2002, Articles, Raiati

The Priest and his Place / 29.12.2002

In our Orthodox faith, the bishop is the priest of every parish and altar, and what we call “priest” is the clergyman assigned as a delegate by the bishop to be a pastor for a defined community. The common thing is for the priest to commit to his parish if he had a mission and was active and had a safe structure that allows him to perform a complete service. Our purpose is the parish, its spiritual growth and covering its needs. When this is achieved, all other issues fall apart.

The second thing is that the “workers are few” and that we are raising new priests called by the Lord to fill the churches that have a priest that is already assigned for another parish. It is normal that if a priest appeared, we should fill this gap, first for a known canonical reason which is that a priest can only have one liturgy on a day, and second because real pastoral care requires that one priest serves a definite number of believers. Originally, two hundred houses or a bit more is the maximal number of houses that could be known by one man that can study their situation, and their spiritual and educational needs according to what the Lord said: “I call my sheep with their names”. The close bond between the priest and his parish is essential. Organization, in principle, is done this way: Either the parishes are divided and a church is build for each parish, or more than a priest gather in one church according to the principle of one of them being a protopriest.

The third thing is that aging or having health problems oblige us to put next to the priest a younger one to carry responsibilities that the old priest cannot carry anymore. Here, we should be logical and loyal to understand that the elder is not like the young person in terms of overall practical activity (lots of visits, teaching children and youth, visiting the sick in hospitals). The old priest might be greater in terms of wisdom and maybe piety. However, service is not simply done through wisdom having a body exposed to vanishing.

All of this, of course, requires a special arrangement in terms of the sustenance of priests because no one wants them to be in need knowing that the incapable priest cannot endure being away from the altar. Nevertheless, this obliges the parish or the archdiocese’s administration to insure the living of every clergyman regardless of the size of his activity.

The fourth thing is that if we raised new priests, we must assign them for a place. We don’t want to lose their talents and using their knowledge. We cannot leave a parish without education and bible studying eves. We are responsible for delivering preaching to every creature, and therefore we found a theological institute in Balamand so that the Gospel is spread between people.

We are in need to establish new parishes.  Orthodox people are now spread in all places and there are regions without pastors. We are obliged to build new churches and consequently to cut some neighborhoods from churches with lots of believers or to increase the number of liturgies in a church using new priests.

In addition to that, we might be obliged sometimes to transfer priests from their places to other places as some of them might be more qualified to serve another parish and this happens according to reasons we see. Transferring is not a punishment for anyone. A person that is not brought to a disciplinary council for a violation he did is not punished. In this process of transfer, the bishop goes back to his wisdom in managing affairs, especially that the priest is his delegate and the bishop knows the right place to assign him. This is not a saddening issue, and the Lord’s server should never be sad. It is obvious that the archdiocese must take into consideration the situation of the man, his family, and the environment that he can have harmony with.

It is obvious that we cannot take the opinion of a whole community regarding this issue. The bishop cannot explain to all people the reasons that made him transfer a priest. This disrupts the whole pastoral work. Transferring doesn’t carry any decreasing of the importance of any clergyman. The whole issue is that we are in need of more generosity if we added a second or a third priest. And according to this we must cooperate.

This is the question: If you wanted us to have an active Orthodox existence, you must put a lot of effort. I cannot endure the fact that Christ’s word and the Holy Sacraments are not delivered to some of our sons. We are able now to fill some gaps. After some years, I hope that God will make us succeed in filling all gaps. I hope that you could understand me, cooperate with me and trust me that every new arrangement comes only from my love to all of you. I cannot endure the fact that our children are hungry and that we are not able to fill their hunger.

Translated by Mark Najjar

Original Text: “الكاهن ومكانه” –Raiati 52- 29.12.2002

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Getting Ready for Communion / 03.11.2002

Believers started having communion in every liturgy when they discovered the meaning of participation and the greatness of being nourished through the body of the Lord. Without any doubt, lots of people receive many graces through this. However, such large act requires a great purification as we cannot approach communion automatically or with levity but with an honest repentance. No one of us can judge the other and say within himself: “This person does this and that, how does he have the courage to approach?” This is not your business; you must only be concerned in purifying your soul. In this sense, the apostle has said: “So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord.  Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup.  For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves”.

What does being worthy mean? Is any person in the universe worthy of communion, even if he had a true repentance? For Paul, this is a call for man to be aware of the state of his soul and to regret what he has done and promise the Lord not to repeat the sin intentionally. Yes, it is beneficial for him to confess for his spiritual father or any other priest in case he couldn’t reach the spiritual father. This must occur several times per year and also whenever the believer commits a big sin which made him feel away from the Lord.

However, if the sacrament of repentance wasn’t practiced, there should be a serious and good preparation. When you spend a long Saturday night eating and drinking and having all kinds of conversations, you wouldn’t be getting qualified to participate in the Lord’s banquet. In order to be alone with Jesus in your soul, you must be isolated from what is against the calmness of the soul.

This is the chastity that pushes towards Jesus’ visage. We express this movement towards the Lord by starting on Saturday night or on the eve of the feast our conversation with the Savior. In some Orthodox communities, no one can have communion unless he participated in the Vespers. At least, you must stay home and perform some prayers: The fixed passages of the Vespers, the Small Compline and then the Metalipsis – that could be found in the Horologion – which is a group of prayers that urge us to repent and get us closer to the Lord’s body.

In the morning, you should go to Church early. The Matins is a preparatory service and I do not understand why we have neglected it. However, you must attend the whole Liturgy. For if you arrived late or in the midst of the Anaphora or some minutes before communion, you seriously shouldn’t have communion. This carries a lot of levity.

Alongside prayer, reading the New Testament makes you meditate in it and become filled with the Lord’s meanings which would dwell in your heart and purify it. During prayer, you speak to the Lord, while through the Holy Book He speaks to you by entering the folds of your soul and inviting it to repentance. The words of the Lord give you eternal life. If you read this Book daily, you would purify your soul more and more and see yourself close to the Lord’s body and blood.

The important thing is the situation of your soul. Do you have spite or hatred towards anyone or did you forgive? And if you have committed a bad thing towards someone, did you ask for forgiveness and did you love? I knew a generation of priests, thirty or forty years ago, that had an essential question: “Are you on bad terms with anyone?” They used to command us to go to that person and ask for forgiveness and if we refused, they would forbid us from having communion. This is what we should preserve.

Then, there remains what is related to the decency of women. This is a condition to enter the Church. If a woman doesn’t have the ability to wear decent clothes, then it isn’t proper for her to enter the Church at the first place. Since we are brothers, it isn’t acceptable for the woman to harm the man. She knows what does decency mean and doesn’t need anyone to teach her.

Everyone is welcome before the Holy Grail. However, approaching it requires awareness and understanding and appreciation to the sanctity of the sacraments in order for Jesus’ purity to descend on us so that we don’t eat and drink judgment on ourselves.

Translated by Mark Najjar

Original Text: “الاستعداد للمناولة” –Raiati 44- 03.11.2002

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Globalization / 15.09.2002

We are looking into globalization because of the cultural and spiritual results it could have if succeeded. Globalization is coming inevitably as an activation of the new liberal economy and the global market that means exchanging goods between all countries. It is accompanied by the large spread of the English language to the extent where some think that it will dominate over the languages of other countries and make their heritage disappear. Many don’t believe that this linguistic dominance is possible because all nations are attached to their languages even if they used English in commerce.

The truly frightening thing is if the great countries dominated smaller ones economically by taking advantage of their resources without giving them much profit. The dream that growing countries had, which is fair exchange, will not be achieved. There is a plan that makes the first world, i.e. the industrial world, monopolize the main industries and high technologies. In the shadow of a renewed colonialism that is coming in new ways, great powers might treat Muslims and Arabs in a bad way, and this will harm us, the Christians of the East, in our relationships with the Muslims that still believe that the West is Christian. We want to remain witnesses for Christ in the Arabian civilization as we have always been where we gave a lot and took a lot too.

We don’t have the capability, being Arabs or Christians, to resist globalization and stop it. However, we can protect ourselves spiritually from its woes. And this could not be done except through a large spiritual renaissance that makes us live Christ in his Church by getting closer to other Christian Churches that must also taste a renaissance in them. Of course, it is not easy to live in a defeated country whose defeat appears not only through its unstable security but also through poverty. This economic regression will push us into believing in money-sharing between the faithful.

The Globalization “trend” might take us with its applications on all fields, in art and education. And it is important for Churches to create some modern media means, and some of them already started doing that.

We don’t fear any civilization development. Christians were afraid from modern science and thought that it contradicts the Scripture. Now, they reconciled with science. We are not technology’s enemies; we adopt it as long as it is ethical. However, we have our position regarding the tyranny of nations over nations and we support the weak. Could powerful countries be guided to understand that they will not have persistence if they continued dominating smaller countries? This is what we hope for.

The weak shouldn’t stay crucified and dying from hunger as he is in many countries. Millions of people don’t even have clean drinking water. And we didn’t mention yet lethal diseases found especially in growing countries. Nevertheless, confronting this is not possible except through calling up all our spiritual powers and becoming able to love the weak. This love pushes us into a cultural and political fight for the sake of the one humanity that shortens the distance between the rich and the poor, between people from different religions and different races. Jesus is the savior of man and civilization.

Translated by Mark Najjar

Original Text: “العولمة” –Raiati no37- 15.09.2002

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Gluttonous / 8.9.2002

“Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die”. This is how Paul defines gluttonous. We overeat and drink because we’re afraid from death. And this fear is slavery.

Yes, our nature does require nutrition, but the excess in the request for pleasure is not something from the nature that we inherited from God. Gluttonous is a hunt of pain. A Christian should willingly accept pain because he accepts the cross, and after the cross resurrection comes.

There is no problem in the body; the problem is in the soul that enslaves the body for its pleasure. It distracts the body with temporary pleasure as compensation to facing problems honestly and bravely. If we don’t put God in our depths, we must have the “pleasures” of food; this pleasure that comes through quantity and quality and makes us forget the important things and change what was a mean for living into the purpose of this living. Perhaps what’s more dangerous than food is alcohol that the apostle talked about: “And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation”. Drinking decently is acceptable, but the divine word is clear: “Drunkards do not inherit the kingdom of God”. This is because you can’t inherit it with a lost mind.

In addition to this, scientists and experience say that drinking excessively leads to adultery. Moreover, slavery to the stomach is created; it becomes an alternative God. Sin attracts the person and makes him forget thanksgiving. How many families pray before and after eating? This is why the book says: “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God”. Apostle Paul said this wanting to change us from having food as a center to having God as the center. If we prayed for him before and after eating we would be presenting this food as an oblation.

This way, man does not remain nurtured only from food, but also from his Lord. This is why we have a special prayer for lunch and another one for dinner.

Do not forget that one of the temptations that the Lord had in the wilderness was food. The Lord responded to the devil saying: “Man shall not live by bread alone”. Yes, bread is essential but the more important bread is the bread of the word and the body and blood of the Lord.

Our fathers did not eat any fat and didn’t also eat a lot of kinds of food, and they noticed –as scientists did- that the size of the stomach and intestines decrease when you don’t overeat. They also discovered that fasting is a way to fight corrupt fantasies.

Gluttonous appears through meals if we had a lot them. Our fathers the saints used to welcome strangers but with simplicity and small expense. However, hospitality for us is an occasion for the love of appearance and glut. All of this showing off concerning banquets is harmful and worthless.

Our fathers also show us that if a person did not make his body used to this level, he cannot elevate and obtain virtues. First, strike Gluttonous, which is the madness of the stomach and tongue, and then remember that “Foods for the stomach and the stomach for foods, but God will destroy both it and them”. If we always have in mind the idea of death we will be liberated from the slavery of the stomach that’ll be eaten from worms.

Furthermore, big banquets are occasions to escape from simplicity and our thoughts without facing our conscience. Gluttonous takes us away from the poor people that are our masters in church as St. John the Merciful said. You are invited to austerity in order to give the poor his food instead of having leftovers to throw from your luxurious banquets as if you forgot that people are hungry. The hungry need to live, and need your love.

If you controlled your food you will reach out to the hungry, and thus you will recognize that God is your and their father. This is the sacrament of sharing that Christ invited you to.

Translated by Mark Najjar

Original Text: “الشراهة” – 8.9.2002

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The Love of Appearing / 25.08.2002

When we see Mary’s blessings, her silence and humility, we know that we are nothing if we loved to “appear”. God does not make his beloved ones appear in this world, but in the hearts that love them. Some people are proud of their wealth and like to show it in front of others to astonish them. Others like to show their beauty to make people amazed by it. Some show their intelligence to charm people. So we find a group that considers its wealth as an important thing, a second group that considers its beauty (body) an important thing, and a third one that thinks that about its brilliance.

These are not hearts full of divine presence. People might see your quality, but your quality doesn’t belong to you, so do not feel proud about it. Only God could reveal your virtues so that he is glorified through you. A good person does not own his goodness. It is a pledge given from God.

These three groups that are proud of what they own (money, beauty, education) don’t deeply believe in God. “Give glory to God”. The bible says this to warn us from worthless glory. When the bible uses this word, as if he is saying that this is not glory; this will not be destroyed in you unless you recognized the glory of the crucified. When the Lord said: “O Father, glorify me together with yourself, with the glory which I had with you before the world was”, he meant the glory of the cross. Also we see: “Now the Son of Man is glorified (on the cross), and God is glorified in him”. The important thing was the power of the Father to appear through the death of his son, through the love given for the world. For if you accepted your pain and endured, being attached to Jesus, his magnificence will descend on you. “All flesh is grass, and all its loveliness is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades… But the word of our God stands forever” (Isaiah 40: 6-8).

If all flesh was grass, then all what this flesh inside us own (money, intelligence…) is also grass. We must disappear in order for God’s beauty to pass into us, and this is not possible unless we considered ourselves null. This way we shall enter into the Marian mystery. The Virgin said about her Lord: “He has regarded the lowly state of his maidservant”, therefore God raised her and made her “more honorable than the cherubim and more glorious beyond compare than the seraphim”. When Mary was on earth, she used to hide a lot and nobody used to look at her; and when God raised her to him we started to look at her “clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet”.

Yes, you cannot hide your money, but do not brag about it or tempt people with it; and runaway from splendor because this makes you “appear”. The beautiful woman must not wear makeup in a way that tempts people, and let the ugly know that she might be more beautiful in God’s eyes. And let the one with lots of intelligence use his brain to serve others, and he shall not show his knowledge except when it’s necessary, i.e. when service is required. You can reach humility when you feel that all that you own is neither from you nor for you. Also, when you recognize that only a part of your knowledge (education) is from you but it doesn’t belong to you and that your role is just to express it. People might like what they see in you; but if you hide behind your good qualities you know that these will cause people to glorify God, so you become happy.

If you knew that you’re talented, thank God. This is allowed, but do not make anyone thank you; they are only allowed to thank God for what he gave you. This way, they won’t be limited in you. If you made someone stop and look at you, you would be imprisoning him in you or in what you have.  On the contrary, if you were humble you would be directing him to the Father who gives “every good and perfect gift”, and you would be meeting him in God. This meeting is the church of the sons of heavens who are still alive on earth.

Fight desperately to attract people to Christ’s face, so that his light would be drawn on their faces. Your aim is for all humans to be illumined with Lord’s shine. You are not in the place of God; you can only become his face once you hide yours.  You destroy their faith if you attracted them to you, because faith is to dwell in God. They have the right to be comfortable with you only if you were coming from above; then, this world will become a heaven.

Translated by Mark Najjar

Original Text: “حب الظهور” – 25.08.2002

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Concerning the Spirit of Parish Councils / 28.07.2002

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

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Trust / 02.06.2002

Let us consider that the tendency to individualism is to live for yourself without looking at the group that you belong to and cooperate with. In this popular thinking, one would be only thinking about his own benefit: What could I gain from this person in order to get closer to him or vote for him? On the other hand, it is very rare in our society to think about how could I strengthen this person and take care of him if he’s in need, or how could I encourage him and let people see him if they needed him.

When I don’t leave the borders of my family and clan to see the good things everywhere, this would be called familial fanaticism. However, it is actually an individualism tendency, as I feel stronger through the good and the intelligent and believe that I don’t need to appear when others are better than me. Therefore, I might disappear behind the shadow and feel very comfortable without my conscience and my love towards others. The important thing is not when they say that I am good, but when God does.

Yes, no person can live without joining others, without friendship. And friendship, specifically, is an exodus from the self enclosed ego to a community ego. My entity exists in my friend, and through his guidance and tenderness, it shall become stronger as he becomes stronger through me. Also, you get out of yourself through understanding and this way the community of the knowledgeable is formed.

He who can be beautiful, let him be. The Lord loves our beauty which refreshes others. And he who knows the Word let him talk to benefit others. What benefit does my speech bring if it was silly? “You are the light of the world”: The sin is to turn off the light.

Perhaps the reason behind this isolation is fear from others. The Romans said long time ago: “Man is a wolf for man”. The legitimate position says that a man is innocent until the opposite is proved, while the biblical position says that we should love one another and not think if the other deserves our love or not. You should love without putting conditions on the other or yourself and without waiting for any reward. However, trusting the other from the beginning might help you to love.

When a person comes to you, trust him first. After dealing with him you will know if he deserved your trust. When a person talks, trust him from the beginning because him deceiving you is better than you being unjust through doubting him. For if he saw you doubting him and he was pure, he will become frustrated and maybe would become in severe grief. If you had a lot of experience, you would be able to quickly know the person coming towards you. However, not all of us have this experience. Through trust you shall evoke trust and refresh the soul of the other. Meet the other with love and keep cooperating until you get disappointed. You need the other spiritually and he might need you too spiritually or physically. Numerous souls are saved through trust. Remember what John the beloved said: “Love drives out fear”. A lot of our weaknesses come from fear that doesn’t leave any strength in us.

How do you want us to build the church and become a community for Christ without trust? What is the bond between the members of this community if it wasn’t one’s confidence in another? I am not inviting you to close your mind and not have any analysis. Let your mind be enlightened, precise, and examining, and at the same time receive others in your heart for this might open it.

You cannot live without warmth. Without close people you would dry. It is imposed on you to be close from your father, mother, brothers and sisters; and your relatives might be bad. Therefore, find yourself friends to be the family of your heart.

Translated by Mark Najjar

Original Text: الثقة” ” –Raiati no22- 02.06.2002

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Parish Councils and the Poor / 10.02.2002

The membership of the parish council is not an honorary position for anyone. It is a commissioning of work. Therefore, no one should stick to this membership. It is given to the person that we find qualified, and we might commit a mistake in our selection. It is not acceptable for someone to stay for a long time in the council so that we allow others to serve and so that the maximum number of qualified believers practice service. If the time of the council ended and it wasn’t renewed for someone of its members, this wouldn’t be a denial for his virtues, and changing doesn’t carry sadness. It is a chance for others. Composing the council shouldn’t cause any disturbance in the parish. This issue shouldn’t cause a head ache for the bishop. Any complaint concerning this subject is very tiring for us.

Then we have to understand that we are all servants, “this all is from God and not from us” as Apostle Paul says. In addition to that, the deputy is not a boss over the priest or over any other member. I don’t like to hear someone saying: I built, and I give the priest his salary. No one owes the other especially that no one spends anything from his pocket. The council wasn’t made responsible for the whole parish as there are independent activities from the council especially the work of the youth. The council should give our youth the existing halls to use, and no one should follow the mood of a deputy. The council welcomes every activity blessed by the bishop or priest.

Also the responsibility of the council isn’t only to build and restore. Its first responsibility in the financial issue is to secure the priest’s salary. We want the priest to be supported and not needy. The council doesn’t decide alone this issue because the law obliges the council to put a budget that the archdiocese accept. The council suggests the salary of the priest to the bishop and he decides it because the council doesn’t own the Church properties and no one does. God is the only owner. I get very annoyed when some people say: This is what our ancestors gave. When your ancestor gave this property, he gave it up, and you are not his inheritor in administration.

After securing the priest’s need, there are the poor, Jesus’ beloved and cosseted ones. If these were Jesus’ cosseted ones, they should also be the same for the council members. I receive a lot of poor people from different villages. These are under the responsibility of the village and not the archdiocese especially that 90% of villages or more do not participate in the expenses of the archdiocese. Some parishes are affluent but they still neglect their poor people. The poor are our masters as Saint John the merciful said. Do not stack your money in the banks. This is against the Bible. The Lord wants you to spend your money on the needy so that they feel that the Church is their mother. If we took real care of the poor, our Churches wouldn’t have stayed empty on Sundays. The poor person feels that he is marginalized by the sect.

The excuse that I don’t accept is to say to the poor: We have a construction project that should be completed. My question for you is the following: How does this person live until your project ends? Construction takes years. During this period, he has to eat and educate his children. Our children are more important than all your Churches. The Church is the people and not the stones. Instead of bragging about beautiful large temples, brag about your love towards each other. Therefore, spend continuously on the poor, and if any money is left you can have construction projects.

I hope that you stop the old thinking that you are used to and “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus”. Through this you shall be saved and through this you will witness that you are good deputies.

We need a spiritual insurrection in which you show that you love your priest and every financially weak person. Do not sadden the Lord’s Spirit.

Translated by Mark Najjar

Original Text: “مجالس الرعايا والفقراء” –Raiati 6- 10.02.2002

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Carrying the Other / 20.01.2002

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6: 2). Paul speaks in many occasions about love. However, in this verse, he clarifies that love leads us to carry on our shoulders the difficulties of the other and help him overcome them. If the other fell in any problem, we should work to take him out of it. “It is the re-evaluation of our relative’s issues and the taking care of his affairs” (St. John Chrysostom in his commentary on the book of Genesis).

It is not love when we only console the other and make him feel better through sweet words when he falls, even if these words came from the Holy Book. He might already know the book. When we only mention the verses and confirm to him that God is with him, we wouldn’t be sharing his situations and trying to organize them and fix what was defected. We wouldn’t be supporting him practically.

Giving him a well prepared advice to live in the proper path is the lowest level of faith. We are asked to find a job for this man or woman. We might have connections with employers or a friend that has connections. This man might be in need of a legitimate consultation so we try to get it for free from a lawyer. He might need help in paying his children’s scholastic fees; he could want a spiritual opinion while being in bad marital situations so we help him choose a good person in this field.

We could give a lot of examples. However, what the apostle and St. John Chrysostom said means that love is to do something for the other and not only watch his situation and cry. He doesn’t need someone to cry with him. He needs at least an opinion and an effort to find solutions. You might not have a solution between your hands, but you would have at least thought about a specific situation and put your effort to solve the issue as if you were the one with problems.

This could be specifically applied on those who live in the church and stay next to each other. Every one of those fully commits to the other, and every one of them waits for the attention of those who share him his prayer because if praying didn’t become a service, you brother might consider it untruthful.

This cooperation that we are talking about must be applied through embracing the other. First, you must ask about his situation and then continue following up the developments of the issue that you know about. There is no friendship if you didn’t follow the problems of the friend. If you can’t solve these problems, you can at least feel his difficulties. However, God wants you to consider the case of the other as your personal case and give it full importance so that your love would not be just through words.

None of us must stay alone. Every person, while passing through severe physical or moral tribulations, seeks human warmth. This might be enough for him, and you might not be able to do more than that. Perhaps one very big aspect of the familial life is to feel that the other partner is standing next to us in our sorrow and crisis.

When Paul said: “Carry each other’s burdens”, he didn’t consider that this ends by asking about the health of your friend or the other believer. Paul’s will doesn’t end by having an intellectual discussion with the other. Paul wants you to put your shoulder under the burden that the other is carrying. As a lover, it is your responsibility to take off this burden.

The other thing is what Paul says: “And this way you will fulfill the law of Christ”. Christ’s law is love, and the love that the Lord wants is the love translated into deeds.

We are members of the one body of Christ and this is translated through our meeting to eat his body and drink his blood together. However, Holy Communion is not the end. It is the beginning, and the end is to actually become one in social life and appear to people as one through love.

Translated by Mark Najjar

Original Text: “أن نحمل الآخر” –Raiati no3- 20.01.2002

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