Last Will and Testament
by Paulos Mar Gregorios, Late Bishop of Indian Orthodox Church
[Editor's Note: This last will and testament
from one of the scholars of Indian Orthodox church provides us with deep
insight into many theological questions we face everyday.]
New Delhi, April 1, 1993
Six years ago, when I last wrote a Testament of this kind sitting in
my study at the Indian Institute of Advanced Study in Simla. I did
not expect to live for another six years. God has been good, and I
must go on in this valley of tears as long as He wants me to. I must
go when I am called, now or later. I am now in the seventy first year
of my life.
I leave this humble testimony to the world at large, to those who may
come across it in any manner, anywhere.
God is good. He alone is truly and fully good. He is good without
mixture of evil; in Him all evils disappears. Evil has no place in
Him, just as darkness has no place in the Light. He can do no evil.
Evil does not come from Him. He did not make it. He gave freedom to
His Creation; freedom to reject the God with which it is endowed, and
thereby to choose evil. Evil is denial of created being itself, which
cannot really be without being also good. In freedom is the root of
evil. But evil by itself cannot be; it cannot exist, except when
mixed with the good. Only the good can be. Being and the good are
inseparable. When any being uses its freedom to deny and reject the
good, it denies also being itself, for true created being is always
good, like its creator.
If you ask me, "Who is this God, and where do we find Him?", I can
only say with all who have known God, that there is no way we can
grasp Him with our concepts or express His being with our words. We
can say many things about Him in a negative or metaphorical language.
He is without form or body, without beginning or end, without limit
or extension, neither in space nor in time, not needing to become or
grow into something he is now not, and therefore without change or
movement, not dependent on or derived from anything else, everything
else being derived from and dependent on Him. Who and where are not
questions appropriate for the One who is Eternal and Infinite. Where
He is not, there is only nothing.
I am unhappy about using the masculine personal pronoun to refer to
Him; God is not male, but using the feminine personal pronoun solves
no problems, for he is neither male nor female, nor is He a neuter
It. The Creator has no gender, which is an attribute only of the
created order. He is Who He is, Who will always be, the Great I am.
My human language offers me no appropriate pronoun by which to refer
to Him. I will continue to say `He' without thereby meaning that He
From Him comes all good. All that is good not only comes from Him,
but is also His presence. Where the good is, there God is present. I
bow before the good, Wherever it shows up-in people of different
faiths and religions, in people Who claim to believe in no God, in
birds and animals, in trees and flowers, in mountains and rivers, in
air and sky, in sun and moon, in sculpture and painting, in music and
art, in the smile of the infant and in the wisdom of the sage, in the
blush of dawn and in the gorgeous sunset. Where the good is, there is
the kingdom of God. There God is present and reigns even when that
presence is not acknowledged or recognised, though the Kingdom
belongs in a special sense to those who have known Him and worship
Him, dedicating their lives to total obedience.
If you ask me how is the good to be defined, I can only say that
good, like God, is undefinable. But it can be discerned, recognised,
praised and cherished, just as God can be. Good is what God is. He
has been good to me. Out of nothing He has brought me forth. He keeps
me from going back to the nothing that I have come from. He forgives
me my sin and evil. The evil in me draws forth a sentence of death,
but he annuls that sentence by His grace. The life that I live I
regard as a double gift-the gift of existence and the gift of the new
life that makes me a child of God. For He has come to us in His Son,
and has become one of us, a human being in the created order,
partaking of the earth, of flesh and blood, of matter in all its
temporality and finitude. On that I have no doubt, even though many
of the people whom I love and admire reject that faith of mine. I
belong to Jesus Christ the incarnate Son of God, and therefore to His
new humanity, without any reservation. I cannot compromise that
faith even for the sake of good relations with people of other faiths.
In Him I put my trust. Christ is my all. Without him I am nothing at
all. The life I live is Christ's. I share that life with all those in
Christ's Body. I have no life of my own. I live in Him and He lives
in me. Christ never forsakes me, even when I am rebellious,
indifferent or thoughtless in my disobedience. His love stays
steadfast even when my loyalty grows feeble and my ardor becomes
tepid. He gives and He forgives, without stint or limit. Such love
deserves nothing less than my all. Him I adore, Him I worship as God
and Man, Him I hold as without peer, the only Begotten of God, with
the Father and the Holy Spirit, One True God.
And Christ's love is for all humankind, not just for Christians. It is
for the whole of humanity that he has died, not just for Christians
alone. He lives for the human race, and he is the lover and Saviour,
as well as Lord, of the whole race of humankind. How can I then draw
any limits to my love and compassion, or deny it to any group of
human beings? Even those who regard themselves as my enemies I am not
to hate or exclude from Christ's love and compassion. That has been
the basis for my approach to all sorts of groups, people of other
religions, Communists, Moonies, and especially the white races
against whom I can justly hold a thousand grudges.
Christ is for me much more than a great teacher of humanity, along
with Gautama Buddha, Vardhamana Mahavira, Lao Tse, Mahatma Gandhi,
Mohammed Rasool-Allah, Adi Sankara, Plato, Socrates, Moses, and
Zoroaster. Jesus Christ is the unique Son of God who became son of
Man, took on our sin and suffering upon himself, sacrificed himself
on the Cross, died and rose again from the dead to live for ever and
to reconcile the whole creation to God in himself. He is the victor
over sin and death, over evil and disintegration. In him everything
holds together, and in him shall the whole creation, purged of all
evil, be finally harmonised. This I believe, and I have no reason to
hide my faith, though I do not talk about it all the time. I live by
this faith. This is the source-spring of my actions. This is the hope
that keeps me from despair and despondency, even when everything
looks so bleak and gloomy in God's world.
Krankenhaus St. Josef, Wuppertal, Germany, June 5, 1993.
I have just come through another test, as I continue the writing of
this testimony, with my left side paralysed, here in room 341 of
Krankenhaus Sankt Josef in Wuppertal-Elberfeld, near Cologne,
Germany. Today is the 5th of June 1993. I had the stroke exactly a
week ago, on May 29th, on my way from Oxford to Cologne. I came here
to the hospital directly from Cologne airport. Today I can type with
one hand. God has been good to me and has begun to heal me
miraculously. He could have done it all at once, if He wanted to. He
tells me that my faith is not strong enough for such immediate
recovery. But He is healing me miraculously fast.
During this test, which may last a long time, I have come to know
afresh both how fragile one's hold upon ordinary biological life is,
and also how unshakable is the foundation of the new life which God
bestows by His grace. Death is no terror. Even the prospect of being
a permanent (that is, till the end of this biological life) invalid
holds no terror for me, if that is what God wills. Whatever happens,
He can turn it in to the good.
I leave this world to all who survive me: Love God with all your mind
and all your will and all your feeling and all your strength. Live
for the good of others. Pursue not perishable gold or worldly glory.
Wish no one any evil. Bless God in your heart, and bless all his
creation. Discipline yourself while still young, to love God and to
love His creation, to serve others and not to seek one's own
interest. Pray always that God's Kingdom may come and all evil be
banished from this created order.
Finally I have a personal request to make to my church. Naked I came
forth in to this world from my mother's womb, and naked I go forth
from the womb of this world, to that world where my loving Lord
awaits me. All who love me please pray for me. I shall be grateful if
my mortal remains are interred in the Orthodox Seminary Chapel,
Kottayam where there will be perpetual prayer for the soul of this
sinner. May God bless you all.