Monthly Archives

October 2011

2011, Articles, Raiati

The Rich Man and Lazarus / 30.10.2011

It is a parable from Luke, and parables in the four Gospels are stories made by Jesus and were not told before among people. He pictures in this parable a rich man and a poor one. The rich dresses in purple and fine linen, i.e. silk, and “lived in luxury every day”. Obscene richness is through dressing, food, shelter and furniture.

The evangelist pictures next to him a poor man thrown on his gate. He was thrown because he had sores. He was always hungry and dogs used to come and lick his sores. We are in front of a severe illness that exposes the sick person to living with animals. His name is Lazarus, which means “God is our aid or assistance”. Perhaps Luke gave him this name to indicate that the poor has no one but God.

“The angels carried him to Abraham’s side”. This is an expression for Jews that refers to living in the Kingdom. Therefore, the poor man was among God’s companions. The Evangelist wanted to say that God gives the poor their sustenance and he is their aider.

Then the text says that the rich man “dies and was buried”. And Luke said that he is in hell, and in the language of the Old Testament, hell is the Kingdom of death, and Luke clarified that he is in torment. The Evangelist doesn’t say why he is in torment, but from what was already written in the biblical text we understand that because he didn’t have any compassion towards the poor man and didn’t notice him thrown in front of the gate of his palace. This rich man looked towards Abraham and saw the poor man by his side. He desired to be in the Kingdom but he couldn’t cancel the punishment that he deserved in his world, and the writer clarified that by saying: “between us and you a great chasm has been set in place”. He wished that his fellow rich people would change their behavior through receiving a messenger from heaven. This man requested that from Abraham who receives in his bosom the sons of the Kingdom.

The answer was straight: “They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them”. By “Moses and the Prophets” he refers to the books of the Old Testament that teach mercy and how man is saved through it not because God, in his nature, is a severe punisher but because sin punishes the sinner and denies him from seeing God and from being in communion with the Saints. Luke was very clear in what he said concerning the rich man and his friends: “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead”.

We are tested through our love that we show in this world. If it existed in us on earth, it shall stay in the soul that God takes back to him, and the love that stays in us is our salvation. Love is first to see the other and his needs and to make him feel that he is a brother and that he owns what we have. He is a partner in what we own. It is his right. If we gained a fortune, we are responsible for it not for the sake of our pleasures but through confessing that it is a credit for all the people that are with us and around us since it is not acceptable for someone to stay without any food, clothes and shelter.

What we own is not for our service alone. It is for all the brothers and especially for the needy as we are God’s delegates for their service so that we glorify God through what we gave and they glorify him through what they took.

Translated by Mark Najjar

Original Text: “الغنيّ ولعازر” –Raiati 44- 30.10.2011

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Gossiping / 29.10.2011

When you do not want to confront yourself, that is face the reality of your existence, your tongue becomes a sword with which you kill the others in you since you are unable to eradicate your sins or you probably do not see them so that you will not be frightened by them and thus you remain closed in your own pettiness. When the foreign policy of a country becomes dominated by a high rate of gossiping slandering another country, that is a sign of emptiness in those who are gossiping in the slandering country; and such emptiness is self-inflation. Thus the “other” is the one you bruise or kill since you see yourself as without bruises and wounds and you do not see yourself as the one who is wounded and bruised and that you are about to be destroyed. And you cannot admit your weakness since such a confession is a detection of sin and such detection is the beginning of healing or all of it. And that is the conviction that the “other” is your physician; or that your “health” is a product of his (the “other”) examining you and counseling you.

Gossiping is a “closing in” on one’s self; it is a closing in on emptiness. You cannot tolerate emptiness so you fly away from it and you destroy the “other” not aware that by doing that you destroy yourself. You “destroy yourself” when you feel threatened by discovering your real self when loved by the “other”; and you “love yourself” if you desire to make it better by sharing in the love the “others” have for you. You exist only when you love and when you are loved by those who love the Lord. Perhaps God’s only aim for His creation is this journey of love in Him. Only in that would God be “seen”, as such it (God’s love) is a seeking after the Word (Jesus) who has been since the Beginning.

But if you close on yourself, then it is inevitable not to have inner discourse coming from evil and corruption; as such you get seduced by your passions and I mean here the roots of sin in you. These are the “uncleanness” the nature of which you know, or maybe you do not know but you need to root it out from your heart since it results in harming you even though you have not deliberately desired it. Yet uncleanness has to leave you so that you can dwell in the “other” if that “other” does not stay away from you due to his purity. As such the arrow (of gossiping) does not hit its target but it harms the one who sent it (that is you).

The philosophers of Ethics distinguish between slander and gossip. In the Quran, I only find the word slander; and its meaning is to “invent lies” as it comes in Surah 5: 103 and in Sura 16: 116 “ Do not say about what your lying tongues describe: ‘THIS IS LAWFUL AND THIS IS UNLAWFUL,’ inventing lies against Allah. Those who invent lies against Allah are not successful”.

Lying is a form of fear in the one who lies and a slander of the “other” whom it targets. That is what slander is. But you might say true things about the “other” either because you are a gossiper or because you want to hurt him. For instance you might say “that person steals” and then you mention an episode of that. That is what is called gossip while slander is when you invent lies.

Disclosing the weak points of people does them great harm since this exposes them to be shredded by those who have an interest in that; and such gossip coming from you, might stay with them as long as they live. This is true especially in women, when you make their chastity a matter of libel. People give ear to that quickly without making sure of things. And maybe the gossip might move from one mouth to another and as such might destroy families; you are called to be reticent concerning the sins of others and such silence helps you out of slandering others. Silence is an excellent watch over one’s soul since it allows one to be quiet with the Lord and as such be repentant. But he who gossips does not know what repentance is.

You might be exposed to gossip in social activities. What you hear then is something to be thrown in the “well of your reticence” and you do not give yourself room to reflect on what you heard of the iniquity of others for fear you would plunge into them. The Fathers have warned us not to reflect on our past sins after we have repented so that those sins would not tempt us again. You have to reflect on the virtues and their beauty; perhaps they will draw you closer to them; do not reflect on what is rotten so that you do not think of committing them.

Read this in James 3: 5-13, “Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind,but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.” If the apostle recognizes the difficulty in having a “chaste” tongue and despite that asks of us to have our tongues be “chaste”, that means that it is possible to have that if we seek it from God.

God wants from you only what is pure; if your purity is strong in you, you become a fountain of purity for others. Each one of us wants to be loved. That is why the “other” would be sad when you slander him. He also would be sad if you tell others what he has confided in you. Make it a principle to consider what one tells you as something he does not want to say to someone other than you, or maybe he does not dare to. Consider all what you hear as “confidential” as the Christians say. But if you realize that spreading some information you got would be of benefit to others and would strengthen them in the truth, then go ahead and spread it, keeping in mind not to disclose information that you are entrusted with by someone who does not wish to have it disclosed.

“The conversations in company are in trusteeship” is a rule of conduct in our society. That means that all what you hear when you are with people should remain there and not go out. This is why reticence is better and of more benefit in most cases. Not all what you get to know should be spread around. Most information is in the custody of those to whom it belongs and of those who have been entrusted with it. So abide by that thus guarding your own purity and the integrity of others and their reputation.

Each person has matters that he keeps to himself; and friendship might permit that he would disclose them (to the friend) if he is able to make sure that what he says is not only unharmful but is of benefit. Fortify yourself with reticence for that would give you eloquence in your silence. Reticence is not always in need of your words in order to transmit the good that you store. Humanity is a communion of love, and love needs witnesses whose lives are according to the commandments of the Lord; and they themselves give life to others with their compassion, kindness and serviceability. For through those the Lord has brought about his compassion.

Translated by Riad Moufarrij

Original Text: “النميمة” – An Nahar – 29.10.2011

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2011, Articles, Raiati

From Paul’s Biography / 23.10.2011

In today’s epistle, Apostle Paul says that he preached the Gospel to the Galatians. By this, he refers to his teaching and doesn’t mean the four Gospels that were not written when he sent this epistle to the Galatians. Then he says that he didn’t receive this teaching from any man or from one of the twelve apostles but he received it directly from the Lord through a revelation that the Lord revealed to him.

He proves this by saying that when he was in the way of life of Judaism, he intensely persecuted the Church of God and destroyed it. We know that from the book of Acts where he said it. When the Lord appeared to him on his way from Jerusalem to Damascus, he transformed him into a unique disciple for him in his enthusiasm, loyalty, capacity of work and depth in theology.

Paul felt when the Lord appeared to him on the road to Damascus that God set him apart and chose him from the womb of his mother to be a disciple and the Father called him through his grace to reveal his son in him so that he would preach him among Gentiles. And later he took a delegation from the disciples to do this job: “my immediate response was not to consult any human being” and this means that he didn’t behave according to human reactions but gave his soul to Jesus’ voice and order.

Paul knew that it is important to contact the apostles to unite himself with them and not to take from them an authority as he has already taken that directly from Christ. He clarifies that from Damascus he went to Arabia. And interpreters believe that this land is “Houran” and it was called Arabia under the Roman administration.

What did he do there? Maybe he found a few Christians and lived with them because Houran is not far from Damascus. There is no doubt that he used to pray and stay alone with his Lord that revealed to him the truths of faith, and this confirms what he said at the beginning of the epistle.

Then he says: “After three years, I went up to Jerusalem”. He didn’t spend any time in Jerusalem after becoming a Christian. The purpose of going there after such a long time was to visit Peter. This means that he knew that Peter didn’t leave Palestine during the years that Paul spent in Arabia. Paul knew that somehow. So he said: “I stayed with him fifteen days. I saw none of the other apostles—only James, the Lord’s brother” (i.e. Lord Jesus’ relative).

What did Paul do there? Without any doubt, he used to pray with Peter every day and talk together about theology.

In addition to that, this means that the rest of the apostles had left Palestine to the lands of preaching. We don’t read in the book of Acts that Paul succeeded in contacting any of them, and then we see him in a relationship with Peter in Antioch.

We conclude from these words that Paul tried to stay close to the apostles. We stay with the Church of the apostles which is our Church. We cannot live away from the brothers. They are the body of Christ.

Translated by Mark Najjar

Original Text: “مِن سيرة بولس” –Raiati 43- 23.10.2011

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Parable of the Sower /

Every sowing has the sower, the seeds such as wheat, and the planted land or the land that we are trying to plant. These are things that Jesus said in a parable that he composed. Jesus, from the literary aspect of the Synoptic Gospels, i.e. the first three gospels, is a parable composer.

In this parable, he talks about kinds of ground. A kind of seeds, in the first ground, fell along the path and not on the ground so birds ate the seeds. On a second ground, the seeds fell on a rocky ground, so no plants grew because thorns choked the plants. On a third ground, they yielded and every seed gave hundred multiples and this is very rare. When the disciples asked him about the meaning of this parable, he clarified that the disciples have an understanding that others don’t have. Unlike the belief of some people, a parable doesn’t facilitate understanding. Your heart should be open in order to understand.

Jesus took his disciples into this understanding and said: The seed is the word of God, and the sower is of course God, and God and his word are one. He went back to the first kind of ground and clarified that the ones that fell on the path are the ones that the devil comes and takes the word away from their hearts. Those people didn’t hear anything or didn’t want to hear. This is the case of many of us. There is another group that hears the word for a while but doesn’t have a continuation in obedience. These don’t have a root. And here Jesus insists that you add the Divine word to previous divine words. You develop your knowledge of the word when you give your heart to God. You have a continuation in accepting the word or else you would fall in front of the first temptation. You don’t have the power to repel temptations.

The soul that resembles this ground that had thorns is the one that is “choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures”. A part of these words is echoed by the Church in the Cherubic Hymn in the Divine Liturgy: “let us now lay side all earthly cares”, this means that the world shouldn’t occupy us and put pressure on us. This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t do any work in the world, but it means that our heart should stay with God. The world shouldn’t limit us in it.

The worries of life are clarified by Luke the Evangelist through two things: Riches and pleasures. The richness that we keep in our pockets or banks and don’t share with the poor controls us until it becomes a Lord. Then, you will hear its whispers or insinuation and you will not have any more time or power to hear God’s word. You will be controlled by richness and not by the Word.

You are a slave for the thing that you obey: You are a slave for money if you wanted or for God if you wanted, you are a slave for sin or righteousness. This means that you store righteousness in your soul and yield through righteousness because it increases once you acquire it. This requires a lot of constant patience. Patience is to always receive God in you so that the Lord repels everything that tempts you if the tempter came. Christian patience is to love God that works in you. To continue this way means to accept the grace once it descended on you and to immediately give it. This means that you shouldn’t postpone charity to tomorrow because you might not have a tomorrow. This means that you should love God’s word and believe that it renews you and repels every desire for sin away from you.

Understand that you are not the sower and that you are only the receiver of the Divine seed in order not to become arrogant. Obey your Lord and nothing but his effect will remain in you and you will become a divine person.

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The Temple of the Living God / 09.10.2011

In Jesus’ thought, the Temple of Jerusalem will be destroyed, and in Paul’s thought, this Temple has no importance anymore because God doesn’t live in temples made with hands. God replaced the temple by living in people himself. “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people”.

When he says “I will live with them”, he means that he will make them a Church for him and a holy nation as he lives in the heart of the believer through the Holy Spirit. As for his saying “And I will be their God, and they will be my people”, it is in the present tense i.e. a continuous act, and this indicates that God’s love to his people will stay forever and the Lord’s divinity appears through his constant attention towards his people. This Lord will have his own people when these people know that they are loved. There is no “people” in the social sense. A nation for God will be formed when people respond to God’s love by obeying the Lord. God loves, and people obey his words. God forms his people; they can’t form themselves.

This special thing that these people have, i.e. God’s love, pushes them to accept the Lord’s word: “Come out from them and be separate”. This is a moral separation through faith from paganism and not a social separation because the civil and political societies must still exist, but some people are for God through faith and others don’t have this faith.

God clarifies one of the faces of his divinity which is that he becomes a father for us and we become his sons and daughters. This is the family of the Father as Paul names it. This is the new birth or the birth from above as the Lord described it in the fourth Gospel. And if we were the Father’s family, we are asked to continue in this family, and therefore the Apostle commands us to purify ourselves from “everything that contaminates the body and spirit”. Some sins are committed through the body, and others are committed only through the soul such as pride, aversion and all kinds of hatred.

When we try to stay away from every sin, “we make holiness perfect out of reverence for God” because holiness is trying to be like God who is pure from all wrong and sin. In this sense the Lord said: “Be Holy, because I am Holy”. This requires having reverence for God. Educationally, the New Testament still had the thought of having fear for God, having fear from punishment.  There is no joking with God; there is no softness even if we had a special status with him. Fearing God doesn’t mean being afraid in his presence but means being serious in fulfilling the Lord’s commands. There is no possible compromise between you and sin. You must know that sin is death, and that your life with the Lord requires obeying all his words and living with him in full trust and dependence and asking for his mercy.

In the New Testament, we continue to have fear from punishment and at the same time we hope to get the reward through the dwelling of the Holy Spirit in us and to taste the Kingdom in us from now and hope to gain it on the last day.

We become together the people of God through ecclesiastic communion and through God’s transfiguration in the Church and in individuals together. The important thing is to feel that we are his sons and daughters because we have knew him as an embracing father for us, and become able to tell him: “Our Father who art in heaven” because we have tasted through grace his daily renewal to us through his grace.

Translated by Mark Najjar

Original Text: “هيكل الله الحي” –Raiati 41- 09.10.2011

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Mercy / 02.10.2011 / N*40

From the Sermon on the Mount, which is the basic rule of Christian behavior, the Lord begins the section thus: “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” The other is everything to you. He needs to be your beloved. Is he in need of food? Give it to him. Is he in need of comfort, to be near you? Offer it all, for he exists by you.

Christianity is not the exchange of affections. Love –without waiting for the beloved to return the same affection. “Freely you have received (from the Lord), freely give” to your brothers mankind. Do not differentiate in giving between those who love you and those who do not. God commanded all the faithful to love as God loves.

Then He arrives at the quintessence of his discourse in saying:  “Love your enemies.” If someone becomes hostile towards you, do not return the enmity. He has sinned against God first, then against himself, and you do not expect affection from him who is unable to give such. He is what is important in your eyes, and not that he has hurt or devastated you. Your concern is his spiritual advancement. You know that he has fallen in the sickness of sin, and God wants from you to raise him from his fall. His spiritual interests are your concern and not just to be above the injury. It is sufficing for you that you are God’s beloved.

His enmity has appointed you as his physician, just like the one that was wounded on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho, for whom God had appointed a physician, i.e. the compassionate Samaritan who had been a non-Jew, and of another religion. In our tradition, the Good Samaritan is an image of Christ, who takes care of those in the Church and outside the Church equally.

It is meet that no grudges or hatred touch your heart and that you keep in your heart everyone that you have encountered in the course of your life. In so doing, God will dwell in your heart; if he does not, your heart will be void, for the Lord is the abundant presence. Your goal is for your heart to become like Christ’s who forgave His murderers. The one who hates you does not know that he injures himself. If you love him, he will feel that he is hurting himself.

Matthew ends this passage from the Sermon on the Mount with the saying of Jesus: “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful”. The rule is to be like God. He is the model of your behavior. He is a Father to the thankful and the evil, and His grace is the same to the first and the latter. Although He has various ways of rearing, God is one in severity and benevolence, just as every father in the world loves his children, both the mild mannered and the bad tempered, with the same love, even though the approach may differ.

Mercy is all embracing. By His words, the Lord commands us to give ourselves with abundance to those who wish not our favor, according to the need that we know they have. You, therefore, wherever the need be, embrace them just as a woman coddles all her children without discrimination. Therefore, look out for those who need your mercy in the time of their hardship; for every soul has a different affliction. Search for various necessities and fulfill them. Now, this moment – and not tomorrow- act and let the one in need understand that you are an apostle of God sent to him, and through you he will know God.

Mercy is an aspect of love when the other is in a particular condition. Understand his plight, enter therein and have mercy on the other from your stance and his, whereby the giver and receiver become one in the Lord. For you will not be merciful unless you are with the Lord, who is the source of mercy.

Go and give yourself to others until nothing remains in you except love.

Translated by Kaftoun Monastery

Original Text: “الرحمة” –Raiati 40- 02.10.2011

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The One Love / 01-10-2011

Syria is united and we want it so. Its fragmentation would be a danger for the entire region, and mainly for Lebanon. The French mandate had divided it into three parts; however it soon regained its unity due to the solidarity among its people.

It is possible to reinforce this unity through peace, which assumes that the blood continues to flow in the Syrians’ veins and arteries. “Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God.” (Psalm 51)

Neither power nor hope, to withstand the enemy, is possible for the Arab East without a powerful Syria, coherent in all its social spectra, free from the history of its conflicts and holding only its glories. Its dream was a civil rule and this has become recently the dream of Arabs. We aspire that this dream might continue to exist in the souls as a denial of a rigid heritage and of a distinction between divine and human natures or a distinction between divine judgment, i.e. the salvation of the souls, and the human judgment, according to which human beings ask for divine inspiration in their daily issues on earth. The first [i.e. the worldly life] does not turn into the Hereafter [i.e. the life to come], however the first yearns for the Hereafter and it moves toward it, while it continues to impact the worldly life.

This is mainly the concern of Arabism, since it asks one major question about the legitimacy of carrying the human nature, which itself justifies pluralism and the burden of diversity within the one homeland. Pluralism is not dissipation, and alignment in one form without different political colors annihilates the individuals. It kills freedom. Thus you have to choose between freedom that has necessarily sporadic thoughts and the single-party rule. Only God has the right to think that He is the whole Truth.

I hope that Arabs would reach at the conviction that their diversity enriches them and that God has not delegate anyone to run the world. This is what civil rule means. It is the people’s gathering in a country, where they agree to think together, and I did not say that their minds are separated from God. Every group [or body] can think that God inspires it with whatever God’s will is, but it cannot impose on other people what it assumes to be the ground of community life. To me it does not make sense when a country declares its belief in one religion or another. The state is a legal body, i.e. it has an abstract structure. However a homeland is about people who meet, interact and share their affections and their human depths, and from these depths the state takes its drive to proceed. In the homeland you are my brother and together we build the state. Through the encounter and the exchange of our thoughts and convictions we reach together at a rule which you and I can ratify. Though we must disagree, yet our alliance entails that I would not stretch my hand to kill you and you would not stretch yours to kill me. The state, before anything else, is a place for peace.

No one knows the destination of the Arab Spring. It should contain some seeds of democracy, yet it might not be exempt of fundamentalism. Fundamentalism [in its turn] might not be of equal intensity in all countries, yet we must perceive that the dictatorship of a group may be worse than the dictatorship of a person. Facing such uncertainty, questions concerning freedom arise because of the different political philosophies.

However, my concern is not about the potential progress of every Arab Spring, since political Arabism has different colors or different aspects. What happens in Egypt had never occurred during the days of its kings. I have followed, in my youth, king Fouad’s and king Farouk’s rules, and then Egypt designated the Copt Boutros Ghali Pasha as Prime Minister, while Egypt’s revolution against the British was organized by Muslims and Copts alike. That means that Christians’ alliance with foreigners was not known. I don’t know exactly why the attitude has changed after the June-revolution, so that I can give my opinion. Anba Shenouda, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria, had refused absolutely that any Copt would think of a Coptic particularism on the political level. Could one of the causes of strain be that Copts were outstandingly successful in universities and professions, such as medicine and pharmacy? Scientific progress maybe does not serve one. We all remember that Anba Shenouda had forbidden his community to visit Israel, after establishing diplomatic relations between the two countries. And the Coptic theology, similar to Orthodox theology in general, is stringent with regard to Judaism and Jews. Further, it was forbidden for anyone to dispute with Muslims, in case any of them had published a book or an article against Christianity. There is no doubt that Egyptian security bodies are negligent to act upon sectarian calamities. The problem needs a radical solution; since we all want that the beloved Egypt remains a distinctive Arab country. No one from my generation would be influenced by the Arab culture, unless he had been influenced by the Egyptian thought. And whoever knows the spiritual greatness, faith, and serenity of the Egyptian Copts, would be sad for their emigration.

What concerns us in particular is the triad of Syria, Palestine, and Lebanon, where there is convergence in characters and traditions between Christians and Muslims. I don’t know the reason of having such privateness in the Arab world. However, we all obviously remember that the Arab rule, from its beginning, complied with Christians. Only the Mamluks’ rule was harsh may be even on non-Christian communities. The culture of kinship continued to prevail among us, in the Ottoman rule, before our struggle and the implementation of the policy of Turkification in the beginning of the 20th Century. I can say with confidence that mildness was ruling upon the relationships among the different confessions, and our characters would not change easily or hastily. Therefore, I do not see any reason for the fears expressed by some Christians. What has happened in Iraq, which faces a long war, cannot be considered as an example for the danger threatening the Christians. All people there killed each other. In addition to that, our mindset is different than the Iraqi mindset.

Do Christians lack courage and hope? We can stretch our hands to the hands of Muslims as we always did earlier. I understand that some may say that there are new movements, which are unrelenting.

However, throughout all difficulties we live with Christ, who has said that he will always be with us to the end of the age. Fear is the gravest force that drags us out of our place. It always annihilates what is commonly called the minorities, because numbers are everything for them. In addition, I feel that moderate Muslims who love us and wish our stay are more important and powerful than those extremists. And each of us knows a loving friend among them.

The time has come for Muslims to realize that the old charge, which claims that we were cooperating with the foreigner, is not true anymore. Don’t you remember that Charles de Gaulle, who was committed to his Catholic faith, said that France deals with all the Lebanese confessions alike? While the Americans know that a State has no governor who rules forever. And they have never demonstrated that they are friends of Christians. What could we offer to them, while they have strong relationships with Arab countries, where no Christian lives? Besides, the Muslims’ oil is appealing.

In the year 636 Arabs were besieging Damascus. Its Governor, Mansur ibn Sarjun, the grandfather of Saint John of Damascus, realized that he had to open the city gates lest Arabs enter it by force and expose Christians to danger. But when Arabs took over all the State departments, they discovered that Christians were holding all the offices. Thus Muslims maintained Christians in all the departments, because of their knowledge. This is to say that Christians understood that Arabs entered the Levant to become its rulers, and that they should cooperate with them.

Another thing that has to be said is that the Sunnites represent 85% of the Muslims worldwide and that the whole idea about the alliance of minorities is void and useless. This does not mean that we abandon our friendship toward the Shiites. They, first of all, refuse any confrontation with the Sunnites. And to all of them together it has been said: “You were the best nation brought forth to mankind, bidding the right and forbidding the wrong”. We are delighted about the Shiite’s renaissance, and we also like their poets, whether ancient or modern. In theology, we like their open-mindedness and one of their great personages, Imam Musa Al Sadr, has appeared who truly loved us. Thus we responded to their love in our truthfulness. However, we need to realize that we have lived sincerely and with dignity among the Sunnites in the cities, and they do appreciate this matter. I think that we showed courtesy and love to them, which resulted in relating individuals and families together to the present day. We are not factional in our companionship with Muslims, and they are one nation. Our heart is open to all of them, since there is nothing other than love in our hearts, as long as we are devoted to Christ.

Nevertheless, we are, Christians and Muslims, in need of repentance and a continuous purification to embrace the other. And our national unity is an embracement in order not to be affected by dissimulation.

This is a homeland of bestowal founded on hope and constant purification. Muslims have the “wound of Issa [Jesus]”, which is the wound of love, as ̓Ibn ʻArabi called it, and they do not want to recover from it since to it belongs the principality. And we are with them in this love. This is how a homeland might be built.

Translated by Sylvie Avakian-Maamarbashi

Original Text: “الحب الواحد” –An Nahar- 01-10-2011

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