The Passion of the Lord


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj
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Jesus Arrested - John 18:1-14

When he had said this, Jesus went out with his disciples across the Kidron valley to where there was a garden, into which he and his disciples entered.

Judas his betrayer also knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples. So Judas got a band of soldiers and guards from the chief priests and the Pharisees and went there with lanterns, torches, and weapons.

Jesus, knowing everything that was going to happen to him, went out and said to them, “Whom are you looking for?”

They answered him, “Jesus the Nazorean.”

He said to them, “I AM.”

Judas his betrayer was also with them. When he said to them, “I AM,” they turned away and fell to the ground.

So he again asked them, “Whom are you looking for?”

They said, “Jesus the Nazorean.”

Jesus answered, “I told you that I AM. So if you are looking for me, let these men go.”

This was to fulfill what he had said, “I have not lost any of those you gave me.”

Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it, struck the high priest’s slave, and cut off his right ear. The slave’s name was Malchus.

Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into its scabbard. Shall I not drink the cup that the Father gave me?”

So the band of soldiers, the tribune, and the Jewish guards seized Jesus, bound him, and brought him to Annas first. He was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was high priest that year. It was Caiaphas who had counseled the Jews that it was better that one man should die rather than the people.

Peter’s Denial - John 18:15-27

Simon Peter and another disciple followed Jesus. Now the other disciple was known to the high priest, and he entered the courtyard of the high priest with Jesus. But Peter stood at the gate outside. So the other disciple, the acquaintance of the high priest, went out and spoke to the gatekeeper and brought Peter in.

Then the maid who was the gatekeeper said to Peter, “You are not one of this man’s disciples, are you?”

He said, “I am not.”

Now the slaves and the guards were standing around a charcoal fire that they had made, because it was cold, and were warming themselves. Peter was also standing there keeping warm.

The high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and about his doctrine.

Jesus answered him, “I have spoken publicly to the world. I have always taught in a synagogue or in the temple area where all the Jews gather, and in secret I have said nothing. Why ask me? Ask those who heard me what I said to them. They know what I said.”

When he had said this, one of the temple guards standing there struck Jesus and said, “Is this the way you answer the high priest?”

Jesus answered him, “If I have spoken wrongly, testify to the wrong; but if I have spoken rightly, why do you strike me?”

Then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.

Now Simon Peter was standing there keeping warm. And they said to him, “You are not one of his disciples, are you?”

He denied it and said, “I am not.”

One of the slaves of the high priest, a relative of the one whose ear Peter had cut off, said, “Didn’t I see you in the garden with him?”

Again Peter denied it. And immediately the cock crowed.

The Trial before Pilate - John 18:28-19:16

Then they brought Jesus from Caiaphas to the praetorium. It was morning. And they themselves did not enter the praetorium, in order not to be defiled so that they could eat the Passover.

So Pilate came out to them and said, “What charge do you bring [against] this man?”

They answered and said to him, “If he were not a criminal, we would not have handed him over to you.”

At this, Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves, and judge him according to your law.”

The Jews answered him, “We do not have the right to execute anyone,” in order that the word of Jesus might be fulfilled that he said indicating the kind of death he would die.

So Pilate went back into the praetorium and summoned Jesus and said to him, “Are you the King of the Jews?”

Jesus answered, “Do you say this on your own or have others told you about me?”

Pilate answered, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests handed you over to me. What have you done?”

Jesus answered, “My kingdom does not belong to this world. If my kingdom did belong to this world, my attendants [would] be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not here.”

So Pilate said to him, “Then you are a king?”

Jesus answered, “You say I am a king. For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”

Pilate said to him, “What is truth?”

When he had said this, he again went out to the Jews and said to them, “I find no guilt in him. But you have a custom that I release one prisoner to you at Passover.* Do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?”

They cried out again, “Not this one but Barabbas!”

Now Barabbas was a revolutionary.

Then Pilate took Jesus and had him scourged. And the soldiers wove a crown out of thorns and placed it on his head, and clothed him in a purple cloak, and they came to him and said, “Hail, King of the Jews!” And they struck him repeatedly.

Once more Pilate went out and said to them, “Look, I am bringing him out to you, so that you may know that I find no guilt in him.”

So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple cloak.

And he said to them, “Behold, the man!”

When the chief priests and the guards saw him they cried out, “Crucify him, crucify him!”

Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and crucify him. I find no guilt in him.”

The Jews answered, “We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God.”

Now when Pilate heard this statement, he became even more afraid, and went back into the praetorium and said to Jesus, “Where are you from?”

Jesus did not answer him.

So Pilate said to him, “Do you not speak to me? Do you not know that I have power to release you and I have power to crucify you?”

Jesus answered [him], “You would have no power over me if it had not been given to you from above. For this reason the one who handed me over to you has the greater sin.”

Consequently, Pilate tried to release him; but the Jews cried out, “If you release him, you are not a Friend of Caesar. Everyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar.”

When Pilate heard these words he brought Jesus out and seated him on the judge’s bench in the place called Stone Pavement, in Hebrew, Gabbatha.

It was preparation day for Passover, and it was about noon. And he said to the Jews, “Behold, your king!”

They cried out, “Take him away, take him away! Crucify him!”

Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your king?”

The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.”

Then he handed him over to them to be crucified.

The Crucifixion, Death and Burial of Jesus  - John 19:17-42

So they took Jesus, and carrying the cross himself he went out to what is called the Place of the Skull, in Hebrew, Golgotha.

There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, with Jesus in the middle.

Pilate also had an inscription written and put on the cross. It read, “Jesus the Nazorean, the King of the Jews.”

Now many of the Jews read this inscription, because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek.

So the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write ‘The King of the Jews,’ but that he said, ‘I am the King of the Jews.’”

Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.”

When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and divided them into four shares, a share for each soldier. They also took his tunic, but the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from the top down.

So they said to one another, “Let’s not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it will be,” in order that the passage of scripture might be fulfilled [that says]:

“They divided my garments among them,
and for my vesture they cast lots.”

This is what the soldiers did.

Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala.

When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.”

Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother.”

And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.

After this, aware that everything was now finished, in order that the scripture might be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I thirst.”

There was a vessel filled with common wine. So they put a sponge soaked in wine on a sprig of hyssop and put it up to his mouth.

When Jesus had taken the wine, he said, “It is finished.”

And bowing his head, he handed over the spirit.

Now since it was preparation day, in order that the bodies might not remain on the cross on the sabbath, for the sabbath day of that week was a solemn one, the Jews asked Pilate that their legs be broken and they be taken down.

So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and then of the other one who was crucified with Jesus. But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs, but one soldier thrust his lance into his side, and immediately blood and water flowed out.

An eyewitness has testified, and his testimony is true; he knows that he is speaking the truth, so that you also may [come to] believe. For this happened so that the scripture passage might be fulfilled:

“Not a bone of it will be broken.”

And again another passage says:

“They will look upon him whom they have pierced.

After this, Joseph of Arimathea, secretly a disciple of Jesus for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate if he could remove the body of Jesus. And Pilate permitted it. So he came and took his body.

Nicodemus, the one who had first come to him at night, also came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes weighing about one hundred pounds.

They took the body of Jesus and bound it with burial cloths along with the spices, according to the Jewish burial custom.

Now in the place where he had been crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had yet been buried.

So they laid Jesus there because of the Jewish preparation day; for the tomb was close by.

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Re-posted from Inspirations ~ from the Gospels

The Passion of Our Lord enacted by Tiny-tots.

The Passion of Our Lord enacted by Tiny-tots.

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The Parable of the Mustard Seed


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj
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He [Jesus] proposed another parable to them.

“The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that a person took and sowed in a field.

It is the smallest of all the seeds, yet when full-grown it is the largest of plants. It becomes a large bush, and the ‘birds of the sky come and dwell in its branches.’

- MATTHEW 13:31-32

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The people whom Jesus addressed during his lifetime were mainly rural folk who would have had enough knowledge of plants to understand the substance and nuances of Jesus’ teachings that involved plants.

Jesus taught profound spiritual truths to simple folk through parables, using relevant and familiar examples from daily life. The mustard plant, mentioned in the three Canonical gospels and in the non-canonical Gospel of Thomas is one of these cases.

The term “Mustard” is used to describe several plant species in the genera Brassica and Sinapis whose small mustard seeds are used as a spice. The mustard seeds are ground and mixed  with water, vinegar or other liquids, to prepare the condiment known as mustard paste or prepared mustard. The seeds are also pressed to make mustard oil. The edible leaves can be eaten as mustard greens.

According to Theophrastus and Pliny, mustard was grown in gardens and did not need any cultivating, as it sprouts all by itself.

Some suggest that Salvadora persica (Arak, Galenia asiatica, Meswak, Peelu, Pīlu, Salvadora indica,or toothbrush tree) is a species  of Salvadora, also known as “mustard tree,” is the mustard referred to in the Bible. The Arabs called this plant chardal and the Hebrew equivalent is also chardalSalvadora persica is popularly used as a chewing stick throughout the Arabian Peninsula, as well as the wider Muslim world. It is often mentioned that Prophet Muhammad recommended its use. He is cited in various Hadith extolling the twig’s virtues. However, this plant,  Salvadora persica, cannot be the mustard mentioned in the canonical gospels because it is a shrub unlike any other member of the mustard family; it is never cultivated; found only in deserts; and the fruits are large.

So, the most probable contenders are plants of the Brassicaceae, a medium-sized and economically important family of flowering plants (Angiosperms), that are informally known as the mustards, mustard flowers, the crucifers or the cabbage family. Varieties that we normally come across are black mustard (Brassica nigra), Mild white mustard (Sinapis hirta), the white mustard (Sinapis arvensis or Sinapis alba), and Indian mustard (Brassica juncea). All these plants have small seeds.

So the logical conclusion arrived by many experts is that the parable points to Brassica nigra.

The seeds of both black and white mustard are similar in size – about 1.0 to 3.0 mm (1/8 inch) making them the smallest seed that can be planted in the ground. This clearly indicates that Jesus was comparing the mustard seed to other seeds that were commonly grown. Though there might have been numerous other plants with smaller seeds familiar to his listeners, there were only a few plants which grew large and rapidly in one season as a mustard, characterized by rapid germination of the seed. Mustard sowed one day would germinate and begin sprouting the next day.

From a botanical point of view, a grown black mustard would still be a herb. Trees in most parts of the Holy Land do not attain a large stature. The black mustard plant itself can grow from two to eight feet tall and could be considered a shrub. Wild mustard plants that grow over ten feet tall have been noticed near the Jordan River.

It has also been noticed that the stem of mustard plants becomes dry and wood-like, which gives it the look of a tree.

Black mustard is an exceptionally large mustard plant. But is it strong enough for birds to perch on them?

The answer can be found in Mark 4:32,

But once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade.

Almost all the versions of the gospel say that it becomes the largest of (garden) plants and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade. They do not say that the birds can make nests in the branches; but say:

    • can dwell in its shade
    • “dwell in its branches”
    • can make nests in its shade
    • can NEST UNDER ITS SHADE
    • will be able to perch in its shade
    • may lodge under the shadow of it
    • so that under its shade the fowls of the heaven are able to rest

and so on.

To summarize, the features of the mustard plant emphasized by Jesus in the Parable of the Mustard Seed are the small size of the mustard seed, the large size of the mustard plant in relation to the seed, and the rapid growth of the plant from germination onwards.

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The most overly used, yet most understood word in the Christian language…hypocrite


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Pastor Mike

 

 

..By Pastor Maike

 

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Hypocrite

If you walked down the street of the a busy city and asked random people about Christians what do you think they would say? I would love to say that those people would have nothing but good things to say, but sadly that is not true. Unfortunately, the word that would be most commonly used probably wouldn’t be loving, nice, compassionate or forgiving. Unfortunately, the word probably most often used to describe a Christian has been a hypocrite. That’s not to say that I agree with that, but that’s what a lot of people would say. So naturally I thought we should check out what the Bible has to say about hypocrites and hypocrisy.

Sometimes when looking up a certain topic in the Bible you can’t find a place where the Bible specifically talks about it and you have just have to put two and two together. Hypocrisy or hypocrites is not one of those topics. The Bible talks about hypocrites a lot and nobody talks about hypocrites in the Bible more often than Jesus himself.

Jesus obviously frowned upon hypocrisy, but what exactly is hypocrisy? There are a few different ways of being a hypocrite and each is shown in the Bible. The first type of hypocrisy can be found in Matthew chapter 6. In verse 2 Jesus says,

So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.

Jesus goes on to say,

And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their rewards in full.

This is probably not the most common type of hypocrisy, although you may know someone like the people described in these verses. This type of a hypocrite is somebody that actually does something good, but does them for the wrong reasons. It’s not good enough to just pray to God or give to the needy, you must also have a good reason for it. A good Christian will pray because he wants to have a closer relationship with God or give to the needy out of compassion, but a hypocrite will do these things for their own glory. A hypocrite will make sure that other Christians see them so they can brag about how good a Christian they are.

Another type of hypocrite can be found in Matthew chapter 7. Verse 5 says,

You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

This example of a hypocrite is probably the most common example of a hypocrite. Mainly because this type of hypocrisy isn’t really about being a Christian. This type of hypocrisy can be seen in anybody. Basically what this verse is talking about is that person A is telling person B about a flaw in them when person A is a hypocrite because they also have the same flaw. It basically would be like Lex Luthor walk up to Superman and telling him he should be nicer to people.

Like I said, this type of hypocrisy can be found in anybody, not just Christians, but how should a Christian act? A good Christian would first take a look at themselves and see if they have this flaw before calling somebody else out on it. If they also have that flaw, then they should take care of it before they tell anybody else what to do. That is what Jesus is talking about when he says to remove the plank from your own eye.

If you’re not being a hypocrite there is nothing wrong with confronting somebody with a problem they have but just like the hypocrites in the first example, you shouldn’t do this in public. Talk to the person in private.

Both of these are examples of hypocrites and you probably know people like them, but when people call Christians hypocrites they are usually referring to the third example. 1 John 2:4 tells us about this type of Christian:

“Whoever says ‘I know him’ but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him.

It’s pretty simple. This type of hypocrite is the type of person that claims they are a Christian, but then doesn’t act like it. They might attend church on Sundays, even though the night before they were out doing sinful things. The Bible is very straightforward, these people are liars. You probably don’t need the Bible to tell you that, it’s pretty clear. In God’s eyes people that claim to be Christians but don’t act like it aren’t “Christian hypocrites”, they’re just non-Christians. They were never Christians to begin with.

Of course, God isn’t saying, “if you ever break one single rule, then that’s it, you’re a liar.” It just means if you really are a Christian then you will make a genuine attempt to follow all of his commandments. We aren’t perfect. Sometimes we’ll make a mistake and unfortunately when we make that mistake, a non-Christian will probably be there to call us a hypocrite because they love pointing them out. But as long as you keep on trying to follow God’s commandments, then you aren’t a hypocrite, you’re just human.

Are you a Christian Hypocrite

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Reposted from PASTOR MIKE SAYS

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February 14 is Saint Valentine’s Day!


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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Valentine's Day gifts

The feast of Saint Valentine falls on February 14 each year. This day popularly known as Valentine’s Day is celebrated by most people in the United States, Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, France, Australia, Philippines, India, Sri Lanka, and in many countries around the world, this centuries-old holiday remains a working day in most of the countries.

For centuries the month of February has been cherished as a month for romance and has vestiges of both pagan Roman and Christian traditions.

The pagan Roman youths and maidens were accustomed to select partners, on February 14. A festival said to be Juno Februata or Juno Februa was described by Alban Butler, author of Lives of the Saints. Butler presented an aspect of the Roman Lupercalia as a festival of a “Juno Februata,” under the heading of February 14:

To abolish the heathens’ lewd, superstitious custom of boys drawing the names of girls in honour of their goddess, Februata Juno, on the 15th of the month, several zealous pastors substituted the names of saints in billets given on this day.”

On February 14 lovers exchange sweets, candy, chocolates, flowers and other gifts in the name of a mysterious Christian saint named Valentine though no one knows for sure who the real patron saint of the day is. Why? Because no one is sure of how many St. Valentines there were - it remains a mystery. Whoever he was, Valentine really existed because archaeologists have unearthed a Roman catacomb and an ancient church dedicated to Saint Valentine. The Catholic Church, however, recognizes at least three different martyred saints named Valentinus.

Statue of St Valentine, Whitefriar Street Church, Dublin. (Source: shanepedia.wordpress.com)

Statue of St Valentine, Whitefriar Street Church, Dublin. (Source: shanepedia.wordpress.com)

According to the most popular legend, Valentinus was a holy priest in Rome. With St. Marius and his family, Valentinus helped the martyrs during the persecution of early Christians. Emperor Claudius II outlawed marriage for young soldiers as he reckoned that single men made better soldiers than those married and having a family. The holy priest Valentinus thought the emperor’s decree was not just, and decided to defy it. He performed marriages for young lovers in secret. Eventually, the Emperor became aware of the marriages performed by the priest, and his ministry among Christians and ordered the arrest of Valentinus. The prefect of Rome, on finding Valentinus not ready to renounce his faith had him beaten with clubs, and then beheaded him on February 14, about the year 269.

Like all other saints, St. Valentine too is said to have performed miracles. The legends say that during his imprisonment Valentinus healed the daughter of his Roman jailer named Asterius and converted 46 members of his family to Christianity. The legends further say that Valentinus fell in love with the girl who visited him during his confinement, and before his execution wrote her a farewell letter and signed it: “From your Valentine.”

Pope Julius I built a church near Ponte Mole to honour the martyr. A large part of the saint’s relics is now in the church of St. Praxedes.

In 496 AD Pope Gelasius marked February 14 to observe the martyrdom of St. Valentine said to have died in 269 AD. So, the Catholics are now celebrating February 14 as the feast day of St. Valentine – patron of love, young people, and happy marriages.

These somber legends portray Valentinus as a sympathetic, heroic, and a romantic person. In the Middle Ages, as a result of the reputation created as a legendary hero Valentinus became one of the most popular saints in England and France.

Now, the word “Valentine”, denotes a card or letter expressing one’s love and affection for a person of the opposite sex. Sending a valentine may also involve flowers, candy, and other gifts.

Prayer to Saint Valentine

Dear Lord, who art high in the Heavens,
Giver of Love and Passion,
And He who strings the heart’s cords,
Lead the Lovers this day, February ten plus four.
The day during the month of two,
When the date is the perfect number of God
Greater two souls and two hearts.
Some Loves are fleeting ,
But that which is built on you will never fail.
So guide the Lovers to know what is to be.
Your truths the Lovers’ mouths should speak,
For Your truth is that which is honest to the heart.
Only this, then, should pass over the red lips of the Lovers.
Your art, the Lovers simply a medium.
It is only with True Hearts that You can create a Masterpiece,
So let the Lovers remember that their Soul’s Desire
Is the one for which You light their Fire.
And let it be You who creates the Art of the Lovers;
The art of two into one.

Amen.

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Love My Enemies?


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj

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 “First, we must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love… Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” - Martin Luther King Jr.

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“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.

But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.

For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same?

And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same?

So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.

- Matthew 5:43-48

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I had a very difficult time trying to write about loving my enemies. I wrote and deleted, wrote and deleted, more than a dozen times. Then I remembered having read long ago a thought-provoking speech by late Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., on this subject.

The colossal mountain called Martin Luther King, Jr., the greatest champion of Jesus, still lives in and will never fade away from our memory. So, today, I have taken the easy way out by quoting one of the speeches made by Martin Luther King.

In this speech Reverend King talks to us on loving our enemies.

This is a very long speech; so take your time to read it. Digest, understand and follow his way of loving your enemies.

Martin Luther King, Jr., delivered this speech titled “Loving Your Enemies” at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, Montgomery, Alabama, 17 November 1957.

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Martin Luther King Jr. (source: biography.com)

Martin Luther King Jr. (source: biography.com)

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Loving Your Enemies

” I am forced to preach under something of a handicap this morning. In fact, I had the doctor before coming to church. And he said that it would be best for me to stay in the bed this morning. And I insisted that I would have to come to preach. So he allowed me to come out with one stipulation, and that is that I would not come in the pulpit until time to preach, and that after, that I would immediately go back home and get in the bed. So I’m going to try to follow his instructions from that point on.

I want to use as a subject from which to preach this morning a very familiar subject, and it is familiar to you because I have preached from this subject twice before to my knowing in this pulpit. I try to make it a, something of a custom or tradition to preach from this passage of Scripture at least once a year, adding new insights that I develop along the way out of new experiences as I give these messages. Although the content is, the basic content is the same, new insights and new experiences naturally make for new illustrations.

So I want to turn your attention to this subject: “Loving Your Enemies.” It’s so basic to me because it is a part of my basic philosophical and theological orientation—the whole idea of love, the whole philosophy of love. In the fifth chapter of the gospel as recorded by Saint Matthew, we read these very arresting words flowing from the lips of our Lord and Master: “Ye have heard that it has been said, ‘Thou shall love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy.’ But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven.”

Certainly these are great words, words lifted to cosmic proportions. And over the centuries, many persons have argued that this is an extremely difficult command. Many would go so far as to say that it just isn’t possible to move out into the actual practice of this glorious command. They would go on to say that this is just additional proof that Jesus was an impractical idealist who never quite came down to earth. So the arguments abound. But far from being an impractical idealist, Jesus has become the practical realist. The words of this text glitter in our eyes with a new urgency. Far from being the pious injunction of a utopian dreamer, this command is an absolute necessity for the survival of our civilization. Yes, it is love that will save our world and our civilization, love even for enemies.

Now let me hasten to say that Jesus was very serious when he gave this command; he wasn’t playing. He realized that it’s hard to love your enemies. He realized that it’s difficult to love those persons who seek to defeat you, those persons who say evil things about you. He realized that it was painfully hard, pressingly hard. But he wasn’t playing. And we cannot dismiss this passage as just another example of Oriental hyperbole, just a sort of exaggeration to get over the point. This is a basic philosophy of all that we hear coming from the lips of our Master. Because Jesus wasn’t playing; because he was serious. We have the Christian and moral responsibility to seek to discover the meaning of these words, and to discover how we can live out this command, and why we should live by this command.

Now first let us deal with this question, which is the practical question: How do you go about loving your enemies? I think the first thing is this: In order to love your enemies, you must begin by analyzing self. And I’m sure that seems strange to you, that I start out telling you this morning that you love your enemies by beginning with a look at self. It seems to me that that is the first and foremost way to come to an adequate discovery to the how of this situation.

Now, I’m aware of the fact that some people will not like you, not because of something you have done to them, but they just won’t like you. I’m quite aware of that. Some people aren’t going to like the way you walk; some people aren’t going to like the way you talk. Some people aren’t going to like you because you can do your job better than they can do theirs. Some people aren’t going to like you because other people like you, and because you’re popular, and because you’re well-liked, they aren’t going to like you. Some people aren’t going to like you because your hair is a little shorter than theirs or your hair is a little longer than theirs. Some people aren’t going to like you because your skin is a little brighter than theirs; and others aren’t going to like you because your skin is a little darker than theirs. So that some people aren’t going to like you. They’re going to dislike you, not because of something that you’ve done to them, but because of various jealous reactions and other reactions that are so prevalent in human nature.

But after looking at these things and admitting these things, we must face the fact that an individual might dislike us because of something that we’ve done deep down in the past, some personality attribute that we possess, something that we’ve done deep down in the past and we’ve forgotten about it; but it was that something that aroused the hate response within the individual. That is why I say, begin with yourself. There might be something within you that arouses the tragic hate response in the other individual.

This is true in our international struggle. We look at the struggle, the ideological struggle between communism on the one hand and democracy on the other, and we see the struggle between America and Russia. Now certainly, we can never give our allegiance to the Russian way of life, to the communistic way of life, because communism is based on an ethical relativism and a metaphysical materialism that no Christian can accept. When we look at the methods of communism, a philosophy where somehow the end justifies the means, we cannot accept that because we believe as Christians that the end is pre-existent in the means. But in spite of all of the weaknesses and evils inherent in communism, we must at the same time see the weaknesses and evils within democracy.

Democracy is the greatest form of government to my mind that man has ever conceived, but the weakness is that we have never touched it. Isn’t it true that we have often taken necessities from the masses to give luxuries to the classes? Isn’t it true that we have often in our democracy trampled over individuals and races with the iron feet of oppression? Isn’t it true that through our Western powers we have perpetuated colonialism and imperialism? And all of these things must be taken under consideration as we look at Russia. We must face the fact that the rhythmic beat of the deep rumblings of discontent from Asia and Africa is at bottom a revolt against the imperialism and colonialism perpetuated by Western civilization all these many years. The success of communism in the world today is due to the failure of democracy to live up to the noble ideals and principles inherent in its system.

And this is what Jesus means when he said: “How is it that you can see the mote in your brother’s eye and not see the beam in your own eye?” Or to put it in Moffatt’s translation: “How is it that you see the splinter in your brother’s eye and fail to see the plank in your own eye?” And this is one of the tragedies of human nature. So we begin to love our enemies and love those persons that hate us whether in collective life or individual life by looking at ourselves.

A second thing that an individual must do in seeking to love his enemy is to discover the element of good in his enemy, and everytime you begin to hate that person and think of hating that person, realize that there is some good there and look at those good points which will over-balance the bad points.

I’ve said to you on many occasions that each of us is something of a schizophrenic personality. We’re split up and divided against ourselves. And there is something of a civil war going on within all of our lives. There is a recalcitrant South of our soul revolting against the North of our soul. And there is this continual struggle within the very structure of every individual life. There is something within all of us that causes us to cry out with Ovid, the Latin poet, “I see and approve the better things of life, but the evil things I do.” There is something within all of us that causes us to cry out with Plato that the human personality is like a charioteer with two headstrong horses, each wanting to go in different directions. There is something within each of us that causes us to cry out with Goethe, “There is enough stuff in me to make both a gentleman and a rogue.” There is something within each of us that causes us to cry out with Apostle Paul, “I see and approve the better things of life, but the evil things I do.”

So somehow the “isness” of our present nature is out of harmony with the eternal “oughtness” that forever confronts us. And this simply means this: That within the best of us, there is some evil, and within the worst of us, there is some good. When we come to see this, we take a different attitude toward individuals. The person who hates you most has some good in him; even the nation that hates you most has some good in it; even the race that hates you most has some good in it. And when you come to the point that you look in the face of every man and see deep down within him what religion calls “the image of God,” you begin to love him in spite of. No matter what he does, you see God’s image there. There is an element of goodness that he can never sluff off. Discover the element of good in your enemy. And as you seek to hate him, find the center of goodness and place your attention there and you will take a new attitude.

Another way that you love your enemy is this: When the opportunity presents itself for you to defeat your enemy, that is the time which you must not do it. There will come a time, in many instances, when the person who hates you most, the person who has misused you most, the person who has gossiped about you most, the person who has spread false rumors about you most, there will come a time when you will have an opportunity to defeat that person. It might be in terms of a recommendation for a job; it might be in terms of helping that person to make some move in life. That’s the time you must do it. That is the meaning of love. In the final analysis, love is not this sentimental something that we talk about. It’s not merely an emotional something. Love is creative, understanding goodwill for all men. It is the refusal to defeat any individual. When you rise to the level of love, of its great beauty and power, you seek only to defeat evil systems. Individuals who happen to be caught up in that system, you love, but you seek to defeat the system.

The Greek language, as I’ve said so often before, is very powerful at this point. It comes to our aid beautifully in giving us the real meaning and depth of the whole philosophy of love. And I think it is quite apropos at this point, for you see the Greek language has three words for love, interestingly enough. It talks about love as eros. That’s one word for love. Eros is a sort of, aesthetic love. Plato talks about it a great deal in his dialoguesa sort of yearning of the soul for the realm of the gods. And it’s come to us to be a sort of romantic love, though it’s a beautiful love. Everybody has experienced eros in all of its beauty when you find some individual that is attractive to you and that you pour out all of your like and your love on that individual. That is eros, you see, and it’s a powerful, beautiful love that is given to us through all of the beauty of literature; we read about it.

Then the Greek language talks about philia, and that’s another type of love that’s also beautiful. It is a sort of intimate affection between personal friends. And this is the type of love that you have for those persons that you’re friendly with, your intimate friends, or people that you call on the telephone and you go by to have dinner with, and your roommate in college and that type of thing. It’s a sort of reciprocal love. On this level, you like a person because that person likes you. You love on this level, because you are loved. You love on this level, because there’s something about the person you love that is likeable to you. This too is a beautiful love. You can communicate with a person; you have certain things in common; you like to do things together. This is philia.

The Greek language comes out with another word for love. It is the word agape. And agape is more than eros;agape is more than philiaagape is something of the understanding, creative, redemptive goodwill for all men. It is a love that seeks nothing in return. It is an overflowing love; it’s what theologians would call the love of God working in the lives of men. And when you rise to love on this level, you begin to love men, not because they are likeable, but because God loves them. You look at every man, and you love him because you know God loves him. And he might be the worst person you’ve ever seen.

And this is what Jesus means, I think, in this very passage when he says, “Love your enemy.” And it’s significant that he does not say, “Like your enemy.” Like is a sentimental something, an affectionate something. There are a lot of people that I find it difficult to like. I don’t like what they do to me. I don’t like what they say about me and other people. I don’t like their attitudes. I don’t like some of the things they’re doing. I don’t like them. But Jesus says love them. And love is greater than like. Love is understanding, redemptive goodwill for all men, so that you love everybody, because God loves them. You refuse to do anything that will defeat an individual, because you have agape in your soul. And here you come to the point that you love the individual who does the evil deed, while hating the deed that the person does. This is what Jesus means when he says, “Love your enemy.” This is the way to do it. When the opportunity presents itself when you can defeat your enemy, you must not do it.

Now for the few moments left, let us move from the practical how to the theoretical why. It’s not only necessary to know how to go about loving your enemies, but also to go down into the question of why we should love our enemies. I think the first reason that we should love our enemies, and I think this was at the very center of Jesus’ thinking, is this: that hate for hate only intensifies the existence of hate and evil in the universe. If I hit you and you hit me and I hit you back and you hit me back and go on, you see, that goes on ad infinitum. [tapping on pulpit] It just never ends. Somewhere somebody must have a little sense, and that’s the strong person. The strong person is the person who can cut off the chain of hate, the chain of evil. And that is the tragedy of hate, that it doesn’t cut it off. It only intensifies the existence of hate and evil in the universe. Somebody must have religion enough and morality enough to cut it off and inject within the very structure of the universe that strong and powerful element of love.

I think I mentioned before that sometime ago my brother and I were driving one evening to Chattanooga, Tennessee, from Atlanta. He was driving the car. And for some reason the drivers were very discourteous that night. They didn’t dim their lights; hardly any driver that passed by dimmed his lights. And I remember very vividly, my brother A. D. looked over and in a tone of anger said: “I know what I’m going to do. The next car that comes along here and refuses to dim the lights, I’m going to fail to dim mine and pour them on in all of their power.” And I looked at him right quick and said: “Oh no, don’t do that. There’d be too much light on this highway, and it will end up in mutual destruction for all. Somebody got to have some sense on this highway.”

Somebody must have sense enough to dim the lights, and that is the trouble, isn’t it? That as all of the civilizations of the world move up the highway of history, so many civilizations, having looked at other civilizations that refused to dim the lights, and they decided to refuse to dim theirs. And Toynbee tells that out of the twenty-two civilizations that have risen up, all but about seven have found themselves in the junkheap of destruction. It is because civilizations fail to have sense enough to dim the lights. And if somebody doesn’t have sense enough to turn on the dim and beautiful and powerful lights of love in this world, the whole of our civilization will be plunged into the abyss of destruction. And we will all end up destroyed because nobody had any sense on the highway of history. Somewhere somebody must have some sense. Men must see that force begets force, hate begets hate, toughness begets toughness. And it is all a descending spiral, ultimately ending in destruction for all and everybody. Somebody must have sense enough and morality enough to cut off the chain of hate and the chain of evil in the universe. And you do that by love.

There’s another reason why you should love your enemies, and that is because hate distorts the personality of the hater. We usually think of what hate does for the individual hated or the individuals hated or the groups hated. But it is even more tragic, it is even more ruinous and injurious to the individual who hates. You just begin hating somebody, and you will begin to do irrational things. You can’t see straight when you hate. You can’t walk straight when you hate. You can’t stand upright. Your vision is distorted. There is nothing more tragic than to see an individual whose heart is filled with hate. He comes to the point that he becomes a pathological case. For the person who hates, you can stand up and see a person and that person can be beautiful, and you will call them ugly. For the person who hates, the beautiful becomes ugly and the ugly becomes beautiful. For the person who hates, the good becomes bad and the bad becomes good. For the person who hates, the true becomes false and the false becomes true. That’s what hate does. You can’t see right. The symbol of objectivity is lost. Hate destroys the very structure of the personality of the hater. And this is why Jesus says hate [recording interrupted]

. . . that you want to be integrated with yourself, and the way to be integrated with yourself is be sure that you meet every situation of life with an abounding love. Never hate, because it ends up in tragic, neurotic responses. Psychologists and psychiatrists are telling us today that the more we hate, the more we develop guilt feelings and we begin to subconsciously repress or consciously suppress certain emotions, and they all stack up in our subconscious selves and make for tragic, neurotic responses. And may this not be the neuroses of many individuals as they confront life that that is an element of hate there. And modern psychology is calling on us now to love. But long before modern psychology came into being, the world’s greatest psychologist who walked around the hills of Galilee told us to love. He looked at men and said: “Love your enemies; don’t hate anybody.” It’s not enough for us to hate your friends because—to to love your friends—because when you start hating anybody, it destroys the very center of your creative response to life and the universe; so love everybody. Hate at any point is a cancer that gnaws away at the very vital center of your life and your existence. It is like eroding acid that eats away the best and the objective center of your life. So Jesus says love, because hate destroys the hater as well as the hated.

Now there is a final reason I think that Jesus says, “Love your enemies.” It is this: that love has within it a redemptive power. And there is a power there that eventually transforms individuals. That’s why Jesus says, “Love your enemies.” Because if you hate your enemies, you have no way to redeem and to transform your enemies. But if you love your enemies, you will discover that at the very root of love is the power of redemption. You just keep loving people and keep loving them, even though they’re mistreating you. Here’s the person who is a neighbor, and this person is doing something wrong to you and all of that. Just keep being friendly to that person. Keep loving them. Don’t do anything to embarrass them. Just keep loving them, and they can’t stand it too long. Oh, they react in many ways in the beginning. They react with bitterness because they’re mad because you love them like that. They react with guilt feelings, and sometimes they’ll hate you a little more at that transition period, but just keep loving them. And by the power of your love they will break down under the load. That’s love, you see. It is redemptive, and this is why Jesus says love. There’s something about love that builds up and is creative. There is something about hate that tears down and is destructive. So love your enemies.

I think of one of the best examples of this. We all remember the great president of this United States, Abraham Lincoln—these United States rather. You remember when Abraham Lincoln was running for president of the United States, there was a man who ran all around the country talking about Lincoln. He said a lot of bad things about Lincoln, a lot of unkind things. And sometimes he would get to the point that he would even talk about his looks, saying, “You don’t want a tall, lanky, ignorant man like this as the president of the United States.” He went on and on and on and went around with that type of attitude and wrote about it. Finally, one day Abraham Lincoln was elected president of the United States. And if you read the great biography of Lincoln, if you read the great works about him, you will discover that as every president comes to the point, he came to the point of having to choose a Cabinet. And then came the time for him to choose a Secretary of War. He looked across the nation, and decided to choose a man by the name of Mr. Stanton. And when Abraham Lincoln stood around his advisors and mentioned this fact, they said to him: “Mr. Lincoln, are you a fool? Do you know what Mr. Stanton has been saying about you? Do you know what he has done, tried to do to you? Do you know that he has tried to defeat you on every hand? Do you know that, Mr. Lincoln? Did you read all of those derogatory statements that he made about you?” Abraham Lincoln stood before the advisors around him and said: “Oh yes, I know about it; I read about it; I’ve heard him myself. But after looking over the country, I find that he is the best man for the job.”

Mr. Stanton did become Secretary of War, and a few months later, Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. And if you go to Washington, you will discover that one of the greatest words or statements ever made by, about Abraham Lincoln was made about this man Stanton. And as Abraham Lincoln came to the end of his life, Stanton stood up and said: “Now he belongs to the ages.” And he made a beautiful statement concerning the character and the stature of this man. If Abraham Lincoln had hated Stanton, if Abraham Lincoln had answered everything Stanton said, Abraham Lincoln would have not transformed and redeemed Stanton. Stanton would have gone to his grave hating Lincoln, and Lincoln would have gone to his grave hating Stanton. But through the power of love Abraham Lincoln was able to redeem Stanton.

That’s it. There is a power in love that our world has not discovered yet. Jesus discovered it centuries ago. Mahatma Gandhi of India discovered it a few years ago, but most men and most women never discover it. For they believe in hitting for hitting; they believe in an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth; they believe in hating for hating; but Jesus comes to us and says, “This isn’t the way.”

And oh this morning, as I think of the fact that our world is in transition now. Our whole world is facing a revolution. Our nation is facing a revolution, our nation. One of the things that concerns me most is that in the midst of the revolution of the world and the midst of the revolution of this nation, that we will discover the meaning of Jesus’ words.

History unfortunately leaves some people oppressed and some people oppressors. And there are three ways that individuals who are oppressed can deal with their oppression. One of them is to rise up against their oppressors with physical violence and corroding hatred. But oh this isn’t the way. For the danger and the weakness of this method is its futility. Violence creates many more social problems than it solves. And I’ve said, in so many instances, that as the Negro, in particular, and colored peoples all over the world struggle for freedom, if they succumb to the temptation of using violence in their struggle, unborn generations will be the recipients of a long and desolate night of bitterness, and our chief legacy to the future will be an endless reign of meaningless chaos. Violence isn’t the way.

Another way is to acquiesce and to give in, to resign yourself to the oppression. Some people do that. They discover the difficulties of the wilderness moving into the promised land, and they would rather go back to the despots of Egypt because it’s difficult to get in the promised land. And so they resign themselves to the fate of oppression; they somehow acquiesce to this thing. But that too isn’t the way because non-cooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good.

But there is another way. And that is to organize mass non-violent resistance based on the principle of love. It seems to me that this is the only way as our eyes look to the future. As we look out across the years and across the generations, let us develop and move right here. We must discover the power of love, the power, the redemptive power of love. And when we discover that we will be able to make of this old world a new world. We will be able to make men better. Love is the only way. Jesus discovered that.

Not only did Jesus discover it, even great military leaders discover that. One day as Napoleon came toward the end of his career and looked back across the years—the great Napoleon that at a very early age had all but conquered the world. He was not stopped until he became, till he moved out to the battle of Leipzig and then to Waterloo. But that same Napoleon one day stood back and looked across the years, and said: “Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and I have built great empires. But upon what did they depend? They depended upon force. But long ago Jesus started an empire that depended on love, and even to this day millions will die for him.”

Yes, I can see Jesus walking around the hills and the valleys of Palestine. And I can see him looking out at the Roman Empire with all of her fascinating and intricate military machinery. But in the midst of that, I can hear him saying: “I will not use this method. Neither will I hate the Roman Empire.” [Radio Announcer:] (WRMA, Montgomery, Alabama. Due to the fact of the delay this morning, we are going over with the sermon.) [several words inaudible] . . . and just start marching.

And I’m proud to stand here in Dexter this morning and say that that army is still marching. It grew up from a group of eleven or twelve men to more than seven hundred million today. Because of the power and influence of the personality of this Christ, he was able to split history into a.d. and b.c. Because of his power, he was able to shake the hinges from the gates of the Roman Empire. And all around the world this morning, we can hear the glad echo of heaven ring:

Jesus shall reign wherever sun,

Does his successive journeys run;

His kingdom spreads from shore to shore,

Till moon shall wane and wax no more.

We can hear another chorus singing: “All hail the power of Jesus name!”

We can hear another chorus singing: “Hallelujah, hallelujah! He’s King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Hallelujah, hallelujah!”

We can hear another choir singing:

In Christ there is no East or West.

In Him no North or South,

But one great Fellowship of Love

Throughout the whole wide world.

This is the only way.

And our civilization must discover that. Individuals must discover that as they deal with other individuals. There is a little tree planted on a little hill and on that tree hangs the most influential character that ever came in this world. But never feel that that tree is a meaningless drama that took place on the stages of history. Oh no, it is a telescope through which we look out into the long vista of eternity, and see the love of God breaking forth into time. It is an eternal reminder to a power-drunk generation that love is the only way. It is an eternal reminder to a generation depending on nuclear and atomic energy, a generation depending on physical violence, that love is the only creative, redemptive, transforming power in the universe.

So this morning, as I look into your eyes, and into the eyes of all of my brothers in Alabama and all over America and over the world, I say to you, “I love you. I would rather die than hate you.” And I’m foolish enough to believe that through the power of this love somewhere, men of the most recalcitrant bent will be transformed. And then we will be in God’s kingdom. We will be able to matriculate into the university of eternal life because we had the power to love our enemies, to bless those persons that cursed us, to even decide to be good to those persons who hated us, and we even prayed for those persons who despitefully used us.

Oh God, help us in our lives and in all of our attitudes, to work out this controlling force of love, this controlling power that can solve every problem that we confront in all areas. Oh, we talk about politics; we talk about the problems facing our atomic civilization. Grant that all men will come together and discover that as we solve the crisis and solve these problems—the international problems, the problems of atomic energy, the problems of nuclear energy, and yes, even the race problem—let us join together in a great fellowship of love and bow down at the feet of Jesus. Give us this strong determination. In the name and spirit of this Christ, we pray. Amen.”

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I Wish You “A Happy New Year 2014!”


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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Happy New Year 2014

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January 1 is probably the world’s most celebrated public holiday. In each time zone, as the new year starts at the stroke of midnight, it is invariably greeted with fireworks.

Janus, the Roman god of gates, doors, and beginnings.

Janus, the Roman god of gates, doors, and beginnings.

The first month of the year, January, is named after Janus, the Roman god who had two faces, one looking forward and the other looking backward. The Romans dedicated New Year’s Day to Janus, the god of gates, doors, and beginnings. This suggests that New Year’s celebrations are founded on pagan traditions.

The Julian calendar used in the Roman Empire since 45 BC, as well as the Gregorian calendar also called the Western calendar and the Christian calendar that refined the Julian calendar in 1582 have January 1 as the first day of the year.

Circumcision of Jesus.

Circumcision of Jesus.

Later on, January 1, the New Year’s Day, was liturgically marked the Feast of the Circumcision of Jesus in the Gregorian calendar of Christendom. The Anglican and Lutheran churches celebrate the Feast of the Circumcision of Jesus on January 1, based on the belief that if Jesus was born on December 25, then according to Jewish tradition, his circumcision would have taken place on the eighth day of his life (January 1).

The Roman Catholic Church considers New Year’s Day as a Holy Day of Obligation and celebrates the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, on this day.

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I Wish You “A Merry Christmas”!


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj

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Merry Christmas, Joeyeux Noel

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“Et in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatis …”

” And peace on Earth to people of good will …”

“Ek wens dat julle almal ‘n Geseënde Kersfees!” (Afrikaans)

“Unë ju uroj gjithë Gëzuar Krishtlindjet!” (Albanian)

“أتمنى لكم جميعا عيد ميلاد سعيد!” (Arabic)

«Ցանկանում եմ ձեզ, որ Սուրբ Ծնունդ»: (Armenian)

“Mən bütün Merry Christmas arzulayıram!” (Azerbaijani)

“Nahi dut Eguberri guztiak ” (Basque)

“Я жадаю вам усім шчаслівага Каляд!” (Belarusian)

“আমি আশা করি সমস্ত একটি শুভ বড়দিন আপনি!” (Bengali)

“Пожелавам на всички Весела Коледа!” (Bulgarian)

“Els desitjo a tots un Bon Nadal!” (Catalan)

“祝大家圣诞快乐!” (Chinese simplified)

“祝大家聖誕快樂!” (Chinese traditional)

“Volio bih da svi Sretan Božić!” (Croatian)

“Já Přeji vám všem veselé Vánoce!” (Czech)

“Jeg ønsker jer alle en glædelig jul!” (Danish)

“Ik wens jullie allemaal een vrolijk kerstfeest!” (Dutch)

“Mi Wish You Ĉiu Merry Christmas!” (Esperanto)

“Soovin teile kõigile Häid jõule!” (Estonian)

“Hinihiling ko mo ng Lahat ng Maligayang Pasko!” (Filipino)

“Toivotan kaikille hyvää joulua!” (Finnish)

«Je vous souhaite à tous un Joyeux Noël!” (French)

“Desexo a todos un Feliz Nadal!” (Galician)

“გისურვებთ შობა!” (Georgian)

“Ich wünsche Ihnen allen ein frohes Weihnachtsfest!” (German)

«Εύχομαι σε όλους Καλά Χριστούγεννα!” (Greek)

“હું તમને શુભેચ્છા એક બધા મેરી ક્રિસમસ!” (Gujarati)

“Mwen swete nou tout yon jwayeu Nwèl!” (Haitian Creole)

“אני מאחל לכולכם חג המולד שמח!” (Hebrew)

“मैं तुम चाहो सभी एक मेरी क्रिसमस!” (Hindi)

“Azt szeretném, ha minden Boldog Karácsonyt!” (Hungarian)

“Ég óska ykkur öllum gleðilegra jóla!” (Icelandic)

“Saya berharap Anda semua Merry Christmas!” (Indonesian)

“Is mian liom tú go léir ar na Nollag Merry!” (Irish)

“Auguro a tutti un Buon Natale!” (Italian)

“私はあなたにすべてのメリークリスマスを望む!” (Japanese)

“ನಾನು ನೀವು ಎಲ್ಲಾ ಒಂದು ಮೆರ್ರಿ ಕ್ರಿಸ್ಮಸ್ ವಿಶ್!” (Kannada)

“난 당신에게 모든 메리 크리스마스를 기원!” (Korean)

“ຂ້າພະເຈົ້າຢາກທ່ານທັງຫມົດເປັນ Merry ວັນຄຣິດສະມາດ!” (Lao)

“Tibi opto a Verbum Caro!” (Latin)

“Es novēlu jums visu priecīgus Ziemassvētkus!” (Latvian)

“Linkiu visiems linksmų Kalėdų!” (Lithunian)

“Ви посакувам на сите Среќен Божиќ!” (Macedonian)

“Saya Mahu Anda Semua Merry Krismas!” (Malay)

“Nixtieq lilkom ilkoll Milied kuntenti ħienja!” (Maltese)

“Jeg ønsker dere alle en riktig God Jul!” (Norwegian)

“من برای شما آرزوی همه کریسمس مبارک!” (Persian)

“Życzę wszystkim Wesołych Świąt!” (Polish)

“Desejo a todos um Feliz Natal!” (Portugese)

“Vă doresc tuturor un Crăciun Fericit!” (Romanian)

“Я желаю вам всем счастливого Рождества!” (Russian)

“Желим вам све а Мерри Божић! ” (Serbian)

“ඔබට සුභ නත්තලක් වේවා!” (Sinhalese)

“Ja Prajem vám všetkým veselé Vianoce!” (Slovak)

“Želim vam vse vesel Božič!” (Slovenian)

“Les deseo a todos una Feliz Navidad!” (Spanish)

“Napenda wote Krismasi Njema!” (Swahili)

“Jag önskar er alla en God Jul!” (Swedish)

“உங்களுக்கு எனது கிறிஸ்துமஸ் (நத்தார்) நல்வாழ்த்துக்கள்!” (Tamil)

“నేను మిమ్మల్ని విష్ అ మెర్రి క్రిస్మస్!” (Telugu)

“ผมหวังว่าคุณจะ ร่าเริง a คริสต์มาส!” (Thai)

“Seni bütün bir Mutlu Noeller diliyoruz!” (Turkish)

“Я бажаю вам всім щасливого Різдва!” (Ukrainian)

“میں آپ سب کو میری کرسمس کاش!” (Urdu)

“Tôi Chúc các bạn một Giáng sinh vui vẻ!” (Vietnamese)

“Rwy’n Wish chi i gyd Nadolig Llawen!” (Welsh)

“איך ווינטשן איר אַלע אַ לעבעדיק ניטל!” (Yiddish)

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THE FULL NATIVITY STORY IN 10 PARTS

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Vatican’s Saint Peter’s Cricket Club: An Initiative Aimed at Forging Ties


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj

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From left, Fr. Theodore Mascarenhas, Australian Ambassador John McCarthy, Msgr. Sanchez de Toca y Alameda, and Fr. Eamon O' Higgins. (AP Photo)

From left, Fr. Theodore Mascarenhas, Australian Ambassador John McCarthy, Msgr. Sanchez de Toca y Alameda, and Fr. Eamon O’ Higgins. (AP Photo)

Cricket is a game traditionally played in Rome only by anglophones, eccentric English aristocrats and immigrants from the subcontinent. However, on October 22, 2013, John McCarthy, the Australian Ambassador to The Holy See, Monsignor Sanchez de Toca y Alameda, undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for Culture, Father Eamon O’ Higgins, and Father Theodore Mascarenhas from India, met the journalists and announced the launch of Vatican’s Saint Peter’s Cricket Club.

John McCarthy QC – Ambassador to The Holy See. (Photo:- Kerry Myers)

John McCarthy QC – The Australian Ambassador to The Holy See. (Photo:- Kerry Myers)

Saint Peter’s CC is the brainchild of John McCarthy, Australian Ambassador to The Holy See. His son trained for the priesthood in Rome was frustrated by the lack of cricketing possibilities in the Vatican even though there is a significant number of people, mostly seminarians and clerics from cricket-playing countries who are keen to play cricket. McCarthy wanted something similar to the Clericus Cup – a soccer tournament among the religious colleges and seminaries of Rome.

Father Theodore Mascarenhas

Father Theodore Mascarenhas from India.

Father Theodore Mascarenhas from India, the club’s chairman, an off-spin bowler, said:

“I think cricket will begin to speak a new language — perhaps Latin, coming into the neighbourhood of the Vatican and beginning to take its first baby steps. We have the expertise. We have the will to do things. And I’m sure we’ll start with our baby steps and we’ll go far ahead. … We hope to have ecumenical dialogue through cricket and play a Church of England side by September.”

In response to a suggestion that cricketing terms and field positions might be translated into Latin or Italian, John McCarthy was firm: “English is the language of cricket and will remain the language of cricket”.

Pope Francis

Pope Francis, known for both intercultural and interfaith dialogue, is a known football enthusiast than a cricket watcher. He still supports the San Lorenzo football club of his native Buenos Aires. Father Mascarenhas said he believed the pontiff, as a “very open man”, would come to accept cricket.

Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, head of the pontifical council for culture. ( Andrew Medichini  Associated Press  March 5, 2013 )

Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, head of the pontifical council for culture. ( Andrew Medichini Associated Press March 5, 2013 )

Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, head of the pontifical council for culture, praised the launch of Vatican’s Saint Peter’s CC as a chance to celebrate the nobility of “true sport,” an “expression of inter-culturality” and a “dialogue between people”.

Ambassador McCarthy said: “It is certainly the case that the Holy Father has heard of cricket … as a sport that was played in schools conducted by his [Jesuit] order in Argentina.”

Father Eamon O’ Higgins said: “But I think this is something that goes in line with one of the objectives of Pope Francis, which is to reach out and not stay within our own security zone.”

The organizers hope this initiative for forging ties with teams of other faiths, eventually, would lead to interfaith activities involving cricket matches against teams from Buddhist, Hindu,  Muslim, and Sikh educational institutions.

To begin with, the Vatican cricketers challenged their Anglican counterparts to play cricket at Lord’s Cricket Ground in St John’s Wood, London – the home of cricket. Ambassador John McCarthy said:

“It is hoped there will be a team of sufficient level that, for instance, in the next year they could play a team nominated by the Church of England. … It would be the dearest aspiration of so many of the cricketers here that that game take place at Lord’s.”

Monsignor Sanchez de Toca y Alameda, undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for Culture, wears a cricket helmet. (AP Photo)

Monsignor Sanchez de Toca y Alameda, undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for Culture, wears a cricket helmet. (AP Photo)

Monsignor Sanchez de Toca y Alameda, was not so optimistic. He quietly said the Vatican would try to put together a team which could “lose with dignity” against the English. “I think they’re very strong,” he added.

Reverend Mark Rylands, Suffragan Bishop of Shrewsbury

Reverend Mark Rylands, Suffragan Bishop of Shrewsbury

Responding to the Vatican’s proposal, Mark Rylands, suffragan bishop of Shrewsbury and a keen cricketer, said:

“I am delighted to hear of the formation of Saint Peter’s Cricket Club and look forward to welcoming them to England as brothers. We do not have a national team at present, but I’m confident that it will be possible for an annual fixture to be played in the spirit of ecumenism. To that end I hope we can keep any sledging to a minimum and that neutral umpires will not be necessary.”

Justin Welby, the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury. (Photo courtesy Durham diocese)

Justin Welby, the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury. (Photo courtesy Durham diocese)

On December 20, 2013, the Church of England formally took up the Vatican’s challenge to settle scores on the cricket pitch almost 500 years after their split with the Vatican. Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, head of the 80-million strong worldwide Anglican communion, accepted the challenge through his representative to The Holy See and Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome, Archbishop David Moxon, from New Zealand.

Archbishop David Moxon - Anglican representative to the Holy See and Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome.

Archbishop David Moxon – Anglican representative to the Holy See and Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome.

Archbishop Moxon said the match would be held at Lord’s in September 2014 after the Anglicans formed a team of amateurs from Lambeth Palace, the residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and nearby theological schools.

When asked if a combination of sports diplomacy and inter-religious dialogue could help improve relations between the two Churches, Archbishop Moxon said:

“It will introduce a conversation piece all over the world whenever Catholics and Anglicans get together. … I think it can only do good and increase the bonds of affection we have for each other.”

Father Eamonn O’Higgins, the organizer of the Vatican cricket team, gave Archbishop Moxon the ball that will be used in the match.

A league composed of best players among priests and seminarians from countries with a cricket tradition - Australia, Bangladesh, England, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka - form the Saint Peter’s Cricket Club.

The Official emblem on the Saint Peters Cricket Club jacket. (Credit Ellis Haris - CNA)

The Official emblem on the Saint Peters Cricket Club jacket. (Credit Ellis Haris /CNA)

The Vatican team will wear the official white and gold colours of The Holy See and their jackets will have two crossed keys – the seal of the papacy,

Brother K.K. Joseph, an Indian who trained a number of future test players while they were in schools run by his religious order in India will coach the Vatican team.

A Vatican XI player during a training session at the Maria Mater Ecclesiae's Catholic College in Rome. (Photo: Reuters)

A Vatican XI player during a training session at the Maria Mater Ecclesiae’s Catholic College in Rome. (Photo: Reuters)

Saint Peter’s CC has already organized trial matches. It aims to have a Twenty20-style tournament between all the pontifical colleges of Rome. A pitch near Ciampino airport on the outskirts of the city has been made available.

While Saint Peter’s CC is currently men only, the organizers are also on the lookout for Indian, Pakistani or Sri Lankan nuns, who have played cricket before, in order to form a women’s cricket team.

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All Saints’ Day, All Souls’ Day, and The Celtic Festival of Samhain


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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All Saints

All Saints’ Day, to honour the saints, falls on November 1, and the All Souls’ Day, the day to pray for the recently departed kith and kin, falls on November 2.

The word “Halloween” was first used by the Scottish around 1556 AD, as a variant of “All Hallows’ Even,” to mean the night before All Hallows’ Day or All Saints’ Day.

The Celtic Festival of Samhain

Yours is the day, yours also the night; you established the luminaries and the sun. You have fixed all the bounds of the earth; you made summer and winter. (Psalm 74:16-17)

Even though the word Halloween has its origin from Christianity, according to some scholars it owes its origin to the pagan harvest festivals such as the Roman feast of Pomona, the goddess of fruits and seeds, or to Parentalia, the festival of the dead or to the Celtic festival of Samhain, the Old Irish word for “summer’s end”.

The Gaelic festival of Samhain marks the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter or the “darker half” of the year. It is celebrated from sunset of October 31 to sunset of November 1, halfway between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice.

In some Gaelic languages, Samhain is the word for November.

All Saints Day, introduced in the year 609 AD, was originally celebrated on May 13. In 1835 AD, at the behest of Pope Gregory IV, it was changed to November 1, the same date as Samhain. Some suggest the change was due to Celtic influence in Christianity, while others suggest it as a Germanic idea.

Some early Irish literatures mention that many important events in their mythology happened on Samhain. The festival of Samhain observed in Ireland, Scotland, the Isle of Man, Asturias and Galicia. Samhain, along with Imbolc, Beltane and Lughnasadh make up the four Gaelic seasonal festivals. The Gaelic (Irish, Scottish and Manx) also held kindred festivals at the same time of the year such as Brythonic Calan Gaeaf (in Wales), Kalan Gwav (in Cornwall) and Kalan Goañv (in Brittany).

Samhain Ritual

Samhain Ritual

During Samhain, the Gaelic took stock, readied for the cold winter ahead, brought the cattle back down from the summer pastures, slaughtered livestock, lit bonfires, enacted rituals along with divination games. As a cleansing ritual, they would walk with their livestock between two bonfires, cast the bones of slaughtered livestock into its flames.

All Souls' Day  night vigil

All Souls’ Day night vigil

The Gaelic believed, that during Samhain, the door to the nether worlds or realms of supernatural beings and the dead, opened just enough for the souls of the dead and other weird entities, to enter our world. They beckoned souls of the dead kin to attend the feast by setting a place at the table for them. It has thus been likened to a festival of the dead. Lewis Spence in his book “The Magic Arts in Celtic Britain” described it as a “feast of the dead” and “festival of the fairies.”

Divination also took place during Samhain. The tradition says that in places like Asturias, “Güestia,” a group of spirits from the world of the dead, go out that night, walking in the forests and on roads. People drew circles on the floor and remained within those circles until the spirits passed them.

 

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The Traditions of Halloween


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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On October 31, the Eve of the Christian feast of All Hallows’ (or All Saints’) Day, most people in Europe, the Americas, Australia, and a few in Asia and Africa celebrate “All Hallows’ Evening.” This celebration is also known as Halloween or Hallowe’en or Hallowmas.

All Saints’ Day, to honour the saints, falls on November 1, and the All Souls’ Day, the day to pray for the recently departed kith and kin, falls on November 2.

The word “Halloween” was first used by the Scottish around 1556 AD, as a variant of “All Hallows’ Even,” to mean the night before All Hallows’ Day or All Saints’ Day.

The Tradition of Guising

The Gaels or Goidels speak one of the Gaelic Celtic languages: Irish, Scottish Gaelic and Manx. Goidelic speech originated in Ireland and later spread to neighbouring regions. Celtic languages are most commonly spoken on the north-western edge of Europe, notably in Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Brittany, Cornwall, the Isle of Man, and Cape Breton Island.

The Gaelic festival of Samhain marks the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter or the “darker half” of the year. It is celebrated from sunset of October 31 to sunset of November 1.

The ancient Gaelic believed that during Samhain, the door to the nether worlds and realms of supernatural beings and the dead, opened just enough for the souls of the dead and other weird entities, to enter our world; so, they protected themselves from harmful spirits and fairies active in Samhain by taking various steps to allay or ward-off the harmful entities. One such act was the custom of Guising that influenced today’s Halloween costumes.

Were wolves and a skeleton

Were wolves and a skeleton (Photo: T.V. Antony Raj)

Little Red Devil (Photo: Subas Raj)

My grandson Rohan, the Little Red Devil in 2011 (Photo: V.A. Subas Raj)

My grandson Rohan dressed as Peter Pan in 2012 (Photo: T.V. Antony Raj)

My grandson Rohan ‘guising‘ as Peter Pan in 2012 (Photo: T.V. Antony Raj)

My grandson Rohan, the Little Pirate in 2013 (Photo: T.V. Antony Raj)

My grandson Rohan, the Little Pirate in 2013 (Photo: T.V. Antony Raj)

In Scotland and Ireland, during Halloween, children go from a house to house, dressed up in various costumes. They receive gifts in the form of food, coins or apples or nuts and recently chocolates.

A Witch, Maid, Imps, and a Skeleton

A Witch, a Maid, Astronauts, and a Skeleton (Photo: T.V. Antony Raj)

The earliest record of Guising at Halloween comes from Scotland. In 1895, masqueraders in disguise carrying lanterns made by scooping out turnips, visited homes and were rewarded with cakes, fruit and money. It predates trick or treat.

The Tradition of Trick-or-Treating

In Scotland and Ireland, the people in the households expect the children who come to their houses to perform before they receive treats. The children sing or recite a joke or a funny poem which they had memorized before setting out. Some talented children may do card tricks, play the mouth organ, or do something impressive. Often the children get a treat, even if they did not perform.

IMG_4338

Trick or Treating (Photo: T.V. Antony Raj)

While going from door-to-door in disguise, it has now become common for the children to pose the question: “Trick or treat?” The “trick” in this question happens to be an idle threat to perpetrate mischief on the homeowners or their property if they do not get the treat.

Trick or Treating (Photo: T.V. Antony Raj)

Trick or Treating (Photo: T.V. Antony Raj)

Trick or Treating (Photo: T.V. Antony Raj)

Trick or Treating (Photo: T.V. Antony Raj)

The earliest known use in print of the term “trick or treat” appears in 1927, in the article “‘Trick or Treat’ Is Demand,” Herald (Lethbridge, Alberta), November 4, 1927, p. 5, dateline Blackie, Alberta, Nov. 3.

Hallowe’en provided an opportunity for real strenuous fun. No real damage was done except to the temper of some who had to hunt for wagon wheels, gates, wagons, barrels, etc., much of which decorated the front street. The youthful tormentors were at the back door and front demanding edible plunder by the word “trick or treat” to which the inmates gladly responded and sent the robbers away rejoicing.

The Tradition of Souling

Soul cakes

Soul cakes

The tradition of going from door to door to receive food already existed in Great Britain and Ireland in the form of “souling”. The soulers, mainly consisting of children and the poor, would go from door to door on Halloween singing and saying prayers for the dead in return for small round soul cakes, simply called souls, traditionally made for All Saints Day or All Souls’ Day to celebrate the dead. Each cake eaten represented a soul freed from Purgatory. The practice of giving and eating soul cakes perhaps might be the origin of modern trick-or-treating.

The Tradition of Making Jack-o’-lanterns

The tradition of making lanterns during Halloween may have sprung from Samhain and Celtic beliefs. In the 19th century in parts of Ireland and the Scottish Highlands people made turnip lanterns sometimes with faces carved into them during Samhain. The lanterns may serve three ways: to light one’s way while outside on Samhain night, to represent the spirits and otherworldly beings and entities, to protect oneself and one’s home from them.

Traditional Irish Jack-o’-Lantern Modern carving of a Cornish Jack-o’-Lantern made from a turnip. Jack-o’-lantern lit from within by a candle.

Jack-o’-lanterns derived their names from the phenomenon of strange light flickering over peat bogs, called ignis fatuus or jack-o’-lantern.

A modern jack-o’-lantern is typically a carved pumpkin. After cutting the top of the pumpkin, the flesh inside is scooped out. An image, usually a monstrous face, is carved out, and the lid replaced.

And as a passing thought I give you this Pumpkin Bowl: A cool, creative Halloween idea to hold your liquor. Thanks to Ms. Sheila Ribeiro, a mutual friend who posted this on Facebook.

A Pumpkin Bowl: A cool, creative Halloween idea to hold your liquor (Source: http://www.freshomedecor.com)

Pumpkin Bowl: A cool, creative Halloween idea to hold your liquor (Source: http://www.freshomedecor.com)

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