Tuesday, November 4, 2014
St. Gregorios: An inspiration for education
Koodosh Etho is the beginning of the liturgical calendar of the church. Koodosh Etho is the sanctification of the church. The bible passage read on Sunday, St. Matthew 16:13-23 brings St. Peter into the picture. This is one of the passages in the bible where the prominence of St. Peter is mentioned. Jesus says clearly “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Peter is given the authority by Jesus because Peter makes a faith proclamation. “You are the Messiah. The son of the living God.” Jesus tells him that he has got this from God the father and not of his own accord.
The church is a faith community where we pray and say every day that Jesus is the Messiah. But the Messiah came to earth so that we would be saved. Here is where Peter gets it wrong. He tries to tell Jesus that Jesus will not suffer. Can a church exist without suffering? Can we live our lives without suffering? Jesus rebukes and tells Peter clearly to get behind him and listen to him.
Koodosh Etho is a time to begin afresh by sanctifying ourselves. The test we have to undertake is a test of fire. But fire purifies and sanctifies. Jesus is telling us that we will also have to suffer but after suffering comes glory. At this time the church and we its members also have to undergo the test of fire and faith.
St. Gregorios is the first proclaimed Indian saint of the Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church. He was consecrated bishop at the very young age of 28 and died at the age of 54 in 1902. What can be one thing we can learn from the blessed thirumeni today? St. Gregorios was known for his simple life style and deep faith. But he understood the need for education in our society. I quote “In the late 1890s many educational institutions were started by the Malankara Jacobite Syrian Church under the initiative and guidance of Parumala Kochu Thirumeni. St.Thomas School at Mulanthuruthy, St. Ignatius School at Kunnamkulam (named after his mentor the Patriarch of Antioch Mor Ignatius Peter IV), the Syrian English School (now known as 'MGM High School') at Thiruvalla, etc., were some of the well known schools of the Church at that time.”
An interesting piece of information for the St. Ignatius church members is “In 1899 Aug 15th (M.E- 1st Chingam, 1075), an 'Aan Pallikoodam' (Boy's School) was started by Parumala Thirumeni near the ancient Arthat St.Mary's Church, Kunnamkulam and was named after the Patriarch 'Mor Ignatius Peter III'. It was on the insistence of our Kochu Thirumeni, the title name of the Patriarch of Antioch, "St.Ignatius" was given to the new school.” Now we are prayerfully submitting ourselves to build a school building and Community Education Centre called St. Ignatius as well. We are laying the foundation stone during the festival of St. Gregorios. Isn’t this more than mere coincidence?
We are following the foot steps of our blessed Saint Gregorios and we are also seeking intercession from our church saint St. Ignatius Elias III. Let us pray that we may be shown the right path and will be helped by the intercession of both our beloved saints. May God bless us all.
( E mail sermon for the St. Ignatius JSO Church, K. R. Puram members.)
Photo credit: www.sgioc.org