BEYOND THE BORDERS: Book by Fr. Dr. Bijesh Philip

 

BEYOND THE BORDERS

Indian Orthodox Mission Perspectives

Edited byFr. Dr. Bijesh Philip & Fr. Dr. Jogy C. Geroge

It is with immense joy that this dream project with thetitle Beyond the Borders is presented to you. Going beyondborders brings excitement and exhilaration. It is quite naturalfor human beings to go beyond borders to explore, to study,to tour and to increase comforts. But ‘Beyond the Borders’which is a common theme of all the articles of this Book indicatesthe actions for the holistic wellbeing of those who appear to be‘outside’. This is a reflection on, and also an encouragementfor leaping into unknown areas inspired by the overwhelminglove of God. This also is a reflection on, and reinterpretation ofthe being and doing of the Church and also her individualmembers.

Widespread violence spread by fanatic members of variousreligions today inspires many to rethink the validity of religions.There are secular thinkers who highlight that religion today isbringing about harm rather than harmony. Is religion totallyoutdated today? As a response to these, it is essential todistinguish between the true use and misuse of religion. A sincereattempt to know the vocation of the believers or the faithful ofthe church and to fulfil it will promote a positive attitude to alife of faith.

At the core of all religions we can see good resources andinsights for fulfilling life and the life of the world. We cancategorize the members of religion into three: those who areaffiliated to religion nominally without a concern for followingthe core teachings of it; those who misuse religious affiliationand sentiments for profit, power and domination; and, thosewho sincerely try to practice the divinising religious teaching.The third group makes a positive impact in their family/churchlife, professional life and also in all areas of their social life.There are good Samaritans in all religions as well as among theatheists. There are many from the religious and non-religiousbackgrounds who contribute to alleviate the miseries of theworld and fulfil the life of the world.

The central or key person of Christianity is none other thanJesus Christ who was the fullness and personal humanexpression of all good religious insights. Jesus revealed thenature and will of God as well as what human beings ought tobe. His vision of the kingdom of God is for freedom frompersonal and social evil and the joy of having basic needs ofphysical life as well as communion with God and spiritualprogress. This Gospel is a challenge to take the cross for justice,liberation, peace, unity and integrity of personal life and of thecreations as a whole. He is Love calling us to be love. He isguide, power, hope and inspiration for having fullness of lifefor all. After the Apostles, many saints like St. Basil the Great,St. John Chrysostom, St. Benedict, St. Francis of Assisi, AlbertSchweitzer, St. Gregorios of Parumala, St. PampadyThirumeni,St. Maximilian Kolbe and St. Mother Theresa witnessedChrist very meaningfully. Many churches and millions ofChrist’s followers by abiding in Him, bore much fruit andcontributed to the transformation of the world. Still, Christ ischallenging us to be compassionate and to be committed tofreedom, justice and peace.

The last saying of Jesus just before His ascension was tobear witness to Him beyond all borders, is a lasting sayingalso (Acts 1:8). The story of the practice of this saying by beingfilled with the power of the Holy Spirit is the story of the missionof the Church.

Even the so-called spiritual persons and communities aretempted to give priority to power and pleasure. Fanatics aretrying to fight for the glory of their religious communities. Inorder to protect their religious sects from secular forces as wellas from other religions, fanatics fight sacrificially and in theprocess of this endeavour they spread violence. On the otherside, the unbridled profit-making of the market economy isglobalised everywhere. In order to resist and overcome the lieand emptiness of such a crazy world, we rejoice in the Gospelto witness Christ. By being fully aware of the empty andmisguiding priorities of this world, Jesus witnessed His invisibleHeavenly Father by loving Him through practicing Hiscommandments. The Holy Spirit is unceasingly reminding theChurch to witness Jesus Christ as He glorified His heavenlyFather in history.

Theologians of the Catholic Church and Protestant Churchhave published many books and articles on the mission andwitness of the Church. Even if the Orthodox Church, whoseself identity as a worshipping community is primarily to beaware of and practices Gospel in manifold ways and glorifiesGod, there has been a reservation regarding the articulation ofit. This anthology of eighteen articles of learned metropolitans,teachers, missionaries and theologians who belong to theMalankara Orthodox Church will be an enlighteninginspiration for intensifying the vocation and calling in Christnot only for the Orthodox faithful but also for all beyond theboundaries.

Deification is an important theme in Orthodox Christiantradition. It is by becoming like God or by fulfilling the divinepotential in us by being in Christ that we do the mission. Thisconnection of being and doing will become clearer when weknow and experience the connection of worship and Mission.

Beyond the Borders is the fulfilment of an important dream ofSt. Thomas Orthodox Theological Seminary which is deeplycommitted to the Church’s mission and the spiritual well beingof the Diaspora generations of the Church. We remember withgratitude personalities like H.G. Pathros Mar Osthathios, H.G.Geevarghese Mar Osthathios and H.G. Stephanos MarTheodosius who enlightened and inspired us concerning themission of the Church. Special thanks is placed on record forthe assistance of Rev. Fr. Dr. Jogy C. George, the co-editor ofthis book. We are also grateful to Rev. Fr. Robins Daniel,Rev. Dn. Alin Joseph Alex and Rev. Dn. Aashu Alexanderfor various editorial assistance. Also we acknowledge withgratitude the financial support of Mr. O.OmmanPanic

ker, NewDelhi for materialising this enlightening work. We express ourgratitude to CSS, Tiruvalla for facilitating this joint venture.

We express our gratitude to all the contributors of theenlightening articles to this anthology. We are also thankful toeach one of you for going beyond your comfort zones to interactwith them through the pages of this work. May God blessthis also to liberate the victims of injustice and communalismand to enlighten many to give joy to the poor and themarginalised and also those who are ‘outside’ the so-calledboundaries.

Fr. Dr. Bijesh Philip