I had an uncle that was responsible, sixty years ago, for all Church properties in the city of Tripoli and he increased its resources by ten times in several years. He used to build a lot. I asked him once: How does the money of Church properties benefit you? He said: to build. So I told him: And after building, what do you do with it? He said: we build.

Of course, when my uncle was adding a property after the other, the poor were starving and I had a feeling that some families were given some pounds per month only to stay silent and there was no plan to increase their living. They used to think back then that it is destined for people to stay either poor or rich. I still feel that some of the responsible for our church properties escape from the poor through construction. Therefore I was extremely happy when the parish council in “Mansouriyeh, Al Maten” took an important decision in their journey that was recorded in the report of one of their meetings: “People are more important than construction”, and also another decision that makes the poor their first concern.

Money gives a feeling of power and constructions give a feeling of persistence. This is the old man in us, the man that desires this world. However, he who feels that the poor are his first concern shall know that he will be persistent in the Kingdom of God. The expression “to protect Church properties” is an incomplete expression at least, because the question is: Why do you want to protect? I have never heard a person telling me: I protect the properties so that they make me gain money that I would spend on the poor. These are the words of the Psalms: “Full of splendor and majesty is his work, and his righteousness endures forever”. We don’t try to persist our feet on earth, but to persist our minds and hearts in heaven.

The Archdiocese lies under the burden of its charity. And the brothers that ask for charity because of a sickness or a delay in paying the rent of their houses or the fees of their children come to me from parishes that have money in the banks. Why do we have all these deposits? Why do some people behave by holding on to this money as if they are being stingy with their own money? There would be an obvious oppression over the poor and negligence towards them if we rebuked them or if we became bored from them.

This isn’t the disaster. The great disaster is to want the financial responsibility to be for families, while the canon gives it to pious people that are gifted with the spirit of service and versed in this service. Your family might not have any gifted people or the spirit of service might be weak in it. Therefore, you would be seeking power for your family and you don’t find a field for this power except in the Church. Your family might not have any member that has the spirit of consultation or the ability to have a calm discussion. And if you really loved God and really wanted Christ’s glory in your village, you shouldn’t hold on to your family in this issue and you should leave the idea of familial representation because the Church of the poor and glory denying Jesus is only served by meek people that know the right behavior.

Perhaps the most lethal mistake in the familial approach is to believe that the Church is composed out of families while it is really made out of individuals. I felt humiliated several times when I was told: “You are not only a priest (or bishop), you are one of our family”. Those people didn’t see that the honor of priesthood that I carry is more important than my belonging to their family.

If we didn’t get liberated from the nightmare of the family, we won’t be for Christ. “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me”. We were not born from flesh and blood neither from the desire of a man and woman, we were born from God, and we don’t have any partnership between us except through becoming God’s sons.

Translated by Mark Najjar

Original Text: “في روح مجالس الرعية” –Raiati 30- 28.07.2002