"Jesus rebuked the waters and there was total calm'' by Patriarch Michel Sabbah

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  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_sort::options_validate() should be compatible with views_handler::options_validate($form, &$form_state) in /home/abounaor/public_html/english/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_sort.inc on line 0.
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  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_query::options_submit() should be compatible with views_plugin::options_submit($form, &$form_state) in /home/abounaor/public_html/english/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_query.inc on line 0.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_style_default::options() should be compatible with views_object::options() in /home/abounaor/public_html/english/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_style_default.inc on line 0.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_row::options_validate() should be compatible with views_plugin::options_validate(&$form, &$form_state) in /home/abounaor/public_html/english/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_row.inc on line 0.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/abounaor/public_html/english/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 1113.
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  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_field_user::init() should be compatible with views_handler_field::init(&$view, $options) in /home/abounaor/public_html/english/sites/all/modules/views/modules/user/views_handler_field_user.inc on line 0.
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Sunday, August 18, 2019

O Lord, save us, for we are perishing." (Matthew 8: 25)

When in distress, God is with us. He is our refuge. He saves us from all hardships, disease, fear, anxiety and poverty, as well as war, occupation and siege. Therefore, when in difficulties, we renew our faith in God.

Where we cannot act, God is almighty and can. His ways to help us, his presence with us are sometimes visible to us and sometimes invisible. Anyway, we keep saying with the Psalmist: “In my distress I called, God heard me and brought me relief. With God on my side I fear nothing; what can human beings do to me?” (Ps 118: 5-6) The invocation of the oppressed is never lost. It remains in the heart of God.

On the other hand, dangers move everything that seemed to have died in us; they awaken in us all the energies of life. Dangers and threats challenge us to know how to use all energies that God placed within us, our determination, our love and our trust in him. With patience, love and trust in God, we are able to resist, be steadfast, survive, and challenge all frustrations. With all that, we keep hope alive.

We have several energies within us. Though much evil entered human life, God has granted us enough goodness to combat evil in all its forms. "I shall not die, I shall live to recount the great deeds of God.” (Psalm 118/117:17) This is the motto of a human being who believes in humanity and in God. "I shall not die; I shall live”.

Monday, August 19, 2019

"Why are you frightened you who have such little faith?" (Matthew 8: 25)

Jesus was with the apostles. They knew Him and they knew that he had power that was not every human being’s. Despite that, in the storm, they were afraid.

"Then Jesus rebuked the waters and there was total calm.” (Matthew 8: 26)

The apostles were astonished; the Gospel did not say: their faith increased. In fact, their faith will be completed only after the Resurrection, on Pentecost Day, the day they were filled with the Spirit of God and began speaking with the power of the Spirit.

We believe in God. We know that the storm may pass through our lives, and we know that God is with us, so we believe that we will overcome evil in us and others.

Evil which comes from ourselves, we may tolerate. We may accept it and even get used to it but we must also resist our “own evil” and overcome it. God gave us the power to do that.

Evil which comes from others, we also resist and overcome it. God granted us the power for that too.

Oppression will have an end, either by our resistance to it or by an immanent self-destructive power in it. Death destroys death and evil destroys evil.

An oppressor oppresses oneself when one oppresses one's brother. A killer kills oneself when one kills a brother. The oppressor bears in himself own death. This is the law of evil. It is self-destructive. All dictatorships and tyranny in human history have disappeared. The tyranny of today will also disappear.

”Why are you frightened you of such little faith?” Believe in God, and believe in yourselves, in the goodness God installed in you. Let everyone, every oppressed, say with the Psalm: "I shall not die. I shall live.” (Psalm 118/117:17)

Tuesday 20.8.2019

When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi he put this question to His disciples, 'Who do people say the Son of man is? And they said, 'Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.'
'But you,' He said, 'who do you say I am? Then Simon Peter spoke up and said, 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Matthew 16: 13-16)

“But you, who do you say I am?”

Who is Jesus Christ? The Apostles spent time with Jesus, accompanying Him permanently, listening to Him and watching His deeds and miracles. When asked the question: “You, who do you say I am?” Peter answered for all of them: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God”. Yet, despite this confession, he was unable to believe in the universal redemptive mission of Jesus.

When Jesus started to reveal to the apostles the reality of his mission, that he would suffer, die and rise from the dead, Peter objected with violent spontaneity and love, and said: No, Lord, this will not happen to You. No one will harm You. You will not die.

The Apostles remained with Jesus for some time, accompanying Him and listening to Him. Despite that, they could not understand everything.

We, too, accepted our baptism soon after birth, and we believed in Jesus from our early age. However, we, too, though accompanied by God's grace, for years, do not understand all that we should and what we can understand in our dealings with God, our Creator, father, lover and teacher.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

“You, who do you say I am?”

Peter objected to Jesus, out of love for Him. He will not allow anyone to reach out to his master. But Jesus corrected Peter's love with words that seem to us to be very harsh. He said to him: "Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle in my path, because you are thinking not as God thinks but as human beings do”.

Despite his earlier confession, Peter continued to have human views. Like all the apostles, he still thought the Messiah to be a temporal king, who would "return the Kingdom to Israel," (Acts 1:6) as also expressed by the two disciples of Emmaus, who, after the death of Jesus, returned frustrated to their village Emmaus. (Luke 24:21)

Before the Holy Spirit filled them on Pentecost day, the apostles saw in Jesus Christ, a temporal king who would revolt against the Roman occupation, and return the Kingdom to Israel. Jesus was not that. He said to Pontius Pilate: “My Kingdom is not of this world.” (John 18: 36) Jesus Christ, the incarnate Word of God, came to redeem all humanity, to liberate it from the evil of sin so that every human being is then able to see God's face in one's brethren and be enabled to stop injustices and wars.

This is a new reality for the apostles, a new reality for all humanity, and for those who want to open their hearts and eyes to know who Jesus Christ is. He is not a temporal King but He gives kings, rulers and peoples new thoughts, a new vision and new power with which they can keep the Earth as good as God created it, an earth dominated by love not by wars.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

“You, who do you say I am?”

Peter, and the apostles, confessed that Jesus is the Son of the living God. Then, Jesus began revealing to them that “He was destined to go to Jerusalem and suffer grievously at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes and to be put to death and to be raised up on the third day.” (Matthew 16:21) The apostles did not understand these words. They will understand after the Resurrection, and after being empowered by the Holy Spirit on Pentecost day.

It's hard to go from a human vision to that of God's. God sees what we don't see. "My thoughts are not your thoughts and your ways are not my ways.” (Isaiah 55:8) A human life is a wrestle between our ways and those of God, between our thoughts and the thoughts of God. We mostly stick to hold on our thoughts and ways. We see only one part of our earthly reality. We put God aside in our life, though God is part of our reality. With God’s absence from our life, we expose ourselves to perplexity, anxiety, unanswered questions and suffering.

The life of individuals and the history of peoples is a struggle with God and with God's vision of issues. We often limit ourselves to what we see and understand. When we look to the conditions of humanity today, we see the result of our ways and human limited vision: we find much good, but also much evil: wars, hunger, disease, injustices, poverty, and sufferings.

Man refuses to see all what he is, Earth and heaven, body and soul. He is entrenched in things of the Earth and in the logic of the body that demands only for oneself, and allows easily and frequently injustices and oppression of the other.

Humanity needs a bit of "heaven", so that it may see and do according to what already is present within humanity itself: love, justice, power, and equality among peoples.

Friday, August 23, 2019

“You, who do you say I am?”

Like the Apostles, we have accompanied Jesus Christ since our baptism, since we were born in a Christian home. However, our faith remains incomplete. It remains mixed with a lot of ignorance about Jesus Christ. It remains a belonging to a human faith community. Being a small number, we keep demanding or lamenting. We become sick people. We feel weak and we want to defend ourselves or we ask others to defend us. We might also feel strong, become aggressive and fanatical against others; both attitudes are wrong and a sign of human and faith sickness. Or, pretexting distancing ourselves from fanaticism or sectarianism, we abandon everything, community and faith, which is worse. Liberation from fanaticism and sectarianism can be achieved only by having a true faith, and love to all.

Our faith, if we truly believe and know who Jesus Christ is, completes our humanity, heals our attitudes of weaknesses, frees us from fear and makes us "living branches in the living vine that is Christ", so each one will bear good fruits, love and strength, and serenity of the soul. With this, we may face all difficulties and obstacles, and all oppression and injustices in society. At the same time, we will be able to face all weaknesses coming from within ourselves.

True faith which results from real knowledge of who Jesus Christ is, complements our humanity so that we know how to act in our dealings with all people. True faith complements man, brings one closer to God's goodness, love and power, and enables one to face all challenges and situations.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

“You, who do you say I am? (Matthew 16:15).

True faith, knowing Jesus Christ, is also more than simple knowledge and more than the ability to meet all challenges. Jesus Christ told his apostles and us: “Whoever believes in me will perform the same works as I do myself and will perform even greater works." (Jn 14: 12)

The words of the tempter in the narration of the Creation, in the Book of Genesis, were: "If you eat from the forbidden tree, you will be like gods, knowing good from evil.” (cf. Genesis 3:5) Jesus is promising more. He tells us: if you believe, you will be closer to God. You will be able to do whatever I do myself and even more.

One may naturally ask: How do I reach this degree of faith? The way is clear and simple though it's a difficult way to follow and a “narrow gate” to go through, (Matthew 7:13; Luke 13) The way is the Commandment of Love: Love God and love your neighbor. You may ask: How do I love God? If you love your neighbor you love God, and your faith will be complete. You may also ask: how do I love my neighbor? Loving your neighbor is not a question of feelings or emotions; it is an act of your will, a decision you take to do good to your neighbor. You love your neighbors if you do not wish them any evil, if you do not hurt them with your words or deeds, if you cooperate with him/her to heal him/her from any evil in him/her, even from a “political” evil. You love if you forgive, when forgiveness is required. You love him/her if you go searching for anyone who may be in any kind of need.

If you ask: who is my neighbor? Jesus Christ has already answered your question, in the parable of "The Good Samaritan." (Cf. Luke 10:25 sq) Who's your neighbor? Everyone, near and far, is your neighbor. Every human being, without discrimination, in terms of religion, nationalism or race, is your neighbor.

Every human being is to be loved and to be taken care of by you, because we are all God's children and equally loved by God. We love each other as God loves us.

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