1998, Articles, Raiati

Self-Denial / September 20, 1998

Many of the attitudes of our people can be summed up by the following: I said so and I am not willing to change my mind; if you have a different opinion, I will further insist on what I said; and the two people become two parties. On the other side, we have the Cross that consists of two woody pieces, one vertical and the other horizontal. Vertically, the Christ is oriented towards God His Father; and horizontally, He embraces people in His arms. If you are not oriented towards the Truth, that is God’s Self, words and actions; you can in no way accept others. If you do not tell your friend or foe when he is right “you have convinced me and I will renounce my thoughts”, you are standing outside the way of the Christ who knows no place for you but the Truth, for He said: “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free”.

            This is what Jesus pointed out in the Gospel reading for today: “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” In fact, cross-bearing is as simple as renouncing your own words – if they were incorrect – and admitting that you have adopted a different and more convenient thought. Being the man of Truth means believing in Jesus for He is the Truth.

            In this context, the Lord claimed: “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” You might gain money, power and prestige; yet all that you have shall be void if you refuse the Truth and insist on falsehood. You cannot enter the Kingdom of God if you keep on resisting the Truth. Nothing is of more importance than maintaining your soul in the Truth of God, in honesty and purity. This is why He said: “What will a man give in exchange for his soul?”

Man is made by his heart, not by the money in his pocket or his bank account. If you were the reference of the Truth, so falsehood will have no place in your words, behavior and intentions; then you shall have an unparalleled strength. And the Kingdom of God would be already bestowed upon you.

The main question for the followers of the Cross religion is the following: Do I accept to be crucified as required by my baptism? Am I ready to mortify my desires in order to live with the Christ? If I do not do so, the Cross would only be a piece of wood or gold attached to my neck; a symbol with no meaning. We are invited to go beyond the symbol and reach for the meaning that is the new life. The first desire to be mortified is the worship we offer for ourselves and our opinions. This is arrogance; and the arrogant is a sinner because he considers himself a god; he does not see his brother in humanity and does not embrace him. He worships his own words, his own attitudes. The whole world is made by his arrangement, his own decisions; and all people have to comply with his plans. He cannot accept the failure of any of his plans.

The Cross of the Christ would only be a beautiful melody if we do not believe that our situation is one of crucifixion, of self-denial, of listening and respect to others; so that we can feel the sufferings and needs of others. The Cross is when I embrace others into my heart and we ascend our way to the Christ who brings us together.

Translated from Arabic – 27.03.10

Original Text: “إنكار الأنا” – 20.09.98

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1998, Articles, Raiati

The Word Dwelling in Us / March 29, 1998

We hear the word of lust in us. It shouts in us, it noises, and it calls us to follow it. If we obeyed it, we would be satisfied, or we would rather convince ourselves to be. The alcoholic drink calls you to follow it. And if you became dependent, you would think that this is good. If you became addicted to power, if you controlled people and knew your status, you will enjoy the pleasure of power, thinking that this is good. You will create some convictions, a group of convictions you would someday consider as your own religion; and if you were sincere, this will be your true religion.

            You will try in vain to disregard the voice of lust in you, should you not believe that it is truly harmful. You will not reach this conviction unless you realize that there exists something far more rewarding and lasting. But, who will tell you that frankness is more beneficial than lying, and that it does really save you? Your objection here might be: how could frankness save me when it leads me to lose my job and success in life? The only way to know the need to be sincere is to feel that lying makes you hurt others, or at least it makes you lose your audacity and regress. If you feel that a frank position leads you to an internal peace and exhilaration, you shall be set on the way of truth.

            You need someone to tell you that a certain virtue revives an aspect of your personality. That someone should be convincing, speaking without mistake; and you shall be able to trust him, for you will know that he has both wisdom and love for you.

            This unique being is the Christ. He spoke once and for all in the Gospel. He addresses your person, just as you are, with all your weaknesses, to turn you into a wondrous person. If you wish to get rid of all that hurts you, you shall give yourself for Him, for you know that He loves for you what you do not love for yourself, and that He knows where your interests truly lie, unlike you. How do you ask Him about your interests? He told you in His Gospel, and through the teachings of His disciples, what has the power to make you a good person. He said that you ought to set aside all that hampers your reaching a righteous life, just as He told Peter and Andrew to leave their nets and follow Him, and as He told James son of Zebedee and his brother John to leave their nets and father and follow Him.  

            There is always a separation from what you think is a pleasure, from the love for money that hinders your forming an independent personality that prevails over money. He calls you to leave the love for power and to be humble while in a powerful position, for in power exists a selfishness that imprisons you. He also asks you to abstain from sexual activity outside marriage, no matter how tempting it is, for it destroys you and takes away your freedom.

            The Christ in you is His word in you. The Gospel is the source from which you can take this word, if you keep on reading it on a daily basis, and if you let your mind adapt to it. This is why Paul claimed: “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 2: 5) Your struggle is to reject the mind that the sins implanted in you and made you utter. If you acquire in your heart the mind of Christ, your mind shall be as the Christ’s. And this explains the psalm: “Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.”  (Psalm 119: 11)

            This is the key to repentance; to keep the mind of Lord in store so as to reject with it the words that the Evil wants you to hear. When the Lord said “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Mathew 4: 4), He meant that this new life in you makes you forthwith reject the words of death implied to you by the Evil. A true repentance is one that allows the word of Christ to inhabit you.

Translated from Arabic – 12.05.10

Original Text: “سكنى الكلمة فينا” – 29.03.98

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