Paul told the Thessalonians, “Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, and are over you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other” (1 Thes 5:12-13).
Mr. John the head of the renewal team, puts it this way in the Message paraphrase: We ask you to honor those preachers who work so hard for you, who have been given the responsibility of urging and guiding you this week to God and the Word of God. Please give me a few moments to share some insights we had into the mission. It is fitting that we honor Christian soldiers who displayed courage under fire. A big “Thank you” to Fr. Biju K. and team. We salute the bravery, humility, love and dedication of Frs. Biju K. and Jissoy P. who stood for Jesus Christ in the face of difficulty. We honor you. The preachers of mission can be compared to shepherds. Shepherds lead, prod, take care of, watch out for, nurture, rescue and direct the sheep. As shepherds, we listen to the shepherds who are the overseers of our souls. A shepherd’s work can be hazardous and grueling. I use the metaphor of pits. “Pits” are an often used metaphor in the Bible. Salvation is often pictured, in both the Old and New Testaments, as rescue from a pit. The land of the Bible was filled with natural and man-made pits. Joseph was thrown into a pit by his jealous brothers. Daniel was placed in a pit with a den of lions. Jeremiah found himself in a cistern and narrowly escaped death in a muddy mire. There are many present-day pits into which the people of God may fall. There are the pits of drunkenness, drug addiction and other bondages. There are pits of unemployment, illness and disease. There are pits of immorality, of anger and hatred, of lying, deception and greed. There are pits of self-pity and victimhood. There are pits of depression, despair and discouragement. When we went for counseling, we were asked how we were doing; many of us have described our condition as being “in the pits.” The instructions and guidelines which Fr. Biju gave, made a great change and tangible deliverance in all of us. God lifts us out of those pits. God saves us. Jesus walks among us, as our Shepherd, to lift us and carry us away from the pits into which we fall. We need to thank the mission preachers for the courageous and self-sacrificing efforts they made to lift us out of the pit and lead us to the loving care of God. The season of Magalavarthakalam was really a mangalavaratha (good news) for all the parishioners.
Mr. Joseph Thomas