"The oppressor can kill the body, but the soul," by Patriarch Michel Sabbah

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Sunday 16.6.2019

“Anyone who finds his life will lose it; anyone who loses his life for My sake will find it.”(Mathtew10:39) We said that Jesus is a sign of contradiction in many aspects, in His own life and existence, in His teachings, for example in the Beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount (cf. Mt 5sq). But especially in His death on the Cross willingly, He of whom Saint John in his gospel said: “Through him all things came into being, not one things came into being except through him” (Jn1:3).

In today’s verse, object of our reflection, we also find contradiction. We all say life is life and death is death but here Jesus says: What do you think that life is leads to death, and what you consider death is a door to life. "Anyone who finds his life will lose it; anyone who loses his life for My sake will find it"

This means that searching one’s life on Earth or in the needs of the body alone, one will find that everything is passing away and one will lose life.

Jesus also said: “Human beings live not on bread alone” (Mt 4: 4)”. It is not only on Earth that man lives. The Earth will pass, and whoever seeks life on Earth knows that everything on Earth will pass.

"He who saves his life loses it," he who puts his life within the limits of this Earth, within the limits of the body or of his ego, and deprives oneself from the power of the universal love, will not find life; he will lose his life.

Monday 17.6.2019

"Anyone who loses his life for My sake will find it." (Mt 10:39) The first meaning may be applied to martyrdom: He who offers his life for his faith, finds it in eternal life. But here on Earth, he who sacrifices any aspect of life for the sake of the truth in order to come nearer to God, and to the universal love of his brothers, will find life perfected.

Anyone who subordinates one's inclinations and all manifestations of life to the great commandment of love will find life. As much as one gives and contributes to the life of brothers and sisters, one will have “more” life, even here on Earth.

He who opposes evil in himself, he who sacrifices hatred, killing and injustice in himself, will find true human life here on earth and in eternity.

The one who gives, who loses something of oneself for the sake of God, will find whole life filled with the goodness of God. When one gives to others, one's life becomes like the life of Jesus Christ, a source of life for many.

He who loses his life, who gives it, will find life in two directions: One will come closer to God; one will have a deeper understanding of the meaning of life and creation. One will have better knowledge of Jesus Christ, the Light, the Way, the Truth and Life. On the other hand, on Earth, as much as one has loved and given to brothers and sisters, one has given oneself.

Tuesday 18.6.2019

“Disciple is not superior to teacher, nor slave to master. It is enough for disciple to grow to be like teacher, and slave like master.” (Mt 10: 24-25) Lord Jesus Christ said this after he had spoken to the apostles about the persecutions they would encounter from the people, both official and non-official. He said to them, "'Be prepared for people to hand you over to sanhedrins and scourge you in their synagogues. You will be brought before governors and kings for my sake, as evidence to them and to the gentiles.” (Mt 10: 17-18) As they treated me, they will treat you, as they persecuted me, they will persecute you.

Therefor be ready to know how to deal with people, who accept you as they accepted me or refuse you as they refused me.

The Christian must always determine his positions under this inherent contradiction: on one side, the commandment of love to God and to all people, friends and enemies, far and near; on the other side, he has to face and resist all evil coming from anybody, who remains despite his evil, image of God, loved by God and by oneself. The position is difficult in this contradiction: love the enemy but resist his evil.

In this contradiction other verses explain and direct the practical attitude. The main principle: one must not accept evil, for any reason. At the conclusion of Our Father prayer, we say: "Deliver us from evil". St Paul said: “Do not be mastered by evil, but master evil with good.” (Rom 12: 21)

Resisting evil is necessary, but not with the same way, doing evil. Second, love itself rejects evil, whether from us or from others. Evil must be resisted, defeated, and removed, whether on individual or national level. The Christian faces difficulties, not with grievance and complaint, but by resistance, and transforming them into good.

Wednesday 19.6.2019

“Disciple is not superior to teacher”. In this verse we can find two meanings. The first is: as the teacher has faced adversity in his life, disciple will also face difficulties. And the second: “It is enough for disciple to grow to be like teacher”, that is to face difficulties, the same way as faced by his teacher. This means a Christian is the imitator of Jesus Christ. A Christian looks to the life of Lord Jesus in all its circumstances and aspects, when he was welcomed by people, and when he was rejected, and shapes his own personality in conformity with the personality of Jesus. Jesus is model and guide.

A Christian meditates how Jesus dealt with people who refused Him and His teachings, and faces one’s own difficulties in life as Jesus did. He looks to Jesus’ prayer, which was a union with God as it appeared in the Transfiguration on the mount, (Lk 9: 28) and makes his own prayer a moment of truth and union with God, not mere external rites. Jesus had mercy on people, the Christian too must be merciful and care for all people.

Jesus made us also able to do as much as he did, if we have true faith. Indeed we have a great source of spiritual energy in us, based on our faith, if we have faith. If we keep looking to Jesus Christ, meditating His mystery, we will discover our own mystery and our spiritual power." It is enough for disciple to grow to be like teacher”. St. Paul said, "Make your own the mind of Christ Jesus" (Philippians 2: 5). He also said: "As God's dear children, imitate God." (Eph 5: 1)

God Almighty is the one Whom we are called to imitate. Jesus also said, "Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect" (Matthew 5:48). This is our model and ideal. Christians, live fully on Earth, but keep looking to Heaven.

Thursday 20.6.2019

“Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; fear him rather who can destroy both body and soul in hell” (Mt 10: 28).

Jesus said many times to his disciples, "Do not be afraid. Do not be afraid, little flock, (cf Lk 12: 32) because you are few. "Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid," (Jn 14: 27) when you face adversity. Do not be afraid of those who can kill the body, not the soul, nor the faith inside the soul. The Christian should not fear if his faith is true, and if he has true love for all.

No one can deprive a believer of his faith. The oppressor can kill the body, but the soul, he has no power on it, neither on the faith in it. The believer alone, with the grace of God, has power on his faith. No temptation or intimidation, no persecutor or killer of the body has any power on your faith.

What is said about faith applies to all essential human values, such as freedom and dignity. Oppressors can impose on a person humiliations and tortures; they can confine him to prison. But no one can deprive him of his own freedom. Oppressors may deprive a person the manifestations of his freedom, but his freedom in himself is a stronghold which no human power can reach. In the darkness of prisons, a free man remains a human being with all his dignity, freedom and humanity. The oppressed may be, in his torture and humiliation, more humane than his oppressors. Faith and freedom in an individual or a people cannot be eradicated by human power, which can kill the body, not the soul.

Friday 21.6.2019

“Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul”. In this verse we can see two meanings. The soul belongs to God. Faith is a gift from God and the believer keeps it with the grace of God. He alone can also lose it and abandon it, due to weakness or ignorance. But those who kill the body cannot reach it.
The second meaning: Do not be afraid. You are the stronger, when it comes to maintaining your faith and your freedom. You can lose a military confrontation, but a soldier with all his weapons cannot change what is in your souls. What is in yourselves, your faith or your freedom, if you are strong and steadfast, there remains in you for your good and that of the community, and for all the generations after you. Faith is a gift to the person, and to the community. It is participation in the faith of the whole Church. It is a shared life. Through the faith of the persons, the faith of the community is stronger. When personal faith weakens, weakness pervades and affects also the faith of the community.

Do not be afraid. Jesus Christ said: God takes care of you. Your Heavenly Father, your Creator. He accompanies you in your life. Be aware of His presence, see Him, live with Him, and love Him and all your brothers and sisters.

Your faith is not only a human affiliation to a human community, it is not only external rites or prayers. It is belonging to God, it is living with God, loving God and your neighbor.

Saturday 22.6.2019

“If anyone gives so much as a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is a disciple, then in truth I tell you, he will most certainly not go without his reward” (Mt 10: 42).

Loving people, caring for them, appears in all sorts of good actions done to help anyone, in great and small actions. A small action, such as offering a cup of cold water, may seem worthless. The value of a human action is not in what is offered, but in the spirit and the intention in which the action is done. Does one make a good action to be seen and praised by people? Or does he act because he is a “disciple”, that is, because he believes in God, and he sees in all people the creature of God and the image of God? This is what makes a difference in a human action and shows its value.

The cup of water, offered for God, to man created by God, has great value, equal to any other offering, big sums or the like. The goal is to worship God Almighty in honoring the man whom God created. The goal is to worship God in an effort to preserve the dignity of a human being who has lost his dignity for any reason, whether oppressed by others, by circumstances, or he harmed himself by his own fault.

A cup of cold water may be understood literally as it is, or it means caring for any human need. It may be offering big sums; it may be helping a person in any financial crisis, or in poverty, or in any injury. It may also be helping someone in any spiritual difficulty in his life.

The cup of cold water is any attention to any material or spiritual need of our brothers and sisters. Honoring a human being because he is the creature of God is honoring God Himself.

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