According to our liturgical calendar, October 30th, 31st or the 1st Sunday of November marks the beginning of our liturgical year. We have a special name for this Sunday: Koodosh Eetho (qddosh Hebrew), which means ‘sanctification of the Church’. In this short message I would like to focus on the theme of a sanctified Church in today’s context.
First of all we need to know what the Church is and why it should be sanctified. Church, according to St. Paul, is the ‘Body of Christ’ (Romans 12:4-21; 1Cor 6:15; 12:12ff). Church is also called the ‘temple of God’ (1Cor 3:16). This Church belongs to God.
A temple is the abode of God and therefore it must be holy. Here St. Paul reminds us all that individual believers and the collective body of believers is the members of Christ’s body.
St Peter jogs our memory to be ‘living stones built into a spiritual house’ (1Peter 2:5). We proclaim in our Niceo-Constantinopolitan creed that the Church we believe in is ‘ONE, HOLY, CATHOLIC and APOSTOLIC’. Church by virtue of being a Church is, therefore, the body of sanctified and ‘called out’ people (ek-kaleon,
We separate certain places/things for certain uses. We give due regards to our place of worship. It must be clean. As group or individuals this cleanliness has to be spiritual, physical, moral and ethical. This is a God-given requirement: “You shall be holy; for I the Lord your God am holy”. “Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy; for I am the Lord your God. Keep my statutes, and do them; I am the Lord who sanctifies you” (Lev.19:2; 20: 6-8; 1 Peter 1:15).
In His High-priestly prayer, our Lord prayed to His Father to sanctify His disciples and His Church: “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you did send me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, and they also may be consecrated in truth” (John 17: 17-19). Thus, Jesus Christ and Holy Spirit are interceding for us (Heb.10; Rom 8: 26-27).
In short, Church is the body of Christ and not merely an association or incorporation of people. Christ sanctified her by His sacrifice and continues with the sanctification process. We shall maintain that sanctified status by following the word of God in our individual and collective responsibilities. In other words, we have to follow a sanctified behavior pattern. It is not merely our adherence to a faith that matters but our new behavior.
Now let us look what does this sanctification mean precisely to us? As individuals and as a body of believers, we have to examine our lives and mission. Where are we with our mission? Christ did not send us to the world to make enemies but to make friends and disciples. Our mission is not political but moral and spiritual. Historically Churches have succeeded to make followers (employing party spirit by force or by mission) but have failed to make disciples. We have been fighting for temporal and personal powers or for recognition. It is high time that we pause for a moment and contemplate on our special calling.
Our church with its long history is still in her infancy in mission. We need to be reaching out as a community. Every parish should have an active mission program, wherein all believers take active roles. Our parish committee and general body meetings should be theologically focused and mission oriented. Our individual commitment to Christian/Church life needs to go beyond our Sunday worship, learning Church history, and monthly subscription to a total dedication of Christian living because we are a ‘called out’ community to proclaim His good deeds by putting away ‘all malice and all guile and insincerity and envy and slander’ (1Peter 2:2).
As individuals we need to commit ourselves to spread the Gospel by our personal deeds, by reaching out as forgiving and loving persons. As parishes we have to develop a mission plan that goes beyond Sunday ministry and as a Church we have to be a forgiving entity with wide worldview in ecumenical initiatives and putting away all quarrels to ‘declare His marvelous deeds’.
Let this Koodosh Eetho (Qddosh Eetho) Sunday be a renewed beginning for all of us, namely, as individuals, parishes and as Church as a whole. May God bless us all. Let us work closely, by putting away our differences to glorify His name through our words and deeds with the help of His Holy Spirit. Amen!