God, be with those who need you at this time. Not just those who are helpless but those who call out your name because they have only you to come to. The world is filled with people who do things in your name but never call upon you for anything. And then there are those who have no wealth and accumulations but their prayers and supplications to you dear Lord. God, make this night and day count for those who have been waiting for you to answer them. Amen.
Saturday, August 19, 2023
Sunday, April 9, 2023
They asked me to take a stone in my hand and keep it ready. Just then I heard him say, “Let the one without sin throw the first stone.” I let go of the stone and ran as fast as I could. My friends were there too. We were out of breath when we stopped. What were we thinking, is this who we were?
Months later we thought we were smarter and we wanted to see this Jesus who was healing and bringing the dead back to life. We joined those who were welcoming him to Jerusalem. I spread my outer cloth which my mother had stitched for me. Everyone was doing the same and I repeated with them, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” It was such a great atmosphere.
I walked again with my friends and saw how Jesus was caught and accused of blasphemy. We stood together and repeated “Barabbas, Barabbas, Barabbas.” It was like being with the crowd, being cool, being accepted. The collective sound could be heard far. There was a commotion and I saw Jesus being pushed and given a cross to carry. They tore his clothes and spat on him. Why were they doing this? I only repeated Barabbas’ name. I didn’t want them to hurt Jesus. We ran again. We cried and we sat on the ground wondering what we had done. Jesus had helped so many people. Why were they hurting him?
We learnt later that they nailed him to the cross along with two thieves. What did he do? Everything was so gloomy. The sun went down, the moon looked dark and there was an atmosphere of weeping and sadness. Then on Sunday we heard he was alive. He had risen they said. We ran as fast as we could. Earlier we were running away from him but this time we were running to him. We could barely breathe but we reached the place he was buried. We could just collapse on the ground but we wanted to see him. Maybe someone was already there. The stone of the tomb had been rolled away. We took a deep breath and went inside. There was no one. We stared into the empty tomb. The tomb which had Jesus, Jesus our Lord.
Wishing everyone hope in the risen Lord. Blessed Easter.
Easter is a reminder to men that for God, men and women are equal. If at all, God will be more supportive of women. If women are not given what is rightfully theirs, the resurrection will remain a secret and mystery, never revealed and never celebrated.
It is fascinating that despite being wiped clean from many stories and narratives in the bible, the women in the resurrection narrative remain intact, refusing to go away. Mary Magdalene and the others survive patriarchy and oppressive systems. There is clear subversiveness of discipleship, leadership and close friends of Jesus. The resurrection of Christ Jesus should prompt us to fight violence against women and sidelining of women from the various levels of ministry in the church. Without that, the resurrection we witness will be myopic and one sided. Christ is risen indeed. Hallelujah.
Wednesday, April 5, 2023
I first met Lloyd Nehemiah in 1997. I was a BD student in UTC, Bangalore and Lloyd’s wife Drecie was doing her Masters in Theology. I along with many of my class mates and friends became friends with Lloyd and Drecie. They invited us home and always made us feel like family. Lloyd was one of a kind. So much that whenever I had a long enough conversation with someone, Lloyd would pop up as an interesting character that we should meet at least once in a life time. He was a wild life enthusiast with a big collection of wild life pictures collected over a number of years during countless visits to the forest, an environmentalist who planted saplings and vociferously defended trees and prevented their felling, a knife collector with over 350 knives and swords collected from several countries and states of India, a person who knew several languages including Garo his wife’s mother tongue, an enterprising person with a wide range of contacts which could make him communicate with any person in a room, a risk taker, a person who supported and encouraged women including his wife and daughters and someone who loved fishing. Many people from UTC and especially the guests from other countries including professors and exchange students would benefit from Lloyd and have the experience of their life after a trip to the forest.
Lloyd always encouraged people to do what they wanted. Drecie is a pastor of a congregation, Kitty his elder daughter is a people’s person with deep compassion and Chea his younger daughter is a national climbing champion. The grapevine about Chea was that Lloyd realised she was climbing too many walls in UTC and so channelized her energy by taking her to an artificial climbing terrain at the Kanteerava stadium and the rest is history. As Lloyd’s family, one could chase their dream and that included his extended family too.
One could call Lloyd for anything and everything. To go to a government office, to shift houses, to go for a trip and to eat out. With Lloyd we explored the small eateries of Bangalore in Shivaji Nagar, Cox Town, Mosque Road, Johnson Market and then grilled meat and fish at our houses. The street style Phal (A cross section of meat with masala fried on a tawa), the chicken momos, biriyani from the smallest of shops, and anything on a plate would be relished by Lloyd. I perhaps learnt to eat a variety of food from him. Lloyd was also on the list of the Bangalore corporation numbers which one could call for help with snakes. He would patiently catch them and release them elsewhere. It was a self-acquired skill more than anything else and I always marveled at how he learnt all this. I have also seen personally as to how he helped at funeral homes, going to help for post mortems, making sure that it was done on time and making up for anything short during the post mortems.
We all talk about education and about our alma mater with pride and thankfulness and I am no different. But I have experienced that there are many people who inspire us with their deeds and life. Lloyd has had that kind of an influence on me and on several of my friends. I perhaps learnt more about the need for trees and about caring for nature and all of God’s creation, from Lloyd than from any class room. For me he is a professor just like any of my other professors, to whom I am also thankful.
I will stop with four memories from the numerous memories I have with Lloyd and his family. They once came to Kerala for vacation. I took them to a nice restaurant in Thiruvalla. Drecie, Kitty and Chea liked the food but Lloyd was not impressed. I finally took him to a toddy shop on the Changanachery- Allepy route. I was hesitant at first but then I thought I couldn’t be less hospitable to Lloyd. He loved the food and kept talking about it the entire time. The second story is when I got my knee injured and he kept checking on me to make sure I was okay. The reason for my injury was actually the precursor of a trip to the forest and in a way Lloyd took the blame. But the twist was that the next week many people had food poisoning by eating the food from the hostel and I escaped because I didn’t have food because of my knee injury. The third memory is regarding the few tattoos that Lloyd had. We were having dinner in a house and Lloyd was talking about his tattoos with a lot of pride in the presence of a Catholic priest. He quietly listened. When he got up to leave, the priest removed his cassock and showed his body which was full of tattoos and we all burst out into laughter when he left, looking at Lloyd who had a sheepish grin on his face. The fourth memory is his own favourite story about how he and Drecie fell in love and how he went to Drecie’s village in the Garo hills in the North East part of India, learnt her language, made friends with the people there and finally got married. This at a very young age too. As a youngster I have listened to this countless times wondering how one had the courage to do all this at a time without mobile phones, email and even a proper land line and that too, him being a Mangalorean and Drecie from the Garo hills.
Lloyd, you taught me to share from my plate. You taught me that I could take food from the plate of a dear friend and allow a friend to eat from my plate. You taught me that getting our hands dirty for someone was the biggest ministry we could do. You taught me that love has no holds and barriers. You taught me well. Thanks professor. Heaven is going to be a fun place with you reaching there. All traditions and rules will be flouted but for the right reasons. Jesus is going to be pretty happy. Fish in peace dear elder brother.
Condolences and prayers dear Drecie, Kitty, Chea, David and family, amma, Shirley and family and all near and extended family and friends. Praying that Lloyd and all of you get justice and peace.
Monday, March 6, 2023
Unity is a word used commonly and strongly. Unity of generations, family, community, society and churches. But unity is easier said than done. Diversity is God given and being different is not a sin. Which is why, forced unity can never work and should never be tried.
Sunday, March 5, 2023
The story of the paralytic is common. We usually think of the paralytic and the bed. The roof and the four friends come in later. So much that we usually design sermons around the “your sins are forgiven” and “rise, pick up your bed and go home.” Yet, St. Mark 2:1-12 contains a very important Christian value called friendship.
Saturday, March 4, 2023
Have we ever wondered how people look at us? It is not that we should always be concerned about this, but rather, it is important and beneficial to know it. How do others see us and how do they see us as a Christian? Do they think that we are truthful, sincere, morally upright and good? Or are we perceived to be the opposite of all this?
Friday, March 3, 2023
Christians in the early church were persecuted and instead of escaping it, they embraced it. Christians now for hundreds of years look for the opportunity to compromise and escape persecution. Adapting to a particular situation or culture and witnessing to Christ is one thing and wilting under the pressure of a particular culture or situation and compromising on witnessing to Christ is a totally different thing. This lent we need to think about how we have compromised instead of adapting.
Thursday, March 2, 2023
ded to keep the school afloat, and complimentary passes are given for programmes to ensure that a minimum number of people attend. Political parties also get people to attend their election rallies by offering food and a daily allowance. The crowd determines the success of a programme.
Wednesday, March 1, 2023
“Stop acting like a child”, “he is very childish”, “when are you going to grow up?”, are things one hears when one acts immature. The struggle to grow up, to act big, to take on responsibility, are things we strive for from a young age. So much that many grow up too soon.
Tuesday, February 28, 2023
One of the biggest questions a person may have is, “Who does God bless, give to or help? The poor or the rich, the weak or the strong? Ideally we expect God to be on the side of the poor and the oppressed. But what does the gospel say and why?
Monday, February 27, 2023
Forgiving another person is difficult. We have to give up something, go against our ideals, let down others while forgiving one, and learn to handle the feeling of being defeated. Forgiving is also learning to handle our ego without feeling humiliated.
Sunday, February 26, 2023
s one of the biggest curses of society. The stigma of something or the other puts people down and prevents them from coming out in the open. In this case it was the stigma faced due to leprosy. Whether it was leprosy in total or a serous skin ailment is another thing all together. But the person had definitely experienced stigma. Why or how then does he manage to get close to Jesus and ask what he did?
Wednesday, December 29, 2021
Monday, October 19, 2020
Today is the 5th death anniversary of Archcorepiscopa Dr. Curien Kaniyamparambil achen, fondly known as Kaniyamparambil achen. The Simhasana Church in Thiruvalla, where I now serve, has a long and deep relationship with achen as he touched the lives of several generations of families here. He was a scholar without parallel in the Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church and respected among people from all denominations and religions. He was known for his scholarship, humility and hospitality. But I would like to touch upon a topic seldom discussed with regard to achen. He was a priest who overcame disabilities, the lack of hearing being primary among them.
Looking back, I feel that we never discuss the struggles and hardships of our ancestors and straight away harp on their achievements as if no struggles were involved or that they were so talented that they did not have to try too much. But achen had to overcome his hearing disability which then expanded to tremor (uncontrollable shaking of hands) and later on to finding it difficult to walk. Our communities want us to believe that priests and ministerial candidates are perfect and should be perfect. Medical check ups before bishop elections are only one example of this. But the most perfect of ministries are done by imperfect men and women and achen is a prime example of that.
I have heard other priests and people making fun of achen’s hearing disability and calling him a mute (pottan in Malayalam, which also has a derogatory meaning of being an idiot). All because he could not hear properly and one had to strain their voice while speaking to him! But instead of being bogged down and faltering under the weight of ill timed and unjustified jokes, he wrote and spoke like a man guided by the Holy Spirit. Many of us learnt to speak for long by listening to him. Achen made his disability into his ability. While we were being influenced by the sounds and temptations of the world, he sat for hours to read and write.
His major achievement of translating the Peshitta Syriac bible into Malayalam was done with these disabilities. He found the strength to overcome his tremor when he wrote and it came back when he had to do something else. He offered hundreds of prayers and services by reading lips and the actions of those around him. For me he has shown that one does not have to be ashamed of their disability but can rather embrace it and make it their biggest ability and asset.
I am reminded of St. John 9:3 where Jesus answers his disciples and says that “neither the man nor his parents have sinned, he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him.” The St. George Simhasana Church in Thiruvalla is indebted to achen for showing us that we can overcome our disabilities and to know that our disabilities have opened our eyes to see our abilities. There are so many children and youngsters who think that they are not good enough and wont make the cut or mark in an examination or test and that they are not perfect enough as their family and society would want them to be. May God and achen be a source of inspiration so that we never feel bogged down and dejected. We thank God for his life and contributions and pray that several people will get the courage and strength to do their education through achen’s blessed intercession. Dear achen, pray for us, your beloved children.