Monthly Archives

June 2011

2011, Articles, Raiati

The Calling of Disciples / 26.06.2011

Jesus chose his disciples and they accepted his call. Jesus used the way that rabbis used to have (the Hebrew word used for rabbi is Hakham). These rabbis used to gather disciples around them and teach them the holy word. These were gatherings without any ranges as this was not known in the Old Testament. The Gospel of John narrated the story of Jesus gathering his disciples in a clearer way. “Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples; And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he said, Behold the Lamb of God! And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus” (John 1: 35–37).

According to Matthew, this calling happened when Jesus was in Galilee which is his home and the main place for his movement. The Gospel mentions from the disciples first Andrew and Simon which is a Hebrew name (Shimon) and Jesus called him later (Matt 16: 18) Peter (Petros) and he took this name from the word “Petra” that means “the rock”. These two brothers (Their father’s name was Yona) were casting their fishing net in the lake of Tabariya which is called here a sea (It was also named as the Sea of Galilee). This lake is formed from the Jordan River after the latter emerges from Lebanon. Both of those were fishers as all the disciples were except for Matthew. The Lord said to Simon and Andrew: “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men”. The disciples caught (fished) people through the Word. There is no other mean to gain people for Christ. Preaching in the whole world is the miraculous fishing. “Follow me”. There is no real effective preacher unless he loved Jesus from all his heart.

“And they straightaway left their nets, and followed him”. Every real joining to the Lord starts when we leave the things that used to hold us back from uniting with him. These things are our harmful desires.

After that, the Savior meets others, James the son of Zebedee and his brother John the writer of the fourth Gospel. They were with their father on the shore of the lake mending their nets, and this indicates that they were affluent since they had nets and not one net. They also followed him and left what was more important than the nets, i.e. their father. This has a very high emotional cost.

The names of the rest of the disciples come later in Matthew and the other Gospels. After the beginning of this call, The Lord cruises in Galilee which is the region in North Palestine next to our Lebanese borders. He taught in the Jewish synagogues. The synagogue is what we call today “Knesset”, and the Knesset is a large hall where the Jews gather on Saturdays to read the Old Testament and preach.

The Lord used to preach about the Kingdom in and outside the synagogues on the basis of this phrase “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is near”. With this preaching he also was “healing every sickness and every disease among the people”. Matthew will also mention in details many of these miracles. Jesus didn’t only talk, but also loved. He directed his disciples towards taking care of the sick. He used to give those a large part of his compassion. Christianity took from Christ his attention towards the sick through the sacrament of “the anointment of the sick” and through building hospitals. The Divine Word and a word of comfort to the sick go alongside with his medication through the means of science.

Translated by Mark Najjar

Original Text: “دعوة التلاميذ” –Raiati no26- 26.06.2011

Continue reading
2011, Articles, Raiati

Sunday of All Saints / 19.06.2011

Making the Sunday that follows the Pentecost as the Sunday of all saints comes from the spiritual piety since the Holy Spirit is the creator of holiness in the church and the faithful. The phrase “All saints” refers to those who their saintliness is declared, and have a feast on a specified day of the year. It also refers to those who their holiness wasn’t declared with an official beatification through a decision from the Holy Synod.

The epistle to the Hebrews tells us about the saints of the Old Testament: Moses and the prophets that left for us prophecies such as Isaiah, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, and Daniel, in addition to those who didn’t write such as Prophet Elias.

The writer of this epistle describes the fights that those had and the pain they have endured. However, he says that those weren’t “made perfect” without us the Christians since they had to wait for the perfection that Christ reached on the cross. Those in the Old Testament were sanctified and waited Christ, and then those who came from his Gospel in the New Testament were sanctified.

In the Biblical passage, the apostle comes with a partial definition concerning saintliness as he says “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven”. Christianity is based on your declaration of following the Lord that comes from your mouth for we do not have any secrecy as we don’t hide our faith in Christ or say something contrary or incompatible. This confession might lead us into suffering and death. This is why we call those who taste the pain of the enemies “confessors”, and if they were killed we call them martyrs.

The second element in confession is carrying Jesus’ cross, i.e. to carry all the hardships of life and follow him. These might be daily hardships in your home, job or any social and political activity.

The third element in saintliness is to leave our homes, brothers or sisters for the name of Jesus Christ. This means not to be attached to any earthly thing. It doesn’t mean to leave your house and live on the street; however, do not make your heart concentrated on houses, cars, power and control. You are poor in Christ and he dwells in you. The loyalty of the heart is for him and not for any leader or party or any other materialistic thing. It is required for your heart to go completely towards Christ and for him to become your pleasure. You should use all other things according to your need. Serve your family members sincerely. This service is your love and you should put Christ into this love. However, people around you could become an obstacle in front of your encounter with Jesus, and your livelihood could also become an obstacle in front of you embracing Jesus. These people have the interests of Christ’s enemies in common. Leave them; pray for them but have no contact with them. The important thing is for Christ to fill your mind and nourish you with his teachings. Know where to stand; know who you are embraced to; know the center of your heart. Is it Christ? You shall know that if you followed his commandments as he said: “If you love me, keep my commandments”. Christ is everything. If you let people become embraced to him, you shall then have all good things for you. If you didn’t seek this you would be wasting yourself. The important thing is for the Lord to be the source of your life.

Translated by Mark Najjar

Original Text: “أحد جميع القديسين” –Raiati no25- 19.06.2011

Continue reading
2011, Articles, Raiati

Pentecost / 12.06.2011

When the disciples believed that Christ became through his crucifixion their rock, the Church started. Nevertheless, this faith still needed to be supported and strengthened in order for the Church to become alive, active and spreadable. So, the Holy Spirit descended on the Church to change them into new creations that could fulfill everything found in the Lord’s Gospel and live through his words. This is why it is wrong to say that the church was created in the Pentecost, because everything was fulfilled on the cross, and this is what Jesus said. However, the Church flourished in the Pentecost. It constantly lives from the descension of the Holy Spirit on it through the Word, the sacraments and especially through the Divine Eucharist. The Church continues through the power of the Spirit that goes beyond our mistakes and sins, erases them and leaves in us every power of the Holy Trinity.

The Holy Spirit sanctifies every person through grace and dwells in all of the Church as well as in every individual, and embraces the individual in a deeper way into the Lord’s body which is the Church. Therefore, the Spirit works in the individual and the group in a way to lead us into the truth that Jesus showed in his life on earth and his miracles, teachings, passions and victory. The Spirit doesn’t add anything to the Gospel but makes us understand it if we read it day after day, taste it and put it in our hearts deeper and deeper.

The Holy Spirit, therefore, creates holiness in us, purifies us constantly and puts in us a growing understanding of what the Lord has taught. All of this, of course, is taken from the Father since the Spirit proceeds from him and also taken from the Son as the Spirit settles in him.

He is the Person (Hypostasis) that carries the truth and distributes it, and if we were connected to him through repentance, Christ would then be reflected in us, ascend us to his Father and unite us with the saints in the heavens so that we all form the one Church of Christ.

He who is filled from the Holy Spirit shall be united with Christ and moving towards the face of the Father and consequently, would be beloved from the Holy Trinity. He who lives in the bosom of the Trinity shall not be in need of anything because the Trinity is the perfection of glory. This person would have his heaven with or in him. This is the truth of the Church because it is found in order for the faithful to be sanctified through the Heavenly Spirit.

The Lord wants us to be sanctified all the days of our lives through the Spirit so that we give our brothers the power to become renewed members in the church, overcoming sin, unafraid of death, loving, and away from hatred so that we won’t appear dead after Jesus has made us alive.

It is important to pray for the Church to be obedient for the Holy Spirit, to be a keeper of the Father’s will, and independent from this world and waiting the grace in every moment so that no one would see anything but light in every Christian; this way, Christ’s victory would witness in every faithful and God’s life would be reflected in every disciple of Jesus.

Translated by Mark Najjar

Original Text: “العنصرة” –Raiati no24- 12.06.2011

Continue reading
2011, An-Nahar, Articles

The ‘I’ / 11.06.2011

I had to add the definite article to the ‘I’ and this has allowed me to destroy the concentration on the self, and the contentment with it. The complete adherence to the self is death itself, since death is the complete separation from others.

Pascal, the great, has realized the danger of the self-love and said, haïssable le moi est, i.e., the ‘I’ is detestable. This is the culmination of the love of power, yet this is even larger, since your attachment to power, to a reasonable extent, leaves a certain space, though little, to others. The sin, that we are reflecting on today, is exclusion in its full sense. Minimally, it is the annulment of relationships, and this is conceivable by the perfect mind and the pathetic heart following it. It is the denial of the Other from all your existence and putting him/[her] to death without a physical execution.

Why is my harsh attack on the ‘I’? Because our philosophical and theological definition of the human being is that he/ [she] is created with [the possibility of] communication, and that not all of his/ [her] center is in him/[her]self. The human being is not one pole. Existence is not the overcrowding of disconnected individuals, each with a closed personality. Those are [rather], what we call in theistic, existential philosophy, persons. We define the person according to his/[her] personality that he/[she] is open, i.e., he/[she] is a recipient of the Other in order that he/[she] might be liberated from isolation and exist forming his/[her] personality with the Other. I am poured in you through love, and you are poured in me, and there is no dissolving in this. There is a unity without accumulation or conjunction. You preserve your inner being and I preserve mine.

Each of the two beings is a language, so that I do not duplicate you and you do not duplicate me. The personality, with its liveliness, uniqueness and splendor, could dissolve to the extent of duplicating [the Other]. However, these all should be consolidated in order that the Other is consolidated and is able to carry him/[her]self and carry me at the same time in a mystery of a union based on duality strengthened by unity.

I am poured out in you to the end and you are poured out in me to the end. Because of this completion in the flow, each of us is consolidated in his/ [her] dignified and delightful ‘I’, which does not imply arrogance, conceit or elimination of the Other. Yes, humility requires elimination, yet, it is the elimination of the self, while the Other exists in one’s self. Thus, it is possible to arrive at the completion of each person [only] through giving. How could you be eliminated and yet exist? This is the mystery of the meeting in love, which alone confirms the personality.

Whenever this meeting of dialogue does not occur sentimentally, in everyday’s work, each of us remains the prisoner of him/[her]self as the people of the Hell in the theology of our Fathers, who said that each of those in Fire is being  bound back to back with another person, i.e., he/[she] is unable to meet the Other’s face.

This interprets in human terms the Christian Trinity on the basis of what Christ has said, “I am in the Father and the Father in me” [John 14:10]. The Father remains the Father through the Fatherhood, which gave the Son His sonship. And the Son remains in His belovedness because of what He receives from the Father, and the unity between them is love. The unity of God does not imply that God is one, in whom duality and trinity do not coincide. God is not one in number. “Whoever counts Him, limits Him.” (̓Imām ʻAlī) God is unique. “God is Love” (1 John 4:8). Love is not an attribute of God. It is God’s name, i.e., God’s very being. Whoever says that God is three persons, he/[she] does not count, i.e., there is no calculation in it. God is far above being countable, while the human being might be considered as one in number, yet, not a closed one. He/[she] is one through the love by which he/[she] loves others and the love by which others love him/[her]. Whoever does not know this would be loving his/[her] ‘I’, i.e., he/[she] would be closing all the doors of his/[her] heart, petrified in perceiving his/[her] own self, that is he/[she] would desire an idol of him/[her] for him/[her]self and for others [to worship]. His/[her] love of the self is a self-worship and a request of others’ servitude to him/[her]. Thus, he/[she] calls upon others to make idols of themselves, and therefore they all would be in slavery.

To gather people merely in a family, or a city, or a country, or a school, or a university, or a factory, does not form intimate people, and they do not form a united society, unless under suppression and compulsion. This would be a political society founded on power and endorsement that is imposed from above. However, human reality does not lie in gatherings of people but in the meeting of the hearts. Of course, there are regulations and rules necessary for arranging the societies and ordering the different works; however, these are social bindings, where faults are fewer.

A political society relieves you of harm through a minimum control of the state and its institutions. Such society is oriented toward intellectual and economic output, and with the prominent educated people the minds meet, and thus, the society approaches the paradigm of the conscientious meeting between the ‘I’ and the other ‘I’, each being open to the Other, since each ‘I’ searches for the truth in principle. Whenever you were creative, you aspire to beauty and goodness and you do not envy other creative people. Nevertheless, sin infiltrates sometimes into the intellectual and the artistic elite, and it weakens their conscientiousness.

It is not possible for the closed ‘I’ to be broken other than through renouncement. The love of money here is the biggest calamity, since whenever you love money you get hardened or stiffened and your emotions weaken, and [in this way] you would be closing your ‘I’. Only giving opens it and brings it to the circle of the “we”. Whoever volunteers to some kind of poverty raises the Other to the position of a beloved existence. Some of your things need to abolish in order that you might receive the Other with generosity. The importance of generosity is that through it you experience some privation, and this means that you would feel that the Other accomplishes you.

The money that you possess, and you cling to it, is an obstacle that hinders you from seeing the poor, whom Jesus called His little brothers. Thus, throw away whatever conceals your sight and you know that the means to set forth your authority is money. The authoritative person thinks that he/[she] alone exists and that many draw their existence from him/[her]. This is the possessor, par excellence, of the closed ‘I’. Here comes the image of the tyrannical ruler, whose concern is his/[her] persistence in position, no matter whether the people live or die.

Tyranny is that the ruler deludes him/[her]self that in this way he/[she] is effective. In reality he/[she] is worshipping him/[her]self. In this case, it is possible that the country succeeds in certain domains; however, it fails in the intellectual domain. And whenever fear from authority prevails, then people would fear one another, since they would doubt about the affiliation of others with the tyrannical system.

Theoretically, the state can help the person in order to become a fountain of spiritual life. The state could become humane so that the person might feel that the state is not an instrument for subjugation and that it is a support for the poor. Politics should conquer tyranny and injustice and be supportive of justice.

The enterprise is to transform the civil society to a society of hearts, feeling each other and accepting each other in sincerity and trust.

Translated by Sylvie Avakian-Maamarbashi

Original Text: “الأنا” –An Nahar- 11.06.2011

Continue reading
2011, Articles, Raiati

The First Council / 05.06.2011

The first ecumenical council which is also known as the Nicene council in reference to Nicaea, a city next to Constantinople, is the council that put the largest part of the Orthodox Creed. This Creed starts by mentioning the Father: “I believe in one God, the Father”. Then comes the part that’s related to the Son and the most explicit phrase is what it says about the Son being “of one essence with the Father”, and this means that He has the same essence that the Father has.

The council was held after an invitation from the Emperor St. Constantine in order to refute the heresy of Arius who was an Alexandrian priest and taught that the Son is the first between all creatures and through him God created all other creatures. The Church understood from this position that Arius destroyed the Holy Trinity as he refused that the Father and the Son are one and that the Son is co-eternal with the Father in a way that both of them are before time.

This heresy was terribly spread and is today renewed with the heresy of Jehovah’s witnesses. They are actually Arians as they deny the Divinity of the Son.

In order to confirm the common faith between us and other Christians, the Church read over us first the text from the book of Acts containing a speech for Paul to the elders of Ephesus saying: “Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood”. This means that the apostle has called the person that gave his blood as God. Christ is not only human; he is both God and man together.

Then, the Church read the second biblical passage that says that our knowledge of the true God and Jesus Christ together gives us the eternal life as you cannot have an eternal life without knowing Christ. The second thing is what the Lord said: “And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began”. It is clear from this phrase that Christ existed before the creation of the universe and that he had the same glory of the Father.

The Christian faith is all based on the fact the Jesus existed (without a body) before the world did, until the time has come when the Holy Spirit made for Him a body from virgin Mary and therefore he became with two natures: A divine nature (which he always had) and a human one, which he got through the power of the Holy Spirit from Mary’s womb. This God-man is the one who was crucified on the cross and his Divinity was not touched by death but stayed complete on the cross. Jesus, therefore, did not abandon his humanity nor erased his Divinity. They both stayed united in death and in the grave and then his body rose from death that didn’t touch his Divinity. We worship a God in the body and worship him free from the dead and un-subjected to the laws of death and rottenness.

We also worship the Father and the Holy Spirit; however, we don’t worship the saints but venerate them. We live united with Jesus and take from him every grace and holiness.

Christ became a man through the will of the Trinity and stayed on this earth united with the first hypostasis, the Father, and the second hypostasis (the Holy Spirit) in every moment he lived on earth un-separated from them and having the same glory, honor and worship.

Translated by Mark Najjar

Original Text: “المجمع الأول” –Raiati no23- 05.06.2011

Continue reading