Metropolitans Message: January 2015Date : 22-03-2016

Dearly Beloved in Christ,

The commendable achievement of the Indian scientists in the successful completion of the ‘Mangalyaan (Mars Spacecraft) Mission’ has helped millions of Indians to fly high the Indian tricolor at its zenith in their minds.  The fact that the very first Mars Mission of our nation was a success adds luster to this achievement, when we consider that the attempts of different nations faced setbacks and failures in the beginning before being successful. Moreover, the money spent for Mangalyaan is far below those spent by other nations. Congratulations to Dr. K. Radhakrishnan, the head of this project and the source of our pride, and his team for this gain. Recognizing the notable contributions that Dr. Radhakrishnan is giving to the scientific world and to our nation, we, as a Church, had honored Dr. K. Radhakrishnan by giving him the prestigious award of our church, Attumalil Georgekutty Award on February 1, 2014. The speech he gave after receiving the award had thrown light into his personality, dedication, vision, his simplicity, sincerity and humility. God has created us not to become the victims of circumstances but to transform the circumstances and to use them for the good of the society and to create new ones. When the humans put to proper use the God given creativity and imagination they would be able to soar to heights of the vast universe. Mangalyaan Mission is an example that the Creator God has given us the ability to know the greatness of His creation. In this context, a portion worth remembering is given in the Book of Job. “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; but now my eyes have seen You” (42:5). This should be our response when we get new knowledge about the universe. Then we will be able to say with David, “The heavens declare the glory of the Lord and the earth His handiwork” (Psalms 19:1).

Nowadays Kerala is going through a fiery ordeal. Congratulations to the people of Kerala for the new initiative to bring an end to the problem of alcoholism which ruins the health of individuals and paves the way to terminal illnesses and the breaking of families. The initiative taken is an opportunity to bring a qualitative change in our society, instead of simply uttering the hollow words, “God’s own Country”. If all the political parties can hold hands together with the view that it is not by the revenue from liquor that the government should find funds for welfare projects, there will certainly be a qualitative change in the Kerala society. It is a known fact that a sizable amount of the income from liquor is being spent by the government on alcoholism and addiction- related problems and diseases. It is the duty of every person, irrespective of political affiliation, who advocates human welfare and brotherhood to give full support to the initiative taken by the Chief Minister of Kerala Mr. Oommen Chandy and his government to have a liquor-free Kerala. At this juncture, the observation made by the judiciary that prohibition cannot be regarded as a violation of human rights is worth noticing. We must not forget that when God has given humans all the resources, blessings, and position, He has entrusted us with the responsibility of using them with a sense of stewardship.

We can be proud of the fact that we are the largest democracy in the world, where elections are held without fear of favor. The strength of our nation to replace one government and install another in its place, without any hitch or problems, was quite evident in the last general election and the transfer of power. The results are the verdict of the people against the corrupt and unstable governance of the coalition government. In spite of that, still we can see that there are attempts to form temporary, narrow, opportunistic, and selfish coalitions in different states.  Let us pray that the new government will utilize the time ahead as an opportunity to establish value-based democracy, taking heed not to shift to autocracy,  and to fulfill the great vision of Mahatma Gandhiji to see everyone as God’s child.  Our nation has completed 67 years after independence. Now, the words of the late Gandhian, Prof. M. P. Manmadhan, comes to mind. He said that just as body gets weak in old age and we need a cane or some support to move around, the Faith in God must be an experience which gives us strength. Let us pray for the realization of the vision of the Kingdom of God.

The verdict of the Courts showing that whatever be the office or position one holds, he/she will be brought before the court of law and that all are equal before the Law, is a blow and a stern warning to those who try to hide corruption using the power of their position.

The spread of the Ebola virus from the African continent has become a great threat to the whole world. Thousands of lives were taken by this epidemic. It may affect the health of the people and the world economy. The medical field is in the search for a preventive medicine. Let us pray that God will help us to find a suitable remedy for this disease.

It is a fact that the rights and privileges of children are violated and threatened in many nations. Child labor is indeed child abuse. Kailash Sathyarthi of India who campaigns against child labor and Malala Yusuf of Pakistan who fights for the education of girls won the Nobel Prize for Peace this year. It is the recognition they got for their untiring service. Congratulations to these two who fight relentlessly, amidst crises, for their noble causes.

By the grace of God this year’s Mandalam was a blessing. The agenda could be completed within the stipulated time. The new council for 2014-2017 was constituted and the projects and plans for the next three years were chalked out. Let us pray that the sincere prayer, cooperation and the combined effort of all concerned will be a blessing to the Church. When the Dioceses and parishes plan projects, instead of giving emphasis just to one or two segments, we should take into consideration the people of different categories who deserve our help.

The construction of the Poolatheen is progressing well. The structure is complete. Now the remaining work has to be completed. The prices are rising day-by-day resulting in the rise of the overall cost of the project. Dioceses and parishes are asked to send the amount allotted for this project to the Sabha Office before December 31, 2014. We could pay the bills without fail so far. The prayer and cooperation of everyone is solicited so as to complete the entire project by March 31, 2015.

Even before the rise of the Ecumenical Movement, there was the spirit of ecumenism in the relationship between the Mar Thoma Church and the Malabar Independent Church (Thozhiyoor), even though there were doctrinal and liturgical differences.  The 13th Mar Thoma of Malabar, Mathews Mar Athanasius Metropolitan came from Antioch receiving the consecration and authority as the Metropolitan of Malabar and took charge. When the Metropolitan passed away suddenly, without consecrating a successor, it was the Metropolitan of the Thozhiyoor Church who helped the church in that crisis by consecrating Titus I Metropolitan in spite of opposition from other circles. The Valiya Metropolitan of Thozhiyoor Church, Joseph Mar Coorilos was taken to the heavenly abode suddenly while resting after celebrating Holy Communion in a church. He was able to strengthen and improve ecumenical relations with other churches in India and abroad during his tenure as Metropolitan. The heartfelt condolence of the Mar Thoma Church was conveyed to the Malabar Independent Church and our bishops attended the funeral.

One of the senior Achens of our Church, Rev. V. K. Mathew Vettathu, Maramon (85) was called to eternal rest. He was a role model for our Achens because of his creative and dynamic ministry that was done with nobility. We convey the church’s condolence to the bereaved family.

In the Advent Season, could we say with Mary, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it according to your word” (Luke1:38); “He that is mighty has done to me great things; and holy is His name” (Luke1:49).

The Grace of the Lord be with you all!

Dr. Joseph Mar Thoma Metropolitan

(This message was translated from the Sabha Tharaka by Rev. Philip Varghese, New York)