''Lord Jesus also spoke about the poor''/ reflections by Patriarch Michel Sabbah

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Sunday 17/2/2019

How can citizens be raised to be equal? We are peoples who believe in God though our religions are different. This difference feeds in our souls a tendency to discrimination. This wrong feeling arises from the false understanding of religion. To free oneself from it does not require stripping oneself of religion. On the contrary, deformation of religion pushes the sincere believers to seek the correct way of understanding their religion.

It is not faith which is the cause of discrimination and inequality among people; it is the lack of true faith which causes sectarian attitudes, and sometimes transforms the believer into an aggressor or a murderer.

Hence, the first step to free oneself from sectarianism and discrimination is to correct one’s understanding of religion, and to see the relationship with people in the light of the relationship with God Almighty, the Creator of all. In this light, religion commands the believer to see all people as equals, to do good, to be merciful and to love all. In this light, all religions teach equality of all human beings.

Monday 18/2/2019

How can citizens be raised to be equal? By first having a true understanding of religion and if there are teachers or educators who distort the religious truth and promote discrimination, the faith community and the whole society should oppose them, rectify the errors and guide them.

Those religious leaders and educators, who teach generations, must know that they distort religion, turn it into sectarianism and cause discrimination among people. In doing so they are destructive agents in the society because they transform religion into a destructive power. Therefore, because of them, some or many will abandon their religion, although in appearance they will keep belonging to the faith community. Hence those religious leaders and false educators bear the responsibility of those who abandon their faith.

In his letter to the Romans, St. Paul warns: “As scripture says: It is your fault that the name of God is held in contempt among the nations”. (Romans 2:24). It is your fault, you, the false believers, leaders and educators, because of your lack of understanding of your faith, and the failure to present faith in the right way that believers abandon it, and non-believers refuse to believe.

Equality within different religious communities requires first a correct understanding of religion, a religion that commands mercy and love of all. Second, each believer is taught the basic truth: God created us all equals. No one is better than anyone. Third, true religion unites people and does not discriminate anyone, regardless of religious differences, for we are all one as God is one.

Tuesday 19/2/2019

How can citizens be raised to be equal? In terms of faith, they have to learn and to be convinced that we are all equal human beings. In terms of nation and society, all citizens should have the same opportunities to govern or to serve, the only distinction between them being their qualifications and capacities with the same law that should rule, govern and protect all.

We have said that our mindsets are sectarian, and therefore sectarian social frameworks have also developed in some areas of life due to the difference in religion. But the basic truth is that we are equal: we are one nation and one people, and religious differences do not make us two.

We still have a long way to go before we emerge from the transitional phase affected by sectarianism into the final stage, in which the human being is the measure with the same dignity granted by God, and everyone sees the other as a human being and a citizen.

At this stage, the society will have only two main components, namely the citizen and the homeland. Everything else, religion and culture will be a common richness, a factor to build one society for all.

Wednesday 20/2/2019

Equality in terms of the rich and poor!

God created man in His image and likeness, great, capable of thought, love and compassion. He prepared the land for him to develop it, to grow and to find daily food. We all are called to develop and make the land fruitful so that each of us can find daily bread, and remain great, capable of thought, love and compassion.

Then humankind divided into tribes and peoples, and started to compete and fight for the means of life in the vast Earth of God.

And wars began. In Arabic, the same word “lahm” means "flesh" and also war. In Hebrew, the same word (with the same root as in Arabic: lehem) means bread and war, as if to show the necessary link between food and war.

On Earth there is room for all and enough food for all. But the old human fratricidal tendency of Cain appeared soon and accompanied the natural inclination to exist and to live. Bread and war became inseparable. It is the same until today. With wars, appeared also differences and discrimination among peoples and individuals. Equality granted by God was lost and poverty appeared.

Thursday 21/2/2019

Poverty and equality

Jesus said, "The poor are with you all the time" (John 12: 7). This is a statement that shows a permanent situation in humanity. There are always the rich and the poor, as it has been throughout centuries and generations. Today, too, the situation has not changed. The rich are many and the poor are many.

However, this reality, even if found in all ages of humanity, does not mean that we have to surrender, to accept it and to pass by as if poverty were a natural thing. It is not normal that a human being who is poor has not his/her daily bread. It is the duty of every individual and every society to work to eradicate poverty, hunger, disease or any form of human need. Every human being has the right to have a share of the goods of the Earth and must be given the opportunity to take it.

Here too everyone is responsible, states and individuals to see the poor, not only to care for them but to eradicate poverty.

Friday, 22/2/ 2019

We read in the Gospel the parable of the poor Lazarus and the rich (Luke 16:19). In this parable Lord Jesus said: There was a rich man who enjoyed his life while the poor Lazarus was sitting at his door. The rich man did not care about him. He did not see him and did not see his poverty and hunger. Then they both died. The poor were received in the glory of God. The rich went to hell.

Why did the rich go to hell? What was his sin? Jesus did not mention in the parable any sin committed by the rich, neither theft nor adultery nor any other evils. His only sin was that he did not see the poor sitting at his door and did not care for him.

It is true that everyone is master of the owned fortune? But all the Earth belongs to God. Fortunes are deposits in the hands of human beings. They use them for their own good, but also for the good of all, never for the death of others. When there are people deprived from the goods of the Earth, it is the duty of all, especially those who have “plenty of this earth” to search, to find them and share with them. What God gives you is for you and for the poor.

Fortune must not become an instrument of crime and evil. Not only that but it must not lead to "blindness," to the incapacity of seeing or discovering the poor wherever they are. Poverty is degrading and distorting the image of God. Therefore all humans, especially owners of wealth are responsible. If they do not care and do not relieve the poor from humiliation and need, they will be punished.

Saturday 23/2/2019

Jesus also spoke about the poor in the scene of the last judgment. He said that everyone will be judged on the expression of mercy or lack of mercy to fellow human being. Jesus said:

“He will say to those on his right hand: come you whom my Father has blessed, take as your heritage the kingdom prepared for you since the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, and I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you made me welcome, lacking clothes and you clothed me, sick and you visited me, in prison and you came to see me. Then, the upright will say to him in reply: Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and make you welcome, lacking clothes and clothe you? When did we find you sick or in prison and go to see you? And the king will answer: In truth I tell you, in so far as you did this to one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it to me" (Mt 25: 31…).

Every human being is created by God. All that we offer to our fellow humans, we offer it to God. True human beings know that they and their brothers and sisters are equally created in the image of God. Therefore, they search and care for the poor, in all kinds of poverty, as described above in the parable of the Last Judgment. Search and find your brother and sister in need; share with them your fortune and care so that the dignity granted by God will be regained.

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