'Money is a means, a tool not a god to be worshiped' by Patriarch Michel Sabbah

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Sunday, 19.5.2019

From the teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ: 'No one can be the slave of two masters: He will either hate the first and love the second, or be attached to the first and despise the second. You cannot be the slave both of God and of money. (Matthew 6:24).

Money is part of the Earth's goods. It has a power for good or bad according to its use, both in the lives of individuals and states. The simple principle that Jesus Christ says is that money cannot be a "god" or a master who controls life and behavior.

God is the One God, the Creator, the Redeemer and the Merciful. However, some people turn money into a “god”. They make it an absolute master in life both for those who have money or who have not; they are bound by greed and the pursuit of money by all means To those Jesus says: You cannot serve God and money.

Money is a means, a tool not a god to be worshiped. It is good as long as it is used for good living when it becomes a ‘master’ for which human and divine values are sacrificed, when human fraternity is sacrificed, or even when it becomes a cause of blindness that one can no more see ones’ neighbor and prevents one from seeing one’s poor brother, as in the example of the rich and poor Lazarus in the Gospel of St Luke (Luke 16: 19). In this case, money becomes a public danger for its owner and for humanity at the states’ level, and individuals’ daily life.

Monday 20.5.2019

Lord Jesus Christ said: You cannot serve God and money. You cannot make gods out of money or anything else for yourself. Money in your hands must remain a power for more love and compassion among humans. When it is a tool for more selfishness and blindness that prevents seeing the need of others, it is an evil which must be corrected. Money must obey you for your own dignity and that of every human being, not the opposite.

Everything in human beings is good as long as one remains master of oneself bearing the image of God, and as such loving the neighbor and sharing God’s gifts with neighbors. The whole Earth, with all its resources, was created by God to be a source of good for all humans. On God’s Earth, individuals learn to build, develop and share the fruits of the earth with all brothers and sisters.

God's Earth belongs to all God’s children, to be shared by all. Money, even if it is the result of personal efforts, is the fruit of the land of God, and your brother is part of yourself. Money is a power to help you see your brother, share and build together your humanity.

Tuesday 21.5.2019

From the teachings of Our Lord Jesus Christ: “That is why I am telling you not to worry about your life and what you are to eat, nor about your body and what you are to wear… Think of the flowers growing in the fields; they never have to work or spin…. Now if that is how God clothes the wild flowers growing in the field which are there today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow, will he not much more look after you, you who have so little faith?... Set your hearts on his kingdom first, and on God's saving justice, and all these other things will be given you as well” (Mt 6: 25.26.28.30.33).

God created man; He continues to create humans at every moment. He loves His creation and cares for it. As much as humans are present before the Creator, they become aware of the love and care of God for them. As long as humans remain close to their brethren and carry with them their worries, the love of others is a source of truth and light which enables them to see God and be strengthened by His love.

As far as a person distances oneself from the Lord, and develops alone without God, without caring for brothers and sisters, one’s own money may become a burden or a source of preoccupation, instead of being a source of life and love for God and for one’s brethren.

But whatever humans forgets about God and about their brethren, God remains close with His constant love, and his brothers and sisters remain there and remind them that the essence of life is a permanent sharing with brothers and sisters.
No matter how far humans distance themselves from God, God does not abandon them. Man may go, but God does not go away. He remains near His creatures.

Wednesday 22/5/2019

Do not worry. Do not burden your souls with worries. Be still. Do not fear, do not let worries overwhelm you. God loves you and takes care of you. No matter how difficult the situation is, believe in God and that the dawn is coming. Yes, you have to strive, to do your part of work, and God will complete it. Keep always serene, quiet, do let neither fear nor despair take hold of you.

This is the meaning of the words of Jesus Christ. He wants you to be strong, confident in God and in yourself, secure in every circumstance in order to feel and behave strong and quiet. This is the meaning of these words, “If that is how God clothes the wild flowers growing in the field which are there today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow, will he not much more look after you, you who have so little faith?”

Believe in God. Believe in His grace and love for you. The psalmist said: God never abandons those who seek Him (Ps 9: 10),"God watches over those who fear him, those who rely on his faithful love" (Ps 33: 18). He also said: “Though hardships without number beset the upright, God brings rescue from them all” (Ps 34: 19). Saint Peter said in this same meaning that God tests the righteous by fire (1Pt 1: 7) but He does not abandon them.

In the middle of the storm, remain secure. The storm came upon the apostles in the midst of the lake. They were afraid but Jesus said unto them; “Why are ye afraid, ye of little faith? (Matthew 8:23).

God is always there. Even when man abandons God, God is always here.

Thursday, 23/5/2019

God cares about all His creation, plants, animals and man. Man is the image of God, and his life is a journey with God.

We believe that God loves and cares for us. When we look at the reality of human life, at poverty and wealth, at diseases, famines and wars, several questions arise. We ask: Why? Why are there wars and famines in the world, why war continues in our region, and injustice goes on here in our country with one people oppressing another. In the case of the poor and the rich, one asks: Why is this that one has plenty and one is hungry? When sickness happens or young people die, we ask if God takes care of us and loves us, why should all these evils happen to us?

In the face of the mystery of evil in the lives of individuals and peoples, there are many partial answers, but they do not give the one real answer which is to confess that we do not have an answer. However, we believe in God. We know that He creates and loves us. We truly believe that both in good and bad days. Therefore in bad days, we renew our faith.

Facing the mystery of evil indeed, one can lose faith in God and in the goodness of man when there is injustice, oppression, humiliation, easy killing, as it happens with us in our daily life.

However, if humans are well-rooted in humanity and in faith in God, when faced with difficulties, they renew their faith in God, renew their faith in their own goodness, in the goodness of man in general despite the evil of the wicked. The simple prayer then will be: Oh God, I am suffering. I do not see or understand. I am in the middle of the storm, and I trust that You will order it to calm down. I know I have to do my part as much as I can. I think as much as I can and I resist as much as I can. But you, Lord, Creator and Omnipotent, you see the oppression. "Lord, look down from heaven and see" (Psalm 80: 14).

“God has leaned down from the heights of his sanctuary, has looked down from heaven to earth, to listen to the sighing of the captive, and set free those condemned to death” (Ps 102: 19-20)

Friday 24.5.2019

“Set your hearts on His Kingdom first, and on God's saving justice, and all these other things will be given you as well” (Mt 6:33).

Facing evil and hardships, we renew our faith in God because we believe in the goodness of God and we believe in our own goodness which is part of the goodness of God. We do not lose our faith in the goodness of man because we see, along with evil and evil people, many good people. We believe and renew our faith in the goodness of man. And “we set our hearts to seek the kingdom of God” trusting God to complete our action and our quest for goodness.

When God created Earth, He saw that everything he had created was very good (Genesis 1:25). Man also was good because God created him in His image, able to be good and to love, like Him.

Then Cain killed his brother Abel and spoiled the goodness that was in him. After Cain, the evils multiplied among men. However, man did not lose the essence of being in the image of God, and in the goodness of his Creator. No matter what evils befall, man is able to stop whatever is evil and overcome it by his goodness and love. Do not let evil prevail over you, whether it comes from yourself or from others. Believe and know that you are able to resist evil and to do good. Know that Jesus Christ said to you: “In truth I tell you, if your faith is the size of a mustard seed you will say to this mountain: move from here to there, and it will move; nothing will be impossible for you" (Mt 17: 20). With a grain of faith you can move mountains. Believe in your humanity, in your goodness that you are able to resist evil and move the mountains, that is, you are able to change the situation.

Look how you can actually move the mountains. If you believe you can. See how you can do it.

Saturday 25.5.2019

Further teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ: "Enter by the narrow gate, since the road that leads to destruction is wide and spacious, and many take it; but it is a narrow gate and a hard road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (Matthew 7: 13-14).

The ‘narrow gate’ is a challenge in every human life, although achieving life through difficulties and hardships is the law of human life. Yet, in every human being there is a tendency to escape from difficulties and to walk the easy ways. Some walk on the tops of mountains, others on the plain.

The narrow door is the safety door. Building oneself requires facing difficulties. For man, life in the spirit or spiritual life that leads to see God and live in His light, requires special efforts, asceticism and mortification. To come out from oneself, to be able to see God and the brothers require hardship and going through the narrow gate. A man who achieves himself through difficulties is the strong one who can see God, and resist evil in himself and in others. He is also the strong who supports the others. This is the strength by which man can contribute in the building of his society.

Jesus also said: The heavens require “special strength”. He said:"The Kingdom of Heaven has been subjected to violence and the violent are taking it by storm” (Matthew 11: 12). The Kingdom of Heaven on Earth is to live according to the will of God, and to install on Earth the kingdom of goodness and love of all brothers and sisters. It is also eternal life, after this earthly life, when God grants us to contemplate His glory and find our eternal happiness.

Achieving all this is not an easy thing. It requires the struggle of man with himself, to purify himself from a deviated and destructive egoism, to be able to see God and the brethren. It requires strength to resist as well evil coming from others. It requires overcoming evil in oneself and others; this is “entering the narrow gate”.

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