"Jesus says: 'Come to me and I will give you rest'," by Patriarch Michel Sabbah

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Sunday 23.6.2019

“At that time Jesus exclaimed, 'I bless you, Father, Lord of heaven and of Earth, for hiding these things from the learned and the clever and revealing them to little children” (Mt 11: 25).

God reveals His knowledge to the little children, to those who know that they are small, that they do not know everything but know that they are not the creators of everything. They see things simply and see the Creator. They hear about faith and believe simply in their heart. They do not make out of their mind or of the little they know an obstacle to the gift of faith God offers them. The simple believers do not know as much as the theologian or the scholar but they know the essence of science and knowledge, that God exists, He is the Creator of all things and He is merciful. This is the "simple" experiment the existence of God in their daily life.

While "the great" have no ability to see God, these "great" are the ones who want to become like God, as in the first temptation of Adam and Eve. The tempting voice said, "If you do not obey the will of God, you will become like God" (cf. Gen 3: 5). This is a permanent temptation that accompanies the one who forgets the Creator and thinks that one is alone in the universe: One wants to become like God, but without God.

The second temptation is like the first: in a conscious or unconscious way, man wants to replace God. In the narrative of the creation in the Bible, we read these words as if said by God: "Behold Adam has become like one of us" (cf. verse 22 of the same chapter).

The result for some who replace God is that they turn themselves into gods while they are not; they cannot do what God does; they behave like humans only and produce much good and much evil, as we see in the history of peoples. Many civilizations are built by men, with civilizations, wars, famines and diseases persist. Especially in the domain of politics, some become oppressors of their brothers imposing tyranny or military rule and occupation on another people.

Monday 24.6.2019

'I bless you, Father, Lord of heaven and of earth, for hiding these things from the learned and the clever and revealing them to little children”.

Lord Jesus prayed and thanked the Father for His gifts, because He gives the little and the simple, and does not give the wise and the learned. In the Virgin Mary’s "Magnificat” (cf. Luke 1: 51-53), we also find that God stands beside the poor, the hungry and the oppressed, and opposes the mighty and those who have everything. Is this a consecration of poverty or a sign that we must stand like God alongside the poor, the oppressed and the hungry? No, God does not want us to remain poor and hungry. Even when we are struck by poverty or hunger, and abandoned by our relatives or friends in our poverty and hunger, God does not abandon us; He cares for us. The lesson is that we must be like God; we must side with the poor, the hungry and the oppressed.

The causes of poverty and hunger or wars are the injustices of man imposed on others. It is a global economic system that produces for some great prosperity and a lot of money but for others, much hunger and poverty. The question posed to humanity, not to God is: Why? Why people who have made great achievements in humanity have not yet achieved justice and equality among peoples, and have not yet eliminated hunger and poverty? Why cannot man remove hunger everywhere, as it has been removed in some places?

God has commissioned man to grow and develop the Earth. So far with His knowledge and great achievements Man has not attained all that he should. By his knowledge alone, he has not succeeded; perhaps, with his knowledge, virtue and faith in God, will he succeed better?

Tuesday 25.6.2019

“Come to me, all you who labor and are overburdened and I will give you rest. Shoulder my yoke and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Yes, my yoke is easy and my burden light” (Mt 11: 28-30).
This is a call to concrete life. Are you tired, afraid, burdened with worries? Are you living under military occupation? Jesus Christ says: Come to me and I will give you rest. Faith is a gift from God and it is an experience lived by the believer with God.

Our daily experience is with people, with the history that people make with all its goodness, evil, suffering, and tragedies. Our human life consists of all types of joy and adversity, in our personal private and public life. In public life, it is the internal conflicts when building our societies. It is also conflicts between our countries in this region; it is our various relations or conflicts with the West; it is our ongoing conflict with Israel and all its consequences and human destruction.

With this human experience, anxiety, injustice, darkness and torment, we have our other experience with God. We hear the words of Jesus: “Come to me, all you who labor and are overburdened and I will give you rest”. We are all tired in our present situation, in the history that people make alone without God. Sometimes, they mention the name of God, but for further injustice, murder and pain. We all need to get out of the circle of our earthly tragedy. Human life cannot be confined to its human made tragedies or joys, - made by humans alone without God.

There is another experience, another way of life, another vision, and the voice of Jesus: “Come to me, all you who labor and are overburdened and I will give you rest”.

Wednesday 26.6.2019

“No one knows the Son except the Father, just as no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him” (Mt 11: 27).

Human life is body and soul; it is Earth and Heaven; it is human and divine; it is man and God. A human being is more than the Earth, more than human relations with others; it is also a relation with God. St. Augustine said in the Book of Confessions: "You created us for you, O God, and our heart cannot rest except in you". This means that we will not find our full satisfaction in Earth and all its goodness nor are we condemned to be confined to its evils. God Almighty is the supreme truth and reality; He is our model, our near and far horizon; He is the perfection we have to imitate (cf. Mt 5: 48).

Is it possible to know God and to live with Him, here on Earth? Prophet Isaiah said “He is the Emmanuel”, God-with-us (Is 8: 10; 7: 14). Jesus Christ said: "No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son, and whoever the Son wills to reveal to Him". Jesus Christ, the Eternal Word of God, revealed the Father to us. He told us that God is our Father. He is merciful, He loves us and knows all our needs (cf. Mt 5: 8).

We can know God if we are to hear and understand the words and deeds of Jesus Christ. Yes, we can experience another life, other than all the tragedies and joys of the earth. Life with God will not separate us from human history, its goodness, its evils and its sorrows, but it gives us the light that guides us in defining our behavior and encourages us in moments of darkness. With God, we will continue to live with people and with God.

Some like those who were listening to Jesus in John may say (Jn 6: 60): this kind of speech is difficult! Who can bear it or who understands how to live the life of the spirit and deal with the injustices of this world?
No, it is not so difficult nor is it impossible. Life with God is possible. The original call of every human being is to be with the Creator. True human life is a life with man and God. In the book of the Ecclesiastes, we read: “He put eternity in their heart” (Eccl 3: 11). We live in time, but our hearts are full of eternity. We are humans but we look to God, and Jesus Christ reveals the Father to us. Those who know God are those who are able to go deep in their self and discover their relation with eternity, and those who are able to raise themselves above themselves in order to see God.

Thursday 27.6.2019

“Shoulder my yoke and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Yes, my yoke is easy and my burden light” (Mt 11: 29-30).
“Shoulder my yoke ", the yoke indicates slavery. To put oneself under the yoke is to accept to be a slave either to people or to undisciplined tendencies in ourselves. In both cases one is slave and has lost freedom; one is not one's own master. Human slavery is of many kinds: military occupation imposed upon a people, despotism, tyranny, exploitation of workers and so on. In these kinds of slavery, we feel the oppression and the humiliation, therefore we resist them. But there are other kinds of slavery almost imperceptible, such as flattery and platitude towards a ruler or wealthy people, or slavery to all kinds of evil stemming from ourselves. These things we do not feel them, therefore we do not think to free ourselves from their bondage.

Jesus Christ says: Free yourselves from all these bonds. “Shoulder my yoke," walk in the way of life which I show you: life and truth.

Truth which must be, in dealing with man and God, truth which is the perfection of human life, truth which is the capacity of seeing God in every human being and the capacity of loving every human being; the truth which is the power to resist and correct any aggression from any human being against any human being. It is the truth which does not allow any deviation from the law of God, nor humiliation of human beings, nor harm to anyone, nor oppression, nor wars and nor famine or injustices. For all this to be done and in order that you may be free of all bondage, Jesus says: “shoulder my yoke”, let yourself be instructed by me, and you shall find rest for your souls.

Walk with me and you will see the “land of the living” (cf. Psalm 37:13; Isaiah 38:11), the land of truth.

Friday, June 28, 2019

"Learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart," Learn from me. Listen to me. The Gospel of St. John states: "They will all be disciples of God" (John 6:45; Isaiah 54:13). God teaches and they listen. They shall understand and do what they hear. One summary of this teaching is to be gentle and humble. "The gentle shall inherit the Earth" (cf. Matthew 5:4). The humble will be confirmed by God, while "the arrogant will be rooted from their thrones" (cf. Luke 1: 51-52).

In our standards and behavior, in the history of humankind, it is the powerful, the oppressors, the cruel and the arrogant that own the land, and impose the woes on others, whether they are cruel like them or their victims who believe in humility and seek justice.

This way in humanity is old. Generations and peoples have been dealing with each other by means of wars, although wars are not the normal law of human kind. The normal law is for peoples to know and love each other. It is to be gentle, according to what Jesus Christ said: "Learn from me, for I am a gentle and humble of heart". However, humanity is not a hopeless case. Despite the evils we see everywhere; it is enough to look at all institutions in all domains that promote love, justice and true humanity. Many international institutions are created to establish peace, fight hunger, disease and all sorts of evils... Humanity is in fact aware that the law of war is not the law of humanity and that is why it is trying to limit its evils, even though with all its endeavors, it is still unable to achieve what it sees as the goal for the perfection of man.

"They will all be disciples of God" (John 6:45; Isaiah 54:13). Will we be all one day truly disciples of God?

Saturday, June 29, 2019

“My yoke is easy and my burden light”. Human slavery is harsh and cruel. To be servants of God, that is to live with God, is the natural condition for every human being. One, who violates the law of God and goes out of His ways, finds that the law of God is heavy and difficult. The one who is faithful to the law and walks in God's ways finds the law easy. One finds it to be an "easy yoke and a light burden". One also finds the fruit of faithfulness in the peace of mind, strength in confronting all challenges and love of life despite the difficulties, because God helps those who walk with Him and make their life with him.

Following Jesus Christ requires big efforts to stay in the path of righteousness. In this sense, Jesus Christ said that the Kingdom of Heaven is taken away by the mighty: "The Kingdom of Heaven is taken by “violence”, and the “violent” take it” (Matthew 11:12)

In order for a person to reach the stage of being meek and gentle, one must first go through tiring efforts and keep fighting with challenges. Some righteous and "simple" (those called “small” by Jesus) find great comfort in this life, as they begin their life with God while facing the evils of this world and its various challenges. While striving for the sake of truth and gentleness, they live in great tranquility no matter what storms are raging around them.

“My yoke is easy and my burden light”. Life in truth, not causing any harm to brothers and sisters, is “easy yoke and light burden”. This goal is accessible to those who want. It is the call of every man to reach it. Obstacles from oneself or others have to be overcome. One must be strong to overcome everything that destroys or contradicts human life. Authentic human life consists in loving God and all God’s children.

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