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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  is male.

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.

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