Sunday, January 20, 2008

The ABC of life .. H G Dr Zachariah Mar Theophilos ..

It was a pleasant surprise for me to meet HG Rev. Dr Zachariah Mar Theophlos, Metropolitan of Malabar diocese conducting the holy qurbana at the St. Gregorios Orthodox Cathedral , Johnson Market, Bangalore on 20 January 2008.

A younger day photo to Mar Theophilos
My thoughts went back twenty five years to my days in the Orthodox Students Centre, Spencer Junction, Trivandrum, where I was staying during my second year of Engineering at College of Engineering, Trivandrum. My Assistant Warden Deacon M C Cherian, was here conducting the Holy Qurbana in Bangalore St. Gregorios Cathedral as His Grace Dr Zachariah Mar Theophilos .. !!

A very simple yet attractive and forceful personality, what caught my attention were the points he made out in the mid-sermon speech and also while he addressed the junior and senior members of MGOCSM (Mar Gregorios Orthodox Christian Students Movement)

The most important point he made out was regarding learn the ABC of life. Even though the focus was mainly on youngsters, it is equally applicable to all of us.
What is this ABC ?? Avoid Bad Company ...!!!  How true it is.. The friends we move with, decides what our future is going to be and what we will become in life. Very often we get into bad company while in school and college and the immediate result is a botched result sheet or low grades in the exams. From there when we move ahead in life, we find the bad company attracts us like magnets and follows us wherever we go.. for some it may be drinking, starts with social drinking and then matures to serious family defeating drinking.. making us do many undesirable things and be part to bad speech and thoughts, spoiling a good future ..

How can we get ourselves out of these bad things ? Keep good company. There is a famous saying in Malayalam, which goes this way, " Mullapoombodiyettukidakkum kallinumundaam oru sourabhyam ".

"മുല്ലപ്പൂമ്പൊടി ഏറ്റുകിടക്കും കല്ലിനുമുണ്ടാം ഒരുസൗരഭ്യം" 

However bad we may be, if we move in good company, our whole self will change and we will start thinking, speaking and doing good things..

Usually when we get Metropolitans speaking at the church, they invariably make references  of verses from the Holy Bible. HG never made a single mention of the Holy Bible in his mid-sermon speech nor at the end speech with MGOCSM members. Cool.. The Holy Bible contains verses which exhort us how to lead a happy and peaceful life of use to others and community. Accepting the fact that the Bible is the Word of God, for a person who knows the Holy Word well, it makes great sense to speak out about the meaning of those verses through examples and deeds than speak out those verses themselves.

Listen to this audio clip of an event which led to Dn. MC Cherian donating A negative (A-) blood (within 10 days of an earlier donation) to a needy female patient from Medical College Trivandrum while he was the warden of OSC Trivandrum ..

The second point made out by HG was regarding the migration of believers , both students and families into other temporal Christian beliefs, mostly of Pentecostal and born-again variety. According to him they are like the mad dogs we see on the road. If it bites you, you are sure to catch rabies, if it is not possible to bite you, at least give you a good lick, so that if not immediately, slowly you will get rabies and die a terrible death. The bite refers to the brain-washing which they do on innocent, hapless believers who go to them in search of some peace. Little do the believers know of the deep abyss they have fallen into, but by then it is too late..!! There is no way one can climb out of this abyss ..

The third point made out was regarding the drinking culture among the believers of the church. This trend is observed heavily among the believers in Kerala than among the diaspora spread out in different parts of the country and abroad. For instance , Malabar , the beautiful and famed sea coast of North Kerala, made famous by the traders of yesteryears, the landing of St Thomas in 52 AD in Cranganore and Vasco De Gama in 1498 AD in Calicut, is now only Mala (meaning mountain ) and bar (drinking joints).  It was painful and shocking to note that upto fifty percent of Church-goers and now heavy to moderate drinkers.

What can drinking cause .. ?? It makes one feel temporarily merry for a session lasting two or three hours, helping one forget reality and be in a different virtual world. Instead of actually identifying and attacking the problems of life, it is only an effort to run away from problems. Frequent drinking sessions result in mounting problems without a solution and results in an unhappy married and family life, pushing one into deeper abyss of problems in life like financial debt from which there can be no coming out. A lost life..!!

It was really a blessing to hear a totally different and practical sermon from HG this morning. It definitely made my day and the whole week ahead. HG did not forget to mention about some of the social work being done by his diocese and the request for financial help for these activities.. The Mar Baseliose Balika Sadanam, for example. HG' email is

From addressing MC Cherian shemmachen to seeking blessings from a Holy Father, the experience spaced twenty five years apart will indeed be memorable.

( I have tried to preserve the essence of the sermon, though some of the illustrations are mine ...)

George Easaw

PS : HG went to heavely abode on the the 24th of October, 2017 after suffering from cancer for a long time.

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