Monthly Archives

November 2010

2010, Articles, Raiati

What is Eternal Life? / 28.11.2010

This man or young man that came to Jesus was a notable according to many translations, which means that he was a member of a Jewish synagogue or of the Jewish leadership (the Sanhedrin). He calls Jesus “good”. This is an excess in praise since he didn’t know that Christ is God and God is the only worthy for this praise or glorification. His question about what shall he do to inherit the eternal life shows that he thinks that he has to do organized or a lot of work in order to gain the eternal life. The Lord mentions to him some commandments as an example. Was the young man looking for something other that the commandments or was he convinced with his righteousness?

The Lord knew that some of the people murmur the commandments but don’t have a true encounter with God. Jesus gives him a behavior that the Jews didn’t know. “Sell all that you have”. The Jews used to think that wealth and property are from God’s blessings.

You are ought not to let the love of the worldly things enter your heart, and to make your heart in the kingdom of God which is the eternal life that you asked for. If you distributed, i.e. if your heart became separated from the love of money and this world, then you shall have a treasure in the heaven. After that, he told him: “Come, follow me”.

Why follow a human being (according to this man’s case his name is Jesus)? If he followed him, he would have understood that this man is not just a human being. This leader was attached to money and maybe to his religious position in the Jewish community.

To get dissociated from everything is a big adventure for him. How could he secure his living and stability? Does he only stay with God? This does not give him a feeling of tranquility, and this is why he got sad and left Jesus. If the liberation from the attachment to the world is a prerequisite to obtain the kingdom, this means that he should choose between the kingdom and this world. This is a difficult thing that the Gospel expressed by saying that this man got sad and didn’t want to adopt the direction that the Lord offered him.

This is why the Lord said: “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God”. The hearts of those are in their treasures or their treasures are in their hearts. Then the difficulty became harder when the Lord said: “For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God”.

For if a person saw that the amount of his money is increasing, he should be aware of the danger on his salvation. This salvation is threatened. If he took his money out of his heart, what does he put in its place? He puts Christ, and deals with the money according to the need. He worships only God then he becomes a free man. In his freedom he can be saved. He distributes a lot so that he doesn’t fall in love with what’s left in his box or bank account. There is no limit for this distribution. The heart that’s inhabited by the Lord can contain a lot, and God, its inhabitant, inspires it to give a lot.

Our situation today in Lebanon is a reminder to the rich and wealthy that there are a lot of poor people and that they need the tenderness of God and this tenderness comes to them from that that has money and love. God will ask you about that person that was close to hunger. If you were able to save his children from death, God will write this for you in the book of life.

Translated by Mark Najjar

Original Text: “ما الحياة الأبدية؟” – 28.11.2010-Raiati no48

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2010, An-Nahar, Articles

Death / 27-11-2010

[Death] seems to be the main issue in life. We are holding on to life since we were not created to die. However the human being was given to choose death, and he/[she] has chosen it. And it came upon him/[her] as a punishment when he/[she] has consented to be overcome by sin. Sin was crawled into his/[her] existence, as if he/[she] has not believed that the question of sin in him/[her] is very serious. He/[she] did not want to think that it might destroy him/[her]. Is, then, the human race blemished? Each one of us is born blemished. This is the reality of our soul and body. This is why Christianity says that there should be a Savior. Can the broken one restore him/[her]self? Does the paralyzed recover and walk by him/[her]self?

We say that there is no human being who lives and does not sin. Freud had discovered that each one of us is afflicted with neurosis, i.e. there is a flexure in every being. However Freud does not say that a person is sinful. The whole matter did not concern him. The huge feeling of guilt is according to Freud a complex. Why does the human being die? Scientists have no problem with this question. The body, for them, is a chemical laboratory, in which salt and potassium might become unbalanced, or, it might not have enough oxygen. Thus, chaos might prevail in its members. Why does all this happen? Those experts of the human body have no answer. We console one another by poems, whenever we remain on the level of life-science. No one knows how we inherit death.

That which we call [in Arabic] death-struggle denotes that we naturally refuse death, since we feel that our departing life is against what we have longed for, during our earthly life. Yes, we have inherited the Jewish thought that God “gives life and He causes death”, since we think that God is the cause of existence and of its vanishing. However, we know that God is pure existence and there is no trace of nullity in God. And also we know from the book of Genesis that God allowed Adam to die, if he would choose that. Hence, God is not the origin of death. Later, Paul had explained it saying, “for the wages of sin is death” [Rom. 6: 23]. Thus, death has crawled to us with the crawling of sin. How was that? We do not know how, unless through the figure of the serpent, which is an outside factor. We do not have any explanation of the origin of sin in the human being or from the human being. Death is a mystery similar to life. Its case, or its way to us is the sin, namely that for which we were not prepared, but it was given freedom.

How freedom has inclined to that which disparages it? How freedom has lost much of its beauty? How has it stumbled? Through its inclination, evil has become a very bastard, troublesome event, unbearable burden, which is the visible or the familiar norm, though it was not there in the origin of creation. Whoever looks at us does not perceive the feature of first creation. The original beauty was lost, and our ways have become ways to the fall and then to total ruin. Thus, our ways adhered to sin and death, until the dawn of new life shines through the Savior.

In all this, what about the death of Christ? Christ has volunteered to die. This has to be emphasized a lot in order that we might understand our death within the journey, which Jesus has inaugurated. If he has died for us, then sin has been eradicated by His death, as if it was not. This is the first meaning of salvation. The essence of this meaning is that love has led Jesus to death. The deeper meaning is that He wanted to accompany us in everything, even in this visible annihilation, which is called death. By this, He has freed us from the fear of death, according to the apostle’s words:  “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same nature, that through death he might destroy him who has the power of death, …  and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong bondage.” (Heb. 2: 14-15)

This is the step, so that we might view ourselves as free from the burden of this terrible atrocity, which is death. The Nazarene has granted us that we do not fear. This is possible for those who have achieved a high stage in faith, as if they have risen from the dead. The death-struggle remains as the climax of pain, whenever we were conscious of it. The death-struggle is the last scene which reflects the paradox of life and death. And it is possible, as you are in the middle of the struggle, that you pass through the physical life to eternal life, and that you rise and become untroubled and taste the beginnings of eternity. Though, the old person might remain in you, which Adam has become after he ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Each of us is old, yet one does not become aware of one’s oldness unless one comes upon Christ at a great encounter. Very few are those who do not fear the end of the earthly existence.

Redemption has not abolished death, in the sense that general resurrection is still hoped for. And after the Lord has forgiven all our sins, we still carry their marks, namely much of inner deep blemish. However, we are still given resurrections through repentances and the anticipation of the light, which dwells in us after death. We articulate this in the creed of faith, saying: “We look for the Resurrection of the dead, and the life of the age to come.” [Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed]. Why did the creed not continue saying: “We believe in Resurrection of the dead”? Maybe because in what has preceded, the creed has described only faith in God, and there is no faith without God, while the event, and I mean the resurrection of the dead, falls within the words of hope.

Thus, we say that we do not die like the pagans or the atheists, who have no hope. Because of Jesus, death has become not a joy, but an open door to the light, which will not dwell in all its power unless with the second coming of Christ. And when the apostle says, “the last enemy to be destroyed is death” [1 Corinthians 15: 26], death remains an enemy even after our embracing Christ, however, it is a defeated enemy by our hope. “O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting?” (1Cor, 15: 55)

All these words mean that, through Christ, we are not reconciled with death. [Christ] “Who trampled down death by death”, has reconciled us with resurrection. We die, not as constrained, and the eyes of our heart are open to the Kingdom, which has approached us through Christ, “The Kingdom of heaven is at hand” [Matt.4: 17]. We taste whatever we were promised by. Yes, after the words of sanctification, John Chrysostom, in his Liturgy, says about the offerings that they are “the completion of the Kingdom of heaven”. For me this is an ecstatic utterance, in order to maintain that the flesh and the blood of the Lord here resemble the coming Kingdom with its power, since after that we die. And through the Savior we turn away from trial and condemnation.

It might be that the greatest grace we receive throughout the death-struggle, or before it, is our feeling of being embraced by Jesus, and this embracement is forgiveness and promise. This is the tranquility at which we arrive, as we feel that death is approaching us. It knocks the door and we expect it, and we know that it has been trampled by the resurrection of the Savior. We know that He is the triumphant in us, and that we are detached from the bosom of this world so that we might be thrown into the bosom of the Savior as beloved, and we know that He raises us to His chest in order that we might understand everything.

And understanding is glory. That is why we speak of glorified bodies, namely the bodies which receive the pouring of divine light upon them. We also know that the light of the Savior will descend upon the whole universe, and the dust will fall from it, in order that it might become full light. And as God has said in the beginning, let there be light and there was light, and that was the first day, on the Last Day God will say let light prevail the whole creation. Thus, our Lord will declare to the creatures: This is the eighth day which ends the old times, in order that new heaven and new earth might become, and might be wholly formed by light. “And death shall be no more”. (Rev. 21: 4)

Translated by Sylvie Avakian-Maamarbashi

Original Text: “الموت” –An Nahar- 27-11-2010

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2010, An-Nahar, Articles

Muslims and Christians in the World / 20.11.2010

It is extremely difficult to talk about the relationship between these two communities in the world because of the confusion of the religious and political levels within them. Starting from this, religion and the world are always joined in the Islamic mind, according to what most religious scholars say. From this reality, Christianity in the eyes of Islam is the Christianity of the West that since the Crusader campaigns is always politicized. For a period of two hundred years there was combat between a West that was conscious of its own Christianity and the East. Then came colonialism, which in part targeted the Dar al-Islam. Since then the West is always in need of an enemy, it replaced enmity for Communism with enmity for the world of Islam and from that time the West was filled with scholarly studies about Islam, some of which are good and some of which are bad.

The scene is that Europe has been more civilizationally advanced than the Dar al-Islam since the fourth century of the Hijra, while before this the Muslims were the ones with philosophy and science. The Arab East, the bearer of Islamic thought, began to retreat and went back to repeating itself and became civilizationally and materially impoverished. This is what partially explains its tumultuous uprising in terrorist groups supplied with weapons bought from America, which has become the heart of the West, or with weapons sent by America. In other words, the West is slaughtering itself with weapons it produces and whose sale and distribution is ostensibly not supervised. That it, the West itself feeds Islamophobia and ignores whether it will meet its consequences. In this picture, who is responsible for the massacre of Christians in an Iraqi church?

This means that the encounter between Christians (who are always Westerners in the mind of Muslims) and Muslims is impossible because what is involved in reality is not Islam and Christianity but Muslim peoples and Western Christian peoples. This is what leads us to the first question, which is the ability of the Islamic mind to break itself from blending religion and the world or the state and the Islamic world, since it is what the Qur’an calls ‘the first things’ in relation to the last things. That is, the question of how to translate in political terms, the inspired statement, “The last things are better for you than the first” (Surat al-Duha 4). Do the first things have complete independence from the last things since the Dar al-Islam is necessarily armed against the West which is arrogant and eager to stomp on the poor? The second questions is are there powers in the Eastern Christian or Western Christian world that are able to put forward a church that is above political desires? I do not have a realistic answer to these two questions. However, my theological and historical conviction is that a Russia that is once again inspired by her Orthodoxy and the Orthodox Balkans after their break from the Ottomans do not harbor enmity to Islam. In the Russian Federation there are no less than twenty million Muslims who live in peace. Ataturk, after ridding himself of the Greek Christians in Anatolia, no longer had the problem of Christians among his people.

Perhaps there is a third question. How can the West, which has effectively adopted the Islamic view of the blending of religion and state, return to the purity of its Christianity which does not know this blending? Can countries be run by saints?

One of the aspects of this delusion is that Muslims, including Muhammad Abduh, Rashid Rida, and perhaps al-Mawdudi, believed that they had only one need, which was to adopt science and technology without changing their understanding of Islam, because within it is the divine view of man and of creation. There is no need for a new view of shari’a or of a new interpretation of the Qur’an or a historical reading of it. Islam is eternally the same and what the first generation of Muslims left us is the truth, since they united laws and jurisprudence and interpretation on the one hand, and the words of God on the other. This is an absolute view of man and of Islamic history, but it is all determined by the word of God. Here we have a problem that is left for Muslim thinkers to solve. Is Protestantism possible in Islam?

In contrast, the countries called “Christian” have become secularized. This means that in European and American life there is no return to God in social life. Of course, it is not true that the West is cut off from faith. Those who say that do not follow Christian thought in the world, however this is separate from political thought.

This brings us back to the meeting of Islamic thought stripped away of all politics with Christian religious thought that looks down on politics and does not mix with them. That is, it brings us back to the purity of spiritual life in both Islam and Christianity and to a dialogue between religious scholars and pious people from the two religions. I mean by this to their true religiosity. This assumes a pure reading of love by Christians of Islam and by Muslims of Christianity. This assumes freedom from worldly benefits and feeling of the domination of one thought over another, free of violence. To expound your faith in peace is to love little or much in the two religions. Those who know their religion do not fear a movement such as this. However, it cannot take place in a country based on political sectarianism. I do not deny Lebanon’s desire to study civilizations in tranquility but that requires significant knowledge of the other and peace is a requirement for dialogue.

If this dialogue is a mask for missionary activity or da’wa, it is not a dialogue. It is a war without weapons. I do not deny the legitimacy of missionary activity and da’wa, but the reality of things leads me to believe that a billion and a half Muslims and two billion Christians will continue to increase in number until the final hour. It is grandiose to think that you can Islamize or Christianize the world.

Any real and sincere encounter between us on the level of the world assumes that we are all free from being fused into any international blocs. This alone ensures us peace in its political sense and so after today there is no conflict because of our liberation from the nightmare of history that divided us and through our detachment from current political factors whose actors desire our division.

It might escape us here that our scholars lived for a time in Baghdad and disputed theology at the Abbasid court with the caliph’s invitation in a spirit of peace and scholarship and refinement. Thoughts were exchanged.

Everyone who studies religions knows that between them there are similarities and distinctions that cannot be surmounted in most cases. However, distinctions can be eliminated or surpassed in some cases and this requires comparative studies that lead to a sound view of the religions.

However, the closeness that I am putting forward is that Christians and Muslims in many countries have lived not only in harmony but also in cooperation. The best example of this is the first period of Umayyad rule when Christians were important functionaries in the Islamic state on account of their knowledge of financial matters, administration, and the navy. They were familiar with Islam and practiced their own religion and wrote Christian theology in Arabic—that is, not in a way that was limited to their own flock. The image of al-Andalus of eight hundred years of convivencia under Arab rule is that mutual social understanding and frequent encounters between scholars was the typical situation.

In sum, the social contract is in principle possible between people of the two religions as long as we are certain that unity of religion is not a necessary condition for social unity under the protection of a secular civil government in each country. To put things more clearly, fusion into a single society and the building up of a single state are possible through good governance for living together. Important basic things in all these fields do not need unity of religious belief. Mutual respect in honesty is sufficient.

However, all of this requires serious, continuous effort that takes us to the point of asceticism. In Christian language this is called love, and in the language of Islam it is called mercy or compassion or friendship.

From where do these virtues come to people? We see that they come down upon them when they know divine love or something approaching it. No crusade, no conquest, no colonization, no victory is from God. Without all these things, God has the right to rule His eternal vineyard so that we will be, Muslims and Christians, as one people.

Translated from Arabic

Original Text: “مسلمون ومسيحيون في العالم” – 20.11.2010

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2010, Articles, Raiati

The Good Samaritan / 14.11.2010

It is one of the most beautiful parables or stories that reflect the free mercy. The story starts with a question from a master of the Law (this what the word lawyer means), and his question came from a bad intention, “what should I do to inherit the eternal life?” The Lord answered with another question: “What is written in the Law (i.e. the Law of Moses)? Give me an answer from the scripture. So the man answers: “Have love for the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and for your neighbor as for yourself”. Actually, this commandment is a combination of two, one from Deuteronomy (4: 6), and the other from the book of Leviticus (18: 19).

In front of Jesus’ words the Law master asked the Lord: And who is my neighbor? So he tells him that a certain man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he got into the hands of thieves, who stripped him and beat him. In the fourth century, Blessed Jerome confirms that this rugged road was full of Bedouins that rob the passengers. A certain priest from the servants of the temple was going down from there after he had finished his service in the temple, he was going down to Jericho where his home was. Then a Levite passed, and he is from those who used to serve the temple. Both passed and did not care about this wounded person thrown on the road, and they are the people who were supposed to have learnt something from the Law.

Finally, a Samaritan passed and he is from a weird gender and religion or from a deviant Judaism. Samaritans used to accept the Pentateuch and reject the books of the prophets. This Samaritan was a laic, probably a merchant passing from this road. He stopped in front of the scene of the wounded, “when he saw him, he had compassion on him”, and took care of him and of his wounds. He took him to an inn after bandaging his wounds quickly by pouring on them oil and wine, and his hope was that the owner of the inn would continue taking care of him and the Gospel gave details about this.

The master of the Law waited an answer from Jesus, but the Lord had answered his question (who is my neighbor), so the man said “the one who had mercy on him”. The Lord did not say to him who was the neighbor of the person; he didn’t clarify to him who is the neighbor directly. Jesus’ question was:” Which of these three, do you think, was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?” We do not say who is the neighbor, instead we push the person to become a neighbor through mercy and love towards any person from his gender or religion or not.

This parable complements the words of Jesus: “Love one another”, although it originally meant love the people of faith, Paul explained it by saying: “Do good to all people, especially to those who are the household of faith”. Love is not limited in one person or category, and has nothing to do with the affiliation of the benefactor to a certain dogma or with the relation between the helped person and a certain dogma or party. The Samaritan who has deviant beliefs helped others.

Do not look into any character found in the person in need in order to give him with love or serve him. Give what you have or give yourself with a love that sees God’s face in the person you helped and loved.

Translated by Mark Najjar

Original Text: “السامري الشفوق” – 14.11.2010-Raiati no46

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2010, An-Nahar, Articles

The Christians in the East / 13.11.2010

“You are the best community that has been created for mankind, enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong”.

Are those who killed people praying in Iraq still part of the Muslim community? Who will tell them that they have left this community since they have committed evil? From al-Azhar to Najaf, passing through all the Muslims of the world, who will read to them from their Book: “if anyone kills a person- unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land – it would be as if he killed all mankind (Surat al-Ma’ida 32)”?

I cannot believe that a billion or more Muslims are unable to stop these murderers. A Friday sermon against these butchers of innocent people at prayer is not enough. In the best case, denouncement means that your mind or your conscience does not accept the massacre of people worshiping their Lord during the time of worship. Condemnation is a necessary first step at best, but spilled blood is still blood.

Muslims are a tenacious community who do not accept injustice and do not allow themselves to be humiliated. They have a strong sense of unity and a sense of their power and they reject any injustice that is committed against them. However, this community commits injustice against itself and allows its image to be distorted when it allows those criminals to have control over its reputation. I do not understand why Muslims from Mecca to Indonesia do not move to cut these murderers off from the community, whatever legal term is used for expelling them. The place where the leaders of this terrorist movement live is not unknown. The leaders walk about with complete freedom in some mountainous regions of Asia that are not far from the eyes of the authorities. They do not escape the view of satellites. Who is watching these satellites? Neighboring countries and far-off countries have certain knowledge of their presence, but remain silent and uninvolved. The question is who who had something to gain from the massacre of those people who were praying in the Church of Our Lady of Deliverance? Who benefits from the killing of these martyrs? What are the countries that are overseeing the territory of that church in Baghdad? The martyrs have gone on to heavenly glory, and they join us to the face of the Father and they strengthen the Church because we are joined to their glorious bodies. Their voices went silent in the moments when they were slaughtered and their Savior took them to His breast because they have become beloved.

Their blood sanctified Iraq and lifted its righteous people up to the bosom of God. Iraq is made great through their blood and good, sincere Muslims are made great because the people are united together in their testimony that has placed a certain degree of righteousness in this Arab people who are threatened by the swords of lawless men until the day when God arises and judges the earth and we make our pilgrimage together to the Holy City.

If the sanctuaries of the east sowed righteousness in its land, why must righteous people die? Why must children be trampled? But God, may He be blessed and exalted, sends down His grace upon innocent blood and it speaks the truth.

After my pain, I have pity for those murderers who are commanded by their Book to not clothe truth in falsehood (Surat al-Baqara 42). However, I would like to say to them that they will never be able to put an end to the Christians because they have a secret in their history, and it is that martyrdom, from the time of the Romans increased their numbers, because it is a witness to their love of those who hate them. They are always forgiving and do not hate because hatred is a denial of a person’s humanity and one makes a mistake to think that it ever bears fruit. “He who lives by the sword dies by the sword” (Matthew 26: 52). One who destroys others will be destroyed by God and for one who does not use the sword, God is his only kingdom, and God alone.

We try very hard to convince ourselves that we are not in the minority when we have faith that in this modern era people believe that religion is in the heart and that it is not a tool for domination or division and that people are able, in the company of their Lord, to live together and to truly cooperate, to stand out in all fields of human knowledge and to use them for everyone’s benefit. We see that here in this country and we rejoice in it. The model we have here of national cooperation can be exported to the entire Arab world in which we live together to this day. However, we have an eye on Iraq and an eye on Egypt, where some of our beloved Copts are martyred every year. If you knew them as I myself know them, you would see that there is no one who surpasses them in their love for Egypt and in their intellectual service to that great country. That said, we are certain that Syria, Lebanon, and what remains of Palestine are safe from sectarian hatred and there is no place for fear on the level of citizenship. It is our hope that the sickness of Iraq does not reach here, lest Arabness loses the Christian splendor that it has. But if people fear for the future of their children, then they are liable to emigrate. That is a great illness.

In July or August of 1975, Metropolitan Eliya Saliba, the Orthodox bishop of Beirut, gathered at his residence a group of Lebanese personalities, Muslim and Christian and I was there. Pierre al-Jamil stood up and said, “We Christians are afraid.” Taqi al-Din al-Solh, may God have mercy on them both, responded, “Is it not shameful for a person to be afraid?” Pierre al-Jamil replied, “Is it not shameful for a person to cause fear?” My point now is not to support one or the other, but I will say that fear is shameful for one who uses it and one who receives it because we are all exempt in our citizenship from human fear. In my reckoning, we in Lebanon believe in each other. However I would like to emphasize here that no group governs another group and that the nation is enough to govern us all. Dhimmitude no longer exists because the Ottoman state it in the 19th century abolished it from the law. I hope that it no longer exists in anyone’s mind, because if it did, it would be a danger both to those who remain in the country and those who have emigrated.

I would like to believe that there is not a plan for the Islamization of this land, since it ultimately means that Christians would leave their homes quietly and politely.

I believe that Lebanese Muslims are honest and sincere when they affirm their commitment to Christians’ remaining. Love has grown between us for a very long time, as well as friendships and family relationships.

However, these relationships must be protected politically and economically as we strengthen all aspects of the country.

However, we are brothers with the Christians of Iraq and Egypt and Israel. There there is special fear since the declaration of the Jewish state and I do not in any way exculpate them in any way from being categorized alongside extremist Islamic movements.

As an epilogue, we cling to the bosom of Christ who promised us that He will be with us until the end of the ages. It is He and not us who is the entire age. We are certain that we will remain until His coming, whether we are alive in the body or outside the body. This is a matter of piety for Christians and Muslims until God inherits the earth and all that is in it.

Translated from Arabic

Original Text: “المسيحيون في الشرق” – 13.11.2010

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2010, Articles, Raiati

Christ Our Peace / 7.11.2010

Paul’s concern in this chapter from his epistle to the Ephesians is to show the unity that happened with Christ’s death and resurrection between the Jews and the Gentiles. This is why Paul went to say this; he didn’t say that the Lord made peace, but that he is the peace. The Jews used to despise the Gentiles, so Paul came and said that the Lord “has made both one (i.e. the two nations), and has broken down the middle wall of separation (the law separating them), by abolishing in his flesh the enmity which is the law of commandments”. He means here the canonical commandments (Do not touch the dead, do not eat pork) and not the moral commandments especially the ones represented in the Ten Commandments.

Paul did not say in his epistle that the Jews and Gentiles became one nation. It has been said in another place that they became “one new man” which means that they became the body of Christ. And he immediately follows by clarifying that this happened through crucifixion; crucifixion that produces the annunciation of peace.

This unity produces the fact that the Jews and Gentiles could together reach the Father in one spirit which is the Holy Spirit. If you were in one road to God “so then you are no longer strangers and foreigners”, you are all brothers in the church and “fellow citizens with the saints”. He may have meant by this expression the Christians of Jerusalem, and maybe he meant all the faithful. This expression is a synonym to what he called “the household of God”.

“Being built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets”. He means here surely the twelve apostles, “And upon this rock I will build my church”. As for “the prophets” he meant the word of the prophets in the Old Testament. And this is what confirms for us the meanings that God intended in the Old Testament which is still read in the church on the evenings of the big feasts, in the prayers of the Lent and in the presanctified liturgy.

Whatever the old or new stones of this house (the church) were, Christ stays “the chief corner stone”. This is what’s called in Lebanon “the closing stone” in a vaulting building; the stone that all the walls of the room use to consolidate. This is why the apostle says “grows into a holy temple the Lord”. Here he does not want the church as a physical building but as the group of the faithful, as a spiritual building.  In this building, you the people of Ephesus, “also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the (Holy) Spirit”.

Through Baptism, Chrism and Eucharist you become spiritual stones in the new building whose organs are well organized by the Holy Spirit. You will also grow everyday in the divine spirit that you took in Baptism. Each one of you shall get the grace of adoption by God, and your group as the sons of God is a result of Jesus’ embracing.

Translated by Mark Najjar

Original Text: “المسيح سلامنا” – 7.11.2010-Raiati no45

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