Monthly Archives

October 2004

2004, Articles, Raiati

‘I have Been Crucified with Christ’ / 24.10.2004

Christianity is not just a book. Early Christians lived at least for forty years before writing the first Gospel, and sixty years before the Gospel of John appeared. The apostles, with no doubt, memorized a lot of Jesus’ words and used to say them to the faithful orally. However, they also read the epistles of Paul who was martyred around 65 A.C.  They took Jesus’ spirit from Paul and the core of his teaching. They became attached to the living person of Jesus who resurrected from the dead. The apostles based our faith on the love for Jesus. Therefore, Paul said in today’s epistle: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2: 20).

Christianity is based on this particularity that the life of Jesus the resurrected from the dead is poured on his followers if they depended and believed in him. As he was crucified, sin was deadened, and death was abolished, this way I shall stay away from sin. This is my cross. I don’t abolish sin, but he does in me. “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ”. I was in his depths when he was crucified; therefore, I have been crucified.

After that he says: “The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me”. Paul took the expression “he gave himself for me” from the Gospel of John even before it was written, i.e. he took it through recurrence. For John has said: “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends”. Here, the author of the epistle to the Galatians, which we are talking about, confirms that the Law of Moses doesn’t give life. It is commands that you can’t implement, and violating them exposed your misery. Now, and without the justification of the Law, Christ justifies you and when he does he glorifies you. Therefore, Paul combined all these meanings as he says: “The life I now live (i.e. the life in the Holy Spirit) in the body (i.e. in my entire entity)”, have come from God and I live it. But how do I live it? I shall live it if I believed in the Son of God (“You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God” as Peter confessed).

The Son of God loved me, and he didn’t use the word “loved us” in plural. Every one of us should believe that he has become God’s beloved one in Jesus Christ. As Christ is God’s beloved one in essence and eternity, I shall become God’s beloved one in the grace that Jesus revealed to me through his death and resurrection.

What kind of treatment there is between me and the Son of God? He loved me, and I should know that. My faith in him is my faith in his love for me that he showed and personated through death.

What’s the common thing between us, Christians? It is our faith in Jesus. What does this faith mean? It means that I believe that he died for me and then resurrected. Christianity is the attachment to the person of Christ considering him the Savior. Yes, he is the savior of the world. However, he is my personal savior too. I join him in baptism in which I die and revive with him and become risen from spiritual death from now and risen from physical death when the resurrection comes. Nevertheless, the Lord wants you to activate your baptism and stay always deadening the sin in you; and when you become liberated from it, you shall feel that you are risen, alive and victorious with him.

But this continuous resurrection requires from you, in addition to faith, a joint effort to escape from sin first and then live through righteousness, the Word, and through continuous prayer in your home, on the road and in divine services. You shall not only walk towards Christ through these, but also walk in him as if he is a sea you swim in. This is the living faith that martyrs died for. This is the faith that makes you transfer it to others by giving them the Word and by good deeds.

Translated by Mark Najjar

Original Text: “مع المسيح صلبتُ” –Raiati no43- 24.10.2004

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2004, Articles, Raiati

Miracles Today / 03.10.2004

Jesus promised that miracles will happen after his time on earth: “And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues;they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well” (Mark 16: 17–18). Also, the Book of Acts narrated several miracles done by the apostles. The power of Christ is transferred to us through the Holy Spirit. This process isn’t limited in saints but also living people have made miracles. God interferes in the existing order of the universe, however He doesn’t restrict it.

As for the way this happens – i.e. the way a blind’s eye becomes a healthy one – the Lord didn’t give us knowledge about that. If something occurred, we notice it without knowing how it happened. Nevertheless, spiritual authorities do not declare, normally, whether that happened or not. Doctors might confess that something has happened and that they have no scientific explanation for it. They confess that especially in illnesses of organs such us the healing of previously closed veins or cancer. However, doctors do not usually give importance for neurotic diseases such as paralysis because they know that many of these are related to psychological reasons. The Church isn’t a faculty of medicine and rarely speaks about such things that happen.

In this sense, questions could be asked about “miraculous icons”. We are not talking about anything other than icons because in our Orthodox Church art we only have those. In all Orthodox countries they say about an icon that it is miraculous. However, theologians say something different. They say that every icon is miraculous because the Lord uses it to heal the person that prayed in front of it; this means that there is no specific icon that carries a power of healing.

Also, the Holy Book doesn’t want us to exaggerate in our interest in miracles. There are three decisive sayings that cool down our fever for miracles. The first one is: “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.  For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matthew 12: 39–40). Yes, Jesus didn’t limit his signs in his resurrection, but it is the sign of signs as it is the greatest among all his miracles and among all miracles that will occur in Church’s history. The second saying of Jesus is: “Believe because of the words I have said or else believe because of the miracles” (John 14). Here, Jesus assures that his words are more important than all miracles and that excessive busyness in miracles indicates weakness in faith. The third sentence is Apostle Paul’s saying: “Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles” (1Corinthians 1: 22–23). Christ himself is the one we should preach about and not spend times narrating stories about miracles.

If you saw a miracle and told a person who didn’t believe it, he is free and you cannot accuse him of having a weak faith. Your and his reference is what was written in God’s book and the Orthodox faith in general. If you told him that the virgin has appeared to someone, he is also free not to believe. After Christ, nothing bounds us other than what He said and what the Church said about Him.

People love supernatural things and the Church is cautious towards such things. However, if a miracle happened to you, then it is a message to you from God and it carries no meaning if it didn’t lead you to repentance. A miracle is a personal bond between you and the Lord and could be a bond between the Lord and other people too.

The Divine Word is the only fixed thing. You receive it, and if you understood it in a right way it would save you. Anything else needs a lot of preciseness.

Translated by Mark Najjar

Original Text: “العجائب اليوم” –Raiati 40- 03.10.2004

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