Patriarch Sabbah: 'The time has come for ending war in the land made holy by God'

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Friday 15/11/2019
In Gaza, the war stopped. But it really didn't stop. The siege of Gaza has not stopped. The will for life and the will of freedom in Gaza have not stopped. The occupation of Palestine did not stop. The Palestinian state is not created. The issue of Jerusalem remains unresolved. All of that is one same reality of war.

War did not stop.

When will the war end in Gaza and in all of Palestine and Israel? When the Israeli authorities see in themselves their own humanity and dignity, and see in the Palestinians the same humanity and dignity, when they see that the Palestinians exist, and they have their rights, just as the Israelis, and have the same place in Jerusalem, which God has made a city for all, no more a city for one exclusively.

With this vision, the war ends.

It is time for Israel to see, to open the eyes of the heart, mind and simple logic, to see that its salvation, security and survival is in the heart of the Palestinians. It is not in the Israeli military power. It is in their “human” power, with which they see the Palestinians with all their rights.

I hope the time of seeing for Israel has come. I hope that the time has come for ending war in Palestine and Israel and all our land made holy by God, in order to be a land of peace for its inhabitants and all humanity.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Chapter I of the Gospel of Saint John – VIII

“But to those who did accept Him He gave power to become children of God, to those who believed in His name
who were born not from human stock or human desire or human will but from God himself” (John 1: 12-13).

Those who accepted the grace offered, who heard the voice of John the Baptist, who saw, knew and believed in Jesus Christ, “He gave power to become children of God”. The simple people who believed, God granted them "grace over grace"; He granted them the ability to be the children of God. Jesus is the word of God and the Son of God. Our filiation is spiritual, not material. The following versus shows that clearly: “Who were born not from human stock or human desire or human will, but from God himself”. We are creatures and children of God. Our filiation is spiritual but real. God himself is pure spirit above our understanding. This filiation is also above our understanding. God made us His children, having life like His life, dignity from his dignity, power from His power, and love from His love.

We are "children of God"; this is a gift from God. It is a gift which imposes upon us obligations, to rise where God raises us, to the borders of the spirit, above all earthly reality.

“Children of God”, this is also a mystery, as the mystery of eternity of God. A mystery which we cannot understand, but we live it. With the power of the spirit, which changes us radically, purifies us as through fire, and puts us on the way of the true life, to build the earth and to make it a place for a better life, in the presence of God, our Creator and Father.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Chapter I of the Gospel of Saint John – IX

"The Word became flesh, أHe lived among us, and we saw His glory, the glory that He has from the Father as only Son of the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1: 14).

In this first chapter, John immerges us in God’s mysteries, eternity, outside time and space, the Word is with God and the Word is God, one only God; man raised by God to be the "Son of God". And, in the following verse: "The Word became flesh, He lived among us”, the Word of God took a body and became man. A reality and a truth, which we do not understand completely. Faith completes what we cannot understand. We heard and we believed in God’s Revelation as it is in the Holy Gospel. God gave us the grace to believe.

Saint John reaffirms this truth and mystery in his first letter:

“He who has existed since the beginning, whom we have heard, whom we have seen with our own eyes, whom we have watched and touched with our own hands, the Word of life.
"Life was made visible; we saw it and are giving our testimony, declaring to you the eternal life, which was present to the Father and has been revealed to us.
"We are declaring to you what we have seen and heard, so that you too may share our life. Our life is shared with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ” (1 John 1: 1-3).

Saint Paul too affirms the same truth in his letter to the Philippines:
“Who, being in the form of God, did not count equality with God something to be grasped? But he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, becoming as human beings are; and being in every way like a human being” (Philip 2: 6-7).

“Being in the form of God”, being God, he did not consider divinity something strange to him, to be received or taken from another. He is God. Therefor the apostle says “he emptied himself” from being God, and took the form of a slave; he became man.

This is the dogma of the Incarnation: the Word of God became man, and lived among us.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Chapter I of the Gospel of Saint John – X

“Indeed, from His fullness we have, all of us, received -- one gift replacing another, for the Law was given through Moses, grace and truth have come through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God; it is the only Son, who is close to the Father's heart, who has made him known” (John 1: 16-18).

"From His fullness”, from the fullness of life, from who is the life, Jesus Christ, the Word of God", “we all received”. “All”, the whole creation. Every human life is received from God's life. My life is from God's life. So what do I do with it? A natural question that arises: if my life is from God's life, I must tend to the highest. to the goodness of God. Yes, my human life with all what it is, including difficulties, sins and various tendencies, including poverty or wealth, including injustice and tyranny imposed upon me by others, including injustice imposed by me on others, including carelessness or indifference towards others, - with all that, my life, which is a gift from the fullness of life in God, is not confined to my helplessness, weakness and sin. I am called to look and to tend higher.

"From His fullness”, we received, in order to live at the level of his fullness of life and grace. We carry great energies of goodness in ourselves. Goodness consists in tending to be at “God’s image”, as we were created. We received our life from the life of God. Therefor we can; God our Creator put in us the power to tend towards His goodness, and to be perfect as he is perfect, as Jesus said: “Be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect” (cf Mt 5: 48).

We all need to rise above all the tribulations we go through, to turn them into life. We must all know that we have spiritual energies that enable us to live a better life. For our part, we must have the will to accept God's grace. God, for his part, “it is he who gives you the intention and the power to act” (Philip 2: 13).

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Chapter I of the Gospel of Saint John – XI

“From his fullness we have, all of us, received”.

We received life from God's life. We are called to live God’s life. This is said to all, to the wealthy and the poor, to the good ruler, and to the corrupt or oppressor and tyrant; it is said to the oppressed as well. It is said to every human being in his daily life, to those who face difficult life as we do, a life in which “easy” killing, tyranny and injustice are normal things, a life in which there is no right nor mercy, in which houses, crops, olives and vines are easily destroyed. This is said to those who kill, oppress and destroy. It is also said to the victims.

Our life is from God's life. All are screaming and saying: This is impossible. These words are not for our world. The oppressor and the tyrant say: our world, we make it, with our strength and tyranny. What we want is the measure of goodness and life. The victims scream and their voice penetrates the highest heaven. They say: These words are nor not for us. Who saves us from the unjust and oppressive ruler?

The apparent picture is that human life cannot be linked with the fullness of God's life. This is impossible. As long as the tyrant is besieging himself in his tyranny, this is impossible. As long as the victims see themselves confined to the tyranny of their oppressors, these words seem to be impossible.

But what God says, is possible. And God says: “From his fullness we have, all of us, received”. These words are said to all human beings, to the simple, in order to know that they are capable of goodness. It is also said to the victims. From the fullness of God, they too received life, and they are given the power to achieve it in themselves, and to demand or resist the tyrant until he reforms himself, and realizes that he is also called to goodness, not to tyranny and death.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Chapter I of the Gospel of Saint John – XII

“Indeed, from his fullness we have, all of us, received -- one gift replacing another, for the Law was given through Moses, grace and truth have come through Jesus Christ .No one has ever seen God; it is the only Son, who is close to the Father's heart, who has made him known” (John 16-18).

Prophet Moses came with the Law, which commands faith in one God, and requires the practice of many rituals in order to preserve the faith. The core commandments were the Ten Commandments. What remains is a means and a guide to the preservation of faith. Jesus Christ came to affirm the essence, namely the Ten Commandments, which are printed in the conscience of every human being and to complete them. He completed them with the commandment of love, love of God and all people. Loving all people means seeking good for them, the good that God wants them, and hence abstaining from any evil towards them. With this complement, no additional rituals are required. That is why Jesus Christ liberated us from external practices of the Law. Jesus’ commandment of love encompasses everything.

Saint Augustine (354-430) said: Love and do whatever you want. Love, which means, wish good to all, avoid harming anyone, from your religion or any other religion, from your people or any other people; when you have such a love, you will yourself avoid every evil in your life. Be firm in love, the whole, universal love, and you will not allow yourself any evil to yourself or to others. Love will be your guide in your life.

Love in its holistic, comprehensive sense, embraces the whole universe of God. This love makes the impossible possible, this love makes your human life, in any circumstance, like God's life.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Chapter I of the Gospel of Saint John – XIII

“No one has ever seen God; it is the only Son, who is close to the Father's heart, who has made him known” (John 1: 18).

With this verse we go back to the depths of God's mystery: “No one has ever seen God”. But the only Son, who is close to the Father's heart, has made him known.” The Word of God has seen God, he became man. He did not only see; John says he is God. “The Word was with God and the Word was God”. The Son who told us about God, and made us able to know God, called us also to believe that the impossible is possible.

As long as we are within the scope of our human potential, everything we say about God is in the domain of the impossible. But if we get out of our human limits, and accept to hear the voice of God, makes the impossible possible.

God created man to remain close to Him. He created him in his image and likeness, to remain like him in goodness and love. Man then moved away, but there was a time, there was a moment when man was close to God, the moment God created him in his image and likeness, and the moment God said, after the creation of earth and man: "God saw that it was good” (Genesis 1:25). All the creation was good. But man moved away; he fell. He wanted to be like God, but without God. He wanted to be a god for himself. This is the first fall of man: Rebellion and denial of God, and making himself god, instead of the true God. In this situation we are still struggling with God and with ourselves.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Chapter I of the Gospel of Saint John – XIV

“No one has ever seen God; it is the only Son, who is close to the Father's heart, who has made Him known” (John 1: 18).

From the very first moment he rebelled against God, and experienced the evil of himself, man began his way back to God. He first sought refuge in idols. After idolatry, the Revelation came down from God. After the Revelation, humanity or part of it again left God, and replaced God, made god the reason, or the power, or the various interests. In the Renaissance, then the century of lights, and even today, denial and the search for God are still going on together. Even today, the modern humans continue to be confused with their evils, with a longing for goodness. But, instead of goodness, they make wars, shed blood, as well as produce tyranny, famine and injustice.

“The only Son, who is close to the Father's heart, who has made him known" (John 1:18). God revealed Himself to us. We did not see Him. But many believed. There are today humans who believe, see God, and tend to imitate God’s goodness. There are also humans who do not want to see. It puts its entire destiny in the reason, which is a good means to reach God. But what we see is that the age of lights and reason has not led to the perfect man, secure, happy with his own humanity.
Man is still killing brethren. Our countries are still struggling to reach social and political justice and human dignity, for all. In Palestine and Israel, death is the master, and God is absent, even if God is too much present in the words of tyrants themselves, as says Prophet Isaiah: “Because this people approaches me only in words, honors me only with lip-service while their hearts are far from me, and reverence for me, as far as they are concerned, is nothing but human commandment, a lesson memorized, very well, I shall have to go on astounding this people with prodigies and wonders: for the wisdom of its wise men is doomed, the understanding of any who understand will vanish” (Isaiah 29: 13-14).

God, the Creator of man, alone can guide man today in all the world and here in our holy land. He is the same Creator of all, he loves us all. He is not God for one people and enemy to another people. God does not call any people to kill another and to take his place. We are all called to live the life of God, the peace of God, and to have back our integral humanity.

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