Born in Tripoli the 6th of July 1923, archbishop of Byblos, Botris & Mount Lebanon, Metropolitan George (Khodr) is one of the inspirers of the renewal of the Orthodox Church in Lebanon & Syria, and one of the most marking spiritual figures of Christianity in the Middle East.
George Khodr lived his youth in Tripoli, Lebanon’s second city. He loved his old Christian neighborhood (HARAT EL NASARAH), a true oasis of peace and spirituality of which he keeps longing. In Tripoli, the 11th of November 1943—a key date of his youth—he participated in an important pacifist demonstration against the French colonial government which was denouncing the Lebanese quest for independence; he saw how the tanks open fire on unarmed people and kill eleven of his friends…
Desiring to become an advocate, dreaming of a diplomatic carrier, he pursued his studies in Beirut and graduated with a license in law in 1944 from the Jesuit university of St. Joseph.
A major date is to be marked however, the 16th of March 1942, when together with fifteen other students from the faculties of Law and Medicine, he founded the Orthodox Youth Movement (know as MJO—mouvement de la jeunesse orthodoxe). When talking about that period, metropolitan George’s eyes illuminate: “…Full of Christ’s Spirit, burning with the Gospel, we invented a new language… yes, in our Church the old were resuscitated through their children.” MJO’s renewal was incarnated in a series of places and activities: the rebirth of monasticism, the founding of biblical groups, witnessing among the working class, opening of Christian hostels, living the parish life, social work, etc… Today still, even if the context and problems have changed, metropolitan George’s writings continue to inspire a multitude of orthodox youth fully engaged in the world and in the Church.
In 1952, he returned from Paris with a diploma in theology from l’Institut de Theologie Orthodoxe Saint-Serge. He was ordained priest the 19th of December 1954 and he served the parish of the port of Tripoli from 1955 until his election to the episcopate in the 15th of February 1970 until 3rd of march 2018.
Since then, his influence as a theologian, pastor and spiritual father has never ceased from growing. As a sign of this radiation beyond the frontiers of his diocese, was the title of doctor honoris causa he received from the Saint Vladimir Institute of Orthodox Theology in New York, 1968 and that of the Faculté de Théologie Protestante de Paris in 1988.
He worked in the education field as a professor of Arab Culture in the Lebanese University and of Pastoral Theology in St. John of Damascus Institute of Theology in the University of Balamand.
He is very engaged in the ecumenical movement and in the dialogue with Islam; he represented the Antiochian See in many pan-orthodox and ecumenical meeting, his lectures and interventions in this domain are constantly published in many languages.
In addition to this, he remains a voice of regeneration in the Arab world through his weekly articles in the Lebanese newspaper An Nahar.
His articles, sermons, and conferences were collected and published in several books and revues by An Nour (lit. “The light”—MJO’s publisher), An Nahar publishing and the Archdiocese of Mount Lebanon. Some of these books are: “The New Antioch”, “Sunday’s Word”, “Hope in Wartime”, “Sunday’s Standpoints”, “Lebanese Issues”, “The Movement as an enlightenment & a Calling”, “The Spirit & the Bride”, “Places of Prostrations & The New Life”. But his main book remains: “And If I Recounted the Paths of Childhood”, which was translated to French: “Et si je disais les chemins de l’enfance”.
A paragraph from his farewell sermon delivered to his parish in the Port of Tripoli:
“…The priest is a man entrusted by God to gather His dispersed people through Word & Sacraments; he is also commanded to edify himself by the Gospel. Inasmuch the edification of the shepherd is possible; inasmuch the edification of the flock on the ways of the Lord becomes possible…
The Lord willed for me, through His grace, to depart for another place in this country in order to also serve God’s People. I am still a novice on the ways of righteousness. The culpability of your little brother is shocking; I beg your forgiveness for my culpability and my sins…”Continue reading