Malankara World Journal Volume 1 No. 19 August 19, 2011 If the Journal is not displayed properly, please click on the link below (or copy and paste) to read from web
Table of Contents
Next Sunday (August 21) is the first Sunday following Shunoyo Feast.
Coming after two consecutive weeks of major feasts, viz.,
transfiguration (on August 6) and Shunoyo (August 15), this weekend
provides a short breathing spell before the action picks up again
for the start of 8-day lent on September 1 and St. Mary's birthday
on September 8. It is worth mentioning that aside from that of Jesus
Christ, our church only celebrates the birthdays of two saints,
viz., John the Baptist and St. Mary, the mother of God. Both these
saints' intercession are sought in the beginning of the public
celebration of our Holy Qurbana.
The Gospel reading for Sunday, August 21 is Mark chapter 10 vv. 35-45. As the disciples walk along with Jesus, a couple of the disciples say, "Lord, grant us to sit at your right and your left when you come into your kingdom." Those who sit next to the chief are those who share power with the chief. In other words, "Lord, when we get you elected Messiah and your Kingdom is come, grant us to sit on your Cabinet!"
One of the reasons for the power and effectiveness of the Bible is that the stories depicted in the bible are very realistic. We can feel quite at home there even now centuries after it is written! This story of the two brothers who just want to grab a seat of honor when Jesus Christ establishes His kingdom, on the first glance, is not unreasonable. After all, they have left everything and followed Jesus. They walked with Jesus along his way. They believed that Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah, the great leader who would come in, raise an army, kick out the Romans out of Judea, and set up Israel again as the most powerful nation in the world.
It had not been easy walking behind Jesus through Judea for miles and miles of rough unpaved footpaths. So, what is wrong with asking Jesus, "Lord, when you finally get everything together and win your kingdom, let us sit beside you in ruling your realm."
Remember, the gospels were written many years after the death of Jesus. The Mark's gospel is believed to be the oldest. The environment at that time influenced the style of writing to some extent. For example, when St. Mark was writing his Gospel, the early Church was having a lot of trouble with its leaders who were at first very dedicated and self-sacrificing, but whose human weaknesses were now beginning to show. According to Father Gerry Pierse (Sundays Into Silence: Reflections on the Sunday Gospels in the Light of Christian Meditation), "One of the ways in which Mark responded to this situation was by portraying the disciples in all of their human weakness in his Gospel story. The lesson was this: if there was such human weakness amongst the disciples of Jesus, should you be surprised to find the same weakness in our present leadership - and within yourself? Then, if this weakness is ever present, we need to learn to lean more on Jesus than on our own weak selves."
We have the same issues with our leadership today, making Jesus' response to the request by the two disciples quite relevant for us.
Father Gerry continues:
"The reaction of the other disciples is one of great indignation. Being themselves most ambitious, they very much resented the two who tried to get an inside track on them in the political race. This is a very human story that is still being acted out where human beings work together. It is to be found in the army, the government, business, the home and even in the Church. The higher up one goes in all of these institutions, the more subtle and the more ruthless the protagonists tend to get."
"Jesus brings them back to the realization that kingship or authority is not about wearing a crown but about carrying a cross. This often forgotten message, learned by Moses when he, the chosen one of God, had to bear with such criticism and condemnation from the people, is still being learned today by parents, politicians and managers.
Then Jesus really got to the point. What is leadership all about? It is not about self-glorification, but about the service of, and the upliftment and empowerment of others. It is not for lording it over others but for standing under others. For Jesus that is not a theoretical teaching; he himself lived it. "For the Son of Man himself did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many."
Jesus is teaching the disciples the principle known as 'Servant Leadership.' We had covered this topic a few times in the past. It is the most important principle you learn from bible apart from the principle of unconditional love. Damien Spikereit says that being a servant is not sufficinet; the leaders should behave like slaves! He explains the servant leaders as follows:
"But Jesus goes on to say... If you want to be first in my kingdom, then you must become a slave. If you want to be great and powerful and be in a high standing in my kingdom, you must be a servant, a slave to all. Because if you want to go through what I am about to go through, then you must serve instead of being served.
After all, it's not just leaders who are called to be servants. All Christians are called to serve others. All Christians are called to think of the interests of others before their own interests. All Christians are called to the difficult task of putting the needs of others above their own needs. All of us must become servants.
But, it is leaders who are to be the example. They are to lead the way. They are the ones who are to demonstrate what it means to serve instead of being served. To be quite frank, and open.... I am not sure it is possible to be a Christian without being a servant. And, I certainly know this without doubt.... you can not be a leader in the church without first being a servant. It's impossible. Now don't misunderstand me. I am not saying you can't attain a title, it's possible to have a title without being a servant. I might be called a minister, you might be called a teacher, or elder, or deacon. We may have the title, but having a title doesn't make us a leader. Being a servant, makes us a leader. And if we are not servants, then we are not leaders. And if we are not servants, then we shouldn't be given the title of a leader. Because it is the leaders of the church who are to be the examples of servants."
In this week's Malankara World Journal we have several articles/sermons and bible commentaries that describes this concept of servant leadership. You can read about them here:
We also have a classic sermon by Martin Luther king, Jr. (considered to be one of the top 5 sermons given by MLK Jr.) that further illustrate servant leadership. He calls this 'Drum Major Instinct.' I strongly recommend that you read this article as it is quite relevant to our church today.
Servant Leadership is also applicable in our family life as the article by Erin Smalley, famous marriage counselor, notes. Drawing from her personal experience as well as the experience of her patients, Erin says that to have a healthy relationship, the partners should be willing to serve each other (Just like our church tells them during the marriage sacrament to love each other like Christ did for the church ultimately dying for the church.) Erin says: "Honor [or service] is the single most important principle I know of for building healthy relationships. It’s important for a husband and wife to begin applying it toward each other. The results of allowing ‘honor’ to reign can be dramatic and life-changing. Honoring your mate and serving your mate is the prescription for a healthy marriage. As we serve our spouses, we make them feel as if they’re the most important thing to us. This is the essence of the second greatest commandment, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' (Matthew 22:38). Serving our mate needs to be a decision that we make every day." That is what the bible tells us too!
I recommend that you read all the articles and meditate on the message. Read it again. Think of how you can apply these biblical principles in your life. You will see a big difference in your life soon.
This Sunday in Church (August 21)
First Sunday after the Festival of the Assumption of St. Mary (Shunoyo)
Before Holy Qurbana
We have greatly expanded our Sermon Resources. The sermon collection now includes general and classical sermons. This will give a broader appeal to the Gospel Reading for the week. We also added bible commentaries for the bible reading to facilitate study and meditation. Please check it out.
Sermons and Bible Commentaries for the 1st Sunday after the Shunoyo Feast
This Week's Features
|Sage Advice from a Cherokee Elder|
One evening a Cherokee elder told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said, 'My son, the battle is between two wolves inside us all.'
One is Evil
The other is Good
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: Which wolf wins?
The elder simply replied: The one you feed.
Pope Benedict XVI has urged Christians to read the Bible while on vacation, particularly the lesser known books of sacred scripture.
"This seems to be a good thing to do on the holidays: take a book of the Bible, so you have some relaxation and, at the same time, enter into the great expanse of the Word of God and deepen our contact with the Eternal," said the Pope in his Wednesday General Audience address at his holiday residence of Castle Gandolfo, 15 miles south of Rome, Aug. 3.
Pope Benedict noted how "each of us needs time and space for meditation, reflection and calm" adding "thank God it's so!" He said this tells us that "we are not made only for work but also to think, reflect, or simply to follow a story with our minds and hearts." Hence many books are read "mostly for escapism."
The Pope, however, challenged pilgrims to attempt some slightly "more challenging" reading.
"Why not discover some books of the Bible, which are normally unknown? Or of which we have maybe heard some passages during the liturgy, but we never read in its entirety? In fact, many Christians have never read the Bible, and have a very limited and superficial knowledge of it."
The Pope even gave those gathered in the small hilltop town's Liberty Square suggestions as to which books of the Bible to read reminding them that "the Bible - as the name implies - is a collection of books, a small 'library,' born over a millennium."
From the Old Testament he suggested some of the shorter books which "can be read through in one hour." These include, he said, the Book of Tobit "a story that contains a very high sense of family and marriage", the Book of Esther "in which the Jewish Queen, with faith and prayer, save her people from extermination" and the Book of Ruth, "a foreigner who knows God and experiences His providence."
He also emphasized the worth of "more challenging" Old Testament books which the Pope deemed to be "authentic masterpieces."
"The Book of Job, which tackles the great problem of innocent suffering, Ecclesiastes for its disconcerting modernity which questions the meaning of life and the world, the Song of Songs, a beautiful poem symbolic of human love."
Turning to the New Testament the Pope reminded pilgrims of "the beauty of reading one Gospel straight through" as well as the merits of other books such as the Acts of the Apostles.
In conclusion he suggested that pilgrims keep a Bible "on hand during the summer or during breaks."
"In doing so they can become moments of relaxation, as well as cultural enrichment, even nourishment of the spirit, capable of fostering knowledge of God and dialogue with God - prayer."
[Editor's Note: This sermon, given on 4 February 1968, was an adaptation of the 1952 homily ‘‘Drum-Major Instincts’’ by J. Wallace Hamilton, a well-known, liberal, white Methodist preacher. King encouraged his congregation to seek greatness, but to do so through service and love. King concluded the sermon by imagining his own funeral, downplaying his famous achievements and emphasizing his heart to do right. This sermon is considered to be one of the top 5 sermons delivered by Martin Luther King, Jr.]
Our text for the morning is taken from a very familiar passage in the tenth chapter as recorded by Saint Mark beginning with the thirty-fifth verse of that chapter.
The setting is clear. James and John are making a specific request of the master. They had dreamed, as most of the Hebrews dreamed, of a coming king of Israel who would set Jerusalem free and establish his kingdom on Mount Zion, and in righteousness rule the world. And they thought of Jesus as this kind of king. And they were thinking of that day when Jesus would reign supreme as this new king of Israel. And they were saying, "Now when you establish your kingdom, let one of us sit on the right hand and the other on the left hand of your throne."
Now very quickly, we would automatically condemn James and John, and we would say they were selfish. Why would they make such a selfish request? But before we condemn them too quickly, let us look calmly and honestly at ourselves, and we will discover that we too have those same basic desires for recognition, for importance. That same desire for attention, that same desire to be first. Of course, the other disciples got mad with James and John, and you could understand why, but we must understand that we have some of the same James and John qualities. And there is deep down within all of us an instinct. It's a kind of drum major instinct—a desire to be out front, a desire to lead the parade, a desire to be first. And it is something that runs the whole gamut of life.
And so before we condemn them, let us see that we all have the drum major instinct. We all want to be important, to surpass others, to achieve distinction, to lead the parade. Alfred Adler, the great psychoanalyst, contends that this is the dominant impulse. Sigmund Freud used to contend that sex was the dominant impulse, and Adler came with a new argument saying that this quest for recognition, this desire for attention, this desire for distinction is the basic impulse, the basic drive of human life, this drum major instinct.
And you know, we begin early to ask life to put us first. Our first cry as a baby was a bid for attention. And all through childhood the drum major impulse or instinct is a major obsession. Children ask life to grant them first place. They are a little bundle of ego. And they have innately the drum major impulse or the drum major instinct.
Now in adult life, we still have it, and we really never get by it. We like to do something good. And you know, we like to be praised for it. Now if you don't believe that, you just go on living life, and you will discover very soon that you like to be praised. Everybody likes it, as a matter of fact. And somehow this warm glow we feel when we are praised or when our name is in print is something of the vitamin A to our ego. Nobody is unhappy when they are praised, even if they know they don't deserve it and even if they don't believe it. The only unhappy people about praise is when that praise is going too much toward somebody else. (That’s right) But everybody likes to be praised because of this real drum major instinct.
Now the presence of the drum major instinct is why so many people are "joiners." You know, there are some people who just join everything. And it's really a quest for attention and recognition and importance. And they get names that give them that impression. So you get your groups, and they become the "Grand Patron," and the little fellow who is henpecked at home needs a chance to be the "Most Worthy of the Most Worthy" of something. It is the drum major impulse and longing that runs the gamut of human life. And so we see it everywhere, this quest for recognition. And we join things, overjoin really, that we think that we will find that recognition in.
There comes a time that the drum major instinct can become destructive. And that's where I want to move now. I want to move to the point of saying that if this instinct is not harnessed, it becomes a very dangerous, pernicious instinct. For instance, if it isn’t harnessed, it causes one's personality to become distorted. I guess that's the most damaging aspect of it: what it does to the personality. If it isn't harnessed, you will end up day in and day out trying to deal with your ego problem by boasting. Have you ever heard people that—you know, and I'm sure you've met them—that really become sickening because they just sit up all the time talking about themselves. (Amen) And they just boast and boast and boast, and that's the person who has not harnessed the drum major instinct.
And then it does other things to the personality. It causes you to lie about who you know sometimes. There are some people who are influence peddlers. And in their attempt to deal with the drum major instinct, they have to try to identify with the so-called big-name people. And if you're not careful, they will make you think they know somebody that they don't really know. They know them well, they sip tea with them, and they this-and-that. That happens to people.
And the other thing is that it causes one to engage ultimately in activities that are merely used to get attention. Criminologists tell us that some people are driven to crime because of this drum major instinct. They don't feel that they are getting enough attention through the normal channels of social behavior, and so they turn to anti-social behavior in order to get attention, in order to feel important. (Yeah) And so they get that gun, and before they know it they robbed a bank in a quest for recognition, in a quest for importance.
And then the final great tragedy of the distorted personality is the fact that when one fails to harness this instinct, he ends up trying to push others down in order to push himself up. And whenever you do that, you engage in some of the most vicious activities. You will spread evil, vicious, lying gossip on people, because you are trying to pull them down in order to push yourself up. And the great issue of life is to harness the drum major instinct.
Now the other problem is, when you don't harness the drum major instinct—this uncontrolled aspect of it—is that it leads to snobbish exclusivism. It leads to snobbish exclusivism. And you know, this is the danger of social clubs and fraternities—I'm in a fraternity; I'm in two or three—for sororities and all of these, I'm not talking against them. I'm saying it's the danger. The danger is that they can become forces of classism and exclusivism where somehow you get a degree of satisfaction because you are in something exclusive. And that's fulfilling something, you know—that I'm in this fraternity, and it's the best fraternity in the world, and everybody can't get in this fraternity. So it ends up, you know, a very exclusive kind of thing.
And you know, that can happen with the church; I know churches get in that bind sometimes. I've been to churches, you know, and they say, "We have so many doctors, and so many school teachers, and so many lawyers, and so many businessmen in our church." And that's fine, because doctors need to go to church, and lawyers, and businessmen, teachers—they ought to be in church. But they say that—even the preacher sometimes will go all through that—they say that as if the other people don't count.
And the church is the one place where a doctor ought to forget that he's a doctor. The church is the one place where a Ph.D. ought to forget that he's a Ph.D. The church is the one place that the school teacher ought to forget the degree she has behind her name. The church is the one place where the lawyer ought to forget that he's a lawyer. And any church that violates the "whosoever will, let him come" doctrine is a dead, cold church, and nothing but a little social club with a thin veneer of religiosity.
by Tim Drake
Balloon Rosary Rises Above Chicago Skyline
One has to be filled with joy when you see some of the inspiring public demonstrations of faith taking place in Chicago, largely due to youth and leaders at St. John Cantius parish.
On Friday, August 12, 2011 a giant 75-foot floating Rosary rose skyward above Chicago’s Michigan Avenue Bridge.
The Rosary was the craft of 20 imaginative elementary-school-aged girls and their counselors participating in a summer camp at a Chicago Catholic parish. The girls prayed the Rosary in front of a Washington Avenue abortion business. They then carried the Rosary, cross-first, through downtown Chicago’s peak traffic to the honks and cheers of onlookers.
A six-foot-gold cross hanging from the Rosary sparkled in the sunlight as it ascended between the Tribune tower and the Wrigley building. The Rosary of helium-filled yellow balloons bearing the word LIFE then floated down Michigan Avenue over the Hancock Tower.
“It was the prettiest rosary I have ever seen. I liked how it would float up and sit and then float up and sit. It looked pretty against the buildings and the sky,” said one participant.
by: Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564)
The prayers I make will then be sweet indeed,
Of good and pious works Thou art the seed,
Do Thou, then, breathe those thoughts into my mind
The fetters of my tongue do Thou unbind,
This poem was translated into English by William Wordsworth (1770-1850).
by Erin Smalley
"Enjoy life with the woman [or man] whom you love all the days of your fleeting life which [God] has given to you under the sun; for this is your reward in life…" (Ecclesiastes 9:9).
This encouragement was written around the year 935 B.C. Even thousands of years ago, King Solomon realized the importance of spending time enjoying your spouse. Current research supports this same mandate. Marital research experts Dr. Scott Stanley and Dr. Howard Markman conducted a survey to discover what creates a “strong” relationship. To their surprise, the amount of fun couples had together emerged as the strongest factor in understanding overall marital happiness.
If experiencing fun together as a couple is so important, what do you need to do in order to maximize your fun time? As I’ve worked with couples through our seminars and counseling, one thing that we’ve consistently noticed is that the couples who learned how to out serve one another and learned how to protect their fun times seemed to enjoy each other more than other couples.
"BUT GREATEST AMONG YOU SHALL BE YOUR SERVANT." (Matthew 23:11)
A few years ago, I discovered the tremendous value servanthood. While my husband, Greg, and I were shopping, Greg asked me if there was anything that he could do for me. "Yes," I begged, "Can I please shop alone, without Taylor (our then eighteen month old daughter) hanging on me?"
After several last minute instructions, Taylor and Greg set off in search of a massive bookstore he'd seen earlier. Once inside, Taylor and Greg discovered the biggest children's section they had ever seen. There were mountains of books, and an enormous stage where the kids could play. It was the 'Disneyland' of children's bookstores. Instantly, Taylor situated herself in the middle of the stage and began reading a book.
As Taylor and Greg interacted, he felt as if they were being watched. That’s when Greg discovered he was the only father present. Surveying the room, he noticed several mothers smiling at him. A few moms even commented about what a precious daughter he had. "This servant thing," Greg thought to himself, "I’m on to something!" I’m sure he’d thought differently had I been with him!
Unfortunately, Greg’s celebrity status was short-lived. Because instantly those mothers who’d been smiling, now seemed disgusted with him. Trying to determine why the quick change, Greg noticed that Taylor was now playing with finger paint. “Brown finger paint?” he wondered. “Where did she get that?” Then it dawned on my husband. That wasn’t paint!
Earlier that day, Taylor had developed a rash on her bottom. Consequently, the combination of her rash and a messy diaper, resulted in very itchy toddler. As a result of her scratching, Taylor “painted” some of the stage and several books with the contents of her diaper. To make matters worse, as they were trying to leave, Greg ended up having to purchase several more books than he had intended too buy.
The most interesting part of the experience, however, was when Greg told me about our daughter’s artistic expression. Instead of lecturing him about messy diapers or leaving Taylor unattended, I simply thanked him for letting me shop alone. I even apologized for the humiliation he must have felt. Greg was right—this servant thing—he was definitely on to something!
It’s amazing what can happen when you serve your mate: When you do something for your mate it motivates him to return the kindness. My positive response was my way of serving Greg in return. When you serve your mate, it’s essentially another way to communicate honor. Honor is defined as making the decision to attach “high value” to someone—to treat him as a priceless treasure in our lives. Honor [or service] is the single most important principle I know of for building healthy relationships. It’s important for a husband and wife to begin applying it toward each other. The results of allowing ‘honor’ to reign can be dramatic and life-changing.
As we serve our spouses, we make them feel as if they’re the most important thing to us. This is the essence of the second greatest commandment, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:38). Serving our mate needs to be a decision that we make every day. I encourage you to wake up each morning and think of several ways to honor your mate by serving him unconditionally. Imagine how different marriages could be if couples tried to out serve one another each day. Furthermore, since each person interprets “service” differently, I encourage you to discover your mate’s unique definition. Asking questions like, “How could I make you feel like a priceless treasure today?” or “How can I help out around the house?” should help you decide how to best serve your spouse.
PROTECTING FUN ACTIVITIES FROM CONFLICT
Not only is serving your mate important, but it’s imperative that you learn how to protect fun times from conflict. When conflict or sensitive issues invade our recreation, it’s like throwing a red shirt into the washer with our white clothes. Even though it’s only one small shirt, it can destroy an entire load of laundry by turning it pink. Likewise, even though you may be discussing only one tiny issue, if allowed to enter into your relaxation, the entire experience can be damaged.
Conflict can be destructive to your recreation because it intensifies emotions. As this happens, it becomes difficult to relax and enjoy each other. If this pattern occurs too often, your mate may lose the desire to do fun things because the experience ends up turning “pink.”
Before your enjoyment is destroyed, I encourage you to interrupt arguments or sensitive discussions by agreeing to talk about the issue at a different time. In other words, reschedule the conversation when you can provide the necessary attention it deserves. By not allowing conflict to harm you recreation you are sending a very important message. The statement you’re conveying is that protecting your relationship is more important than impulsively arguing about a problem.
In order to become a “great date” and build a strong relationship—As King Solomon mandated—we must be able to enjoy life with the ones we love by protecting our fun times and making service a daily occurrence.
by Kelly Epperson
As the founder and facilitator of the Happiness Club of Loves Park, I share happiness tips and techniques to implement into everyday life to indeed become happier. Happiness is not about smiley faces, rainbows (or double rainbows) and kittens. It's about being confident in your own skin that you wake up every day with inner peace and calm.
Certainly I suggest skipping and being silly, but the meat of the matter is taking the reins of our own choices and realizing that self-care is not selfish. I recently told a gal that I am a happiness coach and consultant. Her enthusiastic reply: "That's great! When people are not happy, they make stupid choices." Amen, sister.
Another friend chimed in that stupid choices make you even more unhappy. People get caught in that vicious cycle. On many levels, it's a mindset issue. We all know people who start their stories with "Of course this happened to me. That's the way my life goes." They say it in the "woe is me" voice. Think Eeyore.
Change your tone and change your tune. Say: "Of course this happened to me. That's the way my life goes!" Be enthusiastic and focus on all the positives in your life. Good things come my way because I believe they will. I see the good in people and situations. I am grateful for all the good in my life.
If you've been Eeyore for a long time, it can be a tough habit to break, but it is absolutely doable. Start today to at least consider the change in how your frame your words and thoughts. Take a leap and experiment with this process.
It can be as simple as finding a great parking spot in a crowded area. (Of course this spot opened up. That's the way life goes for me!). It can be finding a great place to live and getting in quickly. (When I was condo shopping a couple years back, I got a lovely home and closed within a week. Of course this happened to me! That's the way my life goes!). It can be finding a mate who gets you. (Of course this happened to me. That's the way my life goes!)
I am not special, lucky or have magic powers. I used to live in the rut of the IRS agent who hated her job, felt restless and that something was missing from life, and lived on auto pilot doing all the Should's, Duties, and Obligations (SDOs).
It took me time to realize that I am the captain of my own ship. By becoming happier, I now "shine my light" to let others know that anything is possible. I now can help others navigate the waters and give them the courage to take the wheel.
Rumi said, "Be a lamp, a lifeboat, or a ladder." I like being a lamp, lighting the way. One of my coaches uses the analogy of people feeling lost in their lives, like being in a dark cave. She instructed me to be the one with the flashlight and map, showing them the way out of that dark place.
The quote on my desk reads: "We all need someone who gives us the courage to be who we're meant to be." If you need to find that someone, do it. If you are in a good place, be that person for someone else.
With a smile and gratitude, repeat after me: Of course this happened to me. That's the way my life goes!
Editor's Note: Kelly Epperson is the author of two books, founder of the Happiness Club of Loves Park, and creator of the "Joy Beyond Your Dreams" Life Mastery Program. You can contact her by email, firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (888) 637-3563 or at www.kellyepperson.com.
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