I will not believe."

Eight days later, His disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. The doors were shut, but Jesus came and stood among them, and said, "Peace be with you." Then He said to Thomas, "Put your finger here, and see My hands; and put out your hand, and place it in My side; do not be faithless, but believing." Thomas answered Him, "My Lord and my God!" Jesus said to him, "Have you believed because you have seen Me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe."

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name. (Jn 20:19-31 RSV)

WHERE is the risen Lord to be found? This Gospel passage begins in the darkness of the Lord's absence. The doors were closed and a paralyzing fear froze the energy of the apostles. All was changed, however, as Jesus came to them in a new way. PEACE was His greeting. And fear gave way to joy. He showed them His hands and His side as evidence of who He was. Then He bestowed on them a double blessing from God. He commissioned them to carry on His own mission from the Father; the mission of overcoming sin and of bringing forgiveness. "As the Father has sent Me, even so I send you" (Jn 20:21).

The second blessing was when He breathed the divine Spirit upon them. From now on the community of disciples shared in the mission of Jesus and were empowered by the same Holy Spirit who had inspired the mission of Jesus. Though Jesus was no longer present to them in His physical flesh, yet His new mode of presence called them to share in His mission and His Spirit.

Thomas was missing that day. From some other episodes in the Gospel we know that he was a very cautious sort of individual. Loyal to the last: but loyal to a fault, perhaps, because he stubbornly refused to change anything. He would not believe their story. He was still searching for Jesus in the old way, the way of physical presence where He could be seen and touched. Thomas did not appreciate that Jesus in His physical flesh was confined to one small area. The risen Lord now shared His mission and power with the believing community and sent them out to every place and to all ages with His divine forgiveness to heal souls, minds and bodies.

Thomas received a personal invitation from the Lord Jesus Christ to believe. And he responded with the highest act of faith uttered by anybody in the Gospel: "My Lord and my God" (Jn 20:28). The Lord then extended the blessedness of faith to all who believe even without physical evidence: "Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe" (Jn 20:29).

Saint John the evangelist is now ready to draw his writing to a conclusion. He tells us that his purpose was to compile a book of the great signs which Jesus had worked (Jn 20:30-31). A sign is something intended to direct us forward on our journey. The signs worked by Jesus were to move people beyond the physical happenings towards their spiritual meaning. And the ultimate spiritual meaning was that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God. Whoever grows in this faith comes to share in the life of Jesus. So, where is the risen Lord to be found? Not in the tomb of death; nor behind the doors of life bolted in fear. Not in a physical presence, to be seen and touched, but confined to one small area.

In the new age of resurrection the Lord Jesus Christ is now to be found in the mission of the Church which has the power of God's Spirit to proclaim the Kingdom, to cast out evil and to heal the broken-hearted. In the quietness of personal prayer, the believer discovers that the Lord is present within the privacy of one's own heart. The believer "has life through His name" (Jn 20:31).

It is one thing to say, "The Lord rose from the dead": a statement about a past event. But it is a greater act of faith to say, "The Lord is risen": not a statement of the past but of a living but of a living presence.

The risen Lord is in the mission of the Church. And the Lord Jesus Christ lives in the innermost heart of all who share life in His name.

Short Prayer:

Lord Jesus Christ, we long to see Your face. Heal our unbelief, so that we can bow before You and proclaim, "My Lord and my God".
Amen.

Source: A Christian Pilgrim

Believing Without Seeing vs. Come And See - Reflection
The Holy Gospel that the Liturgy presents to us this Sunday, is one of the most well known, discussed, and appreciated-the meeting of the Risen Lord with St. Thomas. The Fathers of the Church have given us numerous insights into this Gospel text. Likewise, it is has given inspiration to the numerous artists who have physically represented the events of this Gospel in order to give us a clear idea of what happened, to the disciples congregated in the cenacle.

Jesus' response to Thomas, after he recognized Him as 'My Lord and my God', has a mysterious fascination that must relate not so much to the disciples-those who 'have seen'- but rather to those, like us, who were added to their number afterwards. 'You have come to believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.' (Jn 20:29)

The attention that these words evoke seems yet more paradoxical if we remember that the Lord had proposed, to the same author of the Gospel, what can be justly referred to as the Christian method, 'come and see' (Jn 1:39). How can we possibly reconcile these two phrases by Jesus that form the ideal setting for the whole of the fourth Gospel? Perhaps, in the end, the Lord decided to change His method? What do the words 'have not seen' really mean?

The timely recollection of the 'eight days after,' which is the Sunday after the Resurrection, permits us to tie our reflection to one of the most significant Eucharistic hymns composed by another Thomas, St Thomas Aquinas. In the Adore Te Devote, which refers to the Eucharist, we read: 'Sight, touch, taste are all deceived in their judgement of you. But hearing suffices firmly to believe'. Combining these words with today's Gospel we can justly affirm that the experience 'to see' was not denied to us, but it is in contrast with the Apostle Thomas' physical experience, who was able to put his own finger into the holes in Christ's hands and side, whilst we can only comprehend it in the faith which is guarded and transmitted by the Church, our Mother and Teacher.

That which we 'have not seen' is therefore the glorious Body of the Risen One. However, today we have the ability to 'listen' to the Word of God and the Magisterium of the Church and so we can 'see' the real Body of Christ which is the Eucharist. We can 'see' His Mystical Body which is the Church. We can 'see' Him in our lives and in the lives of our many brothers who, after meeting the Lord in a real but mysterious way, are united to Him in His Spirit!

Like Thomas, Christ calls us to fill the holes left by the instruments of the passion in His Body with our own hands so that our lives and the verbal witness that we give proclaim His Resurrection. Our senses could betray us, but we know that we have met the Risen One and we have recognized Him!

The certain hope that Peter, who betrayed the Lord three times for fear of death, proclaims to us with the words, 'rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy' (1 Peter 1:8), become fully comprehensible because blessed are they that 'have not seen' the Risen Lord, but seeing the joy of His disciples 'have believed' in Him!

From the Congregation for the Clergy

Believe In Order to See

by Fr. Jerome Magat

The story of St. Thomas the Apostle or "doubting Thomas" is not unfamiliar to us. When Jesus appears to the apostles a week after the Resurrection, our Lord challenges Thomas in his unbelief and brings him to incredulous adoration. Thomas is moved to say, "My Lord and my God." Just a week earlier, Thomas had said that he would not believe in the Resurrection unless he had seen the risen Lord physically. When Our Lord appears to the Apostles on the Sunday after Easter, he turns Thomas' idea on its head. Our Lord states, "Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed."

It is clear that our faith in Jesus is based on the testimony of eyewitnesses. This has been the story of the church from her inception. The Orthodox and Catholic faith is built upon the testimony of St. Peter and the apostles, with Jesus Christ at its center. Our faith is not an abstract set of ideas or propositions. It is not a philosophy, as some would suggest. Rather, our faith is incarnational, rooted in revelation. The transmission of this faith relies upon the testimony of those who walked with the Lord during His brief life here on earth. The Gospels themselves are testimonies of faith, written by those who either personally knew the Lord or used eyewitnesses as their primary source.

For Thomas, seeing was believing. For us, however, the opposite is true - believing is seeing. Barring those saints who have been gifted with ecclesiastically approved apparitions, none of us have seen Jesus in a physically recognizable form. Therefore, our response to Christ is made in faith. It is our eyes of faith that allow us to see Jesus in ways beyond the limitations of physical sight. This is especially true when we come into the presence of the Eucharist. Christ's presence remains hidden under the veil of sacramental elements but it is our belief that allows us to truly see Him and acknowledge His body, blood, soul and divinity really and substantially present. Our physical sight fails us but our sight by faith allows us to penetrate the hidden mysteries contained in this most sublime sacrament. Similarly, we experience this dynamic in the sacrament of penance. The absolution given by the priest invites us to believe and trust that our sins have been forgiven, even though physical sight cannot detect the cleansing of sins in the soul. Again, it is faith that allows us to see beyond what mere physical sight can render.

St. Anselm of Canterbury once wrote "Credo ut intelligam," which means "I believe so that I may understand." This must be the disposition of any authentic disciple of the Lord Jesus. The first move involves God's initiative in infusing the virtue of faith into our souls at baptism. The second move is our response in faith, actualizing the potency of this virtue. The third move is allowing our eyes of faith to penetrate the mysteries of God more profoundly through the intellect and free will that He has given us. Like St. Anselm, may we better understand that believing means truly seeing with the eyes of faith.

Fr. Magat is parochial vicar of St. William of York Church in Stafford.
Source: Arlington Catholic Herald

"Peace Be With You"

by Pope Paul VI

Let us give our attention to the unexpected greeting, repeated three times by the risen Jesus when he appeared to his disciples, gathered together and locked in the upper room "for fear of the Jews" (Jn 20,19). At that time this greeting must have been customary but, under the circumstances in which it was spoken, it takes on an extraordinary fullness. As you remember, this greeting is: "Peace be with you!" It was a greeting that had resounded in the angelic song at Christmas: "Peace on earth!" (Lk 2,14). This biblical greeting, which had already been effectively proclaimed as a promise of the messianic kingdom (Jn 14,27), is now passed on as a reality that takes flesh in this first core group of the emerging Church. It is the peace of a Christ triumphant over death, with its causes near or far, with its awesome effects.

Thus the risen Jesus announces and establishes peace in the disorientated souls of his disciples... It is the Lord's peace, heard in all its original significance, personal, interior, both moral and psychological, and which is inseparable from happiness – that which Saint Paul counts among the fruits of the Spirit after charity and joy, consolidated to a certain extent together with them (Gal 5,22). The union of these three fruits is not far from our common, spiritual experience. It is the best answer to our query concerning the state of our conscience, when we can say: my conscience is at peace. What is more precious for the thoughtful man of honor?...

Peace of conscience is the most authentic form of happiness. It helps us to be strong in adversity; it upholds the nobility and freedom of the person, even in the direst situations; it remains our lifeline, that is to say our hope... when despair would have the upper hand... This matchless gift of interior peace is the Risen One's first gift: he immediately instituted ... the sacrament able to bestow this peace, the sacrament of forgiveness, that forgiveness which raises us up (Jn 20,23).

Source: Pope Paul VI - April 9, 1975

Breakthrough: A Biblical Reflection on John 20:19-31

by Albert Cylwicki, CSB

THE story of Helen Keller and Ann Sullivan is told in the movie The Miracle Worker and it serves as a counterpoint to the story of Thomas the apostle today. For Helen Keller the senses of hearing and seeing were barriers instead of bridges to the world. Unable to see or hear or communicate, she spent her childhood in a dark and silent world.

Nonetheless, under the patient guidance of Ann Sullivan, Helen Keller learned how to speak and write. Eventually she became a distinguished lecturer, the author of many books and a world traveler proficient in several languages.

As she herself put it, she was able to "break through the barrier of the senses." Today's Gospel represents another such breakthrough, but in a different way. Thomas, the apostle, can see and hear but is unable to believe in the risen Lord until Jesus Himself appears, speaks and commands Thomas to touch His hands and His side.

It seems that it was now unnecessary for Thomas to actually touch our Lord. Seeing and hearing Jesus were enough for Thomas to make the breakthrough of his senses to reach the point of faith. Jesus said to Thomas: "You believe because you can see Me. Happy are those who have not seen and yet believe."

This episode in John's Gospel is especially significant for us. When this Gospel was being written, the disciples who had actually seen the risen Lord had died. Now many were coming to believe in Jesus even though they had never seen Him.

Thomas thus becomes a key link between the age of the apostles who saw the Lord with their own eyes and all future ages of disciples who will never see Jesus in this life and yet will believe in Him. We are part of this final age of time and we can thank Thomas for occasioning our Lord's last beatitude, as it were: "Happy are those who have not seen and yet believe."

The key to making a breakthrough of the barrier of our senses is faith. Certainly much can be demonstrated with the help of our senses. Our scientific labs and law courts depend on what we see, hear and touch to prove things. But there is a realm of experience and knowledge that transcends our senses, a realm where the senses actually become a barrier.

We sometimes call this realm the inner world of our memory and imagination, of intuition and creativity, of religion and mysticism. To penetrate this inner world we have to let go of our external senses, which will only distract us or cause interference, and trust in our inner powers. We call this faith, a belief in some reality for which there are no external signs to prove it exists, yet which somehow we know does exist.

Many are the times we have to make our own personal breakthrough of the senses by an act of faith. When people get married they stake their whole future together on an act of faith. When students choose a college to attend they place immense trust in the teachers. When priests get ordained or religious take vows, they commit themselves to Jesus – someone they cannot see, yet in whom they believe.

We need faith to persevere when we cannot see our goal or to be patient when we cannot see any results; we need faith to make decisions when we have little evidence to go on or to pray when we're not sure if anyone is listening, let alone speaking to us.

When St. Thomas Aquinas composed his hymns to the unseen Christ present in the visible Eucharist, faith played a key part. Many are the times we have sung: "What our senses fail to fathom, let us grasp through faith's consent."

May we renew that faith today and make another break through the barrier of our senses.

Source: Albert Cylwicki, CSB, HIS WORD RESOUNDS, Makati, Philippines: St. Paul Publications, 1991, pages 228-229.

When You Are Beset with Worry and Fear:
A New Pattern of Thought

by Renee Swope

"Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." Romans 12:2 (NIV)

It's usually very subtle. I'll think about something I want to do or sense God calling me to, and a feeling of uncertainty comes over me. Doubt whispers You can't do that. You're not good enough. Out of the blue, I'll get that awful, insecure feeling.

Too many times in the past I've gone along. Without realizing it, I agreed with my insecurities.

For years, I didn't tell anyone about my doubts. I figured if they knew the reasons I doubted myself, they'd notice flaws I had worked hard to hide.. Honestly, I thought I was the only one who struggled with doubt.

However, I didn't call it doubt. Maybe you don't either. Sometimes I called it worry - worry that I was going to disappoint someone, worry that I might make a mistake and get criticized for it, worry that I might start something but not be able to finish.

Other times I'd call it fear - fear of not measuring up, fear of rejection, fear of looking prideful by thinking I could do something special for God.

What I've realized over the years is that these feelings may end up as fear or worry, but their source is self-doubt. Looking back, I see there was a pattern in my thinking that led to the pattern of my doubting.

As a child I thought I wasn't worth keeping. My insecurity kept me from riding the carousel at an amusement park because I doubted my dad would wait for me. In school, I thought I wasn't smart enough. I avoided great opportunities because they came with the risk of failure.

Even as a young bride, I doubted my worth in my husband's eyes. Although he gave me no reason to fear, our newlywed memories include many arguments about trust.

The apostle Paul challenges us in Romans 12:2 to not let our minds be conformed by the patterns of this world. This means we need to take our patterns of thought into consideration because they affect what we believe about ourselves and what we believe about God's view of us and others.

The world's patterns of thought tell us our worth is measured by our weight or bank account, our job or spouse, by the number of our friends, or if we are able to have children. And if we do have children, the world tells us we're only good parents if our children behave 'just so.'

Have any of these thoughts ever convinced you you're not enough or don't have what it takes to do all God's calling you to do?

Just this week, doubt tried to convince me I couldn't handle my life. I had a sick teenager, a huge deadline to meet, several therapy appointments for my daughter and very concerning health problems with my mom.

Remembering the wisdom in today's key verse, I paused to consider the pattern of my thoughts and knew they didn't line up with God's thoughts. For instance, in Philippians 4:13 God tells me, "... I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength" (NLT).

I claimed God's promise by weaving it into my thoughts, knowing I could do it all if I depended on the strength God promises to give. And when I did, God transformed my heart by renewing my mind with His peace and confidence.

It takes time to replace our patterns of thought with God's thoughts. The ways of the world - fear and worry - are powerful forces. But God's Word trumps them, always. Today, let's be intentional to lay down self-doubts and replace them with truth, remembering "... he who began a good work in [us] will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ." (Phil. 1:16 ESV).

Lord, I want to have a confident heart in Christ and persevere in Your truth so that when I have done Your will, I will receive what You have promised. When doubt tells me I can't do something, I'll remember all things are possible to her who believes. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:

In her life-changing book, 'A Confident Heart: How to Stop Doubting Yourself & Live in the Security of God's Promises', Renee Swope will empower and equip you with new patterns of thought to help you overcome doubt, fear, and worry so you can move forward in confident assurance of all God has for your life!

Reflect and Respond:

What motivates you the most to be free from self-doubt?

What would you do differently if you were free from worry and fear, and fully trusted God? Let go of unforgiveness? Volunteer more? Travel? Start a new hobby or look for a new job? Ask the Lord to help you replace self-doubt with His confidence and what your first step of freedom should be.

Power Verse:

Isaiah 26:3, "You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!" (NLT)

© 2013 by Renee Swope. All rights reserved.
Source: Encouragement for Today, Proverbs 31 Ministries

Health Tip: Tips for Avoiding Infection

Planning a Hospital Stay?
Top-Rated Surgeon Shares Tips for Warding Off Infection

Hospitals can be scary places: They're brimming with bacteria, viruses and fungi -- the last things sick and injured people should be around.

In fact, hospital-acquired infections are the most common complication of a hospital stay, affecting nearly 2 million Americans a year and killing nearly 100,000, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

"There are a number of public and private initiatives under way to bring those numbers down. Life-threatening MRSA (antibiotic-resistant staph) infections have actually been declining since 2005," says Dr. Marc Stevens, an AMA Physician Recognition Award recipient and formulator of Rapid Recovery (www.DRSHealthInc.com), a beverage mix of nutrients that help tissue heal quickly after surgery or injury.

"The other good news is that there are steps patients can take to reduce the risk of being infected - and bolster their ability to fight infection. As a surgeon, I make it a priority to educate my patients and the public at large about what they should be doing before and during a hospital stay to protect themselves."

Stevens says patients should always take responsibility for doing what they can to avoid infection and bolster their immune system.

"Young people, elderly people and those with chronic illnesses - particularly diabetes - are most at risk for being overwhelmed by infection," he says.

He suggests:

• Hand washing:

This is the No. 1 precaution recommended by the CDC, Stevens says. "Wash your hands, ask visitors to wash theirs, and don't be shy about asking hospital personnel, including doctors and nurses, to wash up before treating or examining you."

• Monitor your bandages:

Alert a nurse if you notice your bandage is not clean, dry or completely attached to the skin surrounding a wound.

• Get in the best health possible before a scheduled hospital stay:

People in their best possible mental, nutritional and physical health are better able to ward off infection and their wounds heal more quickly, closing portals to infection, Stevens says. "Whether it's physical therapy you need, or vitamin supplements - there are 13 with a demonstrated role in healing - patients should do what's necessary to prepare before going to the hospital, particularly, before a scheduled surgery."

• After discharge, watch for signs of infection:

Symptoms that can indicate an infection include unexpected pain, chills, fever, drainage or increased redness around a surgical wound. If you have any of these symptoms, you should immediately contact your doctor.

About Dr. Marc Stevens

Dr. Marc Stevens is an award-winning orthopedic surgeon certified by the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons and a Fellow in the American College of Surgeons and the International College of Surgeons. He has been recognized as one of America's Top Orthopedic Surgeons and a World Leading Physician (International Association of Orthopedic Surgeons.) Dr. Stevens has found optimal nutrition - particularly the 13 vitamins known to promote tissue healing - dramatically speeds surgical patients' recovery.

Recipe: Agua Fresca
A quick healthy and refreshing drink for a summertime party!

Total time: 15 minutes
Servings: 4-6

Ingredients:

4 cups cold water
1/2 cup seedless watermelon, cubed
1/2 cup strawberries
1/2 cup blueberries
1/2 cup orange slices, seeded
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup Sugar (skip if you are watching sugar or substitute with Stevia)

Directions:

1. Blend all ingredients in a blender.
2. Pour into 4 to 6 glasses.
3. Enjoy!

Recipe Courtesy of Chef Jared, ALDI Test Kitchen

A Lesson From Abraham Lincoln on Persuasion

By Bob Burg

It's good advice to stop worrying about what other people think of you. You cannot control their thoughts or actions, only your own. But did you know that you can turn a criticism into a compliment? Today, you'll receive a lesson from Lincoln, via Bob Burg, on how to deal with harsh words. Craig Ballantyne

"He has a right to criticize, who has a heart to help." - Abraham Lincoln

"Who is mighty? That person who can control their own emotions
and make, of an enemy, a friend."
- Talmud

The 16th U.S. President, Abraham Lincoln, was one of the best when it came to mastering the art of positive persuasion - what I often refer to as, Winning Without Intimidation. He knew how to make friends out of enemies, and keep conflict to a minimum. I believe the following story is an excellent example of the president's abilities in this regard:

"...{On one occasion}, when another official sharply criticized Lincoln's judgment, the president responded to a reporter's interrogation by saying he had great respect for the other man, and if this official had concerns about him, there must be some truth to it. Such discretion disarmed divisiveness that was intended to draw Lincoln into side-skirmishes, it won the hearts of his friends and foes and it allowed Lincoln to maintain focus on more important issues."

What Lincoln did was to utilize the tactic of "deflection." This means to softly "parry" a strong challenge or accusation, deflecting it into another direction where it is now harmless. Allow me to explain by way of a boxing analogy.

If you watch a boxing match you'll notice that when one fighter throws a jab (a straight punch, usually with the left hand) the intended target will, very coolly, simply wait until the punch almost reaches him. He'll then just parry it away with his right hand by using only a very slight flick of the wrist. The "rub" is that, the harder the punch is thrown, the less effort it takes to deflect it into a harmless result.

This is what Lincoln did, and what you can do, as well.

Use The Other Person's Force...To Your Advantage

When someone says something to you, or about you, don't fight it, battle it, or try and stop it. It won't work. In fact, it typically will have only the opposite effect of drawing you more heavily into the confrontation and providing fodder for the conflict. Instead, do what Lincoln did. Compliment the offender and leave him and his comment without power to harm you. You can do this one of two ways:

1. If you're told what someone said about you, then, like Lincoln, express your admiration for that person and suggest that, "If Pat said it, it's something I should at least look into."

This parry, or deflection, will totally disarm the person who just related Pat's words. He or she cannot argue with you, because you did not argue with them. They can't debate the point, because you've politely refused to debate. And (perhaps, most importantly), they cannot quote your "defensive" response to anyone else, including Pat, because you did not respond defensively.

Another positive consequence of this is that often your kind and complimentary words will make their way back to Pat, who will now have a newly-found respect for you and think of you (and feel about you) much more positively than before.

2. If something is being told to you that is meant to be offensive or disruptive, directly acknowledge to the person that he/she may just have a point and it's something you need to consider.

If that's not appropriate, simply thank the person for bringing it up. You can then decide whether or not a further response or explanation is necessary. An excellent parry, or deflection, is to simply say, "That's a good question" or "You make a valid point."

Don't Confuse This With Being A Doormat

Please understand and keep in mind: I'm not saying not to answer and/or stick up for yourself. Taking a definite position might be very necessary. What the deflection does, however, is keep it impersonal. It allows for positive detachment so that the answer can be of best service to everyone and not indicative of negative personal feelings.

Here are three practice exercises you can do over the next week to strengthen yourself in this area:

Work on deflection via parrying every time you are confronted, regardless of the lightness or seriousness of the confrontation.

Watch other people during their conflicts and observe how they handle a "left jab." Do they deflect it with a classy parry, or do they get caught up in trying to "stop" the verbal punch? How does the option they took (consciously or unconsciously) work out for them?

Watch interviews on television and observe the dynamic. Note the ones who seem most efficient in the art of deflection, and determine to model them in future similar situations of your own.

And, the following is perhaps the most powerful of all ways to prepare:

Mentally rehearse a situation in which someone verbally attacks or criticizes you or passes along a similar remark from someone else as in the example with President Lincoln.

See yourself, in your mind's eye, responding with calmness and serenity, completely in control of your own emotions and thus, in control of the situation. Your response is a perfect parry; a smooth deflection that leaves everyone feeling good about themselves and the situation. Imagine how terrific you feel afterwards.

If you can do it in your mind, you can do it in a real-life situation.

Just as an astronaut training for a mission goes through numerous simulated missions before ever actually going into space, you'll find rehearsing in your mind before the event ever takes place puts you nine steps ahead of the game...in a ten-step game.

When you become really good at doing this, you'll find it to be one of the most self-empowering (not to mention, fun!) aspects of your interpersonal communications.

And, you'll be the one that others see as a master of people skills and persuasion, and a person of powerful influence.

[Ed. Note. Bob Burg is coauthor of the International Bestseller, The Go-Giver. The book has been published in 21 languages and has sold over 250,000 copies. Check out this brief and entertaining, recently-released overview of the book at www.burg.com/tgg.]

Copyright © 2013 Early to Rise, LLC.  

Family Special: Preparing Your Teen for Challenges

How to Prepare Your Teen for 21st-Century Challenges
Psychologist Offers 6 Character-Building Techniques

Parents today contend not only with yesterday's worries -- drug abuse, bullying, teenage sex and delinquency - but new challenges. The digital age has introduced adult predators and other online hazards, and body-altering decorating such as tattoos and piercing's are popular temptations, says James G. Wellborn, a clinical psychologist with 18 years of experience working with parents and teens.

"The teenage years are unlike any other in a person's life – it's a unique in-between period from childhood to adulthood, and it's helpful to remember that problems during this time are actually normal," says Wellborn, author of the new book "Raising Teens in the 21st Century: A Practical Guide to Effective Parenting,". "But teens still require guidance, encouragement and good ideas to see them through to adulthood."

A universally admired trait, spanning all cultures, religion and philosophy, is compassion. A truly compassionate teen will inevitably have a host of other positive qualities, Wellborn says, including patience, understanding, sensitivity, tolerance, intuition and more. He says parents can encourage compassion in the following ways:

• Model it:

Compassion is largely learned, so be aware of how you act around your children. How did you respond to the request for money from that panhandler on the street? What comment did you make behind his back, in the presence of your kid? What did you say about that idiot driver who just cut you off in traffic? Your teens are watching and listening.

• Notice it:

Point out examples of compassion that occur around you. It comes in many forms. Relevant to our daily lives are the people who quietly, and without recognition, help others in need, including volunteers of all types. Make a game of identifying instances of compassionate deeds you've witnessed.

• Teach it:

Compassion has to be taught, so be prepared to provide direct instruction on how your teen needs to think and act in order to develop that quality. One important component empathy. If your teens can't see things from another's perspective, it is difficult for them to appreciate what that person is going through. Help them learn to walk a mile in their shoes.

• Anticipate it:

Character can be fostered by projecting moral strength into their future. In this way, you will be subtly shaping the adult they are working to become. Say things like: "By the time you're an adult, you will be such a person of strong character. That'll be really cool."

• Guilt it:

A personal value system serves as a means of accountability to oneself (and your family and community). This begins with the value system parents promote in their kids. If they fulfill the promise of personal values it is a source of justifiable pride. Violating personal values should result in guilt for not doing what's right and shame for letting other people down. Parents need to help their kids along with this.

• Repeat it:

Once is not enough when it comes to character. Find every opportunity to work it into the conversation. Using all of the strategies mentioned above, you will be able to work character issues into every possible situation in a remarkably diverse number of ways. You need to have mentioned character so often – at least once every couple of days – and in so many different forms that they are sick of hearing about it by the time they graduate from high school.

About James G. Wellborn, Ph.D.

Jim Wellborn is a clinical psychologist who specializes in individual, family and group psychotherapy, with children and adolescents. He graduated from Louisiana State University in Shreveport with a bachelor's in psychology, and earned his doctorate in clinical psychology from the University of Rochester. He completed a two-year post-doctoral fellowship in developmental psychopathology at Vanderbilt University. Wellborn has served as a clinical director for outpatient psychotherapy services in two local agencies.

Humor: Watch and You'll See
This story is about three accountants who doubted their three engineer friends. They were traveling by train to a conference. The accountants bought three tickets, but the engineers only bought one. "How are three people going to travel on only one ticket?" an accountant asked.

"Watch and you'll see," said an engineer.

They all boarded the train. The accountants took their seats, but the three engineers crammed into a restroom and closed the door behind them. The train departed the station and soon the conductor came through the car asking for tickets. He knocked on the restroom door and said, "Ticket, please." The door opened a crack and a single arm emerges with a ticket in hand. The conductor took it and moved on.

The accountants agree that this is a rather clever idea so after the conference, they decide to duplicate the engineers' feat. They buy only one ticket, but are astonished when the engineers buy no ticket at all! "How are you going to travel without a ticket?" the accountants ask.

"Watch and you'll see," reply the engineers.

When they boarded the train, the accountants crammed into a restroom with their ticket while the three engineers did the same in a nearby restroom. After the train departed the station, one of the engineers left the restroom and walked over to the restroom where the accountants were hiding. He knocked on the door and said, "Ticket, please."

Author unknown

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