Monthly Archives

April 2013

2013, An-Nahar, Articles

Jesus toward Jerusalem / 27.04.2013

Jesus’ entrance to Jerusalem, in tomorrow’s remembrance of the Eastern Christians, signifies His acceptance of death, which He came to actualize as the result of His love of us. His death was to make humanity live in Him after He has prayed that they might be one with Him as He is one with the Father.

There is no doubt that one of the Easter’s meanings is that we become one with the Father, who is the Beginning and the End. The Father has been most of the times forgotten by common Christians, while the Father is the First and the Last. Christ, as the suffering humanity, is not the end of everything. If you have forgotten that He is the way to His Father you misunderstand His salvation. He could have also shown you that at the end of His path He consented to die in order that you might be with Him and you might inherit the life which He has poured forth through His resurrection.

The start of His path was with Palm Sunday, namely His entrance to Jerusalem so that humanity kills Him there. The whole humanity, which is represented by the Jews, had killed Him. The destiny of the Son of man, as the Father has planned, was that people would kill Him, since His acceptance of death was the sign of His love and the passageway to His resurrection.

Nothing other than Jerusalem would kill Him, as it killed the prophets and those sent to it. It was in the Father’s purposes that the Son is killed by people and because of the [Father’s] love. This is, then, the conduct of people, on the one hand, and the conduct of God, on the other. The divine purpose was that humanity and its Savior meet through blood and then, through emancipation from blood, forever. The Son of man entered the city of God on Palm Sunday in all His humility, as a king over humanity, which would kill Him by authorizing the Jews to kill Him. This was in the divine purpose, since Christ was slain before the foundation of the world.

This is the concealed mystery since ages that humanity has committed a crime and has killed God’s Christ; [however] later on, the crime has been forgiven since God’s response to crime is love.

Jesus the Nazarene enters the guilty city since His Father has foreordained to Him a death, which was for the salvation and the resurrection of all people. Jesus told Martha, the sister of Lazarus, and this was new: “I am the resurrection and the life”. [John 11: 25] All that was said before these words were promises from God to endow people with life. Jesus the Nazarene said about Himself that He is the life. And He came up with this paradox that He must die, and then He resumed that He will rise [from the dead].

However, He did not describe His resurrection as merely an event, but He also has said: “I am the resurrection and the life”. [John 11: 25] This, in language, has no meaning. He did not merely say that He gives resurrection. He said about Himself that He is the resurrection. Namely, He did not say: ‘I am who will rise [from the dead]’, rather: ‘if you were in me I will bring you into the same resurrection’. In the language of reality this has no sense, however, Jesus the Nazarene puzzles you as He moves you from your conventional reality in order that you might participate in His reality.

The blessed Lord was not part of life. He was the fullness of life, and you cannot grasp that with rational elaboration. His Mystery has to penetrate within you in order that you may understand. And the beginning of understanding [is to see that] He has entered Jerusalem to be killed, since He knew that by His residing in Jerusalem, Jerusalem will slay Him as it had slain the prophets before Him, and that in this is His glory and Jerusalem might be also glorified, whenever it repents. By His death all residence here on earth ends, since through this death we have inherited eternal life, which is present in us through His Spirit from now on, until the vision is fulfilled by faith and the acquisition of the Spirit.

Before Jesus the Nazarene there were heroic testimonies and in their magnitude they were images of the glory of Christ, that which has appeared upon Him as He was hanged on the wood. In His crucifixion and resurrection all glory has become ours.

His glory has brightened in His humility as He entered Jerusalem. And Jerusalem did not become the city of God unless at His resurrection from the dead, since then His glory has eloquently brightened. The exaltedness of Christ has first appeared when he was hanged on the cross. And the wonders were a disclosure of this glory. However, His victory over sin and death has been evidently disclosed at His death. His resurrection is a different expression of the glory which was fully upon Him as He was raised on the wood of humiliation. He is the one who changed the humility of death to victory. From this, there is no difference in the efficacy between his death and resurrection. Death has never surmounted Him. His emanation [resurrection] was the result of the death that He wanted to die. His resurrection from the dead was the uncovering of a victory that He accomplished on the cross and with the cross joy has come to the whole world. Thus, Easter is the disclosure of a victory which has been fulfilled in it and diffused to the worlds. At His death victory has been completely achieved and it was proclaimed by His resurrection, since salvation has not occurred merely from death. Salvation was in His person.

By His entering Jerusalem, the killer of the prophets, He has demonstrated His journey toward death. And later we have understood that the Palm Sunday has paved the way for Easter. Various events were revealed to be related through His love. They were different stages of the one love, hence, you cannot neglect any incident between the Palm Sunday and the Easter dawn. The whole thing is one Easter, since through these incidents different expressions were revealed, [which demonstrate] His embracing us in the movement of the one love. He has accepted the will of the Father to walk one salvation way in its different manifestations between the Last Supper and His rising at the dawn of the great Sunday. However, and because of your love [toward Him] and because of the weaving together of the events, you cannot without collecting all incidents in your memory, which were mentioned in the dear Book, since [the events] from the night of His submission to His victory on the Easter morning makes one prospect.

You may not fasten your attention on one incident of the salvation events, since you should accompany the Master throughout the different stations which the Book mentions. And after each of those events we recite in prayer that He has accomplished that event for our salvation, as though salvation were a journey ends with resurrection, and for us resurrection becomes a promise about the Holy Spirit. That is why whenever we indicate any incident at the Passion Service we say that He has accomplished it for our salvation.

Thus, you have to delight spiritually in all stages of salvation without disregarding a work that He has done, since contemplation in all the works of the Lord is your consideration of the sanctity and the uniqueness of each and every work. Blessed is the one who can move through the different stages of the Lord’s journey with one joy, and can halt at every station since whatever is written is written for our salvation. Thus, our full joy pours forth from every event that has occurred to the Lord and from our accompaniment to all what the Master has done, specially, but not exclusively, from the Last Supper to the instant of resurrection in expectation of the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples on the day of Pentecost, and upon us in every divine liturgy.

The Lord is blessed in all His works of salvation, and may God help us to taste all God’s works, and every single one, till the dawn of resurrection which is the joy of the whole world.

Translated by Sylvie Avakian-Maamarbashi

Original Text: “يسوع إلى أورشليم” –An Nahar- 27.04.2013

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2013, An-Nahar, Articles

Those in Need of God / 20.04.2013

The poor are those are in need of God. One may ask why Carl Marx was bothered by that. If God is the source of existence for those who believe, no one would deny the believer the right to resort to God except those who believe, like Marx, that God is the invention of Man. Those who are in need of God are not so because of material poverty, but because they feel deeply that the Lord is the one who fully satisfies them, not with money but with life. Those who, with all their being, are in need of God, come to the Lord because they need His tenderness. And let us say that they come to Him out of poverty, what is wrong with that? The Lord takes us to Himself from where we are at. So if He receives us to Himself due to our poverty, why should that bother Marx? Does that mean that we have invented Him because we have felt that we are in need of Him? Does need necessarily stir up the imagination, or is it that what we are asking for does actually exist?

Why do the Marxists insist that we have invented God so that we can have our needs satisfied? Who told them that the need they are talking about does not really exist in Man’s heart or nervous system? And are the heart and the nervous system imaginary things? And do the Marxists want evidence stronger than that of the heart? I always get shocked at the claims of atheists, skeptics and those who waver in their faith, that they base their claims on human logic; they think that they really base things on logic while what they claim are only ideas they opted to believe in; and as such they misguide people that those ideas they opt to believe in spring from Man’s logical intellect.

The big lie of the atheists is fooling people in making them think that what is not of faith is then of logic while it can be of myth. And if we suppose that whatever is outside belief is from logic, who says that all human logic and thought is sane and superior? There is no logic in the absolute. My logic and your logic are related to what you and I have in the depths of our beings. There is not one same entity of logic that you can refer to in all humans. Each intellect and each mind is well knit to whom it belongs to with all what he has of beliefs, imaginations and illusions. There is no fixed criterion called the mind or logic. All minds can come from a religion they have inherited or from their political choices.

The lie of the skeptics is their claim that they want you to base things on the mind and logic. When they deny the faith, they want you to remain in disbelief; and that is a “faith” they have chosen for themselves. The unbeliever decided that God does not exist; while in reality he has another God which is the mind or money or a political party or sex. There is no human being who is not drawn to something outside him. No religion can be based except on a god who is not you. This is why we say that we are in need of a god who not only enriches us with His grace, but also raises us from every nothingness we plunge ourselves in since everything but He is nothingness.

“Blessed are the poor”. That was said by Jesus in the Gospel of Luke, and the interpreters say that Jesus is beatifying the poor with that. And if poverty in itself is not a grace, then why would the Lord have said so? The general atmosphere predominant in Palestine when Jesus of Nazareth said that was the understanding that poverty was basically to be in need of God. Maybe some of them are still like that until now. But if some of us have become “rich”, we have to get ourselves poor in need of God; that is we have to consider Him to be our existence and that of everything else is due to the reality of His existence.

It is hard for the rich to feel that they are in need of God. This requires of them to touch the reality that all what they have is nothing. For money to become a “nothing” for the rich man, is itself a miracle, if it happens; most probably heaven would have come down upon him if that happened. He would become like Jesus on the cross, naked. For him, God would have become all of existence. Then his need for God would be realized. Man does not become so unless he severs himself from the love of this world. Those who know the love of God and are satisfied with it would need nothing else since the Lord becomes the fullness of their hearts. That means that when you love someone or something else (other than God), your love for God remains one and undivided. The least that can be said about that is that you do not put your love for creatures at the same footing with your love for God though love, quality-wise, is the same.

How can the heart be wholly God’s when one embraces people or things of this creation? I think the answer to that is with the Saints since ordinary people tend to share their love for God with other things. But the one who has been carried in God’s glory does not fall into sharing God with others because he can see no face other than God’s, thus loving Him with love that is undivided.

Our need for God is due to His grace which enables us to see only Him. And that goes with the principle that says that the Lord is the one who starts the Divine life in us. And the need for Him is complete when Grace is complete. And that means that there is nothing in you that can be added to God since He is the initiator of existence and all of what there is.

If you are able to empty yourself from yourself, that, in itself, would be a calling on the Lord so He would become the fullness of yourself. Then no confusion remains between you and Him or between what is yours and what is His. Those who have gone beyond pure logic and got to the Divine vision say: That is a question that does not occur to those who, by having the same vision as He, have become one with the Lord. Perhaps it is allowable that it remains a philosophical question and not a spiritual one since you and God become one spirit as Paul affirms. Thus the philosophical question that says “How can two become one?” is no more; and we arrive to the spiritual affirmation that says: “You and God have become one in Love”.

And beyond love there is no need for the affirmation of anything because God is the light through which we see all things.

Translated by Riad Moufarrij

Original Text: “الفقراء إلى الله” – An Nahar – 20.04.2013

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The Others / 13.04.2013

“Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no help.” (Psalm 146: 3) To trust [another] makes him/[her] a steward and an advocator for you at God, since you admit yourself to be poor and you fear your incompetence to perceive God and to consider God as your only help. Thus, in your unity [with God] you aim at a duality, while it is not sufficient to overcome your seclusion. Duality implies the encounter of two faces, and whenever each of the two is frail, then, you would be casting yourself into two frailties.

You might be thinking that you would attain wholeness through another, however, for a reason of unfulfilled existence, he/[she] might be unable to bring you to the wholeness of your being. He/[she] might be merely supporting you, and whenever his/[her] consolidation is not great, then both of you would collapse. Two incomplete [beings] are unable to attain unity, while whenever you get united with God, realizing your being God’s beloved one, you become one in God. Through love, you do not add a thing on God; rather, you become perfected in God. You become perfected relatively before you perceive the Kingdom. However, this vision here precedes the perfect being when you will perceive God through death. Then, you would have accomplished your endeavor.

All perfection on earth is only [to be viewed as] endeavor until the Lord crowns you on the Last Day. Hence, we attain a complete vision neither before death nor after it, since it is not possible for you to attain perfection unless with the saints, whenever they meet their Lord on the Last Day. Salvation is for all together. Before that we are in endeavor.

You would be perfected through the weak ones, whenever you love them and you raise them up. The whole humanity is a marginalized group of people, who behold their glory only on the Last Day. You are within this group, whenever you join it through love. You are of that group and toward it in hope; I mean your hope toward God. Not a word in the Book promises you to be loved whenever you love. The Book has not maintained that your love would be responded by a reward. As response to love you might get a wrongful hatred, of which you are not the source. And if you were a great believer you would expect isolation, and it might save you, since you have a share in God’s love, who does not permit one do die from thirst or to get saddened for nothing. I have not said that your only calling is to depart from every face, since then [also] you would not find perfect consolation. It is right that you pursue to dwell in your belovedness, namely that you live with that love which you are given. However, it is not legitimate to be satisfied with this, since you might find yourself exiled to “the desert of love”, as François Mauriac says, i.e., you become subject to the decree of isolation that those, whose love you expect, have pronounced against you. It is your right to ask for attention, yet, I mean by this that people might consolidate into the love of God, and not to you. You become great whenever you endeavor for that pure divine unity, which gathers its eremites to their Lord.

Our sorrow is in that when we continue to be vulnerable in our human nature, since we have not reached at heaven. This, in itself, is a fair sorrow, since piety anticipates paradise here in divine love.

The problem is that we could not reach at the Kingdom here unless with the pure ones, and I mean those who love us in the Lord without any condition. The power of our endeavor is in the vision for which we aspire, and our path is the yearning till death. The pure ones are rare and I mean those who surround you with divine love, which does not depend on any condition in you, but it comes to you from free brotherly love, which is a reflection of divine love that is free by its nature.

It draws my attention that whenever Jesus has spoken about love in the Gospel He said that you give it, and He never promised you that you might be given it. He has experienced the human consolations which He has received from the group of people surrounding Him, especially from Peter, John and Jacob. However, He did not want us to rely on those consolations. All His teaching, from this [particular] perspective, is that you give without calculation, i.e., without expectation of a reward. You become [or you exist] through the love which you give hoping that it might be received, since you exist only if you give. And whenever you give, it does not [necessarily] mean that people have received it. This is why it has been said: “He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.” (Psalm 112: 9) Love does not require a condition in the Other. You give without calculation, namely you do not expect any exchange and you do not expect loyalty. Your heart gives whenever it is open to give, and there is no expression in the Book implying that your heart is open to take. They might commute the same feeling of you, and whenever they get disturbed from you, or despaired, or they turn away from you because of some brusqueness in their souls, you remain determined about giving, since through them you give your Lord and you wait today and afterward, and it is sufficient for you to accompany your Lord, since He alone is the bestowal.

I know what the response to this might be. It might be said that you are asking for a complete desert in our hearts. I do not ask for a complete desert. I have seen the desert actualized in the saints, who gave freely since they perceived the face of God on every face, and it was to this drawn face that they gave and they refused to look at the ugliness. They were accustomed that every human face is perfect in beauty, whenever you read on it the splendor of Christ.

Every human heart is exposed to become a den of snakes, as François Mauriac says. You do not love the snakes, rather the human heart which continues to be on the image of God, though it might contain snakes. Our teaching is that divine love does not depart the distorted image of God in every one of us, rather it embraces it. And if you adhere to the hope, namely the hope for God, God descends to the soul because God loves it, and not for its splendid beauties. We have to be trained concerning this challenging hope, that every soul, which would taste death, is beloved to God until God receives it.

You have to be educated that God loves every soul. And there is no doubt that God would refine it continuously, since God loves it always. You have to love every soul, even when it falls. And maybe you have to love it more whenever it is excessive in falling.

In life, whenever we were from the believers, probably our difficulty would be to perceive the fall continuously in us and in people. We would reach at extreme naivety whenever we conceive this existence as a paradise. The paradise is inhabited by the souls of those who arrived at the great endeavor [or struggle], that is the endeavor of the soul, and who had known that the soul is the dwelling place of God, regardless of the joys of this world.

Maybe the climax of the endeavor is to perceive yourself as nothing and to perceive others with you, whenever you have loved them, i.e., you perceive yourselves as the beloved ones of God. You do not need to rate the love of God for someone. What matters is that you believe in divine love, since we live by it. You are poor to divine love, whenever faced with it, since it is that which gives you existence and educates you according to its own essence.

But if you think that you have become something, you will lose everything. And if your faith, that grace gives you life and forgives your sins, falls then you become a nullity or almost a nullity. You do not need to understand how God uses you for God’s glory. You are given [grace] and God uses you for God’s glory as God wills. “The [true] religion with Allah is Islam [meaning submission].” [Surat Al-ʻImrān, 19] There is deep meaning in this saying. Come and swim in the sea of God and God will teach you everything and will use you for God’s glory in accordance to God’s will.

God perceives you in relation to God’s glory, while you do not know. The Savior has said to you and to your companions: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” [Matt.11: 28] Then, do not fear the burden that is thrown upon you. You might fall on the way as the one who carried His cross fell on His way to Golgotha. He must be supplying you with someone to help you on the road of suffering, since He wants you risen with Him on the Third Day.

Translated by Sylvie Avakian-Maamarbashi

Original Text: “الآخرون” –An Nahar- 13.04.2013

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2013, An-Nahar, Articles

The Times to Come / 06.04.2013

You have often planned your future according to your current interests which you see at the present time without seeking to fill that future with what comes down upon you of inspiration concerning the affairs to come. As such, your future at the present, appears to be revolving around yourself without expecting anything from God. In Christianity, hope dwells in faith because it is the expectation of what God’s grace would bring into the future.

It is foolish to think that the future times are better than what you are at in the present. The betterment of your affairs does not come from the running of the days but from the improvement of your present through what is eternal. Escaping a present reality to one that is better is not in your capacity.

The days to come your way are often like those of your present time. They are of the fabric of this world or the fabric of people in your life; and they would be people who either love you or hate you in case you do not make of your future a realm for a truth that descends on you from above, a truth which will be a salvation for us all. If your sufferings do not lead you to God’s face, your life will be dissipated in the “fogginess” of this world. What is steadfast is not the world but what descends on it from above. If it is true what the Bible says that “every human being is a liar” then you have to deal with the “liars” as they are, an inseparable part of this world or, as the Apostle says, you have to exit this world.

We live our hope that comes down on us from above in this world, but we have no hope from this world since we are not of it and it is not of us.

They blame me for being pessimistic. When you see people as they are, you are going to find ugliness in some of them. But is there such a problem with the pure in heart who fly away from the ugly and as such the Lord has made them to dwell in Light?

If you have a penetrating vision of things you will see the ugliness of this world. And that is not wrong. What is wrong is to let that vision of the ugly become an obstacle between you and hope. And hope in Christianity is not some wishful imaginative thinking. It is to be drawn to the face of the Lord who sculpts our faces according to His face and through that sculpting, He makes us divine. His face is all; and also what is “drawn” of Him on us.

When Jesus of Nazareth says: “Take courage, I have overcome the world”, does He mean to say that He has overcome the ugliness of the world as Bible interpreters say or does He mean to say that He is the One who establishes beauty in this world in place of its ugliness?

God did not create the world in His image. He only created Man in His image in the sense that Man is like God since Man is free like Him; that is how some of the Fathers interpreted that. And some others of them said that to be in God’s likeness is to be loving. And some others also said that Man is free like God or He is loving like Him. In Orthodox theology, Man in fact has all the qualities of God except that of creating; but being creator is not a quality. Being creator is an action. The truth is that you do not have any quality that is considered noble unless it is like its counterpart of God so that Humanity is realized, not only in the individual, but also in the bonding of the community together and in its seeking together the Divine Promises which have been foretold by the prophets and also promised by the Savior.

All times are similar in what they have of good or evil and what they have of love and violence. Perhaps with us the bad is inevitable so that we can hope for Truth to descend upon us from Heaven. This is Man’s tragedy: his presumption that he can create himself by himself and that he can till the ground with all what it has of power. Unbelief is making God so distantly high that you do not feel His bending over on you with His kindness. There is in the Bible words about God’s transcendence and His self-emptying in Christ Jesus. And the One who emptied Himself is the One who soared up; and you also soar up with Him. “He who descended is the one who ascended” to the highest heavens and He gives us to sit with Him on the throne at the right hand of His Father because the incarnation of the Son of God leads us to our deification without which His incarnation becomes meaningless and purposeless.

The uniqueness of Christianity is that God would not have moved towards Humanity except to move Man from “below to above”. And the aforementioned moves were realized through Jesus Christ. All talk about a god who stays way up on the mountain is talk of ancient Greek thought and also of Judaism.

In Christianity, this God we are talking about, though He remains above, became Man like each one of us so that no chasm remains between God and Man forever.

The whole question related to our bond between us and God is the following: Does God, who remains in Heaven, after He has descended in the flesh in His only Son, still descend to us in a move which we call Grace? And do we ascend to Him in a reciprocal move so that we sit with Him on the throne? If the throne is not God’s goal and also ours, then we cannot say that we have bonded with Him.

Is Divinity only above or is it below also? That is the question. And Christianity has provided an answer to that saying: “No one has ascended to Heaven except He who has descended from Heaven, the Son of Man who is in Heaven”. The matter is not a move in space and time since God is not defined in a space or in time. The whole matter is the descent of Grace.

And that is not an indwelling of God in His essence or nature, or else we would fall into paganism. That is an indwelling of love, and love does not break God down or makes Him plural. Love speaks of His love and does not fall apart. Love alone reveals Him as one. Love stretches Him but does not make Him many. God spreads Himself by His giving and remains one in essence. Grace spreads but remains concomitant in Him. So if He spreads, He remains in Himself at the same time. His love spreads. It does not get dissipated with time. Time gets filled with God and in this He pastors it though its essence remains temporal.

Time comes in with all its historicity and creativeness and God is in it but time is not God; but what is produced in time is from God. And on the Last Day, God takes “time” to Himself and gathers humanity with all what He has generously bestowed on them in all times to Himself; and in that sense God ends history and completes it in reconciling all in the human body of Christ.

And the ending of History is its crowning in the glory that God pours down on it; and when History enters the glory of God that would be the change of “time”; and as such we inherit the “Kingdom which was prepared for us before the beginning of the world.”

Translated by Riad Moufarrij

Original Text: “الزمان الآتي” – An Nahar – 06.04.2013

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