Sermon of the Week

Posted in Uncategorized by stbasilsboston on February 25, 2012

October 9, 2011

Next Sunday is the 4th Sunday after Sleebo. Gospel reading for Sunday is from Luke 16:1-15.

Theme: “No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate one and love the other or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and mammon (money).” Luke 16:13)

Gospel Reading: (Luke 16:1-15) “

The Parable of the Shrewd Manager

1Jesus told his disciples: “There was a rich man whose manager was accused of wasting his possessions. 2So he called him in and asked him, ‘What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your management, because you cannot be manager any longer.’

3″The manager said to himself, ‘What shall I do now? My master is taking away my job. I’m not strong enough to dig, and I’m ashamed to beg— 4I know what I’ll do so that, when I lose my job here, people will welcome me into their houses.’

5″So he called in each one of his master’s debtors. He asked the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’

6” ‘Eight hundred gallons[a] of olive oil,’ he replied.

“The manager told him, ‘Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it four hundred.’

7″Then he asked the second, ‘And how much do you owe?’

” ‘A thousand bushels[b] of wheat,’ he replied.

“He told him, ‘Take your bill and make it eight hundred.’

8″The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly. For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light. 9I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.

10″Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. 11So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? 12And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?

13″No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.”

14The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus. 15He said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight.”

Rich Master and the shrewd manager

 

Message:

In the gospel, Jesus relates a parable to the disciples in reference to our attitude towards wealth. Jesus talks about our possessions, how we are to deal with what God has given us as a gift.

The parable is about a foolish steward, or manager. The master, or the owner, had entrusted the manager with all his wealth to be properly looked after. However, the manager misused the goods. When the master came back and realized that the manager had misused his wealth, he dismissed the manager and gave the manager time to settle the accounts. The moment this manager realized it did cost him the job, he makes an assessment of what he did. The manager said to himself, “What shall I do now?. The owner is taking away my job.” He realized he is in trouble. The moment this manager realized that he is going to lose his job, he makes an assessment of where he stood. The manger said to himself, “What shall I  do now My Master is taking away my job.” He realized he is in trouble.

When the master came back, he dismissed the manager, and gave him time to settle the accounts. The manager begins to cut down on what he overcharged the owner and customers. The master afterwards praises the manager for realizing his problems and taking immediate actions to fix it. The Lord said this man should be commended because he began to use his opportunity wisely.

There are three things noticeable in this parable:

1). Accountability. When the master came back, the unwise manager was brought to accountability for his actions. The Master owned the wealth. The manager only managed it. The Master had expectations and this explains why the manager was accountable to the owner.

2) Assessment of the manager. The moment the unwise manager found out he was going to lose his job, he made an assessment of where he stood. The manager said to himself, “What shall I do now? My master is taking away my job. I am not strong to do any manual labor, and I am ashamed to beg.’ He realizes he is in trouble. The master came home and found the manager was not doing what the owner required of him.

3)The actions of the manager. The manager sat down with his account books, began to correct the accounts.

There are three lessons we can learn from this parable.

1) First:  We are to use the opportunity wisely. The master praised the manager for the fact that he realized there was a problem. He immediately took action to fix it. Likewise, use the opportunity that God has given us wisely. God gives us a chance just like the owner gave the manager, a chance to correct our lifestyle. There is an old saying, like this, “Though I can’t go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now on and make a brand new ending.” And that is what happened to the manager. The Lord said the man shall be commended because he used his opportunity wisely.

2) Second: Trust is something to be earned. Trust cannot be given or granted freely. It must be earned. If we can’t be faithful with little things, how can we be with large things?. If we misuse whatever was given to us, the master won’t give us any more. God doesn’t trust us on what we plan to do or hope to do, instead we will be measured on by what we are doing right now.

3) Third: Be totally devoted to God. No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You can’t serve both God and mammon (wealth).

Let’s be faithful to God for all his blessings.

(Prepared by: Rev. Dr. V kurianThomas Valiyaparambil)

 kurianvthomas@yahoo.com

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Sermon of the Week

Posted in Uncategorized by stbasilsboston on February 25, 2012

September 18, 2011

Next Sunday is the 1st Sunday after Sleebo. The gospel reading is from Mark 13:30-37.

Theme: Jesus Christ’s Second Coming: The day and hour is unknown.

Gospel Reading:

(Mark 13:32-37) 28 “Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near.29 Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that it is near, right at the door. 30 Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. 31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

32″No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. 34It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with his assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch. 35″Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come backwhether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. 36If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. 37What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!”

Message:

The Second Coming of Christ is confused by several false teachings. Prediction books have been written picking the exact date of Jesus’ return. These books have sold several copies, but they mislead their readers. As soon as someone predicts the day or time of Jesus’ Second Coming, that prediction is found wrong simply because only God the Father knows when it will be – Jesus doesn’t even know.

Here is a story I have read in the “Wikipedia Encyclopedia.” (The story is paraphrased.)

In the late 19th century in America, there was a wave of enthusiasm for prophesies predicting the actual date for Jesus Christ’s Second Coming.

One such prophet was  a Seventh Day Adventist leader by the name William Miller. (1782-1849) And it is in his movement that both the Jehovah Witnesses and the Seventh Day Adventists find their roots.

Miller first predicted that Christ would return on 21st March 1842. Several thousand followers jammed the Boston Seventh Day Adventist Temple, only to be disappointed. The movement didn’t die. It continued to grow.

Miller decided to recalculate his date – April 3, 1843. When the messiah did not show up on that date either, there was frustration and some followers left the Adventist ranks.

Undeterred by these failures, Miller came up with a third date – 22nd October 1844. This date was published as real and rallied his followers in full strength. They spread the new date of the second coming with great enthusiasm that had not been seen before.  Church members who did not accept this message were denounced as agents of evil.

One account notes that “Fields were left unharvested, shops were closed,  people quit their jobs, paid their debts, and freely gave away their possessions  with no conditions of recovery.

Huge press releases of Adventist publications warned the public that “The Time is Short”, “Prepare to Meet Your God,” and “The Lord is Coming.”

Miller himself began to supply white “ascension robes” to the faithful, many of whom waited for the miraculous event in freshly dug graves.

As we all know, the Second Coming did not occur on 22nd October 1844. In fact, if they had read Mark 13: 32-37 they would not have been taken in by Miller’s false prophesy. For Jesus speaking about the Second Coming said in Mark 13:32, “No one knows about that day or hour not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”

The Ana-Baptists, a radical Protestand Christian Reformation movement in the 16the century believed that the Second Coming of Jesus Christ would occur in 1533. When the prophey failed, the Anbaptists became more zealous and claimed that Enoch and Elijah had come in the form of Jan Matthys and Jan Bockelson, the group’s two top leaders.

Charles Russell, the first president of the Watch Tower Society, predicted Jesus Christ would return on March 8, 1889. That day passed uneventfully.

The 2011 end times prediction made by American Christian radio host Harold Camping, a former civil engineer, stated that the Rapture and Judgment Day would take place on May 21, 2011, and that the end of the world would take place five months later on October 21, 2011. The Rapture is the taking up into heaven of God’s elect people. Camping, president of the Family Radio Christian network, claimed the Bible as his source and said May 21, 2011 would be the date of the Rapture and the day of judgment “beyond the shadow of a doubt”. Camping suggested that it would occur at 6 p.m. local time, with the rapture sweeping the globe time zone by time zone, while some of his supporters claimed that around 200 million people (approximately 3% of the world’s population) would be ‘raptured’. That day passed and nothing had happened.

Previously back in 1992, Camping had also predicted the world coming to an end on September 6, 1944. He then said on September 7, 1944 that his prediction didn’t come true due to a mathematical error.

On June 9, 2011, a day ofter his recent end time prediction, Camping suffered a stroke and was hospitalized. A neighbor, according to reports, stated that his speech had become slurred as a result of the stroke. He has since then been moved to a nursing home for rehabilitation. On June 21, Camping radio station announced that it wold replace Camping Show with new programming.

Catherine Wessinger, a professor at Loyola University in New Orleans who studied doomsday prophesies, suggests that the interest in doomsday predictions is a reflection of the uncertainty of people who face a slumpy economy. A lot of times those prophesies gain traction when difficulities are happening in the society.

Jesus said, speaking about his Second Coming in Mark 13:26-27: “At that time men will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And He will send his angels and gather together His elect from the four winds, from the farthest part of earth to the farthest part of heaven.”

Again, “It is like a man going away: Leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with his assigned task, and tell the one at the door to keep watch. Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back–whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping”. (Mark 13:34-36)

 (Prepared by Rev. Dr. VkurianThomas, Valiyaparambil)

kurianvthomas@yahoo.com

Sermon of the Week

Posted in Uncategorized by stbasilsboston on February 25, 2012

September 11, 2011

Next Sunday is the fourth Sunday after Assumption of St. Mary. Gospel reading for Sunday is from Mathew 5:38-48.

Gospel Reading: (Mathew 5:38-48)

 

“38”You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.'[a] 39But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you 43″You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[b] and hate your enemy.’ 44But I tell you: Love your enemies[c] and pray for those who persecute you, 45that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Message:

In the gospel we read in verse 38, Jesus says, “You have heard that it was said, “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth”, but I say to you, do not resist an evildoer. If anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other cheek also.”

In reality, the intent of “Eye for an eye”law was to restrict retaliation to the value of the loss. The literal meaning is that a person who has injured another is instructed to give equal to the value of his loss in compensation. Its purpose was based on the principle to provide an equitable restitution for the offense.

This principle of “eye for an eye, and tooth for a tooth” is a quotation from the passages in Leviticus 24:19-21,  Exodus 21:22-25, and Deuteronomy 19:21 in which a person who has injured another is instructed to give in equal value for the other person’s loss in compensation. It was not intended as revenge, but only to implement strict justice. However, in some instances, unfortunately, it resulted in vengeance.

Jesus talks about this law, “Eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth,” and asks for new interpretation. This saying of Jesus is frequently interpreted as criticisms of the Old Testament teaching and often taken as implying this law encourages excessive retaliaation.  In reality, the law was intended to restrict retaliation to the value of the loss.

 

Jesus says not to resist an evil person. If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also. Jesus focuses on mercy. Going for revenge is, of course, part of human nature. It is self-centered and destructive at best in the sense that it desires to strike at another person to gain self satisfaction. If one takes out vengeance on another through litigation or retaliation, the other person will eventually end up ruling the litigant’s life. Justice might be served but the litigant’s life would become much more miserable later because he will be thinking about new ways to get even with the other person who will exercise more control over the litigant even without any  personal contacts. If the litigant could let it go, then he would become much happier and become much easier to talk to.

Jesus is saying that we don’t have to take the law to its limits in order to get even. Jesus says we should see the law from the standpoint of wanting to exercise mercy rather than vengeance. God chooses mercy over vengeance. Taking someone to court could end up misery on us later on. Jesus asks us to bring something good out of a bad situation. If possible, offer mercy and forgiveness.

1 Peter 3:9 repeats this principle. “Don’t repay evil with evil, or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.”

Going an extra mile of forgiveness is not at all difficult when we can see the benefit it has for us. Instead of exercising bitterness or resentment and then spending the entire life griping, complaining and employing ourselves in self-pity is not worth it. Instead, we can enjoy the privilege of being able to serve others better or do better things for others by exercicing mercy and forgiveness.

Just because we have the right to retaliate doesn’t mean we have to engage in that process. Let’s pray to God to help us focus our life on mercy. Relationships are more important than keeping our rights. Let’s help ourselves to do everything we can to find agreement first and always .

 (Prepared by: Rev. Dr. V kurianThomas, Valiyaparambil)

kurianvthomaas@yahoo.com

Sermon of the Week

Posted in Uncategorized by stbasilsboston on February 25, 2012

September 4, 2011

Next Sunday is the 3rd Sunday after Assumption. Gospel reading for Sunday is from Mathew 17:22-27.

Subject: The Temple Tax Issue

Gospel Reading: Mathew 17:24-27.

“24After Jesus and his disciples arrived in Capernaum, the collectors of the two-dragma tax came to Peter and asked, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the temple tax?”. 25″Yes, he does,” he replied. When Peter came into the house, Jesus was the first to speak. “What do you think, Simon?” he asked. “From whom do the kings of the earth collect duty and taxes—from their own sons or from others?” 26″From others,” Peter answered.  “Then the sons are exempt,” Jesus said to him. 27″But so that we may not offend them, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours.”

(Jesus & the Temple Tax)

Message:

Jesus and his disciples were in Capernaum, Peter’s home town. There the tax collectors came to Peter. They then asked Peter, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the tax?”. This was the tax collected for the upkeep of the Jerusalem temple. The money was used to support all the temple services.  This question from the tax collectors was probably a test to see how supportive was Jesus to the Temple services.  Peter answered, “Yes.” When he and Jesus were in the house away from the tax collectors, Jesus asked Peter, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of earth collect taxes, from their sons or from strangers?” There are kings on earth who run their kingdoms with money raised from taxes. Their  taxes  are collected not from the king’s children, but from the rest of the citizens. The analogy pictures God as the king and the temple services as the running of the kingdom. This makes a comparison between king’s sons and strangers.

Peter answers, “From strangers.” That is, kings collect taxes from citizens who are not part of the royal family. Jesus said to Peter, “That’s right, then the sons are exempt from taxes.”  Jesus says to Peter, “So that we don’t want to offend them, give it to them for you and me.” Jesus is the Lord of the temple, therefore did not owe tax. Jesus took this opportunity to teach what ought to be practically the right thing to do to avoid embarrassments.  Jesus said, “So that we do not offend them, go to the sea and throw a hook, and take the first fish that comes up. When you open its mouth, you will find a coin. Take that and give it to them for your sake and mine.”

In this example, Jesus shows us how to deal  with a situation where we are conflicted with and don’t know what to do. Regardless of what the right answer may be,  do the thing that is necessary to avoid embarrassments. Sometimes the ‘right’ is less important than to maintain good relationships with others. It is not necessary to force our right on others when we know it will only damage our reputation or relationships in someone else’s eyes.

(Prepared by: Rev. Dr. V KurianThomas, Valiyaparambil)

kurianvthomas@yahoo.com

Sermon of the Week

Posted in Uncategorized by stbasilsboston on February 22, 2012

August 28, 2011

Next Sunday is the 2nd Sunday after Assumption of St. Mary. Gospel reading is from Luke 11:9-13.

Gospel Reading:

(Luke 11:9-13) 9 “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

11 “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for[a] a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

Theme: How to establish a consistent prayer life that will help us change the world around us.

Message:

Jesus in Gethsemane, knowing that the hour of his suffering is rapidly approaching, was praying and asked his disciples to pray. Instead of praying, the disciples slept. They had to struggle in being faithful to prayer. Eventually they rose above those struggles and became mighty in prayer.The Apostles regarded prayer as the most important part of their life.

The question for us today is how can we can enter in to victory in this area of our lives. What is it going to take for us to develop and maintain a strong and consistent prayer life? If we are experiencing some horrific problems, then we would pray more.   Let’s not do it that way. Let’s be children of God and enjoy the daily interactions with our heavenly Father. Prayer should be more than something that happens, it is something we should do by a choice of our will. It is a worthy investment in our life. We are rational beings who have limited time and resources. The most valuable thing we all have is our time. If we invest our time wisely, we could convert that into some rewards. All of us invest our time where we decide to invest by choice. So, it is a question for us to ask: Is it a good investment of our time to pray? The devil has a thousand ways to suggest “no” as an answer. He will say it is a waste of time because nothing is going to be accomplished by prayer.

What the Bible says about the value of prayer? In today’s gospel, Luke 11: 9-13, after teaching the Lord’s prayer and illustrating God’s willingness to answer our prayer, Jesus tells, “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.”

The point Jesus is making is this:

 

(1) God answers our prayers when we pray. God responds to our requests. Suppose your son comes to you and asks for fish sticks, would you give him a snake instead? Suppose he was hungry and asks for an egg, would you hand him a scorpion instead? No parent would do that. We will give our children only what they needed.

 

(2) Without faith it is impossible to please God. Any one who comes to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. Remember, whoever sows sparingly will reap sparingly and whoever sows generously reaps generously. It works that way for every one of us . Until a person comes to realize the value of prayer, he will not have much of a prayer life. We are all good at calling on God at crisis. But here we are talking about daily communication with God in prayer.

(3) We must establish prayer as a priority in life. God gives us some guidance in that in Mathew 6:33. Jesus tells to make the spiritual a priority and the material things will follow. “Seek first his Kingdom and his righteousness, and all other things will be given to you.”

(4) We must develop a plan for accomplishing our priority. When a building gets built, long before that happens, a detailed plan for the construction will be engineered. Any major league football team will have a plan and a strategy for winning the game. For our prayer, a plan that is realistic and executable is essential.

(5) We must discipline ourselves to continue doing what we have committed to do. There will be time gap between prayer and seeing the answers. Like in the area of farming, if we plant an apple tree today, we cannot expect to go out tomorrow to pick apples off of that tree. We need to water the plant and nurture it for a long time before there are any apples to eat. If we don’t understand this principle, we will conclude that prayer is not working. Prayer works but not aways as fast as any one who asks receives.

The following practical thoughts are taken from Stephen R. Covey’s book, “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.”

(1) We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence is not an act but is a habit;

(2) Our character is a composition of our habits;

(3) Like any natural force, gravity can work with us or against us.

(4) For our purpose, we will define a habit as the intersection of Knowledge, Skill, and Desire.

(5) Knowledge is what to do and the why, Skill is the how to do it. The Desire is the want to do. In order to make something a habit in our lives, we have to have all three.

The power to make and keep commitments to ourselves is the essence of developing the basic habits of effectiveness. Knowledge, Skill, and Desire are all within our control. We can work on any one to improve the balance of all three. As the area of intersection becomes larger and larger, we more deeply internalize principles upon which the habits are based and create the strength of character to move us in a balanced way toward increasing effectiveness in our lives.

Let’s blend this thought concerning habit and apply it to the concept of prayer.

(1) Knowledge (the what to do and why to do): The Word of God is the source of knowledge. It tells us that we should pray and it will help us to understand the benefits of prayer.

(2) Skill (how to do): If we do not know how to pray, we can learn through practice. The best way to learn prayer is through its repetition.

(3) Desire (want to do it) Many times this is an area we have the most trouble with.  If we ask God, he can give us a greater desire to communicate with him through prayer.

When we bring Knowledge, Skill, and Desire into balance, we can become effective in the habit of prayer. This includes planning a time to pray, a place to pray. striving for a relationship rather than a ritual, and  consistency in our habits. On the basis of the above strategy, let’s develop a habit for prayer and help ourselves change the world around us.

 (Prepared by: Rev. Dr. V KurianThomas, Valiyaparambil)

 Kurianvthomas@yahoo.com

Sermon of the Week

Posted in Uncategorized by stbasilsboston on February 22, 2012

August 7, 2011

Next Sunday is the 1st Sunday after Transfiguration of Jesus. (Transfiguration is an event reported in the New Testament in which Jesus transfigured upon Mount Tabor.  Peter, James, and John were with him. There Jesus was transfigured before them.  Jesus became radiant and his clothes became dazzling white. There appeared before them Elijah and Moses. A cloud appeared and enveloped them. A voice from the cloud said:”This is my Son”. It is one of the miracles mentioned in the Gospels. Orthodox Churches practice Transfiguration as a feast in honor of Jesus as well as a feast of the Holy Trinity, since all three Persons of the Trinity being present at that moment. God the Father spoke from heaven, God the Son was the one being transfigured, and God the Holy Spirit was present in the form of a cloud. Comparison is made to the Baptism of Jesus when the Holy Trinity appeared in a similar fashion.)

The Gospel reading for this Sunday is from Mathew 21:28-32.

The Parable of the Two Sons: Jesus narrates a parable in which he creates  a dilemma for us to ponder. This is a story of a father asking his sons to go out and work in the vineyard.

Gospel Reading:

“28 What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’

29” ‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went.

30 “Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go.

31″Which of the two did what his father wanted?” “The first,” they answered. Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you.

32For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him.” (Mathew 21:28-32)

Message:

Unfortunately we experience these kinds of situations too often these days. Many of us don’t trust promises anymore. On TV and other media ads, advertisers bombard us with promises, guarantees with testimonies on their new and improved products. Politicians are experts in promising the best for us to get our support. We have heard statements like,

“We are winning the war in Vietnam,” to

“We have clear evidence of WMD in Iraq.”

“Mission accomplished in Iraq” to

“We are at the verge of winning in Afghanistan.”

Some even have come forward at the end to say, “I am not a crook,” to “I didn’t inhale,” to “I didn’t have sex in the strict legal sense,” and so on.

I am sure many of us are guilty of breaking promises, such as, “I will call you back,” “The check is in the mail,” “We will get together soon,” “I will take care of it,”, “I’ll definitely be there tomorrow”, and sometimes even much worse than that. We may have good intentions to keep our promises. It is much easier to say “yes” and get the other person off the phone, than to say “no” or “I don’t want to.” Which one is harder, telling “yes” or telling “no”?. I think telling “yes” is easier than “no.”

In today’s parable, the father asks his children to go and work in the vineyard. The first son says “no”, dishonoring his father but changes his mind later. The second son politely says “yes” but then doesn’t do what he says. Perhaps neither of them deserve any rewards. Both of them are guilty of dishonest allegiance The first son dishonors his father, the second son disobeys.

This story could be about us. Many of us know how much we profess faith in God but do not live a faithful life. Some obey the will of God without fully believing in Him. Now the third option for us is this: In a world where broken promises pile up and cluster our lives, there are some promises that we know we can believe in and stake our life on. These are God’s promises. God promises that he loves each and every one of us. He promises to weep with us, to mourn with us, to endure pain with us, to rejoice with us, and be always with us.

How should we respond to these assurances?. The proper response on our part should be to make our promises to God in return. Let’s promise to God that we will be honest, our faith in Him will dictate our actions from now onwards. Let’s say, “yes” to God and then we “must” go out and do His work. There is a whole vineyard out there that needs to be harvested. Let’s go ahead and do the work.

May God bless

  (Prepared by: Rev. Dr. V KurianThomas Valiyaparambil)

  kurianvthomas@yahoo.com

Sermon of the Week

Posted in Uncategorized by stbasilsboston on February 22, 2012

July 31, 2011

Next Sunday is the 7th Sunday after Pentecost. Gospel reading is from Mark 3:20-30.

Theme: “Whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; they are guilty of an eternal sin.” (Mark 3:29)

Gospel Reading:

“20 Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat. 21 When his family[a] heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.”

22 And the teachers of the law who came down from Jerusalem said, “He is possessed by Beelzebub! By the prince of demons he is driving out demons.”

23 So Jesus called them over to him and began to speak to them in parables: “How can Satan drive out Satan? 24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. 26 And if Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand; his end has come. 27 In fact, no one can enter a strong man’s house without first tying him up. Then he can plunder the strong man’s house. 28 Truly I tell you, people can be forgiven all their sins and every slander they utter, 29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; they are guilty of an eternal sin.”

30 He said this because they were saying, “He has an impure spirit.” (Mark 3:20-30)

Message:

From the very beginning of Jesus’ ministry, the tone was set correctly for what is and what is not an accepted behavior. Jesus had done so many wonderul things during his life time, such as, healing the sick, forgiving the sinners, casting out demons and so forth.

In today’s gospel we read that Jesus had an encounter with a group of Jewish scholars who came down from Jerusalem. They came to dispute Jesus’ authority. Instead of avoiding them and the issue, Jesus meets with them head-on. In this confrontation, Jesus states something that is a clear warning to everyone who would think of him differently. It is a warning for those who dared to diminish and neutralize his work. Jesus calls their accusation, “SIN”. Jesus defines what that sin is.

CONFRONTATION #1: The scholars had seen and witnessed the miracles Jesus had performed. They could not deny what Jesus had been doing because the evidence was there for anyone to ignore. The  Jewish scholars did not bother to compliment Jesus for the good deeds. Instead they decided to attack him for who he claimed to be. They charged Jesus as an agent of Satan and that Jesus was driving out demons by using the power of Satan. To add to the insult, they held him in contempt and were not afraid to show it.

 

CONFRONTATION  #2. Jesus was never afraid to meet with his attackers. Jesus forced a confrontation with them. They were busy spreading their malicious claim in order to cause doubts on Jesus.

Jesus asked, “How can we be together?” Jesus would further say, “We are mortal enemies, To say we are in union is a sin against God.” Jesus had told in no uncertain terms that they were WRONG, and that he had met Satan in the Temptations and that Jesus – not Satan – won.

CONFRONTATION #3 Jesus warned them that when they accused him by calling God and Satan as being together, that they were on a dangerous territory.

Jesus warned them about their thinking process. Sin starts in the mind. If we allow it to enter, it could stay and grow. It will then be hardened. Sin then will be so easy to act on. It will ultimately lead them to commit sins for which there would never be any cleansing possible. Jesus told them that no one should compare the mercies of God to Satan, but that was what the Jewish scholars have been trying to do. They saw the evidence of the mercies of God, but continued to think differently. Their inner mind was getting darkened and Jesus told them to stop the sin before it took control of them.

CONFRONTATION #4. Jesus warned them of holding on to that thought. It is one thing to have a thought enter the mind and it is another thing to allow it to remain and feed it. Not only were they nurturing the sin of wrongful thinking, they were also practicing it. They allowed it to grow. They allowed that thought to overtake them and act on it.

Too many people today are willing to accommodate the world around us by throwing away God’s Commandmends and allow them into thinking until they cannot differentiate between God and Satan. The world has mixed the truth of God with its modernity. This type of thinking will be an insult to the Holy Spirit. Blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven. They are guilty of eternal sin. Jesus sets the truth for all times.

(Prepared by: Rev. Dr. V Kurian Thomas Valiyaparambil)

  kurianvthomas@yahoo.com

Sermon of the Week

Posted in Uncategorized by stbasilsboston on February 22, 2012

July 24, 2011

Next Sunday is the sixth Sunday after Pentecost. Gospel reading for Sunday is from Mathew 15:32-39.

Topic: “Where could we get enough bread in this remote place to feed such a crowd?”

Scripture: (Mathew 15:32-39)

32 Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way.”

33 His disciples answered, “Where could we get enough bread in this remote place to feed such a crowd?”

34 “How many loaves do you have?” Jesus asked. “Seven,” they replied, “and a few small fish.”

35 He told the crowd to sit down on the ground.

36 Then he took the seven loaves and the fish, and when he had given thanks, he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and they in turn to the people.

37 They all ate and were satisfied. Afterward the disciples picked up seven basketful of broken pieces that were left over.

38 The number of those who ate was four thousand, besides women and children. 39After Jesus had sent the crowd away, he got into the boat and went to the vicinity of Magadan.”

Message:

Last week we discussed the  disciples’ dilemma, “How to feed all those people?”

Today’s question is again from the disciples and is found in Mathew 15:33 of our scripture text.  “Where could we get enough food in this remote place to feed such a crowd?”

In this story, Jesus and his disciples had gone to an area known as Decapolis which is on the southeast of the Sea of Galilee. (Mark 7:31) The region was called Decapolis as ten cities of the area had formed an alliance to guard their frontier that was exposed to open and unprotected desert area. The region was part of the territory ruled by Herod Antipas although most of the people who lived there were the Gentiles.

While Jesus was in Decapolis, the multitudes brought many lame, blind, mute, and others to him to heal.  Jesus had compassion on the multitudes, for he feared if he sent them away with nothing to eat, they would faint along the way.

The miracle recorded in this chapter is not to be confused with the feeding of the 5000.

5000 – 5 loaves of bread, and 2 fish.

4000 – 7 loaves of bread, and a few small fish.

5000 – 12 baskets left over.

4000 –   7 baskets left over.

5000 – The crowd with Jesus for 1 day.

4000 – The crowd with Jesus for  3 days.

5000 – the spring of the year

4000 – Summer.

5000 – The crowd tried to make Jesus king (John 6:15)

4000 – didn’t

5000 – primarily a Jewish congregation.

4000 – primarily a Gentile congregation.

5000 – Place was Bethsaida, north of the Sea of Galilee. (Luke 9:10)

4000 – Place was Decapolis, a region comprising of ten cities on the south-east of the Sea of Galilee. This was mostly  a Gentile area. (Mark 7:31)

Jesus duplicated the miracle of feeding the vast multitude to demonstrate that he is the ‘Bread of Life’ to the entire world, not just to one group of people.

Now the question for the disciples was, “Do we have enough?.” It is evident that Jesus loved these people and that’s why he wouldn’t send them home on empty stomach. Jesus called his disciples and said to them, “I have compassion for these people for they have been with me for three days and have nothing to eat. I don’t want to send them away hungry.” Jesus could have sent them home without any food. But Jesus’ compassion motivated  him to feed them. Afterward, the disciples began feeding the crowd with what they had with them, seven loaves of bread and few small fish. They ended up with seven large size baskets of left over.

The lesson we learn here is that God can help us by taking over our crippled life and straighten it out for us. If God can feed several thousands with seven loaves and few small fish, feed thousands with manna in the desert, whip a giant with a committed shepherd boy, make water come out of rocks, make the sun stand still, transform a terrorist named Saul into a preacher named Paul, surely he can enter into our lives also, and help us to straighten it up. For that, we must yield to him. When Jesus asks us, “How many loaves do you have?”, whatever little we have, we must place our total trust in God’s hands for us to yield enough blessings from him. If we do that, we will have more than enough of what we need in life.

(Prepared by: Rev. Dr. V KurianThomas Valiyaparambil)

kurianvthomas@yahoo.com

Sermon of the Week

Posted in Uncategorized by stbasilsboston on February 22, 2012

July 17, 2011

Next Sunday is the 5th Sunday after Pentecost. The gospel reading is from Luke 9:10-17.

Topic: “Feeding the Five Thousand: A Dilemma for the Disciples”

Scripture: (Luke 9:10-17)

Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand

“10 When the apostles returned, they reported to Jesus what they had done. Then he took them with him and they withdrew by themselves to a town called Bethesda, 11but the crowds learned about it and followed him. He welcomed them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed healing.

12 Late in the afternoon the Twelve came to him and said, “Send the crowd away so they can go to the surrounding villages and countryside and find food and lodging, because we are in a remote place here.”

13 He replied, “You give them something to eat.”

They answered, “We have only five loaves of bread and two fish—unless we go and buy food for all this crowd.” 14(About five thousand men were there.)

But he said to his disciples, “Have them sit down in groups of about fifty each.” 15The disciples did so, and everybody sat down. 16Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke them. Then he gave them to the disciples to set before the people. 17They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketful’s of broken pieces that were left over.”

Message:

Jesus had made it clear that following him would involve a radical change in one’s perspective. The life of a disciple is different from that of the world or what the world would expect for a Christian.

Last week we read that the disciples were sent out to preach in their public ministry alone. They reported back that they had successfully preached, conducted healing, and even cast out demons. (Luke 9:1)

Today  we will examine the same chapter for the disciple’s new experience in the process of learning what it means to be a follower of Jesus. The text reveals a new situation the disciples had to deal with.

A large crowd followed Jesus. As the day ended, the disciples asked Jesus to send the crowds home for there was no food to feed them all and getting food was a problem for the followers. Bust Jesus instructed them to feed the crowd. The disciples answered, “We have no more than five loaves and two fish.” Jesus had the disciples seat the crowd, blessed the five loaves and  two fish until  all the assembled were fed. They all ate and were filled. Twelve baskets of left over were taken up by the disciples.

This incident teaches a new perspective of the power of Jesus that the disciples probably didn’t recognize at the time. For them, it was a deserted place and no food was available to feed them all. It seemed to be a reasonable request based on their compassion for the crowd. It also seemed a reasonable resolution for them.

Jesus’ response probably shocked the disciples when he said, “Give them  something to eat”, meaning it was their responsibility to give them food. The disciples through their association with Jesus knew that they can accomplish things they could never dream of. The disciples had witnessed Jesus perform many miracles, but had no expectation that he would meet their current need. It probably is like us who remain dull to the power of Jesus, no matter how many times he may have met out needs along the way. When Jesus said, “You give them something to eat,” it was an impossible task for the disciples. They had neither the food nor the money to buy food. The message is clear. We will never be adequate to meet all our needs. When we think we are great, that we can do our deeds without our Lord’s input, it’s then that we set ourselves for failure. In the hands of Jesus, if the five loaves and two fish can be a banquet for the multitude of people, his resources will help us more than adequately to meet our needs as well.

The incident teaches us that God does not demand from us what we cannot supply, but only wants us to be his disciples through whom he can work miracles.  As Christians, we should seek to get help from our Lord to help others.

(Prepared by: Rev. Dr. V KurianThomas Valiyaparambil)

kurianvthomas@yahoo.com