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Liturgical calendar and sermons
ഏലിയ - സ്ലീവാ - മൂശ‌ കാലങ്ങള്‍ ഏഴാം ഞായര്‍
Readings: Deuteronomy 11:13-12:1; Isaiah 41:1-7; Galatians 5:16-26; Luke 8:41-56. VIII Sunday: Deuteronomy 13:12-18; Isaiah 41:8-20; Galatians 6:1-10; Matthew 20:1-16

Mt 20:1-16

The different interpretations proposed for this parable give us an idea of how difficult it is to be certain about the meaning of kingdom parables.

The parable is not a social comment about work. Some commentators have suggested that the workers are rewarded equally because the men who worked for an hour did as much as those who worked all day. The parable certainly doesn't say that. Nor is the parable an affirmation about intentions. The workers who worked an hour were willing to work all day and so were paid the full day's pay. Again, the parable doesn't say this. Some suggest that the parable is about outcasts who are accepted into God's family, but who face the grumbling of the righteous at their free inclusion; an idea found in the parable of the Prodigal Son. Other's suggest that it depicts the Jew/Gentile debate. The Jews have borne the burden of the Law and now Gentile outcasts are made equal to them apart from the Law. One unlikely suggestion is that this parable teaches that although Jews/Christians get into the kingdom early, in the end, everyone gets in. Neither is it saying all Christians are equal before God. Nor is it saying that the work of all believers is equal before God; all ministries are equal in His sight.

As with all kingdom parables, the central truth of this parable concerns the immediacy of the kingdom of God. The parable proclaims the gospel, it reminds us that now is the tenth hour, the time of reckoning. Know this for sure, the kingdom of God is at hand, so repent and believe.

As we face this reckoning, we become aware that things are not reckoned as we would expect. The blessings of the dawning kingdom are gained, not by effort, but as a gift of God's grace freely given. As the landowner gives the day’s pay to all he hires irrespective of the work undertaken, so God gives the blessing of inclusion in the kingdom apart from our merits. This is an amazing truth, and quite unexpected. The principle of the world is that he who works the longest receives the most pay. That is just. But in the kingdom of God the principles of merit and ability may be set aside so that grace can prevail.

The rich young ruler thought he could "get eternal life" by obedience to the Law. Jesus had to show him that the obedience necessary to gain eternal life was the obedience of perfection. "Sell all your possessions and give to the poor." The young man was right to go "away sad", for who can achieve such perfection. The disciples were also right to be concerned when the full weight of Jesus' words sank in. "Who then can be saved?" Like the rich young man, we all have possessions and we are all tied to them. The answer is "with man this (the gaining of eternal life) is impossible, but with God all things are possible".

We must not be fooled by our own assessment of our standing before God. In his presence, all our worthiness is of little value. The only thing of worth is God's generous kindness, his forgiveness and acceptance of those who seek Christ.

Jesus was telling the people around him that salvation was available to everyone, but only a few were going to take him up on his offer.  When Jesus died on the cross for our sins, he paid the price for salvation. Some children accept Jesus, and have the joy of working for God for many years.  Some people put off accepting Jesus until late in life, even until they are about to die.  They only get to serve the Lord a short time.  God makes salvation available to us all.   For those of us who accept the Lord early on, we should be humble and value that we were chosen to develop a wonderful relationship with our Lord.  We should not be resentful of those who genuinely confess Christ as Savior late in life.  Now do you think you understand what Jesus was saying?  He was saying the following:

1. The person who comes late is just as important as he who comes early.

2. We really do not comprehend the nature of God's unmerited grace.

3. If there is any special payoff for being selected early to labor in the Lord's field, it is simply the inner satisfaction that we receive from being in God's employ.

 

In fact, the Gospel is about our dispositions. Don’t you get mad when you have been busting your butt all day long and someone else comes in and does a little bit of work and they get the same wage as you who worked so hard all day long? Doesn’t that make you mad when you are at work? When you are putting in the time, doing all the work, and someone else near you is sloughing off, and they get the same salary. Doesn’t that make you mad?

The workers in the vineyards didn’t stop to figure out the meaning of the parable because they were so upset about the story itself.

What is the purpose of this story of Jesus? The parables of Jesus are always earthly stories with heavenly meanings. So what is the heavenly meaning of this earthly story for today?

The key to the story is the contrast between those who came at the last hour and those who came at the first hour. Those who came at the last hour were given a full day’s wage.

Those who were given a full days wage at the last hour felt that their wage was undeserved, unearned and a wonderful gift from the owner. The wage was a gift, a surprise, a wonderful delight. And there are Christians who feel that God’s generosity to them is unearned, undeserved, and they are surprised at the generosity of God. Such Christians have this attitude that life has been a wonderful gift from God such as these workers who came to work for only one hour and had received a full blessing from God.

Meanwhile, there are other religious people who were there at six o’clock in the morning and they worked all day long. They were born into the Christian faith; they were baptized into the Christian faith; they went to Sunday School; they went to Youth Group; they did confirmation; they worked in the Altar Guild; they sang in the church choir; they served on the church council; they came to church every Sunday. They also knew in their hearts that God owed it to them. They had the inner attitude: if anyone deserved to be blessed by God, they did for they had been faithful to God and his church all of their lives. God, “I deserve your blessing. I have earned your blessing because of my faithful behavior to you and the church throughout the years.” So this parable is one of the many contrast parables and teachings of Jesus.

Jesus said those who are last with an attitude of thanksgiving shall be first, and those who think they are first shall be last.

Tell me, what did you do yesterday to deserve to be given the gift of life today? What did you do yesterday that was so good that you deserved to live today? To wake up, brush your teeth, have breakfast, see your family, come to church, being with nice people: what did you do yesterday on Saturday that you deserved to be alive in Sunday?

Life, the abundant life, and eternal life are free gifts of God to us, and we do nothing to deserve or earn them. Like life itself, eternal life is a pure gift from God that we do not earn nor deserve.

I have a friend who faced surgery several years ago, and it happened suddenly. He didn’t have time to prepare emotionally for the surgery. He went to the doctor who sent him directly to the hospital and in hours, he had open heart surgery. This man was grateful for his surgery, his successful life, the extra years that had been given to him. But he also said that he was sad that he was not able to express his love to his children before that critical moment of surgery. He had wanted to tell his children but he didn’t. There wasn’t time. Months passed; years passed; a decade passed. One day, he was at his doctor’s office only to discover that he needed surgery again. Only, this time, he had two days to prepare. He had each child, now adults, come into his hospital room and talk privately with him. He wanted each child, now an adult, to know that he felt this past decade of life were extra years that had been given to him by God. Not only the past ten years, but his whole life had been a gift of God, that they, his children, had been a total gift of God. That God had given him his children, his wife, his family, his work, his faith in Christ. That God had given him an abundant life and that God would give him eternal life as well. He wanted his kids to know how he felt. He wanted to tell his children these things ten years ago, and now he had a second chance to do it. So he told them these, each of them, one by one. It was very emotional, and his wife left the room because she couldn’t handle it.

This man expressed what God wants. Deep down inside, all people have this attitude that life is a gift. Life itself, the abundant life, eternal life, it is all a gift. It is not that God owes us anything.

Jesus tells many stories that contrast. For example, the prostitutes and the Pharisees. Jesus liked and appreciated the prostitutes. Jesus loved those people, especially those people who had grown up on the streets and been abused by other people. These women were surprised that Jesus had such affection and love for them. Down deep in their emotions, they knew they did not deserve it. The Pharisees, on the other hand, knew that they deserved God’s blessings and love. They knew that they were ‘pure.’ They knew the Old Testament backward and forward; they tithed; they observed all the special worship services; they were in their synagogues every Friday night. They deserved the blessings and honor from God.

Another contrast. The one leper and the other nine lepers. All ten lepers were healed. Only one came back and said to Jesus, “Thank you for healing me. I did not deserve your healing. You were so gracious in healing me, a great sinner. I am surprised that I am well.”  The other nine lepers said, “Glad that we are healed. We need to go home and see what is happening around the house. We expected healing, and it happened to us. Back to home. Back to work.” Healing was no big deal to the nine lepers. Today we find similar attitudes when people say, “I have good health insurance. Good doctors. Good medical care. I am part of a healing world.” They experience healing but show no appreciation to God for the miracle of healing given to them.

Another contrast. The sinner and the pharisee. The sinner, who gets down onto his knees and prays up to God, saying, “I don’t deserve your forgiveness. What I have done is wrong. Please God, give me your forgiveness and your Presence.” On the other hand, there is the Phaisee who says, “I have been attending synagogue all my life. God, I appreciate your forgiveness. I know you are in the forgiveness business. It is no big deal to you. I have heard about your forgiveness all my life and I am expecting your forgiveness.”

Another contrast. In the parable of younger brother and older brother. The younger son who had run away to the far country. “O Father, I sinned greatly, ran away, consumed your inheritance, and now am coming home. I deserve nothing… What? You are killing the fatted calf for me? Celebrating that I have come back to you?” The older brother thought and felt: “Father, I have stayed home with you my whole life. I am a loyal son who has done what you wanted me to do. I expect your blessing.”

Another contrast. The sheep and the goats. The sheep. “Why did I get into heaven? What did I do to deserve this gift? Your gift of eternal life is such a surprise?” God says, “Well, you were kind to those in prison, the hungry, the homeless, the stranger.” The sheep: “I don’t know about that. I don’t know why I am in heaven. I am so surprised that I am here.”  The goats said: “We were good all of our lives. We gave money to world hunger and supported orphans in Haiti. We deserved to go to heaven. What is this about departing from me, you evil doers. I was not an evil doer.”

In many of Jesus’ stories there is this contrast between these people and those people. These people who understand that all of life and forgiveness, the abundant life and the eternal life, that all of this is a gift from God, undeserved, unearned and a surprise, and those people have the attitude that I expected it, that I deserved it, that I earned it. Pay me my full day’s wage.

Someday I will die and come up to those pearly gates of heaven, knock at the door, and if they open the door, I will be very pleased. I will be so glad that Peter will not say to me, “This way to the exit, downstairs to you know where, with a flame of fire on the exit sign.” The same is true with you. When you come to that moment and you know on the door to eternal life, and the door opens up for you, you will breathe a sigh of relief, peek in and say, “It is really nice in there. Thank you Jesus for allowing me in.”

In conclusion, I would like to tell a story about Simon Peter and Dismas, the thief on the cross. Simon Peter, the big disciple, and Dismas, the thief on the cross, both died and went up to heaven. They both knocked on the door and they both got into heaven. But, up in heaven, they both lived on the same street. Simon Peter lived on the same street with Dismas, the thief on the cross. Peter was honked off and was not pleased with this situation. Well, one day, God came walking by and Peter decided to ask God about it. He said, “You know God, Dismas and I are living on the same street here in heaven and both having similar houses. I want you to know that I left everything for you. I left my fishing nets for you, my occupation. My boat, my nets. I left my good wife. I left my children. I gave all of this up and I followed you my whole adult life and I got crucified upside down at the end of my life in Rome. Dismas here, he wasn’t a Christian for even fifteen minutes. And here we are: on the same street in heaven. I don’t get it.” God said, “Come on, Peter get off it. Your fishing nets were filled with holes. Your fishing boat was falling apart and not really safe. You know very well your kids were rebellious teenagers that you were trying to get away from. Besides, your wife was quite a nag and you wanted to get out of the house and away from her nagging. You were crucified by the Roman government because they wanted to kill you. So don’t give me this ‘holier than thou’ stuff Peter, because I know you better than that. I knew your heart then and now.” Yes, both Peter and Dismas were received by God and salvation was offered to them as a gift, undeserved, unearned, and they received their gift as a surprise.

Tharekadavil

 

Sermon 2009

സിനഗോഗധികാരികളുടെ വീട്ടിലേക്കായിരുന്നു അവന്റെ യാത്ര. അവനെ കേള്‍ക്കാന്‍ കാത്തിരുന്ന ജനക്കൂട്ടം തിക്കിത്തിരക്കി ഒപ്പം നടന്നുനീങ്ങി. ഈ ആള്‍ക്കൂട്ടത്തിലാണവള്‍ ധൈര്യപൂര്‍വ്വം അടുത്തുകൂടിയത്‌; പഴയനിയമ കല്‌പനകളെ തൃണവല്‍ഗണിച്ചുകൊകണ്‌ട്‌ പന്ത്രകണ്‌ട്‌ വര്‍ഷങ്ങളായിട്ടവള്‍ രോഗിയാണ്‌. നിലയ്‌ക്കാത്ത രക്തസ്രാവം, അസ്വസ്ഥതയും അപകര്‍ഷതയും ദു:ഖവും അവള്‍ക്ക്‌ കൂട്ടിനുണ്ട്‌. ആരുടെയും മുന്നില്‍ വന്നുപെടാനവള്‍ക്കിഷ്ടമില്ല. പക്ഷേ, ഏതോ ഒരു ധൈര്യത്തോടെയാണ്‌ അന്നവള്‍ ഗുരുസവിധമണഞ്ഞത്‌. ഗുരുവിനെപ്പറ്റി കേട്ടിട്ടുണ്ടെങ്കിലും നേരില്‍ കാണുന്നത്‌ ഇത്‌ ആദ്യമായാണ്‌. ഗുരുവിന്റെ ചാരത്ത്‌ കഷ്ടപ്പെട്ടണഞ്ഞ അവളുടെ ഉള്ളിലൊരു തേങ്ങല്‍: "ഗുരുവിന്റെ അടുത്തു നില്‍ക്കാന്‍ ഞാനൊരശുദ്ധയല്ലേ"? അവളിലെ ആത്മസംഘര്‍ഷം പുതിയ വെളിപാടുകള്‍ക്ക്‌ വഴിമാറി. അവളുടെ മനസ്സില്‍ ഒരു രൂപം, ചിന്തയില്‍ ഒരു കാര്യം. പ്രവര്‍ത്തിയില്‍ ഒരു ലക്ഷ്യം: ഗുരുസ്‌പര്‍ശം! ആള്‍ക്കൂട്ടത്തിന്റെ ആരവത്തിലും വിശ്വാസം അവളെ നയിച്ചു. വിശ്വാസത്തികവില്‍ അവള്‍ ഗുരുവിന്റെ വസ്‌ത്രവിളുമ്പില്‍ തൊട്ടു. ഫലമോ രോഗവിമുക്തി. പച്ചമണ്ണില്‍ കുഴച്ചെടുത്ത ആദിമനുഷ്യരൂപത്തിന്‌ ജീവസ്‌പര്‍ശം നല്‍കിയ ദൈവഹൃദയത്തിന്റെ സ്‌പന്ദനം വീണ്ടും ആവര്‍ത്തിച്ചു. വിശ്വാസത്തികവിലൊരു പുന:സൃഷ്ടി!

ഗുരുവിന്റെ സ്വരം ഉയര്‍ന്നു. "ആരാണെന്നെ സ്‌പര്‍ശിച്ചത്‌"? ആ ചോദ്യത്തിന്റെ ആഴമറിയാന്‍ ആള്‍ക്കൂട്ടത്തിനായില്ല. "ആരാണ്‌ നിന്നെ സ്‌പര്‍ശിക്കാത്ത"തെന്ന മറുചോദ്യമാണവിടെ ഉയര്‍ന്നത്‌. ദൈവഹൃദയത്തില്‍ സ്‌പര്‍ശനം നല്‍കാന്‍ കൃപ ലഭിച്ചവള്‍ കാല്‍ക്കല്‍ വീണുത്തരം നല്‍കി. പിന്നെ ഗുരുവിന്റെ സാന്ത്വനമൊഴികള്‍: "മകളെ നിന്റെ വിശ്വാസം......." (ലൂക്കാ: 8 : 4 - 8).

"ആള്‍ക്കൂട്ടം ഇന്നും ഗുരുവിന്റെ ചാരത്തകണ്‌ട്‌‌. വര്‍ഷങ്ങള്‍ പിന്നിടുന്തോറും ആള്‍ക്കൂട്ടത്തിന്റെ തിരക്ക്‌ ഏറിവരുന്നേയുള്ളൂ. പക്ഷെ ആരുകണ്‌ട്‌, അവനെ തിരയാന്‍? ഗുരുഹൃദയത്തില്‍ സ്‌പര്‍ശിക്കാന്‍ കഴിയുന്നവര്‍ വിരളം. വിശ്വാസത്തിന്റെ ആഡംബരഭാവങ്ങളിന്നേറിവരുന്നു. വിശ്വാസികള്‍ ദൈവത്തെ ആഭരണങ്ങണിയിക്കുന്ന തിരക്കിലാണ്‌. ഞായറാഴ്‌ചകളിലും കടമുള്ള ദിനങ്ങളിലും പ്രത്യേകമണിയുന്ന "ദൈവാഭരണങ്ങള്‍" ഇട ദിവസങ്ങളിലഴിച്ചു പെട്ടിയിലാക്കുന്നു. വീകണ്‌ടുമൊരു കടമുള്ള ദിനം വന്നെത്തുംവരെ.

ആള്‍ക്കൂട്ടത്തില്‍ ആരെങ്കിലും തന്നെയൊന്നു തൊടുന്നുകേണ്‌ടായെന്ന്‌ ദൈവം അന്വേഷിക്കുന്നു. അനൂഗ്രഹം പേറി കനിവുള്ള ഹൃദയവുമായി ഗുരുവിന്ന്‌ കാത്തിരിക്കുകയാണ്‌ വഴിയോരത്ത്‌. ദൈവത്തെ തൊട്ടെന്ന ഭാവത്തിലാണ്‌ പലരുടെയും സഞ്ചാരം. പാപങ്ങളുടെ വിഴുപ്പുഭാണ്ഡങ്ങളും അഴിക്കാത്ത മാറാപ്പും മനുഷ്യനിന്ന്‌ പ്രിയപ്പെട്ടവ തന്നെ. ഗുരുസന്നിധേ ഇതൊന്നിറക്കിവച്ചാല്‍ അനുഗ്രഹധാരയവിടെ ഒഴുകിയെത്തും.

ഒരു ദൈവസ്‌പര്‍ശം കൊതിച്ച്‌ ആള്‍ക്കൂട്ടത്തിലും പാതയോരത്തും ഇന്ന്‌ ഏറെപ്പേരുകണ്‌ട്‌‌. ജീവിതത്തിന്റെ തിരക്കേറിയ നാല്‍ക്കവലകളില്‍ നട്ടം തിരിയുന്നവര്‍, ആരോരുമില്ലാത്ത ജനപഥങ്ങള്‍, ഏകാന്തതയുടെ കയ്‌പുനീരു കുടിക്കുന്നവര്‍... ഈ തകര്‍ന്ന ജനഹൃദയങ്ങളില്‍ ഗുരുസ്‌പര്‍ശനവുമായി കാത്തുനില്‍ക്കാന്‍ നമുക്കാവണം. നമ്മുടെ വസ്‌ത്രത്തിന്റെ വിളുമ്പില്‍ പിടിച്ചുവലിക്കുന്ന നിര്‍ജ്ജീവ ദേഹങ്ങളില്‍ മൃദുസ്‌പര്‍ശനമേകാന്‍ എനിക്കാവണം.
ജായ്‌റോസിന്റെ മകളെ പുനര്‍ജീവിപ്പിക്കാനുള്ള യേശുവിന്റെ യാത്രയില്‍ ആരും ശ്രദ്ധിക്കാത്ത ഒരു കഥാപാത്രമുണ്ട്‌, ഇന്നത്തെ സുവിശേഷ ഭാഗത്ത്‌. ഒരു ദൂതന്‍, പാതിവഴിയില്‍ ജായ്‌റോസിന്‌ മരണവാര്‍ത്ത കൊകണ്‌ട്‌ുവരുന്നവന്‍. സിനഗോഗധികാരിയുടെ വീട്ടില്‍നിന്നും വരുന്നവന്‍.

അയാള്‍ ജായ്‌റോസിനെ അറിയിക്കുന്നത്‌ ദു:ഖവാര്‍ത്തയാണ്‌. "നിന്റെ മകള്‍ മരിച്ചുപോയി, ഗുരുവിനെ ഇനിയും ബുദ്ധിമുട്ടിക്കേകണ്‌ട".

അവന്റെ ഈ വാക്കുകള്‍ അവന്റെ മനോഗതത്തെ വെളിപ്പെടുത്തുന്നു. അതായത്‌ രോഗിയായിരുന്നവളെ സുഖപ്പെടുത്താന്‍ വരുന്നതില്‍ കാര്യമുകണ്‌ടായിരുന്നു. എന്നാലിപ്പോള്‍ അവള്‍ മരിച്ചുകഴിഞ്ഞശേഷം വന്നതുകൊകണ്‌ട്‌ ഫലമില്ല.

പക്ഷെ ഉടനെവന്നു യേശുവിന്റെ മറുപടി: "ഭയപ്പെടേകണ്‌ട; വിശ്വസിക്കുക മാത്രം ചെയ്യുക".

മനുഷ്യമനസ്സിന്റെ സത്യമാണ്‌ ഗുരു ഇവിടെ വിവരിക്കുന്നത്‌. ഞാന്‍ ഒരാളില്‍ വിശ്വാസമര്‍പ്പിച്ചാല്‍, ആ വ്യക്തിയെ ശരണപ്പെട്ടാല്‍, എനിക്കുവേകണ്‌ടി എന്ത്‌ ക്ലേശവും സഹിക്കുന്നതിന്‌ അയാള്‍ക്ക്‌ മടിയുകണ്‌ടാവില്ല. "നീ എന്നില്‍ വിശ്വാസമര്‍പ്പിച്ചാല്‍ എനിക്കത്‌ ബുദ്ധിമുട്ടാവില്ല"!

പകലന്തിയോളം ജോലിചെയ്‌ത അമ്മതന്നെ മകന്റെ രോഗശയ്യക്കരികെ ഉറക്കമിഴച്ചിരിക്കുന്നത്‌ ഇതുകൊകണ്‌ടാണ്‌. ചികിത്സക്കായി പറമ്പും വീടും വിറ്റ്‌ ദരിദ്രരാകുന്നവര്‍ ചെയ്യുന്നതിതാണ്‌. അദ്ധ്വാനിച്ചുകണ്‌ടാക്കിയ കാശ്‌ മുഴുവന്‍ പ്രേയസിക്കായി ഒരുനിമിഷംകൊകണ്‌ട്‌ ചിലവഴിച്ചു തീര്‍ക്കുന്ന വിഡ്‌ഢിത്തം ഇതാണ്‌. നമ്മെ സ്‌നേഹിക്കുന്നവര്‍ക്കായി ഏത്‌ ക്ലേശവും നാം ഏറ്റെടുക്കും. അപരനെ ആത്മാര്‍ത്ഥമായി വിശ്വസിക്കുക, സ്‌നേഹിക്കുക. അപ്പോള്‍ നമുക്കുവേകണ്‌ടി അവന്‍ എന്തുംചെയ്യും.

വിശ്വാസമുള്ളിടത്ത്‌ പിന്നീട്‌ "പക്ഷേ"കളില്ല. "ചെയ്യാന്‍ പറ്റുമോ" എന്ന സംശയമില്ല. "ശ്ശേ" എന്ന സന്ദേഹമില്ല. എല്ലാം കഴിയും എന്ന ചിന്ത/വിശ്വാസം മാത്രം.


റവ. ജോര്‍ജ്ജ്‌ കാരിക്കാത്തടത്തില്‍
ഗുഡ്‌ഷെപ്പേര്‍ഡ്‌ മേജര്‍ സെമിനാരി,
കുന്നോത്ത്‌.

 

 

VIII Sunday

Sermon will be available on 23.10.2009. See ഏലിയാസ്ലീവാ - മൂശ 1-ഞായര്‍.

 

 
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