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

Mother's Day Special

Volume 5 No. 284 May 8, 2015

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Maia with her Godmother - December 2014 - Austin, TX
Maia With Her Godmother - Austin, Texas - Dec 2014

Photo by Dr. Jacob Mathew, Malankara World

TABLE OF CONTENTS
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I. This Sunday in Church

1. Bible Readings for This Sunday (May 10)

2. Sermons for This Sunday (May 10)

Sermons for the Fourth Sunday After the New Sunday

http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/Library/Sermons/Sermon-of-the-week_4th-sunday-after-new-sunday.htm

3. From Malankara World Journal Archives

4. Preparation of Our Heart (Luke 9:57-62) - Bible Study Based on This Week's Gospel Reading

Missions is such key part of Jesus' message that it reaches down and touches each of our lives. Our commitment to missions reflects our commitment to our Lord.

Look at these encounters Jesus had with three of His disciples. They will help us to ready our hearts for the ministries Jesus has for us. ...

5. Jesus' Terms for Discipleship

Through the ministry of our Lord, He had a slogan as He went from city to city. This slogan was repeated over and over for us because we need reminded again and again the importance of being a disciple: Whoever keeps his life will loose it but whoever looses his life for Me will save it. ...

II. This Week's Special: Mother's Day

6. Motherhood, an Awesome Gift from God

On this day we give special thanks to each and every mother, to our own mothers on the natural order who brought us into this world and who taught us the most important lessons of life. We are grateful to our Mother, the Church, where we were born at the baptismal font. And we are grateful to our heavenly Mother who leads us to Jesus, who teaches us about Our Lord, who protects us, who guides us, who nourishes us, who prays for us, the one who will bring us to eternal life and teaches to us the only Name given to us by which we are to be saved, the Name of her Son, Jesus Christ. ...

7. Three Ways My Mom Reminds Me of Jesus

But more than those little things, my mom has made such a big impact on me because she reminds me of Jesus. Here are three Christ-like messages she has ingrained in me (whether by her words or simply her actions): ...

8. Mom - A Poem

Though logic tells me something else,
I tend to think my Mom will always be there. ...

9. How Do You Measure The Greatness Of A Mom?

A great mom is therefore measured by how well her children turn out. And I believe that God's Word gives us some characteristics that great moms have in common. If you are a mom you need to ask yourself if you possessed these characteristics. For everyone else you need to ask yourself if your mom possessed these characteristics. ...

10. What Makes a Good Mother?

It is a pertinent question whose answer cannot be contained within a few words. Mothers comprise of a bundle of emotions that sometimes defy reason. So this goes out to all the mothers who have kept awake all night with their sick toddlers in their arms, constantly uttering those compassionate words, "It's OK honey, Mommy's here." ....

III. Weekly Features

11. Health: 5 Weird Things That Make You Bloated

Feeling bloated doesn't just happen by accident. In fact there are certain healthy foods that can actually trigger bloating. Here are a few to watch out for: ...

12. Recipe: Island Shake

Kids love this easy-to-make island escape. Share A Little Sunshine

13. Family Special: How to Know if You Have Healthy Boundaries

A wall confines you to a past that cannot be changed and to a future of more of the same. A boundary can open up the future, because it marks a change from the way things have gone in the past. Both provide some type of protection, but the protection of a wall limits all the positive outcomes, whereas the boundary has unlimited potential to secure a future of hope and healing. ...

14. Follow-Up: Correct Spelling is SAYFO

Thomas Joseph, Ph.D. responds to the query by V.T. John about the correct spelling for Sayfo. ...

15. About Malankara World

This Sunday in Church
Bible Readings for This Sunday (May 10)

Sermons for This Sunday (May 10)

From Malankara World Journal Archives

Preparation of Our Heart (Luke 9:57-62)
Bible Study Based on This Week's Gospel Reading

by Paul J. Bucknell

Gospel: Luke 9:57-62

The Bible Text (Luke 9:57-62)

9:57 "And as they were going along the road, someone said to Him, "I will follow You wherever You go." 58 And Jesus said to him, "The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head." 59 And He said to another, "Follow Me." 60 But he said, "Permit me first to go and bury my father." But He said to him, "Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God." 61 And another also said, "I will follow You, Lord; but first permit me to say good-bye to those at home." 62 But Jesus said to him, "No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God." Luke 9:57-62 (from NASB).

An Introduction (Luke 9:57-62)

We gain a great deal of insight when we carefully listen to what Jesus expected when He called the disciples to follow Him. In the Bible study below, we will find our common description of a Christian is not quite the same as Jesus' description. What are we to do when we find a discrepancy?

The Preparation of our Heart (Luke 9:57-62)

Missions is such key part of Jesus' message that it reaches down and touches each of our lives. Our commitment to missions reflects our commitment to our Lord.

Look at these encounters Jesus had with three of His disciples. They will help us to ready our hearts for the ministries Jesus has for us.

Luke 9:57-58 - Challenging the Comfortable Disciple

And as they were going along the road, someone said to Him, "I will follow You wherever You go." And Jesus said to him, "The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head" (Luke 9:57-58).

We are first rather surprised by the claim of one of Jesus' followers when he seemingly out of the blue says, "I will follow You wherever you go." They were just walking along the road, and this man blurts out this statement. Was this man reveling his experience being with Jesus? He could see miracles, hear the wise words of Christ and feel His tender touch. Although caught up in his euphoria, Jesus breaks in with an amazing statement about His life. "And Jesus said to him, "The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head" (Luke 9:58).

Jesus ripped away the romanticism of what it meant to be with Him. He did not simply say wonderful. He was trying to help this follower understand that though it is nice to be together, share God's love, see His power, there are rough parts to carrying out the Father's will.

Just the other night I jumped into bed and snuck under the covers. I felt so tired and the bed and pillow was so soft. I really appreciated it and thanked the Lord for it, but at the moment I said it, I also had a prompting from the Spirit. He said, "You will still go and do what I want even if there are no pillows, will you not?" When I visit different countries, my brothers do their very best to care for me, but their standard is not what I am used to. I appreciate their love and all, but I am not comfortable and sometimes outright miserable. I answered the Lord's quiet reminder by affirming I would go anywhere anytime. I cannot allow any material comfort or even the supposed promise of health keep me from going where Jesus sends.

Application

What about yourself? You like being a Christian, but do you share a willingness to go wherever Jesus sends you? Or is there some element of wealth, health, comfort or ease that might keep you from that commitment?

Luke 9:59-60 - Challenging the Convenient Disciple

"And He said to another, "Follow Me." But he said, "Permit me first to go and bury my father." But He said to him, "Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God"" (Luke 9:59-60).

After reading Luke 9:59, we see that the former man's statement was not out of the blue at all. Notice how it carefully says, "He said to another." Evidently Jesus had said it to one. Now He says it to another. Jesus had been telling His disciples to, "Follow me." Jesus was waiting for their replies, one by one. How do you personally respond to Jesus' command, "Follow me"?

The man here in Luke 9:59-60 said that he first had to go and bury his father. This sounds like a legitimate excuse. But from Jesus quick response, "Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God," we quickly need to acknowledge that the man's answer was not pleasing to the Lord. Why? Simply because Jesus told the man to follow Him.

The one willing to follow Jesus does not say, "I have this to do today, but tomorrow I can help you." If you follow, then you go where Jesus goes. This man wanted to be a convenient follower. Convenient followers are not followers at all because they will only accompany Jesus when it is convenient for their schedules. Jesus challenged him to set his priorities in place.

You might wonder how does it work out practically? First comes the absolute commitment. If you mean to follow Jesus, then Jesus must come first place. The Lord wanted him and us to say an unqualified, "Yes" to Him and then follow Jesus. When we face issues in life, and they will come, we then as Christ's disciples ask Jesus what we should do. In this case the man could have asked Jesus how he should care for his dead father.

Application

Do you tend to make bargains with those in authority over you? If so, you probably are one of these convenient disciples. These kind of disciples are not worth much. They are not there when you need them. They give the Lord the leftovers of their lives.

Luke 9:61-62 Challenging the Distracted Disciple

"And another also said, "I will follow You, Lord; but first permit me to say good-bye to those at home." But Jesus said to him, "No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God"" (Luke 9:61-62).

Another brother also answered Jesus' call to follow Him. He said, "I will follow You, Lord; but first permit me to say good-bye to those at home." Jesus did not accept his response either. "Jesus said to him, "No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God."" What is happening here?

It appears (from Jesus' response to him) that this disciple would allow little things to distract him. Again, he had the problem of the convenient disciple. Notice how he also said, "Permit me …" He was making bargains with the Master. We are only to do what Jesus says and not tell Him what we are to do.

The problem is that this man was really looking for an excuse not to follow. He wanted to keep his options open and be where he was interested. He undoubtedly liked Jesus. He would be a good Master, but he liked his family too. He is the distracted disciple who gets real excited and devoted for a while and then you do not see him for a while. He is off involved in some other matter.

Application

Jesus challenges the distracted disciple. Stay focused. Be committed. Find out what is so important and stay with it. The farmer who needs to drive the cow to plow the field must look to an object on the other side of the field and keep looking at it. If he turns his eyes to the side, then the plow line will follow that same direction. Following Jesus is a long term commitment. We must notice our tendencies to get distracted and determine in our hearts to follow Jesus.

Summary

We have a calling to follow Jesus. Following Jesus is a life call. It is the call to each one of us that names the Name of Jesus. We must not let comforts, convenience or our choices distract us from our devotion to Jesus. Most of us do not know what it means to follow Jesus. Once we do, then our whole lives will change and those around us will want to know more about Jesus. Without this life commitment, you stand at odds with Jesus. You are an idolater. You do not really love Jesus as the Lord but like Him only as a friend to come to when you have a need.

Jesus challenges our comforts, conveniences and choices

Jesus has a whole new life mapped out for His disciples. You need to closely follow Him to be on that path. Comforts, convenience and preserving our life choices always gets in the way of following Jesus. Do you renege on your love for God? How about now giving these three things up for the Lord?

Tell Him that I will go anywhere He wants, closely attend to what business He puts before you and stay consistent to Him all your life.

The Kingdom of God is comprised of Jesus' disciples. This is the group of people who stand ready to unquestionably live out God's commands. This is not missions but the readying of ourselves for missions. This commitment does not mean that He will involve you in some far flung adventure. He might want you home in your present house so that you can raise godly children. The point is that He is your Master, and you will follow Him. He has the best plan for your lives and knows best how your life can help others around the world.

By the way, if God does involve you in those far off adventures, like He has with me, you will not regret it. They are the opportunities of a life and beyond. Before we can go or stay, however, we must unequivocally follow Jesus.

Jesus' Terms for Discipleship

by Brian Evans

Gospel: Luke 9:23-27

What does it mean to be a disciple of Christ? What does it mean to follow Christ?

One of the problems today is that many think that when they become a Christian that they simply add Jesus to their life. In other words, they keep, for the most part, living their lives with Jesus now added into the mix. Oh, they've changed a few things perhaps but it's still their lives and their will and their ways. They listen to Christian radio and speak the language and hang out with Christian friends but is this what Jesus has in mind for His followers?

This is not what our Lord calls Christianity. Today, we're going to look at a text of Scripture that is one of the most challenging passages in the entire Bible. It's a call for the followers of Christ to love Him and His people more than we love ourselves. It's a call to examine ourselves and our treasures to see just how we line up. This is a passage that leaves little ground for self-deception. Jesus is pretty clear with His terms to be a disciple.

Through the ministry of our Lord He had a slogan as He went from city to city. This slogan was repeated over and over for us because we need reminded again and again the importance of being a disciple: Whoever keeps his life will loose it but whoever looses his life for Me will save it.

Matt. 10:38 And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

Matt. 16:24 Then Jesus told his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

Lk. 17:33 Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it.

Jn. 12:25 Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.

I pray we all understand the seriousness of this issue. Jesus is not interested in casual Christians; in reality there are no such things. To be a Christian is to march under the banner slogan of Jesus and to deny yourself and live eternally. My prayer for you and me is that God would enable us to live in self-denial as Jesus commands again and again. I also pray that God would continue to be merciful in this area until we see Christ face to face. So today, we must not deceive ourselves into thinking that our eternal life is secure if we live for ourselves, our agenda, and our will, and not deny ourselves and submit to Christ.

Is your life all about Christ or all about you?

Please, hear God's Word…

Luke 9:23 And he said to all, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. 25 For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? 26 For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. 27 But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.”

Father, enable us by grace to die to self and submit to Christ's Lordship…

Jesus gives us three pieces of the puzzle of discipleship in verse 23.

1- Deny Yourself,
2- Die to Self,
3- Follow Me

1. Following Christ Means Loving Him More than Yourself (9:23,24)

And he said to all, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.

To begin with, I'd like to explain as clearly as I can what self-denial is. What does Jesus mean when He makes the statement, deny yourself.

He has in mind that as His people, His followers, we are to forsake anything that would stand in the way of embracing Christ with our full allegiance. We are to forsake, possessions, power, favor of men, and human glory. We must deny our natural bent toward earthly treasures and strive to make Christ our treasure. Also, in this, we must deny our self-reliance. We must forsake relying on our abilities and logic. We must forsake relying on our human sense of righteousness and totally cling to Christ for righteousness, we must live lives that continually accept grace and glorify Christ.

I think if I could leave my children with two phrases they would be:

Follow hard after Christ and lean not on your own understanding.

John Calvin states that self-denial is the sum of the Christian life.

The first condition given by Jesus to any would-be-follower is to deny yourself.

Secondly, He commands that if one is to be a follower, this person must not only deny-self but then die to self.

Take up his cross daily

To be ready to bear afflictions in this life, knowing that God has designed them for our Christian growth and maturity. Respond to afflictions in a godly manner. These are afflictions that fall in the realm of God's eternal purposes. Bear up the afflictions for the glory of God.

The cross was a means of carrying out the death sentence. For a criminal, he would carry the actual cross he would be hung upon. Jesus tells us to be ones who welcome death to self as a disciple. A disciple does this daily. Whatever suffering God has purposed for you to endure we daily accept it, knowing that it is for our good and God's glory.

Finally, then we are ready to follow Christ. These words clearly understood means to keep on following Christ. Just as one daily commits to submitting our will to Christ's, we also continually follow where He leads us. We walk as He walked. We love as He loved. Speak as He spoke.

As followers, we trust, walk with, obey, and remain grateful for salvation to Christ.

I like what Jesus says here in these verses. He really answers the question many of us might ask. Why would we want to give up ourselves? Jesus explains to us that in doing so what we will receive will be far greater than what we ever give up…

whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.

2. Following Christ Means Loving Him More than Material Goods (9:25)

25 For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?

Jesus is very clear here. Those who live for themselves never get what they desire and in fact end up with nothing. Those who deny themselves and live for Christ rather than live for themselves do find what they desire.

Not my will but thy will be done.

Jesus wants us to be good investors. Loosing self for Christ's sake will result in an infinitely better return than if we were to hoard our present commodities. Loose, give now and there will be a great return.

Steve Jobs announced this week that he would resign as CEO of Apple Computers. His influence and creativity has launched Apple to the top of the industry with company value exceeding Moble Oil, all this from a garage 14 years ago with a high school classmate. Steve with leanings toward Buddhism and New Age teachings has seemingly gained the whole world. Unless something changes, he will have also forfeited his soul in the process. Steve is a very good businessman, promoter and inventor. However, when it comes to eternal issues, he is a poor investor.

Jesus makes it very clear that if we don't give ourselves away for the Gospel and for Him we will loose eternal life.

25 For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?

So, Jesus is pressing home the fact that He alone must be our treasure. If we love ourselves, if our treasure is us, then we will not deny ourselves and die to self. We will always cling to our treasure. He also challenges our other potential treasure when He speaks about worldly profit and worldly riches.

What real profit is it if you are so concerned with material goods that you forget that the most important commodity is your soul?

What good is it if the founder of Apple Computers dies a multi-billionaire and forfeits his souls. In other words, he leaves all his wealth behind and in a sense, his soul as well.

Jesus' logic goes like this: If all we do while on earth is build up things for our life now, we eventually will loose everything. But if we build eternal things we will save our lives forever.

3. Because Christ is Our Treasure, We are Not Ashamed (9:26)

26 For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.

The human heart is never ashamed of what it treasures. Jesus tells us that He is the real treasure.

We must choose and choose wisely. I remember the Indiana Jones movie where they were searching for the holy grail. Towards the end of the movie, Jones was in a room full of golden cups and he had to choose. Like him, we too must make choices. As Christ's disciples we must choose to take up our cross, deny ourselves, and not be ashamed of bearing the name Christian.

The best way to consistently follow Christ under His conditions is to strive to make Him our treasure.

If He is our treasure we won't struggle when we're called to deny ourselves and serve others. Because we serve in the power of Christ and our treasure is glorified.

We won't struggle when we endure hardship either in some trial or even in persecution because our comfort is not the issue. Jesus is honored.

We will never be ashamed to stand up for Christ, if He is our treasure because, we are never ashamed of what we treasure.

4. It's Not All Future (9:27)

27 But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.”

One thing Jesus wanted His disciples to understand is that not all eternal things are future things. In other words, there would be blessings for them now as they served Jesus according to His terms of discipleship.

What was Jesus saying here? He was saying that there were some of His disciples who would not die until they first saw the Kingdom of God.

How did they see it? Some of the disciples were present when at the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit descended and landed on them. They began to experience the Kingdom of God as God's rule and reign became part of who they were. Others before this event saw the transfiguration with Jesus being glorified right before their eyes. Three of His disciples saw this amazing event. This was an amazing glimpse of the Kingdom of God on earth.

Jesus' point is that as His disciple we are in the realm of His influence and power now. We don't have to wait until heaven to enjoy the Kingdom of God.

What are Jesus' terms for discipleship? What are His terms to be a follower?

Give yourself away for Christ and His people. Don't concern yourself with earthly goods. Seek His Kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you…even eternal life.

So, you want to be a disciple?

Jesus gives us His terms. If we are to be one, it has to be done according to His rules not ours. Are you a disciple?

Deny yourself

Take up your cross daily

Follow Christ

Don't ever be ashamed of Jesus

Enjoy blessings now

This Week's Special: Mother's Day

Motherhood, an Awesome Gift from God

by Fr. Altier

Scripture: Acts 4:8-12, 1 John 3:1-2

Gospel: St. John 10:11-18

Today our country takes out a day to honor moms, a most fitting thing to be able to do as these are the incredible women that God has chosen for each one of us to give us life. A mother's task, as we all know, is to conceive, to bear, to nourish, and to educate her children. It is the single most important and dignified task on the natural level in this world. What God has entrusted to a mother is nothing less than the souls of the children that He has given to her. With a mother's care and with a mother's heart she carries her children with her, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It does not matter how old she is, it does not matter how old they are, she never ceases being a mother. Even when you see mothers who are in their nineties and their children are in their seventies, it is pretty clear that this is still mother and child. And that mother continues to be a mother not only in this life but in the next as well. Which is why, of course, we pray for our mothers who are deceased, but also to know that if our mothers have gone the right direction after death, they continue to pray for us. Rather than stopping their maternal care, in fact it increases when they get to Heaven because their love increases as they look at God and they know perfectly even as they are known, as we heard in the second reading today. Consequently, our mothers who are in Heaven know us even better now than they did when they were in this world. They love us more perfectly, which is an astounding thought when we consider the love of a mother.

This concept of Mother's Day actually began many, many centuries ago. It began when the Christian people would recognize that they wanted to go back and celebrate the place where they were baptized. At the Easter Vigil, the new converts would be brought into the church and they would be baptized. They would come into the church at night dressed in white robes after having been baptized by the bishop, and all the people would stand and sing as the new converts would come forth. As this would naturally stir one's sentiments, the people would think about the place where they themselves were baptized. So the tradition grew up that on one particular Sunday out of the year people would go back to the place where they themselves were baptized, to their mother church. There, with all of the others who were received into the faith and baptized at that particular parish church, they would all gather together, children of the same mother, children born at the same baptismal font.

And it did not take long before people would recognize that if they would gather to honor the same mother on the spiritual level, the same place where they were reborn, that it also made perfect sense to continue on to honor the woman who bore them in the natural and physical order as well. Soon it became a matter of not only visiting their mother church, but on that same day they would honor their own mothers. That continues in this day. We do not recognize, generally, the religious element of this, but thankfully, at least even in our pagan country, we continue to recognize the dignity of mothers.

This is something that each and every one of us does recognize in our relationship with our own mother, and yet it is something which we need to protect because motherhood is under severe attack. When we have determined in our society that the most important task is relegated to the act of having at the most two children because it would be a violation somehow for a woman to bear more than that, we have destroyed the nature of what motherhood is really about. A woman is designed for life, abundance of life, and that is what Our Lord desires. Every single woman shares in the task of being a mother. Even if she does not conceive and bear in the physical order, the love that God places into the heart of a woman bears fruit in the spiritual order through prayer, through sacrifice, through the love which is demonstrated most perfectly in the heart of every single woman, especially we all recognize it in the hearts of our own mothers. It is that love, the love of a mother, which brings more children to the Lord.

Saint Paul tells us that all fatherhood has its origin in God. We saw in the second reading today from the First Letter of Saint John the love that the Father has bestowed upon us in letting us be called His children. All of us recognize, of course, that there is no fatherhood unless there is first a motherhood. Men, in and of themselves, would be completely barren unless it was for the generosity and the life-giving nature of a woman. So if God is going to be Father for each one of us, there needs to be a mother. And just as each one of us has a mother on the natural and physical order, each one of us also has a mother on the spiritual and supernatural order – it is this beautiful Lady who is right here [Father Altier is pointing to a statue of Our Blessed Mother Mary]. And if all fatherhood has its origin in God, then all motherhood has its origin in Our Blessed Lady, the one who conceived us in her heart on the day the angel asked if she would be the Mother of God, because in conceiving Christ she conceived all who would be members of Christ. It was at the foot of the Cross, where her heart was pierced by the sword spoken of and prophesied by Simeon, that she gave birth to each one of us in a spiritual way. It is for this reason that Our Lord on the Cross would be able to look at His own Mother and give each one of us to her as He said, "Behold your son." Then He looked at His beloved disciple – that is, you and me, those beloved of Christ – and said to each one of us, "Behold your mother."

Each one of us has learned from our own mothers what it is to be loved, to be taught, to be nourished and cherished. Saint Peter in the first reading tells us that there is no other name other than Jesus Christ given to humanity by which we are to be saved. And I suspect, for the vast majority of us, the first place we heard of that beautiful name of Jesus was on the knee of our mother as she taught us how to pray. She taught us about Jesus; she taught us how to love Jesus. As every child knows, the safest place to be is in the arms of his mother, the place where he is going to be able to be completely relaxed, the place where he can place his head upon the heart where for the first nine months of his life he lived immediately beneath, to be able to hear the heart of his mother, to know the comfort and the love of the mother while being upon her shoulder. So too do we recognize the same thing in our Blessed Mother.

Children know that when things are frightening, when times become difficult, they run immediately to their mother. In the picture of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Jesus is shown with his sandal dangling by the strap to be able to demonstrate that as the two angels, Michael and Gabriel, presented to Jesus the implements of His torture, He ran to His mother and jumped into her arms to be protected. He is our Shepherd; He is the One Who leads the sheep. He leads us to the place where the sheep can be at peace, where they are going to be fed and nourished, where they are going to have life. He leads His sheep to the same place that He Himself went – right to His mother – so that she can lead us, as a mother does, right to our heavenly Father. This is critically important because these lessons that each one of us learned early on in our lives in the love of our mothers for each one of us needs now to be put into practice in a very particular way because over these next months things are going to get very frightening. But Jesus has given this time to His mother, and He has entrusted each one of us to His mother. Like Him, we must run to her and we must jump into her maternal arms, find our comfort on her Immaculate Heart – indeed, in her Immaculate Heart – and there know that we are safe, that we have nothing to fear as long as we are with our Mother.

Each one of us, every single day (not just today), must be so grateful to our mothers for the heroic act, the heroic love that they have demonstrated in bearing us. Indeed, I suspect for most of us, if we look back to our early years of childhood and being teenagers, our mothers had to practice truly heroic love just to tolerate most of us. So how grateful we need to be to our moms for everything they have done and everything they continue to do. And how grateful we also need to be then to Our Lord, to our heavenly Father, for giving us a heavenly Mother to love us in an heroic manner, to love us so much that in order to give us life she would unite herself to the death of her Son so that each one of us could have life. All motherhood comes from her because she is the new Eve, the mother of all the living, of all of those who are alive in Christ.

And so on this day we give special thanks to each and every mother, to our own mothers on the natural order who brought us into this world and who taught us the most important lessons of life. We are grateful to our Mother, the Church, where we were born at the baptismal font. We are grateful to all of those astounding women who exercise their spiritual maternity in union with Our Lady in prayer, in sacrifice and suffering, to bring many more children to Christ. And we are grateful to our heavenly Mother who leads us to Jesus, who teaches us about Our Lord, who protects us, who guides us, who nourishes us, who prays for us, the one who will bring us to eternal life and teaches to us the only Name given to us by which we are to be saved, the Name of her Son, Jesus Christ. Thanks be to God for moms, and thanks to every mom who has co-operated with God in the work of creation and created the most incredible thing: a human person with a soul which is eternal to give glory to God. 

Three Ways My Mom Reminds Me of Jesus

by Debbie Holloway, Crosswalk.com Family Editor

"Her children rise up and call her blessed…" (Proverbs 31:28).

I've got a good family. And while I love all my family members so much that it hurts, and in vastly different ways, it's May, so I've been thinking a lot about my Mama. I have always known my mom was the actual greatest, but the older I grew, the more I began to recognize really concrete reasons for it. How much I had learned from her. How much her example has shown me about being a wife, or dealing with kids. How to keep a good face and a good heart when you're in uncomfortable or distasteful situations.

Some of the things she's imparted to me may seem small, or silly. When I'm outside and it's sunny, I always think about soaking up Vitamin D. I never let my students get away with using the phrase "the reason is because…" in their essays.

But more than those little things, my mom has made such a big impact on me because she reminds me of Jesus. Here are three Christ-like messages she has ingrained in me (whether by her words or simply her actions):

"You are Always Loved."

Of course my mom loves me. I suppose for most of us, that's a given. But it makes such a difference when she tells me that every time she sees me. No matter what mistake I make, no matter how grumpy I am, no matter how grumpy she is, I know that nobody will ever love me as much as my Mama loves me.

I have a unique relationship with my mom because I was her first daughter, and one she had wanted and prayed for many years before my birth. Whenever we've gone through a rough conversation, or even if I'm just feeling downtrodden, she's never hesitated to remind me that she has loved me and wanted me since before I was even born. And I know that my mom never stops praying and hoping for her children. This persistent, unrelenting love reminds me so much of Jesus' parable of the lost sheep in Luke 15:

"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.'"

This portrait of God that Jesus paints is simple: God loves you so much that he will never give up on you. Likewise, my mom is a mom who never gives up on me.

"You Are Always Welcome."

I used to assume that all families pretty much work like this, but the older I get, the more I realize how rarely we exhibit true, pure, hospitality even to our closest family members. Growing up, outsiders were routinely welcome to join us for meals, for sleeping over, or for jam sessions. Every time I talk with my mom, she reminds me that I'm welcome to pop by, expected or not, anytime I want. If I ever need something, or even just need to talk, I know she's there for me.

But more than just welcoming me into her home, my mom welcomes me into her heart and life, totally unconditionally. Sure, she taught me manners and morals, and hopes and expects I'll live by them. But none of her children has turned out perfect. And she has never given me ultimatums on our relationship, or implied that I would be kicked out, unwelcome, or treated as an outsider if I said certain things, dressed a certain way, hung out with certain people, or even believed certain things. She lets me live my life, and I know she'll always be a phone call away. She'll always leave the front door open when she knows I'm coming over.

Just like the Father in the parable of the prodigal son. The son had rejected his father, thought of nothing but instant gratification, chased empty pleasures, and eventually returned home broken. What was the father doing, all this while?

But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him… [And] the father said to his servants, 'Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found' (Luke 15: 20-24).

No conditions. No interrogations. Just a warm welcome home.

"You Will Always be Fed."

Does this one seem silly, or out of place? It doesn't to me. My mother was the first one who showed me what the ministry of feeding can look like. Sometimes a person just needs to be offered a hot meal, whether that person is your child, a guest in your home, or an underfed person standing on the street corner. This attitude of abundance and generosity is imprinted all over my childhood memories.

Food brings life to the body. Think about how often God worked on Israel's hearts through food! He gave them manna in the wilderness. The most sacred Jewish holiday, Passover, is a meal of bread and herbs, symbolizing the oppression of Egypt and the God who was big enough to free them from it.

And then the Lord's Supper.

Whoever eats of the bread and drinks of the cup proclaims the Lord's death until he comes.

Implemented in an upstairs chamber 2,000 years ago, it started off as a Passover meal, but was given fresh significance. We still practice this new sacrament of bread and wine in churches, every month, every Sunday, every day – to remind ourselves that God sustains. God provides. Jesus fed thousands with loaves and fish, and God feeds us with his Spirit. And one day, we will join him at the greatest bridal feast of all.

Where we will be fed.
We will be welcome.
And we will be loved.

That's what I see reflected in the life of my sweet mother. That's why she reminds me of Jesus.]

Source: Crosswalk the Devotional

Mom - A Poem
Though logic tells me something else,
I tend to think my Mom will always be there.

She always has been,
Exactly where she should be
every time that she was needed
and she always done
exactly what was needed all the time.

Scolding or soothing,
remembering or reminding.
laughing with me,
and sometimes crying.

Her existence is a constant in my life,
so I'm sure I take for granted her availability.

Yet I know there'll come a time
when I have to live without her.
And I also know that I can,
for some of her great strength she gave to me.

And I'm certain she will always be
a constant in my life.
Each time she's needed,
she'll be there.
Inside my mind, inside my heart,
deep in my memory.

Miss and love you Mom,
Author Unknown

How Do You Measure The Greatness Of A Mom?
Introduction:

I know that greatness is measured in terms of the end product. For example a great movie is measured by the box office receipts. A great sport team is measured by whether it can win the big game - be it the Super Bowl, the World Series or the NBA Championship. A great race horse is measured by whether it can win the Triple Crown.

A great mom is therefore measured by how well her children turn out. And I believe that God's Word gives us some characteristics that great moms have in common. If you are a mom you need to ask yourself if you possessed these characteristics. For everyone else you need to ask yourself if your mom possessed these characteristics.

Body:

1. Great moms have in common a willingness to sacrifice their life, their plans and their dreams for the sake of their children.

Proverbs 31:15. She gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family and portions for her servant girls.

A. When does the sacrificing begin for mom? When she discovers that she has a baby in her womb. She may no longer eat just for herself. She can no longer sleep just for herself. She may have to endure morning sickness. She certainly will have to endure the pain of labor.

B. She gets up in the middle of the night when her child is sick while daddy sleeps soundly in the bed. She uses the money she was saving to get something that she wanted on something that her child wanted. She delays her plans of going to college to get her degree to be a stay at home mother while her child is young.

C. Moms, can you think of some others ways that you sacrificed for your children? Everyone else, can you think of some ways that your mom sacrificed for you?

2. Great moms have in common a strong spiritual commitment to Christ which they pass on to their children.

2 Timothy 1:5. I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.

A. God's Word is like a compass to life. It gives us a direction to follow. No loving mother would send her children out in the world knowing that her children will lose their way. She carefully gives them spiritual direction so that the world doesn't swallow them up.

B. I cannot even guess how much time a spiritual mom has gone to God in prayer for her child that he or she would make the right decision or do the right thing or even give their life over to Christ.

C. And a spiritual mom is not only going to talk about the Christian live; she is going to live it; she is going to model it for her children to see. In our passage of Scripture Lois modeled it for her daughter Eunice and her grandson Timothy. And Eunice modeled it for her son Timothy.

3. Great moms have in common a god type of love that lets her children go and become great moms and dads to their own families.

Genesis 3:24. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.

A. A great mother knows when to let her child go and she allows her child to live their own life. She doesn't finds herself coming between her child and her child's spouse. She allows her child and child' s spouse to solve their own problems without stepping in. She doesn't take sides in her children's problems.

B. This probably is the hardest of the three things to do because it is so natural for moms to want to be mom. But a great mom knows that when a child grows up her role has changed from a hands-on, taking-care-of- every problem to more of "I am here if you need me role."

Conclusion:

Three Questions

  • If you are a mom, would you be considered a great mom?
  • For everyone else, would you consider your mom a great mom?
  • How would God evaluate you as a mom or how would god evaluate your mother?
What Makes a Good Mother?
It is a pertinent question whose answer cannot be contained within a few words. Mothers comprise of a bundle of emotions that sometimes defy reason. So this goes out to all the mothers who have kept awake all night with their sick toddlers in their arms, constantly uttering those compassionate words, "It's OK honey, Mommy's here."

For all the mothers who run carpools and make cookies and sew Halloween costumes. And all the mothers who don't.

For those who show up at work with milk stains on their dress and diapers in their handbags.

For those mothers who cannot restrain tears from trickling down their cheeks when they hold their babies for the first time in their arms; and for the mothers who give birth to babies they'll never see.

For the mothers who gave homes to babies and gifted them a family.

For the mothers who yell at their kids who clamour for ice cream before dinner.

For the mothers who defy all odds just to watch her kid perform and repeat to themselves
"That's my child!!"

For all the mothers who read "Goodnight, Moon" twice a night for a year, and then read it again. "Just one more time."

For the mothers who taught their children to tie the shoelaces even before they started going to school.

For the mothers who incontinently turn their heads when they hear the word "Mom",
even though they know that their kids are nowhere around.

For the mothers who silently shed tears for their children who have gone astray.

For all those mothers whose heart aches to watch her son or daughter disappear down the street, walking to school alone for the very first time.

For all the mothers of the victims of all these school shootings, and the mothers of those who were involved in the shooting.

For the mothers of the Survivors, and the mothers who sat in front of their TVs in horror, clinging to their child who just arrived from school safely.

So, this is meant for all the young and aged mothers, working mothers and housewives, married mothers and the single mothers, those with money and without and for those without whom life would have been insufferable. Wish you a very Happy Mother's Day!!

Weekly Features

Health Tip: 5 Weird Things That Make You Bloated
Feeling bloated doesn't just happen by accident. In fact there are certain healthy foods that can actually trigger bloating. Here are a few to watch out for:

Plums

This fruit is actually packed with sugar alcohols. These sugars are fermented by gut bacteria and when this happens, you get some major bloat.

Gum

When you chew gum, you're inhaling excess air, which gets trapped in your stomach and intestines, causing you to burp and release gas. In addition, sugar-free gum is usually sweetened by sugar alcohols, which result in belly bloat.

Broccoli

Green veggies are so important in a healthy diet, but if you have digestion issues, like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), or even just a sensitive stomach, you could find certain fibrous foods such as broccoli to be too much to handle. If you find (even after drinking a substantial amount of water) that you can't do broccoli, safer bets are spinach and green beans, which are easier on the gut.

Dairy

Though dairy doesn't cause bloating for everyone, many people are sensitive to yogurt and cheese, and 10% of Americans have some kind of lactose intolerance. Cutting back on dairy could be the secret to getting rid of a distended mid-section.

Dehydration

Though it may seem counterintuitive, a lack of water can actually cause you to become bloated. Drinking water has many benefits, including improved digestion. Have you ever seen athletes and bodybuilders carrying around jugs of water? That's to keep the body's metabolism firing on all cylinders—and to keep digestion moving with all the food they're taking in.

Source: Health and Fitness, MSN

Recipe: Island Shake

by Dr. Shila Mathew, MD., Food and Living Editor, Malankara World

Kids love this easy-to-make island escape. Share A Little Sunshine

Ingredients

1 cup DOLE Pineapple Juice
1 medium, ripe banana
2 cups frozen mango chunks or sliced peaches, partially thawed
1 carton (6 oz) peach or piña colada low fat yogurt
1/2 tsp finely grated lemon peel

Directions

Combine banana, mango chunks, pineapple juice, yogurt and lemon peel in blender or food processor container. Cover; blend until smooth.

Recipe Courtesy of DOLE

Family Special: How to Know if You Have Healthy Boundaries

by Steve Arterburn

I find that there is often confusion about the difference between a wall and a boundary. Too often, what people believe is a wall is actually a boundary, and what they believe is a boundary becomes a wall. How do I distinguish between a wall I keep walking into and a boundary that allows me to walk in light and freedom? There are some vital distinctions.

Case study of Abuse: Wall vs. Boundary

Lisa's husband was verbally and physically abusive. She knew something needed to be done for the well-being of her family. She was faced with a few choices.

1. She could have constructed a wall.

The phone conversation would have looked something like this:

You may not come near me, phone me, or contact me in any way. I don't want to see you, and I don't want to be part of your life. You're so messed up that you can't even see what you're doing to yourself, to me, or the kids. So don't even think about coming back to me. It's not going to happen.

2. She could have constructed a healthy boundary.

That call to her husband would have sounded like this:

I've decided that I need to make some changes. I need to be separate from you for a while. If you can't honor that, then I will take our children and live in a safe place. I've decided that conversation with you is destructive, both to the children and me. So until you've gotten help, I won't be taking phone calls from you or answering the door when you come. I don't want to file a restraining order, but if that's what I have to do, I will. When you're willing to get help, I would love to talk with you about our kids and our future.

The latter course is the course Lisa took, and her attitude, along with her suggestion of a possible restraining order, was a wake-up call to her husband. He immediately saw the rules of the game had changed; he could no longer have his way with her. He had to make a couple of decisions: first, to stay away from her; and second, to get some help if there was to be any hope of them getting back together again. That was something he wanted badly, now that he saw how easily he could lose her forever. He became willing to get the treatment that would tear down the walls that kept him trapped in anger and rage. And it was all because Lisa finally set a boundary.

A wall confines you to a past that cannot be changed and to a future of more of the same. A boundary can open up the future, because it marks a change from the way things have gone in the past. Both provide some type of protection, but the protection of a wall limits all the positive outcomes, whereas the boundary has unlimited potential to secure a future of hope and healing.

On one hand, the wall means living as if the painful past must continue to be a present reality. It means living as if all the pain that was experienced as a five-year-old must still be experienced as a thirty-five-year-old. The wall gives no recognition of the fact that time has moved on. Strength has developed, and the things that were feared at five no longer have power at thirty-five, if one lives as an adult and not a child.

Fear of all men at five might be helpful for survival to a girl who was abused at that age. But fear of all men at thirty-five is not helpful at all. It locks one inside the walls of the past, creating a self-imposed but needless prison, confining a person to attitudes and limitations that have no basis in reality and need not be perpetuated.

A boundary, on the other hand, is not a wall; it is a line in the sand, a line you draw around yourself that prevents the pain and suffering of the past from perpetuating itself. It is a stance that calls for action on your part if it is not honored. It is a statement of what I will do, what I have chosen, and what will be the outcome on my part, whether or not the other person gets the help or makes the changes needed.

Walls are used to make demands on the other person or nag him about the changes he must make. This approach merely causes the other person to build more defenses. A boundary works much more positively. It challenges the other person to drop the defenses and look at what needs to be changed.

I know I cannot change my past. I can only do what I can today to make a way for a better future. Any focus I have on the past that causes me shame and distraction is going to hurt the future I am creating with my daily decisions. If I build a wall around my past, I am essentially protecting my past rather than me. A boundary does the opposite—it protects me today and leaves the past behind. That might mean I need to set a boundary that excludes someone who continues to bring up the past.

Walls are constructions of loneliness and isolation. They cut us off from building connection and community. But a boundary opens the door to connection with healthy individuals in a healthy community. It helps us break out of isolation, because it creates a healthy barrier, insulating us from the unhealthy elements of life.

If I feel guilt, fear, or anger, there is a good chance I will build a wall to hide behind. The wall will prevent me from unleashing these emotions on others or prevent others from seeing them in me. If I can't resolve these issues, I am almost compelled to build a wall that hides either them or me or both.

Boundaries are not built on guilt, fear, or anger. They are built because a person has discovered and acted on the truth. Boundaries grow out of new willingness to try something different that might move me out of guilt, fear, or anger. And boundaries require courage on my part. Brave people set up boundaries that lead them into new territory that is full of healthy options and meaningful relationships.

When I build a wall, it gives me a false sense of safety. I come to believe that, if my wall is strong enough, it will prevent me from being victimized again. But walls do not provide the safety one imagines. They can become so large that they crumble, allowing victimization to invade my life in other forms. Some people who think they are safely protected by their walls do not realize that their psyches have surreptitiously worked their way around the walls, exposing the very things they want to hide. Unlike a wall, a boundary actually brings authentic safety. It elicits the assistance of others when it is broken. It encourages connection to others. It provides the strength of safety in numbers, rather than the vulnerability of walled-off isolation.

When you hate yourself and fear the prospect of anyone finding out who you really are, you build a wall of defensiveness. But when you love yourself as a child of God, you construct boundaries that honor the person you are and the God who created you. Boundaries are built on self-respect and good stewardship of all the gifts God has given you. The wall merely shuts out the light that reveals and nurtures those God-given gifts and strengths.

Finally and simply, a wall is a barrier. It is a barrier between others and the secrets I want to hide. It is a barrier that keeps me out and the sickness in. It is a barrier that prevents my seeing all the good I could have, keeps me focused on all the wrong that has hurt me, and sets me up to repeat those damaging experiences yet again.

The wall is a barrier, whereas the boundary is a beginning. It is the beginning of a life that does not allow evil to be inflicted on me. It is the beginning of searching for what is best and keeping out those influences that would prevent me from moving toward it. It stops me from walking into walls and allows me to walk into the future with God and others in a healthy, life-giving community.

About The Author:

Steve Arterburn is a bestselling author of books such as 'Every Man's Battle' and 'Healing is a Choice'. He is the host of the #1 nationally syndicated Christian counseling talk show, New Life Live! and the founder of Women of Faith conferences. The above excerpt is from his book Walking Into Walls.

Source: Christianity.com Daily Update

Follow-Up: Correct Spelling is SAYFO
In the last issue we published a letter from  Hon. V.T. John as follows:

My dear Sir,

I have a serious doubt as the the spelling of the word SAIFO. It is shown in hoardings etc as ܤܰܢܦܐ

Here instead of Yoodh the 10th letter of the W.Syriac Alphabet Noon the 14th letter is used as the second letter of the word whereby the word can only be read as SANFO. Will any one kindly clarify ?

Thomas Joseph, Ph.D., our Syriac language expert responded to this question as follow:

Dear Dr. Jacob,

The proper "transcription" is 'Sayfo.' The second letter is yud, not nun. I am attaching a pdf where I have typeset the same word in two fonts - Estrangelo Edessa vs. Serto Jerusalem - where you can see the difference in form yud takes in these fonts. The upstroke in Estrangelo is longer than in Serto and may explain the confusion.

The word is listed on p. 375 c. 2 of Jessica (Margoliouth) Payne Smith's A Compendious Syriac Dictionary (Clarendon Press: 1903) with the meaning, 'a sword, a blade.' There is a word 'snaf' meaning "to introduce, inject" (Payne Smith, p. 383 c. 1), which has a form 'soonfo,' but there is no Syriac word, "sanfo."

PS: Estrangelo is the more ancient script and is never vocalized.  Serto Jerusalem (Serto being the form popular in the Syriac Orthodox and Maronite Churches) is later in origin and is vocalized when used in texts intended for those with basic knowledge of the language. Here even though the word is in the Estrangelo form, the simkath has a vowel which is unusual.

Regards,
Thomas
---
Thomas Joseph, Ph.D.
Beth Mardutho: The Syriac Institute [ http://www.bethmardutho.org/
Web Master, Syriac Orthodox Resources [ http://sor.cua.edu/]

[Editor's Note: We thank Mr. V.T John and Dr. Thomas Joseph for their correspondence.]

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