Monthly Archives

July 1997

1997, Articles, Raiati

The virtue of patience / July 27, 1997

This virtue results from our belief that God has conferred freedom on people and that His patience remains until their repentance. He allows them to sin, and does compel them to be righteous. He waits for the time when they would accept grace bestowed on them. God seeks people’s love, and He does not force them to love Him. It grieves Him to see their sins.

          Likewise, we shall be patient with others and wait until they restore their senses and calm. We shall avoid anger and resentment, and be kind and modest, in hopes of prompting others to be kind and modest. We shall wait until our or their last breath. Our patience with each other is derived from God’s patience with us.

          The Lord told us “not to resist an evil person”, for He knows that if you resist an angry person by anger, neither of you will be healed. You cannot stop the tension if you were furious. You are supposed to heal the other person, and it is only by peace that you can do this. Should you acquire peace in you, the other person’s tension shall end. 

          It is not a matter of escape or isolation, for they bring no solution to the problem. Instead of just watching the sin, you have to correct it. In fact, you cannot live away from people. You should get involved in their problems, even if you have nothing to do with these problems, in order to heal those who are suffering from them, through love, forbearance and meekness. Patience is a prayer and a transfer towards God. If you rose and were compassionate, the others will be more likely to rise as well. Your change fosters the others’ chances to change. And change is not a matter of resisting others. On the contrary, you shall become a new person and the others will also be renewed.

          The image is the following: you ascend towards God, and then you come down from God to the other person. The latter will be in a trinitarian relationship composed of:  you, God and him. This is how salvation in God happens for you and for the other person, and this requires you to be lenient. If you were compassionate, the other will feel he is loved. The other’s sin should not make you neglect him. You shall go to him despite his sins, and embrace him and not his sin. When he feels he is loved, he will get rid of his sin and see himself in God’s presence. That is when he will revert to His holy face.

          How long should you be patient? “I endure all things” (2 Timothy 2:10), for people – all people – are likely to commit all lapses and even crimes. You shall be expecting all people to sin and you should not refuse to deal with anybody. The sinner nowadays cannot bear any anger or isolation. Currently, the church does not practice excommunication, and I think this would be impossible because religious spirit and religious commitment are becoming less common. Excommunication is efficient only in strong communities where the sinner knows that it is a beneficial disciplinary measure and would be really afraid to lose Christ’s satisfaction if he was excommunicated. The church comprises these days both strong and weak believers. The excommunicated members would feel you are angry and you do not love them. Therefore, the church needs patience now more than ever. Those who are marginalized would lose their patience, and nobody would accept to be excluded from the community. They would feel that your action is unfair and that it is triggered by hatred. Previously, the excommunicated used to understand – if they were excluded from the community – that you are doing so for a disciplinary purpose, so that when they would be excommunicated, they would want to restore their place in the community.

          Some people within our churches hate the priest and the bishop and want to control them. The spiritual leader cannot disappoint any member in order to keep him in the community. He will deal with him with clemency, patience and fatherhood so that he can perceive God’s fatherhood.

          We are in need of a substantial temptation, a substantial training, as well as pains in order to acquire patience which Christ requires from us. If we were able to reach this degree of patience, God’s kindness will be settled in our hearts.   

Translated from Arabic – 11.08.10

Original Text: “فضيلة الصبر” – 27.07.97

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1997, Articles, Raiati

Lying / 20.07.97

I counted a total of 178 verses against lying in the Old and New Testaments. First, this shows that lying is widespread. The Bible is based on the premise that God does not lie and that the devil is a liar and the father of it (John 8: 44). In other words, it is implied that God’s honesty should be reflected in man’s honesty, and that he who lies is not a son of God. The Holy Scripture establishes always a connection between the liar and the evil spirit. Hence, it is written: “Satan filled your heart to lie” (Acts 5: 3).

According to the Divine Word, lying is not merely the act of revealing the opposite of the reality, but it rather goes deeper in defining it: “We lie and do not practice the truth” (1John 1: 6). This refers to a pattern of behavior characterized by lies, for some people are not righteous and have an improper conduct in addition to their untruthful utterances. Such people should not be in the presence of the truth, in the light.

As for the New Testament, it places emphasis on the spiritual inspiration offered to us to arm us with the truth. Paul guides us to “put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness”, then he urges us to abstain from lying, “for we are members of one another” (Ephesians 4: 23-25).

Therefore, it is by renewing ourselves in Christ that we can approach the truth. You would then know that you became a member of the body of Christ, i.e. the church. Honesty will allow you to unite with your brothers who would heal you from your sins, should you hide nothing and reveal the truth to them. How can you be a brother to those whom you lie to? Brotherhood entails communication, transparency and a direct, sincere and honest relationship.

I asked once one of my spiritual sons whether he lies. He answered: “But I do not harm anybody”. I said: “Even if this was true, there is one person you are harming”. “Who is that person?”, he asked. I told him: “Yourself. You are degrading yourself.” Strength is all about admitting and confronting, for you shall become strong by admitting and telling the truth.

No healthy relationship can be founded unless the other person trusts what you are saying, relies on it, and makes his decisions accordingly.

You might think that hiding some facts would allow you to arrange your matters. Even though you can escape from problems once or twice, but the truth will be revealed sooner or later, and people will despise you, avoid or even stop dealing with you. There are so many liars, yet no one appreciates the other liar. In such a case, you would find yourself trapped trying to escape by telling another lie.

I understand that people’s cruelness triggers your improper conduct. Therefore, the church recognizes no cure for lying other than accepting each other and forgiving the sinners. If one knows that he would still be loved no matter how sinful he was, he would definitely dare to be honest. He relies on the fact that he is loved. He who loves does not blame others for their weaknesses. He would rather point out their mistakes kindly at an appropriate time, but does not consider them bad at all.

If we saw the image of God in a sinner and awakened him to see Him, or if we saw him receiving the patience of God and our patience, he would undoubtedly dare to remain in the brightness of truth and dealings.

Translated by Amani Haddad

Original Text: “الكذب” – 20.07.97

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