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

Feast of Sleebo/Feast of The Holy Cross

Volume 4 No. 237 September 12, 2014

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Entrance to newly re-dedicated St. Mary's Cheriapally, Pampady East, Kottayam
Entrance Door to the Newly-Rededicated St. Mary's Cheriapally,
East Pampady, Kottayam Diocese
TABLE OF CONTENTS
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1. Foreword

2. Bible Readings for This Sunday (September 14)

Bible Readings For Sleebo/ the Feast of Holy Cross
http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/Library/Lectionary/Lec_sleebo.htm

3. Sermons for This Sunday (September 14)

Sermons For Sleebo/ the Feast of Holy Cross
http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/Library/Sermons/Sermon-of-the-week_Sleebo.htm

4. The Power of The Holy Cross by LL HH Patriarch Zakka I Iwas

In our honoring of the sign of the holy cross, we worship the Lord Jesus who was crucified for our sakes and for our salvation. We worship his cross because it is His and His holy church's banner and through it all of her sacraments are made holy. We honor the wood of the cross because it touched the body of our Lord Jesus Christ, and his pure and precious blood was shed on it for the cloth that touched the body of Saint Paul had extraordinary heavenly power so that when it was placed on the sick they were healed. ...

5. Featured: The Cross of Christ Is The Source of Hope by Pope Francis

Dear friends, let us bring to Christ's Cross our joys, our sufferings and our failures. There we will find a Heart that is open to us and understands us, forgives us, loves us and calls us to bear this love in our lives, to love each person, each brother and sister, with the same love. ...

6. The Cross Transforms Lives

What does the symbol of the Cross mean to you? To many people, the Cross is merely an archaic emblem. To others, the Cross invokes feelings of guilt or confusion. Some churches even see it as a hindrance to attracting nonbelievers. ...

7. Turning from Tawhid to the Trinity

The Bible teaches that God is one being and three persons. This is not a contradiction, because 'being' and 'person' are two different things. Your being is that which makes you what you are, your person is that which makes you who you are. For instance, I am one being, a human being, and one person, Nabeel Qureshi. Yahweh is one being, God, with three persons: Father, Son, and Spirit. Complex? Yes. Unique? Yes. Nonsensical? No. ...

[To learn more about Trinity, please refer to Malankara World Special Supplement on Trinity. http://www.Malankaraworld.com/Library/Faith/Trinity/Default.htm ]

8. Malankara World Sleebo Feast Supplement

http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/Library/Sleebo/Default.htm

9. Health: Toxic Pollution

.. Sperm counts in men have dropped in the last 50 years. And according to a report done by the European Science Foundation, at least one in every five men in Europe ages 18-25 are considered to be infertile. We're exposed to all of these same chemicals and toxins, too. On a daily basis. They're in so many products we use, it's almost impossible to escape their influence. ...

10. Recipe: Yogurt Dip

11. Family Special: Disciplining With Love

God takes our discipline very seriously too. He does not want us to regard it lightly. By not yielding to His discipline, it delays blessings. God has a heart to bless us, not to hurt us. We need to be disciplined to handle the blessings. Our character needs to be developed in such a way that we can receive more from the Lord without it destroying our integrity or witness. ...

12. When you are absolutely crushing it...[One step to get over that hurdle]

When you know your Why - your purpose, mission and meaning - you can endure any How - any obstacle, challenge or struggle. ...

13. Obituary: 'Mor' than An Entrepreneur - Farewell, Truett Cathy

Truett Cathy's commitment to "glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted us," went far beyond sacrificing a day's profits every week. Truett and Jeannette spent years touching thousands of lives and turning waffle fry sales into an eternal investment. Through their "WinShape" foundation, they've opened long-term foster homes throughout the Southern U.S., where hundreds of kids have grown up in loving, two-parent families, received the means to go to college, and even matching funds for their first cars. The Cathys have also opened summer camps for boys and girls, given away millions in scholarships, and started a marriage enrichment retreat at Berry College. ...

14. About Malankara World

Foreword
Dying, you destroyed our death; rising you restored our life.
Save us by your cross, Christ our Redeemer.

(Antiphon for Afternoon prayer)

Our church celebrates this Sunday as the Feast of Holy Cross - Sleebo Feast or Sleeba Perunnal. For those who pay attention to the liturgy of the church, Sleebo Feast is the turning point in our "Namaskaram." After this Sunday we follow the prayers marked as "Sleeba Namaskaram" in our Qurbanakramam. On Sundays following Easter and upto Sleebo Feast we follow "Kymtha Namaskaram."

So, what is sleebo Feast? It is the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross (or Triumph of the Cross). On this day, we honor the Holy Cross by which Christ redeemed the world. The public veneration of the Cross of Christ originated in the fourth century, according to early accounts, beginning with the miraculous discovery of the cross on September 14, 326, by Saint Helen, mother of Constantine, while she was on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.

Again, from a practical point of view, something else also changes in the Church calendar this week. Technically, the time between the assumption of St. Mary (on August 15) and Koodosh Ea'tho (The fist day of the Church liturgical calendar) that falls on Nov 2 this year, the church switches its attention to the second coming of the Christ. Because of the celebration of the Nativity of St. Mary on September 8, the emphasis to second coming is deferred to the Sleebo feast and after. Once the liturgical year of the church begins after the dedication of the church (Hoodosh Ea'tho) on Nov 9 this year, we will change our emphasis to the arrival of the Messiah on Christmas Day by remembering all the important events preceeding the incarnation.

In the coming weeks, we hope to look at the last days of Jesus on earth and His promise of Second Coming.

Dr. Jacob Mathew
Malankara World

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

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

The Power of The Holy Cross

by LL Patriarch HH Zakka I Iwas

"For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing; but to us who are being saved it is the power of God."
I Corinthians 1:18

How blessed are those who are saved by the cross of our Lord Jesus, for they have obtained a godly power to overcome Satan and sin. For them natural death has become a transition from a miserable, transitory life to a glorious, eternal life.

How miserable are those who are perishing for they do not know the holy sacraments, they have lost their power, and the sacraments have become nonexistent to them. Didn't the writer of the Psalms speak about people like them, "Fools say in their hearts, There is no God. They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds; there is no one who does good" (Psalm 14:1). For the one who wallows in a pit of corruption and sin and does not comprehend the heavenly lessons is considered foolish because he has disregarded God, just as the idolaters were far away from the true God, worshiping the created and not the Creator. They are ignorant of the power of the cross, for they do not believe in God's plan of salvation for humanity, they do not understand the secret of the work of redemption, they do not believe in the beloved Redeemer. And, concerning the Jews "if they had understood they would not have crucified the Lord of glory" (I Corinthians 2:8). For to those who were entrusted to keep the prophets, the law and the law codes, the cross became a stumbling block because they didn't want to study the prophets to understand the secret of redemption. Therefore, they lost the power of the cross which is called the power of God by Saint Paul.

The cross derives its power from the merit of Christ's death on it and His resurrection from the dead which announced the Father's acceptance of the atonement of the crucified One and His redemption of humanity. As the apostle Peter expressed to the chief priests of the Jews about the Lord Jesus, "The God of our ancestors raised up Jesus, whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior that He might give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins" (Acts 5:30,31). For millions of people were crucified before Christ was crucified and after, but not one of them was raised from the dead but their names were wiped out and their souls went away and they left nothing but a memory behind. But only the Lord Jesus, who was crucified and died on the cross and was buried in a new tomb and rose from the dead on the third day, has raised us with Him and has seated us with Him in heaven. Since He was crucified for our sake and redeemed us from the curse of the law He became a curse for us as it is written, "Cursed is anyone who hangs on a tree" (Galatians 3:13 and Deuteronomy 21:23). So, Christ exchanged the curse of the cross for a spring of heavenly blessings and spiritual graces and the cross has become the banner of the Christian church, its symbol and the subject of its boasting. After it was a sign of weakness and humiliation it became a sign of the power of God and the glory of His church. This godly power is taken by everyone who believes to obtain salvation by the blood of Jesus Christ that was shed on the cross; that the blood of Christ is truly synonymous with the cross for it is the blood of the incarnate God, as the apostle Paul says to the priests of Ephesus: "Keep watch over yourselves and over all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God that he obtained with his own blood" (Acts 20:28).

[Editor's Note: Preached during the liturgy on the commemoration of the 11th anniversary of His Holiness's enthronement. Translated together with Anwar Mosa Matta.]

The cross is also analogous to the whole gospel as the apostle Paul said to the Corinthians; "For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified" (I Corinthians 2:2). For there is no gospel of salvation without Christ's crucifixion on the cross and resurrection from the dead. Christ through the cross gave us the sacrament of reconciliation with his heavenly Father. He also gave us the two graces of justification and sanctification, besides the grace of adoption, making us eligible to stand before the heavenly Father not as slaves but as children by grace to call to Him with the boldness of children saying; "Our Father who is in heaven." He has given birth to us from above not from the will of the flesh or the will of a man but of God (John 1:13): for the cross with all of its merit made us heirs to the kingdom of heaven, for the power of the cross is the reconciliation of heaven with earth. The earth obtains life from heaven after believing in the Lord of heaven and earth and accepting his plan for salvation.

This power is the victory over Satan so that whoever draws the sign of the cross on his forehead with faith terrorizes Satan and demons all together run away from a young Christian child who draws the sign of the cross. For, the crucified Holy One gives one spiritual power to become a spiritual champion and a little Christ. The child deserves the victory that Christ gives us by grace through his victory over Satan by vanquishing him on the cross and by giving us the cross as a sharp spiritual weapon. This godly power hidden in the holy cross was the origin of inspiration for the apostle Paul to announce before the people saying: "May I never boast of anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world" (Galatians 6:14), "and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me" (Galatians 2:20).

Yes, faith in the crucified Jesus, the redeemer of humanity, requires of believers both death and life, which is the complete sharing with Christ in his passion and death on the cross so that believers die to the world and their sin. Also required is life through Jesus who rose from the dead: a life that is spiritual resurrection in unity with Christ who said: "I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die" (John 11:25-26). So, as the apostle Paul crucified himself with Christ, he gained life in Christ and discovered the secret power of the cross of Christ. Previously the cross had been a stumbling block to him and a hindrance to faith in Christ the Savior, it then became a smooth path for him to Christ. Moreover it became for him life and boasting (Galatians 6:14).

Yes, the knowledge of Jesus Christ crucified truly is a revelation of the two sacraments of incarnation and redemption. It is also a confession that Christ has truly taken on our flesh and was tempted like us in everything except that he did not sin though he died in the flesh on the cross atoning for our sins. Therefore when we make the sign of the cross on our faces we say, "In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, one God, Amen" and we proclaim our faith in the sacrament of the Holy Trinity of the one God and the equality of the three persons of the Trinity in essence as we confess in the two sacraments of the incarnation and redemption and the work of atonement on the cross. Therefore, Christians have taken the cross as their symbol from the beginning of Christianity and they know it as the banner of the Church.

From this sound Christian understanding the Christian Queen Helena, mother of the Emperor Constantine in the fourth century A.D., pledged to search for the cross if her son the Emperor Constantine came to believe in Jesus Christ as the redeemer of humanity. She prayed continuously day and night, accompanying it with fasting, and gave alms so that the Lord would answer her plea. God willed that and showed Constantine the sign of the cross in the sky in the middle of the day and with it wrote the saying, "In this sign you will conquer." So Constantine took the sign of the cross as a banner for his army and conquered his enemies. He became Christian and his mother fulfilled her pledge in the year 326 A.D. and went to the Holy City, searched for the cross and found it. She was assured by a miracle that it was the real cross that the Lord Jesus hung on at Golgotha when the cross was placed on the body of a dead young man, immediately when it touched the body life returned to that young man and he was resurrected and the bishop of the city blessed the people with the holy cross of Christ.

Truly the Christian church venerates the holy cross as it also venerates the sign of the cross, just as citizens honor the flag of their country, in this way they honor their nation and country. Whoever honors his country honors his flag which is a symbol of his dignity. We honor the cross worshiping the One who was crucified on it, died and rose from the dead triumphing over death, Satan and sin and through it he gave us victory over these three enemies. In the cross we see the sacrament of salvation just as the people of the Old Testament in the wilderness, where the tormenting deadly snakes bit them, lifted up their eyes in faith to see the copper snake suspended on the staff in the midst of the area to gain salvation from death. We the Syriac people do not put a statue of Jesus on the cross because He who died on the cross was taken down from the cross and buried in a new tomb and was gloriously resurrected on the third day. So, He is not on the cross any more. The cross is free of Him. As we honor the cross we worship the One who was crucified on it. We do not worship a statue and that's no wonder as a result when the children of Israel worshiped the copper snake at the time of King Hezekiah, this faithful king destroyed that copper snake and threw it in the fire with the rest of the idols because it had become a reason for the perishing of the people after it had been a source of their salvation.

So in our honoring of the sign of the holy cross, we however worship the Lord Jesus who was crucified for our sakes and for our salvation. We worship his cross because it is His and His holy church's banner and through it all of her sacraments are made holy. We honor the wood of the cross because it touched the body of our Lord Jesus Christ, and his pure and precious blood was shed on it for the cloth that touched the body of Saint Paul had extraordinary heavenly power so that when it was placed on the sick they were healed. So how much more believable that the wood the Lord Jesus was crucified on and touched his holy body has conferred holy power to grant healing to souls of believers and their bodies?

The blessed church fathers say: "If the tree of life that was planted in the middle of paradise symbolized the wood that the Messiah was hung on, and if the first parents had been prevented from eating of its fruit after they sinned so as not to be granted eternal life in a state of sin, then their offspring would have had the right to eat the fruit of salvation that comes from the crucifixion of Christ on the wood after these offspring were granted redemption through the heavenly crucified One and the believers were made righteous through his atonement and they were made holy and are entitled to life forever in the crucified Christ.

The wood of the cross and its sign symbolizes the blood of the Passover lamb that was smeared on the door posts and the lintel of the door of each house of the people of the old covenant in Egypt. And when the angel of death saw the blood of the Passover it did not destroy the first born of that house. So, the sign of the cross saved the first born of the people of the old order.

Yes, my beloved: for we who are saved the word of the cross is the power of God and the sign of the cross is the sign of our holy Messiah who willed that this would be the sign for all who truly become his disciples, for He, glory be to Him, said: "Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:27). And he also said to the people and his disciples together: "If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it" (Mark 8:34-35). For it is not possible to become disciples of the Messiah unless we first deny ourselves. Denying self means that the believer confesses his own weakness, the power of God Almighty and the need of the believer for God whose might is not equaled in the universe, Holy be His Name. But carrying the cross is the ultimate surrender, and the disciples of Christ have buried their selfishness with Christ so they no longer look out for themselves but for the salvation of others.

The cross is a recognition of the right to salvation for perishing sinners from among our brothers in humanity for whose sake and for their salvation and our salvation Christ carried his cross and was hung on the cross. So the disciples of Christ should strive for the salvation of people to partake of redemption and to become children of God by this grace. Discipleship to our Lord Jesus Christ, self denial and carrying the holy cross: all these holy things remind us in these moments of the glorious historical day when we sat on the Apostolic See of Antioch by grace not by worthiness. And we today by the grace of God have placed our foot on the threshold of the 12th year of our Patriarchate. We begin this year as we began our service in the Patriarchate with sure faith and self denial and sacrifice by carrying the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ following his footsteps on the way to Golgotha with the patience, endurance and forbearance. Bearing the cross is a proof of our confession of its divine power and our confession of our weakness and the full reliance on him, to him be glory, for he is the one who says to us as he said to the apostle Paul: "My grace is sufficient for you for my power is made perfect in weakness" (2 Corinthians 12:9). By the grace of God on high we have been chosen for the service of his church and he called us to share in carrying the cross and seeking for the salvation of souls. And there is no doubt about that for we have seen him on the way to Golgotha exhausted from his sufferings; as he is walking his blood is dripping from his wounded body, the effect of the severe beatings and strong punches. After they had tortured him with wild whipping and when he did not seem able to bear the cross, Simon the Cyrene was conscripted to carry the cross instead of him. In this we learn that the Lord Jesus permits humanity to carry his cross, to carry with him responsibility for the salvation of humanity and sharing with him in the work of redeeming humanity. For the responsibility of salvation by the cross has been given to us by way of the holy church, the sacramental body of Christ, which was worthy to receive the merits of redemption by the cross and to preserve them as we guard our own eyes, and to distribute these merits to its children the believers that they would become disciples of Christ, its Lord and its bride and its head.

God on High has prepared us since we were children to be a disciple of Christ as he prepared us to sit on the throne of Antioch by grace not by worthiness. For that reason we raise to his majesty thanks for what he has granted us during these years, these past eleven years in which we have carried the burdens of the Patriarchate. Thanks to the members of the Holy Synod, the respected metropolitans who by godly inspiration elected us Patriarch to carry the banner before them in service to the church of God purchased for her by his blood to glorify his holy name for the salvation of the children of God.

Also, beloved, we thank the respected metropolitans participation with us in this prayer on this day. May God give them success in their apostolic service and may God be with us all in the coming days as he was with us in the past years for without Him (glory be to him) we are not able to do anything as he said in the holy gospel (John 15:5). We thank you all, clergy and people, asking God to bless you by his holy cross and preserve you and your children and prepare you for the day when the sign of the cross appears in the sky announcing the second coming of the Lord Jesus that you would be among the number of those marked by the cross, saved by the cross and gaining resurrection with the righteous (John 5:29), who will be in the day of judgment with the sheep on his right hearing his sweet voice saying to them, "Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world"; (Matthew 25:34) and inherit with him his heavenly kingdom: the position that I wish for me and for you. By His grace. Amen.

Source: The Patriarchal Journal; Vol.29 – October/November 1991 – No. 108/109. Pages 463- 470

Featured: The Cross of Christ Is The Source of Hope

by Pope Francis

[Editor's Note:

A few months after Pope Francis was consecrated, the Pope travelled to Brazil to participate in the World Youth Day celebrations. The pope prayed with pilgrims in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on July 27, 2013. Nearly 300 artists and volunteers from several countries including the United States animated the popular devotion known as the Way of the Cross. The meditations accompanying each of the 14 stations depicting the principal episodes of Christ's Passion, death and burial focused on a theme of particular significance in the life of contemporary youth. This included: mission, conversion, community, and vocation; others involved pressing social challenges and existential issues such as suffering, illness and mortality.

In remarks to the pilgrims, Pope Francis spoke of the Cross of Christ as the source of hope, to which anyone and everyone can and ought to bring his deepest joys, sufferings and failures. The Pope also spoke of Christ's Cross as a challenge to all of us: an invitation to allow ourselves to be smitten by his love, as well as a lesson and a reminder to us always to look upon others with mercy and tenderness - especially the suffering, and those we meet who are in distress and need help, whether in the form of a word of encouragement, or a concrete action that could take us beyond ourselves.

It was a remarkable message, typical of Pope Francis - simple like the parables of Jesus, but filled with meaning that we can immerse in. Here is the full text of the Pope's Message on the role of the cross in our lives.]

Dear Young Friends,

We have come here today to accompany Jesus on his journey of sorrow and love, the Way of the Cross, which is one of the most intense moments of World Youth Day. At the end of the Holy Year of Redemption, Blessed John Paul II chose to entrust the Cross to you, young people, asking you "to carry it throughout the world as a symbol of Christ's love for humanity, and announce to everyone that only in the death and resurrection of Christ can we find salvation and redemption" (Address of Pope John Paul II to Young People, 22 April 1984). Since then, the World Youth Day Cross has travelled to every continent and through a variety of human situations. It is, as it were, almost "steeped" in the life experiences of the countless young people who have seen it and carried it.

No one can approach and touch the Cross of Jesus without leaving something of himself or herself there, and without bringing something of the Cross of Jesus into his or her own life. I have three questions that I hope will echo in your hearts this evening as you walk beside Jesus:

1. What have you left on the Cross, dear young people of Brazil, during these two years that it has been crisscrossing your great country?

2. What has the Cross of Jesus left for you, in each one of you?

3. Finally, what does this Cross teach us?

1. According to an ancient Roman tradition, while fleeing the city during the persecutions of Nero, Saint Peter saw Jesus who was travelling in the opposite direction, that is, toward the city, and asked him in amazement: "Lord, where are you going?"

Jesus' response was: "I am going to Rome to be crucified again."

At that moment, Peter understood that he had to follow the Lord with courage, to the very end. But he also realized that he would never be alone on the journey; Jesus, who had loved him even unto death on the Cross, would always be with him.

Jesus, with his Cross, walks with us and takes upon himself our fears, our problems, and our sufferings, even those which are deepest and most painful.
With the Cross, Jesus unites himself to the silence of the victims of violence, those who can no longer cry out, especially the innocent and the defenseless;
with the Cross, he is united to families in trouble, those who mourn the loss of their children, or who suffer when they see them fall victim to false paradises, such as that offered by drugs.
On the Cross, Jesus is united with every person who suffers from hunger in a world where tons of food are thrown out each day;
on the Cross, Jesus is united with those who are persecuted for their religion, for their beliefs or simply for the color of their skin;
on the Cross, Jesus is united with so many young people who have lost faith in political institutions, because they see in them only selfishness and corruption;
he unites himself with those young people who have lost faith in the Church, or even in God because of the counter-witness of Christians and ministers of the Gospel.

The Cross of Christ bears the suffering and the sin of mankind, including our own. Jesus accepts all this with open arms, bearing on his shoulders our crosses and saying to us:

"Have courage!
You do not carry your cross alone!
I carry it with you.
I have overcome death and
I have come to give you hope,
to give you life"
(cf. Jn 3:16).

2. And so we can answer the second question:

What has the Cross given to those who have gazed upon it or touched it?
What has it left in each one of us?

It gives us a treasure that no one else can give: the certainty of the unshakable love which God has for us. A love so great that it enters into our sin and forgives it, enters into our suffering and gives us the strength to bear it. It is a love which enters into death to conquer it and to save us.

The Cross of Christ contains all the love of God, his immeasurable mercy. This is a love in which we can place all our trust, in which we can believe.

Dear young people, let us entrust ourselves to Jesus, let us give ourselves over entirely to him! Only in Christ crucified and risen can we find salvation and redemption. With him, evil, suffering, and death do not have the last word, because he gives us hope and life:

He has transformed the Cross from an instrument of hate, defeat and death into a sign of love, victory and life.

The first name given to Brazil was "The Land of the Holy Cross". The Cross of Christ was planted five centuries ago not only on the shores of this country, but also in the history, the hearts and the lives of the people of Brazil and elsewhere. The suffering Christ is keenly felt here, as one of us who shares our journey even to the end. There is no cross, big or small, in our life which the Lord does not share with us.

3. But the Cross of Christ invites us also to allow ourselves to be smitten by his love, teaching us always to always look upon others with mercy and tenderness, especially those who suffer, who are in need of help, who need a word or a concrete action which requires us to step outside ourselves to meet them and to extend a hand to them.

How many people were with Jesus on the way to Calvary:

Pilate,
Simon of Cyrene,
Mary,
the women…

Sometimes we can be like Pilate, who did not have the courage to go against the tide to save Jesus' life, and instead washed his hands.

Dear friends, the Cross of Christ teaches us to be like Simon of Cyrene, who helped Jesus to carry that heavy wood;
it teaches us to be like Mary and the other women, who were not afraid to accompany Jesus all the way to the end, with love and tenderness.

And you? Who are you like? Like Pilate? Like Simon? Like Mary?

Dear friends, let us bring to Christ's Cross our joys, our sufferings and our failures. There we will find a Heart that is open to us and understands us, forgives us, loves us and calls us to bear this love in our lives, to love each person, each brother and sister, with the same love. Amen!

Address delivered on July 26, 2013 at Rio de Janeiro - Copacabana, Brazil
Source: Radio Vaticana

The Cross Transforms Lives

by Michael Youssef, Ph.D.

What does the symbol of the Cross mean to you? To many people, the Cross is merely an archaic emblem. To others, the Cross invokes feelings of guilt or confusion. Some churches even see it as a hindrance to attracting nonbelievers.

Yet the early believers chose the Cross as their symbol for a special reason. There were many symbols of Jesus' earthly ministry to represent them. They could have chosen a manger to represent where baby Jesus was born. They could have chosen a boat, from which Jesus taught the crowd in Galilee. They could have chosen an apron, which Jesus wore when He washed the disciples' feet. They could have chosen a throne or a crown, to represent His divine and sovereign rule.

But instead they chose the Cross that proclaims that the wages of sin are fully paid, and that the perfect sacrifice has been fully offered. Through the Cross we have redemption and life with Christ in heaven. Through the Cross we know that sin has been defeated.

The Cross of Christ serves four key purposes.

First, Jesus died on the Cross to satisfy God's justice. God's Word says that "the wages of sin are death." (Romans 6:23). When we break God's Law, we must pay the penalty. Jesus, the only sinless one, paid that penalty for us on the Cross.

Second, Jesus died on the Cross to redeem His own children. He delivered us from sin and death. Every one of us is born into enmity with God but God has provided the way back to Him through the Cross.

Third, Jesus died on the Cross to justify believers. It was an act of gracious justice. God does not excuse our sin as a minor concern but He forgives and restores us when we come to Him in repentance and humility through faith in Jesus Christ. God gives us salvation from sin and death as a gift - a very costly gift.

Fourth, Jesus died on the Cross to reconcile all of those who will believe in Him to His Father. Sin creates a wall between us and God; only Jesus can tear down that wall. When we are reconciled with God, it transforms us from being God's enemies to being His children.

The Cross transforms lives. "He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls" (1 Peter 2:24,25).

Without the Cross, there is no forgiveness of sin, no salvation. There can be no relief from guilt; no peace of mind; no eternal life with God in heaven. Thank God today for His precious and amazing gift of eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The symbol of the cross did not first appear at the death of Jesus. As early as the book of Genesis, we begin to see the foreshadowing of the cross. From the moment Adam and Eve decided to go their own way from God's commandments, God began lifting up the Cross. We see it when the blood of an innocent lamb was shed to atone for Adam and Eve's disobedience. We see the symbol of the Cross when God's people participated in Passover.

But these animal sacrifices of the Old Testament could never take away sin permanently. Only the pure blood of the Lamb of God can truly purge sin. The animal sacrifices reminded God's people that sin is a costly offense to a Holy God. And these sacrifices pointed forward to the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross.

Many people are drawn to the magnanimous love of God, but they hesitate to acknowledge the righteous and holy side of God. Righteousness demands that sin be punished. For God's justice to prevail, sin and rebellion against God must be dealt with. Since the only covering for sin is the shedding of innocent blood, God shed His own blood - the most innocent blood of all.

Because God shed His own blood, we can find forgiveness of sins, relief from guilt, peace with God and eternal life in heaven. May all glory, honor and thanksgiving be given to God for the enormity of His sacrifice upon the Cross.

Source: Excerpted from My Journal, a monthly devotional magazine from Leading The Way with Dr. Michael Youssef.

Turning from Tawhid to the Trinity

by Nabeel Qureshi

[Editor's Note:

Non-Christians find it very difficult to understand the Christian concept of Trinity - one God, three persons. Muslims and Jews consider Trinity as polytheistic blasphemy. I thought it will be of interest to our readers to read how a well-educated Muslim accepts Christianity after he changes his concept of Trinity. Please read on. ..]

Of all the chapters of the Qur'an that we memorized as Muslim children, there was one we recited more frequently than any other. It wasn't long, only 3 verses, but Muhammad taught that it encapsulated a third of the Quran's teaching, making it the weightiest chapter of the scripture and a core doctrine of the Islamic faith. It is Surat-al-Ikhlaas, chapter 112, and its second verse contains the message:

"God is not a Father, and He is not a Son."

So above all doctrine in my Muslim life, the one teaching that was drilled into my head most often was 'Tawhid', that God is absolutely one and cannot be Father or Son. By the time I was a teen, my reaction to the Trinity was kneejerk: I saw it as nonsensical, polytheistic blasphemy.

Part of the problem was that no one clarified to me how the Trinity could be a monotheistic doctrine. It sounded to me like people wanted to worship three gods, but still desired the dignity of being monotheists, so they invented a nonsense doctrine called the Trinity in which God could be three and one at the same time.

What made the problem worse was that no one explained what it meant for Jesus to be the Son of God. I, and most of the Muslim world around me, assumed that this implied some kind of biological sonship; physical offspring, as if one day God decided to create another god. In turn, that meant Jesus must be an inferior god, a created one. The Bible seemed to support Jesus' inferiority to God, since Jesus says in John: "the Father is greater than I." (Jn 14:28) Regarding the Bible, I did not find the doctrine of the Trinity anywhere in the Bible, so I concluded it must be blasphemous.

That is why I saw the Trinity as nonsensical, polytheistic blasphemy.

It all changed when I began studying two things more carefully: science and the Bible. Science began to show me that there are things in this world so tiny that we can only view them through microscopes, and yet they are incomprehensibly complex. Though quantum mechanics comes to mind, much more commonplace matters can be similarly befuddling, such as light. Light defies the minds of scientists, being both a particle and a wave, yet this apparent contradiction is demonstrably true.

If the world is so complex that it baffles our minds, what about the One who created the world? The One who created our minds? I now think that if my Creator is so simple that I can understand Him, perhaps I have made Him in my image.

With a less presumptuous attitude, I approached the Bible to see what it actually teaches. Though it does not use the word "Trinity", the teachings are certainly there. It teaches that there is only one God (Deut 4:35), but He is somehow plural (Gen 1:1, Dt 6:4, Jn 1:1). God is Father, God is Son, and God is Holy Spirit, and these three persons share the name of Yahweh (Mt 28:19; Phil 2:11 cf. Isaiah 45:22-23).

So the Bible teaches that God is one being and three persons. This is not a contradiction, because 'being' and 'person' are two different things. Your being is that which makes you what you are, your person is that which makes you who you are. For instance, I am one being, a human being, and one person, Nabeel Qureshi. Yahweh is one being, God, with three persons: Father, Son, and Spirit. Complex? Yes. Unique? Yes. Nonsensical? No.

The Sonship of Jesus is not physical, but one of role. This explains how he can be inferior to the Father in one sense, but still be equal to the Father in another. As an illustration, my father is superior to me in terms of role within the family, but he and I are equally human. I am inferior in role, but equal in substance. So is Jesus inferior in role to the Father, but equal in substance, since they are the same Being.

Armed with these definitions and illustrations, I began to see how the Trinity was a viable model for the nature of God. I didn't believe it, however, until I found good reason to believe the Gospel. I found that when I saw the evidence that Jesus claimed to be God and proved it by rising from the dead, having died for our sins on the cross.

There is so much depth to God that we can never tire of drawing from His well. As we know God more and go deeper in our understanding of His nature, not only will our lives be enriched but so will the lives of others as we more compellingly share Him and His love.

About The Author:

Nabeel Qureshi is a speaker with Ravi Zacharias International Ministry. He holds an MD from Eastern Virginia Medical School, an MA in Christian apologetics from Biola University and an MA in religion from Duke University. His first book, 'Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus: A Devout Muslim Encounters Christianity', just released from Zondervan. ...

Source: Christianity.com Daily Update

[To learn more about Trinity, please refer to Malankara World Special Supplement on Trinity. ]

http://www.Malankaraworld.com/Library/Faith/Trinity/Default.htm

Malankara World Sleebo Feast Supplement
Health Tip: Toxic Pollution

by Al Sears, MD

I always thought of the North Pole as the most pristine place on Earth. But not anymore.

It's totally uninhabited by humans. Yet researchers are now finding toxins from the modern world there. (1)

These deadly chemicals are showing up in some other places you'd never expect them, contaminating wildlife. For instance:

Male polar bears in the North Pole are now being born with both male and female genitalia, making it virtually impossible for them to reproduce.

Alligators near Florida's huge Lake Apopka have such small penises they cannot perform sexually. Since 1980, increased levels of the industrial agent DDT have exposed the gators to high concentrations of chemicals that mimic estrogen. (2)

Male panthers have decreased sperm counts, the fertility of the male bald eagle is decreasing sharply and male fish are turning up with feminine characteristics. (3)

Even humans are affected. Sperm counts in men have dropped in the last 50 years. And according to a report done by the European Science Foundation, at least one in every five men in Europe ages 18-25 are considered to be infertile.

We're exposed to all of these same chemicals and toxins, too. On a daily basis. They're in so many products we use, it's almost impossible to escape their influence.

But I want to reassure you that it's not impossible to overcome their effects.

For the past 20 years, I've been studying this troubling trend and how it can affect you. That's why I developed a simple plan to help purify and protect your body from these dangers so you don't have to worry about this exposure threatening your health.

Today I'm going to show you quick, simple steps you can take to rid your body of these toxins and help keep them from returning – no matter how contaminated our environment becomes.

This five-step plan works to remove the toxins already in your body. Plus it helps prevent the build-up of toxins in the future.

Limit processed protein.

Processed meat tends to accumulate a lot of pesticides and other dangerous toxins. Free-range chicken, grass-fed beef and cage-free eggs are your best options. Wild-caught fish are safe, too. Avoid all farm-raised fish because they are heavily exposed to pesticides. Deep sea fish like cod, halibut, sardines and mackerel are all good choices. If you don't have access to free-range meat, be sure to cut off any visible fat. Many of the worst chemicals get stored in it.

Choose locally grown, organic produce to avoid consuming pesticides.

If you can't find organic, be sure to thoroughly wash and peel your fruits and vegetables to lower your chance of being exposed to chemicals.

Don't use plastic.

Most plastic bottles and containers contain toxins like parabens and BPA that can affect your hormone levels and contaminate your system. Choose glass bottles and containers whenever possible.

Eat more estrogen-fighting foods.

These include berries, citrus, pineapples, pears, grapes, squash, onions, green beans, figs, melons and pumpkin seeds. Incorporate cruciferous vegetables into your diet. Broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and cabbage all help you excrete excess estrogen.

Test your water.

Pesticides tend to find their way into municipal water systems so you'll want to test your water with a kit or request a water report from your city to see if the water you're drinking and bathing in is clean. If your water fails the test, a filter is an easy solution.

For your faucets, look for a carbon block filter that removes particles less than or equal to 1 micron in diameter. For your shower, look for a filter that gets rid of chlorine, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and Trihalomethanes (THMs). VOCs are man-made chemicals, fuel components and byproducts. Formaldehyde is an example of a VOC. THMs are solvents, refrigerants and byproducts.

It's a simple process to install these filters. You'll need a wrench and some plumber's tape. Some shower filters completely replace the showerhead. Others you insert above the showerhead.

References:

1. Ma J, Hung H, Chongguo T, et al. "Revolatization of persistent organic pollutants in the Arctic induced by climate change," Nature Climate Change 2011; 255–260.

2. Guillette LJ, et al. (1996). "Reduction in Penis Size and Plasma Testosterone Concentrations in Juvenile Alligators Living in a Contaminated Environment," General and Comparative Endocrinology 101:32-42.

3. Toppari J, Larsen JC, et al. "Male reproductive health and environmental xenoestrogens," Environ Health Perspect. 1996 August; 104(Suppl 4): 741–803.

Disclosure: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Any product mentioned is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Recipe: Yogurt Dip

Take 1 large tub of Non-fat Plain Yogurt.

Place in a clean large cloth in a strainer and leave for 6 hours until all water drains out. [May leave uncovered in refrigerator if thicker consistency is desired.]

Add salt, pepper, ginger powder and chopped cilantro.

Optional: Sprinkle your favorite powdered herbs .

Use this dip in place of ranch dressing or as a dip for vegetables.

Source: Nilla Vibhakar

Family Special: Disciplining With Love
Scripture: Judges 16-18: Luke 7:1-30

Today's Thoughts: Discipline of Love

"My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor faint when you are reproved by Him." Hebrews 12:5

I can see the anger that comes upon my children when my husband and I need to discipline them. They just hate it. At that moment, they can immediately justify, rationalize, and minimize whatever they are guilty of doing. As a parent, I want to give them the benefit of the doubt. For I know that disciplining them may bring extra consequences to me too. If they need to stay home all weekend, then I need to stay home too. Punishment takes its toll on whoever is involved. However, God tells us that disciplining our children shows them that we love them.

God takes our discipline very seriously too. He does not want us to regard it lightly. By not yielding to His discipline, it delays blessings. God has a heart to bless us, not to hurt us. We need to be disciplined to handle the blessings. Our character needs to be developed in such a way that we can receive more from the Lord without it destroying our integrity or witness. So by regarding His discipline lightly, we will not learn as quickly or as willingly and then we will not be able to receive what God wants to give to us. That hurts God’s heart. God gave His Son, Jesus, and He wants to keep giving. He cannot separate from His giving nature. But He also loves us so much as to not allow us to hurt ourselves with His gracious gifts.

If you are being stretched, bent, and even burnt right now, ask the Lord to help you learn His lesson in it. If we learn the first time, we don’t have to return to this place of discipline. And remember that "All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness." (Hebrews 12:11)

Source: Daily Disciples Ministries, Inc. 

When you are absolutely crushing it...
[One step to get over that hurdle]

by John O'Leary, Rising Above

"When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all of your thoughts break their bonds." - Patanjali

All of us -- parents struggling with a child, nurses struggling with patients, executives struggling to grow a business, couples struggling to keep it all together -- realize: some days, some people and some challenges can appear insurmountable.

So, how do we rise above when everything seems to be working in perfect harmony to pull us down?

In my presentations I often answer this question by quoting one of my favorite books, "Man's Search for Meaning" by Viktor Frankl. Several times in his remarkable story about surviving the Holocaust he shares this quote:

"When you know your Why, you can endure any How."

When you know your Why - your purpose, mission and meaning - you can endure any How - any obstacle, challenge or struggle.

We are focusing this month at Rising Above on choosing purpose vs. complacency. What we know is that the most significant men and women, the finest organizations and the best schools live purposefully. They intentionally decide each day to live up to the fullness of their potential.

Today I'm sharing a simple technique that will allow you to discover, articulate and live your purpose, too. I call it an Ignition Statement.

Our Ignition Statement, our personal Why, keeps us fired up to strive even higher, to make one more call, to greet others in love, to race on toward that higher calling for our lives. Our Why also serves as fuel to fight on when everything seems to be going wrong, when everyone else seems to turn their back, when the way forward seems to difficult.

Using myself as an example, some of the pulls on my time today include constant travel, nourishing relationships, remaining healthy, growing a business, balancing priorities, leading my family, serving my community, striving in my faith, and passionately living. This can be a pretty full plate and managed without intention could lead to stress, breakdown, and discouragement.

Thankfully, I have an Ignition Statement for my life. Asked why I strive to do the things I do and to do them all with total joy the answer is simple and compelling: because God demands it, my family deserves it and the world is starved for it.

Friend, this quote lights me up today to remain fully alive each day regardless the challenges within it! And, keeps me absolutely laser focused on the person I'm speaking with or the task before me.

So here's how you can create your own Ignition Statement for your business, family or life. Ask yourself this: When I am at my absolute best, when I am totally crushing it, when I am making a difference and on fire for who I am and what I do, why am I so alive, so effective, so on fire?

Let your answer begin with the first word: Because.

So, in example: when I am with a patient and am compassionately serving and totally in the moment I am thriving because:

When I am achieving my quotas at work, making a difference, and racing home to love my kids I am thriving because:

When I am making a difference in the community, classroom or home, and feel totally alive, I am thriving because:

My friends, in identifying why you are most fully alive you are gifted with not only recognizing what's worked best in the past, but what will be most effective in igniting you every day going forward.

And that frees you to live onto this truth: The best is yet to come.

Copyright © 2014 Rising Above, All rights reserved.

Obituary: 'Mor' than An Entrepreneur - Farewell, Truett Cathy

by Eric Metaxas, BreakPoint.org

[Editor's Note:

Malankara World does not publish obituaries. However, we are making an exception in case of Truett Cathy, founder of Chick fil-A Restuarant chain. He is one of the persons I admire a lot and is worth emulating. For those who are not in US, Chick Fil-A is one of a very very few restaurants that are closed on Sundays. Sunday, being a holiday, is a busy day for restaurants; keeping them closed on 'sabbath day' takes courage, commitment and sacrifice. Cathy was also very vocal in his commitment to Christian principles and values. His statement on Christian marriage got him into hot water with Gays and Lesbians. He kept his ground, again at the risk of losing customers. He also believed in "serving" people as Jesus taught us. I hope that each of us can learn something from his life and learn how to be a "true" Christian. ]

Today we celebrate the life of Truett Cathy, founder of the Chick-fil-A fast food chain and more importantly, a devout follower of Christ. Cathy went home to be with the Lord Monday morning at age 93. He leaves behind his wife Jeannette and three children, the eldest of whom, Dan, continues his father's legacy as Chick-fil-A president and COO.

Cathy began his career as a restaurateur in 1946, opening his first Chick-fil-A concept in 1967. But what distinguishes Truett's life isn't his business success, but his Christian witness in the midst of that success.

Of course the most famous example is the company policy that inspired one comedian to write a dirge for his disappointed after-church cravings: Chick-fil-A is closed on Sundays. No exceptions. It's a prerogative the privately-held company has guarded jealously for years.

But Truett Cathy's commitment to, as Chick-fil-A's corporate purpose says, "glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted us," went far beyond sacrificing a day's profits every week.

Truett and Jeannette spent years touching thousands of lives and turning waffle fry sales into an eternal investment. Through their "WinShape" foundation, they've opened long-term foster homes throughout the Southern U.S., where hundreds of kids have grown up in loving, two-parent families, received the means to go to college, and even (at Truett's insistence) matching funds for their first cars.

The Cathys have also opened summer camps for boys and girls, given away millions in scholarships, and started a marriage enrichment retreat at Berry College.

"Children," said Truett, "will never believe in the covenant of marriage unless they see it with their own eyes."

Of course, the Cathys' commitment to traditional marriage landed their family and company in hot water with LGBT activists recently when word reached the press that they'd made large contributions to so-called "anti-gay" organizations.

Gay rights groups organized protests on college campuses and at several Chick-fil-A locations. The mayors of Chicago and Boston even threatened to block new Chick-fil-A franchises from opening in their cities—a move the American Civil Liberties Union shot down, reminding the mayors that free speech is still a thing.

Truett's son, Dan, wasn't absent during all of this. He was hard at work, quietly dispelling at least one gay activist's misconceptions about his family and their Christian beliefs. Writing in The Huffington Post, Shane Windmeyer, national director of the gay rights group Campus Pride, "came out" as a friend of Dan Cathy and Chick-fil-A, and told fellow activists to stop having a cow about the Cathys' chicken restaurant.

Dan Cathy, said Windmeyer, wasn't the foaming, homophobic fundamentalist he'd expected. Instead, Cathy "expressed a sincere interest" in his life, and "genuine sadness when he heard of people being treated unkindly in the name of Chick-fil-A." He never wavered on traditional marriage, though, says Windmeyer, but loved and respected him as a person, despite their differences.

Dan Cathy's willingness to reach out and befriend an opponent is undoubtedly a reflection of his father's legacy. Truett spent his life putting others first, whether it was his family, his employees or the countless lives he touched through his generosity.

He will be missed greatly, and I pray he'll be imitated, not just in the fast food world, but by Christians who want to know what vocation looks like. For Truett Cathy, it meant opening our hearts on more than just Sundays.

About The Author:

Eric Metaxas is a co-host of BreakPoint Radio and a best-selling author whose biographies, children's books, and popular apologetics have been translated into more than a dozen languages.

Source: BreakPoint

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