Filling Our Lives with Godly Activities
In today’s homily, we are going to be examining various topics pointed out in the 23rd verse of the 19th chapter of the Acts of Mar Mani. In this verse, there are five topics outlined.
Specifically, these are:
1) Alms-giving for forgiveness of sins;
2) the Meal of the Holy Table;
3) the Seventh Day for resting;
4) reading the Holy Scriptures; and
5) translating and copying the Scriptures
1. Alms-giving for Forgiveness of Sins
In the Acts of Mar Mani 19:23, we read: “Do not neglect the practice of Alms-giving for forgiveness of sins.”
Brethren realise the necessity of giving Alms, according to the mandate in the Holy Book and the various sacred texts of our various communities. As this and other verses say, it is “for forgiveness of sins.”
The giving of Alms is a Godly activity that can assist in bringing purification to our souls and bring us closer to the reality of Liberation. Alms-giving is a practice that is taken seriously by brothers and sisters of all communities within the Religion of Light.
2. The Meal of the Holy Table
In the same verse we read: “Do not neglect… the meal of the holy table to remember in reverence the sacrifice of Jesus.”
Within the congregations in the East, the “meal of the holy table” is a weekly gathering and consumption of bread that has been blessed in order “to remember in reverence the sacrifice of Jesus.” Some communities refer to this meal as “kurbana” or “communion.” It is none other than the Holy Eucharist.
When we partake of the “meal of the holy table” we recall the events surrounding the sacrifice that Christ made for the benefit of the whole world. We do not partake of this sacred meal in an unbecoming manner, but instead, as the verse says, “in reverence.” Thus, we prepare ourselves by ritually bathing (mamuditha), wearing clean and respectable attire, and with prayer and meditation. We contemplate on the sacrifice and its implications for the entire world.
3. The Seventh Day for Resting
The Acts of Mar Mani says: “Do not neglect… the seventh day for resting and neglect not its purity.”
It is a blessing to have a special day set aside by the Father of Greatness Himself, for our benefit. If we properly observe this day, the Sabbath can be refreshing to us both physically and mentally. It provides us with sacred time for sacred purposes.
What better way to occupy our time than studying the Holy Book, especially during the Sabbath.
The Sabbath day helps us to see the separation between the sacred and the mundane. For most brethren, their labour during the previous six days of the week has come to an end, and they look forward to the Sabbath. During this day we occupy ourselves with spiritual thoughts, study and prayer.
4. Reading the Holy Scriptures
Continuing in our reading of the Acts of Mar Mani, the verse says: “Do not neglect… the reading of the Holy Scriptures.”
When you plan a journey to a certain destination that you are unfamiliar with, it should be obvious that you would need a road map before leaving your home. Today we have special technology such as GPS devices that can help us pin point our present location and map out our desired destination. Can we not consider the Holy Book as a road map or guide to our future destination in the Kingdom of Light?
We not only read the Scriptures, but we also occupy ourselves with the study of our blessed texts and learn how to apply what the Holy Book says.
Let us give thanks to the Father of Greatness for providing us this divine road map and special guide for ordering our lives in the present world and preparing for the next.
5. Translating and Copying the Scriptures
The last part of Acts of Mar Mani 19:23 says: “Do not neglect the… translation and copying of the [Scriptures].”
There are brethren who occupy themselves with the translation of the Scriptures in various languages. If it were not for these scribes, many would continue in the darkness, wandering in the world with the pains of spiritual hunger.
We are indeed blessed because we benefit from the labour of the scribes within the various Religion of Light communities. Because of their hard work we are able to consume spiritual food. The words of the Holy Book are readily available for everyone.
Not everyone has been blessed with the talents, skills or abilities to translate the holy texts. Not only are there brethren who translate our Scriptures, but there are others who are busy with copying and sharing the texts with each other and with people in the world.
Let’s read our passage again, from Acts of Mar Mani 19, verse 23 – this time in full: “Do not neglect the practice of Alms-giving for forgiveness of sins, the meal of the holy table to remember in reverence the sacrifice of Jesus, the seventh day for resting and neglect not its purity, the reading of the Holy Scriptures, and translation and copying of the same.”
In this passage we have several topics that are mentioned by Mar Mani the Holy Prophet. How blessed we are to have in our midst those who occupy their time with Godly activities such as those referred to in Mar Mani’s words to the Brethren.
When we occupy ourselves with such sacred work and activities, we are in turn assisting others who are in need of encouragement and who can learn more about the liberation of the soul.
Better is it to be busy in God’s work and resting in His promises, rather than being idle and falling in the trap of the evil one.
Jonathan bar Stephen
Originally published 25 July 2015