Cry of the Assyrian -2
On March 26 , posted here on the pod cast of Crucible of the Assyrians
On March 27, I wake up to reading that the Spiritual Leader of the Ancient Church of the East enters Eternal rest . Memory Eternal !!! . May his prayers be with the Cry of the Assyrians and with each of us.
I felt it very appropriate that the community of Christians from Kerala living within India and abroad ,those who owes their paternity as Church to St. Thomas , to listen, take heed and act to the cry of the Assyrian .
In the podcast crucible of the Assyrians it is mentioned that the Tradition is that St. Thomas converted the Assyrian to Christianity before the crucifixion and the Ancient Church of the East carried the faith to India and China.
It is believed that like me that there are around 5 Million St. Thomas Christians across the world today that trace their origin to the state of Kerala in India where St. Thomas the Apostle of Christ came in AD 52 and founded the Church bringing the Gospel of Christ en-route to the Jewish community. I believe they are broadly divided into
1. From Knanaya community that trace their heritage either direct lineage to Thomas of Cana an Assyrian trader from the ancient Church of the East that immigrated as a community to Kerala or those from the local community already evangelized by St. Thomas the Apostle, that that took to the faith of the Church of the East . Its current local leader Mar Aphrem of India is the Locums Tenens until a new Spiritual leader is selected for the Ancient Church of the East - those suffering in the podcast ' Crucible of the Assyrians' as well as the very small community in Kerala. Interestingly they are also known as Chaldean Church of the East and not Roman Catholic.
2. From the local Christians in Kerala that chose to be under the Roman Catholic rather than the very small minority under the Church of the East. Interestingly they follow the East Syrian liturgical tradition though certain aspects within it has be modified to be in synch with Roman Catholicism.
3 and 4 . The two groups within the Oriental Orthodox Christian tradition
- Jacobite Syrian also known as Pathrikeese group who chose to be under the fold of the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch
- Malankara Orthodox Church as an Autonomous and Autocephalous community with its prelate known as Catholicose of East and Malankara Metropolitan of the Ancient see of St. Thomas
Between these two groups alone , it is believed that there are around 3.5 to 4 Million that has from within it many that spend time fighting and quarrelling amongst themselves and forget their own heritage. Interestingly they follow the West Syrian Liturgical tradition that they adapted from 16th Century. I am of the later community not only by accident of birth ,but also by choice . Historically both these groups still claim their heritage to St. Thomas and agree they lived as one community in Kerala , India isolated from the ancient Councils of the Church of Nicea ,Constantinople and Ephesius ( Oriental Orthodox Christians accept these councils as fundamental teaching/foundation to their faith while the Church of the East accepts only the first two Councils and there exist yet another group called Eastern Orthodox Christians who chose to hold 4 other councils as dear to them. The Roman Catholics separated from this Eastern Orthodox in 1052 AD) .
5. Marthomites - This group separated from groups 3 and 4 , as an isolated group adopting the Protestant Anglican tradition. Interestingly they follow the West Syrian liturgical tradition though there are certain aspects modified to be in synch with Anglican teaching.
All these five groups are either known or taken pride to be known as Nasrani or Nazarene and called St. Thomas Christians and sometimes slanderously to those outside to reject Christ. We in His mercy are granted another occasion to celebrate the glorious resurrection of our Lord .
Let us remember that Christ identified with every one of the least and told to St. Paul that while he is persecuting Christians, he is persecuting Jesus Christ.
Let us each look to ourselves that by not praying and acting to help the Assyrian when we can , we too could be persecuting Jesus Christ.
May Lord have mercy upon each of us. , Amen