" Christians ask: Will we face death?" by Patriarch Emeritus Michel Sabbah

Following is the weekly reflection of Patriarch Emeritus Michel Sabbah for Sunday June 25-Saturday July 1, 2017:

Sunday 25.6.2017

Christians ask: Will we face death as is the case in other Arab countries? Death is near to Christians who have a right to ask for we are already facing some kind of death in Palestine and Israel. However, they have also the duty to find the answer as they believe in the Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ. It is true that human logic today, here and in the region as it has often been in history, is neither the logic of the Gospel nor the logic of love preached by the Gospel. We have to deal with people whose logic and actions are based only on interests that may agree or contradict, therefore they kill or they forgive.

This is what happens in the region today. Because of interests which agree or are opposed, peoples are killed among whom also Christians. A remaining few will survive and they will be able to replace death with a new life. They will bring back to life countries destroyed. Christians are part of those who died, as well as part of those who survived, and part of those who will bring back life.

In light of the Gospel and despite actual human wisdom based on death and material inhuman force, Christians are people who know why and how they live. On these days, they learn to die with all those who die in the region. They die, knowing that their death will bring back life to new generations.

Saint Paul says:
"God chose who by human standards are fools to shame the wise; he chose those who by human standards are weak to shame the strong, those who by human standards are common and contemptible, those who count for nothing, to reduce to nothing all those that do count for something" (1 Cor 1: 27-28).

Monday 26.6.2017

Christians in this region rightly ask: Will we die as so many are dying here and in the region? How do we have to die? They have the right to ask but they also have the duty to find the answer. They must find the answer in light of the word of God and in light of the teachings of Jesus Christ. They continue to live bringing hope to all, for their life is not a gift from the lords of war. It is a gift from God even though the lords of war can physically destroy it, as they are doing today here and in the region.

Christians continue to make their life an accomplishment of the commandment they received; "My commandment is: love each other as I have loved you" (Jn 15: 12). A love that is a support to the life of every human being, a support to the life of the region and to the life of all brothers and sisters in humanity, even to the life of those who see that their life requires our death and the death of our people. This love that gives to others, even to those who want our death, is the light of Christians that enables them to know how to live and how to die nowadays.

Tuesday 27.6.2017

Christians rightly ask and have the right to know who they are and where they are. They are believers in Jesus Christ. They live among peoples. They live within a humanity which has become a lawless jungle, a humanity which spreads war, destruction and death in our region. Christians are part of life and death in the region. Their daily life and routine with its poverty or richness, is part of this general destruction and evil meant for this region. In this general evil, a Christians are called to live, to resist and not to drown in it. And they resists with others, not alone.

One day, they will be required to come out from their daily routine to die with their people and for their people, as it is the case here and in all the region, for so many who died for no reason, except for the single simple reason of being here. Therefore they are not condemned to die because of their small number or for any sectarian or religious extremism but because the law of the jungle, created by world criminals, applies to them.

One day and in the frame of this general criminality, they will be required to come out from their daily routine to simply die. As Christians, they should be aware that they can make their death as the death of Jesus Christ in whom they believe, a death which was the source of life for so many, for all humankind.

Wednesday 28.6.2017

Christians rightly ask, “where am I?” You are among people. You are like all, in the region, exposed to death and destruction, but you bear life and love. You are part of the people who were killed. You also live on this Earth with the strength that brought death to the region. Here, in Israel and Palestine, one could tell you: Death is not for you, Christian. Do not believe them. They only intend to separate you from your community and people. Whoever brings death to others will also bring it for you. Those who bear death bear it for all. One day they will bear death for themselves also.

Are you Christians? You have to find the Gospel light to guide you in the ways of death in which you are. Jesus said: "I am the light of the world. I am the way, the life and the truth". Ask Him to find out what He tells you about what you are living in the whole region today, and in Israel and Palestine. Ask Him about the Israeli occupation. Ask him about the prisoners who are languishing in their prisons. And ask Him about love. How can all of death, torture, occupation and love come together?

Live with the people on Earth, but be also with God. View God, for then the whole human reality, all the people of death, are better seen and understood in light of the parable of the corn and the darnel, in the Gospel of Saint Matthew (cf Mt 13:25). The Lord of the field had patience until the day of harvest. The day of the harvest, the darnel was taken away and burnt.

Now, the day of the harvest is not only a day in eternity but it is a real day in human history, in the history of the Earth because God is the Lord of history and Creator of Earth. For the world death policy makers, there will be also a day of harvest, to take away "the darnel", to take away evil and evil doers from the Earth.

Thursday 29.6.2017

Christians ask: where am I? You are at the same time on Earth and in eternity. On Earth and in eternity there is one only power, given by God, to every human beings if they want to accept the gift of God. There is only one power which makes man able to live on Earth and in eternity, love. Love as God's love brings back to the human beings their original goodness. God created everything and finally He created man and woman, and God saw that his creation "was good, very good", as says the Scripture (Gn 1: 31).

A Christian strives to bring back to Earth something of its original goodness, something of love. Love does not require numbers, for love as God's love, is as powerful as God's power. Love in itself is power as the love of Jesus. Jesus' love triumphed over death and transformed it into resurrection and new life. This is not the logic of the world based on interests that has imposed death for the region and the peoples of the region. The region needs a savior.

Friday 30.6.2017

The logic of the strong in our region and the world is built on interests that require destruction for the peoples of the region. It is not the logic of God. It is not the logic of a human being created by God. It is the logic of Cain. God created Cain, but not to kill his brother. The logic imposed today upon our region and here in Palestine is the logic of Cain, killer of his brother. The strong of this world say: There is terrorism in the region. But, the source of terrorism is the one that destroyed the human being in himself, in the region and in Palestine.

Christians in the region ask today: where am I? Where should I go?
You are first in the world of God but also in the human world, as all people and in a world of death. You have to resist death because, despite everything, you are in the world of God. If some people here in Palestine offer you freedom, you Christian, while they impose death on your brother, you should know that the one who kills your brother will not give you your freedom. The only liberator is God and a human being who loves as God loves. God alone gives life and love and does not want anyone to die. As long as there is death, as long as your brother is killed before your eyes, you must know that you are not on the earth created by God, but with people who do not see God.

Saturday 1.7.2017

Christians ask: who are we? Where are we? Where do we go? Christians question and must find answers. The Gospel gives them the answers. The goodness of God in them and Jesus' commandment of love give them the answer. Jesus said: "My commandment is: Love each other as I have loved you". The new in the commandment is: "as I loved you". Jesus loved all and gave his life for all. This is how Christians should love: they love all for the salvation of all.

Christians see the whole world. They do not make of their faith a sectarian belonging to their community. They do not transform their community into a "mental prison" which impedes them to see the world. Neither disputes nor wars will impede them from seeing the whole world. They see and love all, to make them all able to love and to live, and enjoy security and tranquility. Jesus said: "As I have loved you". This is the commandment for those who believe in Jesus. It is also a universal commandment even to all the policy makers of Palestine and Israel and for our region.

Who are we, Christians? We are the disciples of Jesus Christ. Who are we, Christians, in a region and land upon which death is imposed. We are not alone, weak, unarmed before the plans of the strong of this world. We are a power of love for all humankind. All those planners of death in the region need your power of love to make them wake up, and know that they too can love. Perhaps they will remember who they truly are; perhaps they will be transformed from death makers into life givers.

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