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  Greetings to all our readers and patrons
Stewardship and Trusteesh
  By A.J. Philip  
  I ACCOMPANIED Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on his visit to South Africa on the occasi  
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Letter to Metropolitan
  By Rev A.P. Jacob and five other priests  
  Most Rev. Dr. Joseph Mar Thoma Metropolitan Most Rev. Dr. Philipose Mar Chrysostom Mar  
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Back to infancy -- they n
  By Shaheen Chander  
  ENJOYING a relaxed weekend, I was checking updates on the Facebook page. I came across a b  
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Beyond this world
  By P. Koshy  
  MY little nephew told me that he forgot to give a mobile phone to his grandfather while he was dying. Otherwise, conversation with him would have been still possible.
For Christians, death is not the end of life. It is just one phase. As the human physical body loses its life sustaining attributes, the spirit leaves for its destination, the original place from where it came. Christ defeated the powers of darkness and death on the cross, so no more they need to disturb our souls!

For those who believe, our beloved forefathers who left us earlier are still a reality and they live today. By living in Christ, one could sense their concerns, their thoughts. For my nephew, he could feel his grandfather's influence, presence everywhere and he is a reality.

In the case of this boy, there is a reflection of true Christian understanding of life beyond this world. Though some of us may overlook it as mere innocence. But there is a statement of hardcore faith in it.

Death is not the end. It is just one side of a coin. And that brings us to St. John 14: 2-4: "In my Father's house are many rooms; If it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you... where I am going".
Diwali recollections
  By P. Koshy  
  INDIA, despite being the melting pot of several rapturous and enthusiastic festivities, silently acknowledges the fact that Deepavali is the one occasion that unites the four corners of the country, when people from all walks of life, religions, regions and communities join together to celebrate.

Also, this is a time when Indians go on a spending spree and financial liquidity is at its peak. Therefore, Diwali is expected to stimulate economic activity. But in the ensuing concatenation of sight and sound, the light element gets relegated. Are we underestimating the significance of diyas? Diyas can lead us to peace, so Deepavali celebrations should give due prominence to light and the lighting up of little oil-filled clay pots.

While I was in Mumbai, I realised the immense potential of the presence of diyas in our life. For instance, a get-together in front of little diyas is just the perfect occasion for an interfaith dialogue. I was a student of Bombay University and lived on the Kalina campus. Those days, several friends from diverse backgrounds used to meet at the residence of a faculty member, Prof. Annakutty VK Findeis, every year. Such a gathering during Deepavali inspired us to continue the inter-faith dialogue for a long time. No doubt, such occasions helped in enhancing the understanding of one another and fostering human relationships and thereby peace in the larger society.

In Delhi, my wife and I used to buy Diyas and spend time discussing, chatting and praying, in the years between 2003 and 2008. Deepavali instills hope. The lights and colors bring cheer and light up our hearts.

In 1991 when we shifted to Kalyan, Mumbai, as my father, a priest with the Marthoma Church, got a transfer to a parish there, that was in the month of May. Barely in five months time, I experienced the real taste of Deepavali. I started hearing the sound of crackers weeks before Diwali and for a month it continued till 24/7.

In 1992, when I visited Pune for a conference, in the month of October, I could not sleep as there was sound of crackers throughout the night.

A lot had changed when I looked at the scenario in 2002 while leaving Mumbai. There were restrictions as well as awareness! Compared to Mumbai, noise pollution in Delhi is lesser. But one thing common to Diwali in any part of India is that there is very little light today, as noise and thunder have an overwhelming presence. Diwali has turned out to be a festival of thunder and noise, rather than that of light these days.

Fearing accidents and crackers, my wife and I seldom used to go out in those peak festivity periods. Our neighbor told us the way to receive Lakshmi Devi, the Goddess of Wealth, was by opening the house doors for her to enter, with burning lamps. But the most interesting thing that I observed was the spirit of sharing among people during the festival season.

Diwali, the festival of lights, perhaps encapsulates the essence of India like nothing else -- a coming together of sights and sounds, laughter and sharing, forgiving and forgetting.
Chosen people
  By P. Koshy  
  IT is to turn adversities into opportunities that God chooses us. We are God's chosen people.

Israel's Promised Land, in reality, was a land contrary to its literal meaning. It is not rich in resources like that of its several other Middle East neighbors that have plenty of hydrocarbon and natural resources. Nor is there much potential for income from agricultural and farming-related activities, considering factors such as limited land, water and cultivability of the land.

One might view it paradoxical, terming this infertile land as the land of 'Milk and Honey'. It also seems that there is an inconsistency in the fulfilment of God's promise when the Israelites were brought to this desert and that too to live with constant strife.

As once said by Golda Meir, former Israeli Prime Minister, although in lighter vein: "Moses took us 40 years through the desert in order to bring us to the one spot in the Middle East that has no oil!"

In spite of all hardships, Israel moved on ahead, looking forward to the 'Land where Milk and Honey flows', the land that was promised to Abraham. By doing so, they were reinventing the meaning of 'His Chosen People'. They had become people who were ready to confront adversities.

God chose these people to make a difference in the land, which they finally reached. The Israelites did not run away from their responsibility. They rose to God's call and proved to the world that they were different.

Today, Israel leads the world in bio, agriculture and farm technologies, thereby offering hope to a world longing for food security. She has even made remarkable achievements in the diary industry, considering the not-so favourable conditions such as heat, humidity, limited land and water.

Israel's efforts to uplift the poor and eradicate poverty with its focus on Small and Micro Enterprises (SMEs) is another commendable accomplishment.

Achievements such as mentioned above bring about shalom (peace) in the midst of war. Israel's story is an eye-opener. We are often not ready to realize the potentials that are bestowed upon us. We criticise God and everyone around us for the situation we are in.

Rising to the challenge is a painful commitment and involves making sacrifices but remember that God has chosen us to make a difference, wherever He has placed us. We all are God's chosen people.

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