Patriarch Sabbah: Lord Jesus’ basic commandment is ‘love one another’

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SUNDAY, JANUARY 26, 2020

The Gospel of St. John - Chapter 3 (25-26)

”Now a discussion arose between some of John's disciples and a Jew about purification,26 so they went to John and said, 'Rabbi, the man who was with you on the far side of the Jordan, the man to whom you bore witness, is baptizing now, and everyone is going to him” (John 3: 25-26).

"A discussion arose". The work is God’s work, and the mission is from God. When man receives a mission from God, then he makes God’s mission ones’ own “human” mission, the mission is lost. Instead of being a way of advancing and building, it becomes a cause of “discussion”, dispute and jealousy. A mission is not for that.

The disciples of John the Baptist lost for a while the sense of their master’s mission. They are prey to jealousy. The mission of their master became for them a question of who is the first, John their master, or Jesus, the newcomer. John and Jesus did not fight. Each one knew his respective mission. For them the mission is obedience to God and has for aim the salvation of humanity. It is not a question of authority or who is first and second. At the contrary, mission will require from both of them to give up their life.

John knew. But the John’s disciples did not know. They were limited, imprisoned in human attitudes. Jealousy appeared. They said to their master:"the man, to whom you bore witness, is baptizing now, and everyone is going to him”. They meant: We followed you and we want you to be the first, and all the people should come to you. This is a human attitude. Who is the first? Who is the most important? When God is not among people, when people make God’s mission a “human” mission, and then they begin to fight.

MONDAY, JANUARY 27, 2020

The Gospel of St. John - Chapter 3 (25-26)
“A discussion arose”.

The sense of the mission can be deformed by those to whom authority is given. All authority, civil or religious, is a mission from God, to serve not to dominate. The aim of civil authority is to achieve the common good. The aim of religious authority is to lead people on this earth towards eternity. When authority becomes a self-affirmation or tyranny, it loses its sense, then discussions and disputes arise, and the ruler multiplies errors and injustices. Men seem to be expert in disputes and war. God wants them to be experts in humanity, namely in the cooperation for the common good. Who is the ruler, this is not important. The important is that the ruler be aware that he bears a mission, and he is able to accomplish it.

In all kind of authority, the ruler may be the right one, in the right place. He is aware that he is there to serve for the good of all. He may also be the wrong one and lose the sense of his mission. He may be unable. He may be able but despot, unjust and oppressor, instead of being a servant. In this case, disputes arise, all kinds of disputes, and political instability.

In the relations between peoples, at least, here, in what we see in our land, regarding our freedom and our independence in Palestine: The ruler is the one who has more weapons, more means to kill; he is the more unjust, the one who imposes more humiliations on the other. He may have his own vision and justification of himself.

According to his vision, he and his people, have rights, the other people has not. The other must obey and be submitted to him, because he, the ruler, is the stronger.

Authority is a mission from God and the people. The “good” ruler should see what is good for himself and for all. But when God is no more there, man becomes his own god, and the other is simply sacrificed to the stronger. When God is away, the ruler remains alone with his capacity to oppress. He does not see God, therefor he cannot see the other’s right, except, in submission to his own rights. When God is away, the ruler loses his humanity and becomes the tyrant of his brother.

When God is present, “humanity” is also present, and good is possible, and justice, peace and equal human dignity.

TUESDAY, JANUARY 28, 2020

“A discussion arose”. Simple discussion may become fight, war, humiliation and death. That's human logic in the domain of civil authority and relation between peoples. At the religious level, the ability to dispute is also possible. The mission is from God. However, the bearers of the mission, i.e. religious leaders, turn it into "controversial" attitudes based on human feelings of envy, competition and more. It becomes also a question of who is the greatest and the first. Religious leaders are supposed to be men of God, led by the spirit of God, and behaving in harmony with the logic of God, i.e. with love, cooperation and fraternal feelings. But it is often difficult for man to rise to the level of God, and it is easy for him to descend to the level of human attitudes.

Our Churches are divided. They were one, and then they split. The division already appeared in the disciples of John vs. Jesus, who replaced their teacher. It also appeared between the apostles themselves when arose among them the question: who is the greatest and the first? (Luke 22:24-26; Matthew 20:20 ) Last, it appeared in the various Churches.

Bearing a mission from God is one of the greatest challenges for whom God has chosen to bear it. Can he remain ‘bearer’ of God’s mission, or will he turn it in a human particular interest, subjected to all kinds of human feelings and ability to dispute?

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 29, 2020

The Gospel of St. John - Chapter 3 (25-26)

“A discussion arose”.

In the Church of Jerusalem, we are many Churches, divided or united. We are in a state of "controversy", and the controversy sometimes appears in negative words or attitudes, or it may remain hidden. "All people go to Him". It is a spirit of competition.

Competition is good when everyone races to do good and develop services. But when the competition turns into envy and hatred, when the one wishes that his brother does not exist, or if he exists, he wishes that he does nothing, so that we will be equal in “doing nothing”. In this case, the believer or the leader himself abandons the spirit of the Church. He remains a “living sin” in the Church, because a healthy relationship is, for the believer, to be happy with what his brother is and does. Healthy relation is love. Those who love rejoice in what their brother is and does. Those who love are the living members in the Church.

Relations between believers today reached, thank God, more maturity and acceptance of the other, based on the one faith in Jesus Christ. The right position is the following: the believer is loyal to the Church in which God gave him the light of faith, and he loves every brother in every Church. With this, the position of "controversy" turns into a position of cooperation and more love, so that Jesus Christ will become more visible through our faith, and not the believer or the “faith community”, whatever it is. Jesus Christ said in his prayer: “May they be so perfected in unity so that the world will recognize that it was you who sent me and that you have loved them as you have loved me” (John 17:22).

For a believer to be "salt and light" in the world, he must always remember that the basic commandment and the right position is "love."

THURSDAY, JANUARY 30, 2020

The Gospel of St. John - Chapter 3 (27-30)

John replied: 'No one can have anything except what is given him from heaven. 28 'You yourselves can bear me out. I said, "I am not the Christ; I am the one who has been sent to go in front of him."29 'It is the bridegroom who has the bride; and yet the bridegroom's friend, who stands there and listens to him, is filled with joy at the bridegroom's voice. This is the joy I feel, and it is complete.30 He must grow greater, I must grow less” (John 3: 27-30).

"'No one can have anything except what is given him from heaven."(v.27)The first principle of determining one’s attitude is: everything is "from heaven", commissioned by God Almighty, we are working in the vine of God.We are not only human stakeholders, with our particular interests, for which we fight.

God calls us to bear a mission. Missions are different, according to what God entrusts us. Some have the responsibility of a family life, husband or wife. Some are in politics or economy. Some have this profession or that.

Some are entrusted with ministry of faith. Everyone bears what God has entrusted him with, each in his special field. In our "work", we deal with God first, who has entrusted us with our mission. Every dealing with people, even authority and politics, is first dealing with God, then a service to others, according to the mission received from God.

Whatever our message, and in whatever field, when we know that we are dealing with God, that we are “workers” in God’s land, and “workers” to serve God’s creations, competition takes on the right meaning, the spirit of service and love, the meaning of the race to what is good for all, instead of going into envy, jealousy, or disputes between brothers.

"No one can have anything except what is given him from heaven". This is the first principle that defines our attitudes with God and people and tells us how to bear our mission in our society.

FRIDAY, JANUARY 31, 2020

The Gospel of St. John - Chapter 3 (27-30)

"You yourselves can bear me out. I said, "I am not the Christ; I am the one who has been sent to go in front of him." (v. 28). John the Baptist, says to his disciples: you know who I am. You know what I have said: I am not the Christ, but I was sent to go in front of him. Be logic, instead of going in jealousy and dissension. You know that I came to prepare the way before him. Let your attitude be according to what you know. Why you don’t want people to go to him? Have a large mind and heart, and accept others to be what they are, and to bear their own mission.

Let each one accepts himself as he is. With his personality, his mission and his work, with what he can, and what he cannot. You, have dreams and ambitions, to grow, but with your brother, not at his expenses, nor by his elimination, nor by filling yourself with envy or bitterness for your brother's success. Man is great as much as he loves, not as much as he has the ability to hate, envy or destroy the other.

May we accept our brothers as they are, and with what God has given them. Let the relation with them be, not a relation of dispute and elimination, but a relation of cooperation and love, in which all grow, find strength and support in the other, and rejoice for the brother’s growth and success.

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 1, 2020

The Gospel of St. John - Chapter 3 (27-30)

"He must grow greater, I must grow less”(v. 30). Everyone bears his mission. The mission is a service, to all people. The one who bears a mission knows himself, his qualities and his limits. He must also know that his mission is a service offered to others.

When one knows the truth about oneself and one’s mission, one accepts the limits of one’s mission and the mission of others. John the Baptist said about Jesus: "He must grow greater, I must grow less”. I have come to prepare the way before Him, to proclaim His coming, to make Him known to people. This is my mission. Here it stops. I said he would come, and he came. People followed him. With this "my joy is complete”.I rejoice, not in my success, but in his. Therefor "he must grow greater, I must grow less”.

Each one is great by the mission he bears, even if it makes others greater, and we have to disappear.

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