Thursday, April 24, 2014

Fr Touma (Bitar) on the Resurrection

Arabic original here.

The Path of Glory

Today, brothers, the Lord has given us the earnest of His resurrection from the dead. At one point the Lord raised the paralytic and gave proof that He is able to forgive sins. The Lord raised Lazarus and gave proof that He is able to raise humankind. Lazarus had died in every sense of the word "death". That is, no sign of life remained in his body and he was left until the fourth day. Usually, after the second day a dead person begins to stink. That is, the body begins the process of returning to dust after decomposing little by little. If Lazarus was closed up inside the tomb, it was so that the living would not smell the stench of rot and decay. Lazarus had died and his soul did not remain inside him. If the Lord Jesus raised him, it means that He brought him back to life. What  does it mean to come back to life? Returning to life means that Lazarus returned to being Lazarus, his mental faculties came back to being mental faculties, life pulsed in his limbs, his muscles, his bones... Every cell filled with life and it was as though Lazarus had never died! As though death had never happened! This was a sign of something greater. The greater thing is that the Lord Jesus tasted death-- that is, He died in every sense of the word, as a man, naturally-- and then rose from the dead.

However, the resurrection of the Lord Jesus differs from Lazarus' resurrection. Lazarus rose from the dead in the sense that he came back to life but he died after a time. Even though some early sources say that Lazarus lived a long time, he went back and died again. So the life that was returned to Lazarus was the very same life he had been in before dying, since he came back and knew people and used all his faculties as  though he had never died. The resurrection of the Lord Jesus, however, was not a return to His earlier life in the body before dying. The life with which the Lord Jesus rose was a new life, completely. This is why when Mary Magdalene tried to touch Him, He said, "Do not touch to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father" (John 20:17). This was an indication that Jesus had not risen to his previous life  and so He did not act as he  had acted previously with His disciples and people. However, He rose to eternal life! The life that was established in His body was a completely new life. Thus, after the Lord Jesus rose, He became incapable of death, contrary to Lazarus' situation. Out of condescension, the Lord Jesus was pleased for the life within Him, prior to death, to be according to the life that is in people. He was not obligated to submit to people's weaknesses, to the weaknesses of flesh and blood. Nor was he obligated to die. But He condescended, "He emptied Himself, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men" (Philippians 2:7). Thus, as a man, He lived with the life that people life. However, after He tasted death, the life in which He rose was completely new with new characteristics. The characteristics of the human body, which is subject to death, do not apply to it. So the Lord Jesus rose in glory. In His resurrection from the dead, he made this body that He received from Mary and so from humankind-- because He possessed a body in the form of human bodies-- He made this body a body of glory. For the first time in history, the life that dwelt in this body became eternal life-- that is, God's life. God's life has made its home in the human body! This is something unparalleled! The Lord Jesus rose the dead. In the Old Testament, Elijah rose a dead man and when Elisha was put in the tomb and a dead man was placed upon it, as soon as the body of the dead man touched Elisha's body, he rose from the dead. But all this was returning human life. All those who rose or who were risen by the Lord Jesus died again. But now, the life with which the Lord Jesus rose is His very own life as God! And this life is no longer susceptible to death nor to anything connected to death, such as sickness or sorrow...

The Lord Jesus transferred what He did to humanity because He was pleased to die for its sake and He was also pleased to rise for its sake. He transferred this new life, the life of glory in the body of glory, to all of humanity through the Holy Spirit. For this reason there was Pentecost. And so we find ourselves with the Lord Jesus in a new time and we find ourselves in a new life. Thus we are baptized and you have heard today, "As many as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ." Christ said of Himself that He is the resurrection and the life. So, in the mysteries of the Church, we have put on  the resurrection and the life. For this reason, we do not follow God's commandments so that the Lord God will repay us later with the resurrection and the life! This is what some non-Christians think, those who behave in accordance with their book because they are seeking a place in paradise. Their idea is that the resurrection will occur later, on the last day! We follow God's commandments because, through the mysteries of the Church, we have become partners of the Lord Jesus Christ in the resurrection and eternal life starting now. Eternal life dwells within us starting now! In baptism we are born into a new life, into eternal life, we become partners in the resurrection of the Lord Jesus! If we follow God's commandments, it is because we have become God's partners in the life of glory and in the body of glory. Our  following the commandments is an expression of the fact that we are God's children, of the fact that we have entered into eternal life! The difference between the two things is very great! We are never waiting for the Lord God to reward us, to repay us, on the last day! The Lord God does not give anyone His kingdom as recompense! The Lord God gave and gives everything freely. "by grace you have been saved... and that not of yourselves" (Ephesians 2:8). We are given this starting now! We are people of the resurrection, not in the sense of hopefulness, but in the sense that we have entered into a new reality, into a new life in the resurrection, in every sense of the word. Our following God's commandments must be, every day, an expression of the fact that we belong to Jesus, to His life and His resurrection and that the kingdom of heaven has come to settle within us. "The kingdom of heaven is within you" (Luke 17:21). The kingdom of heaven does not come later. "Whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die" (John 11:26). Faith in the Lord Jesus makes us full of God's life. Thus the true believer has another stance towards death. He comes to the death of the body while filled with God's life! We do not die in order to receive life later! We have received eternal life through the mysteries of the Church. Thus what we seek has already been given to us. Our path, in reality, is the path of being filled with God's Spirit, the path of activating God's Spirit that has been given to us so that we may become, even while we are still on this earth, people of heaven and so that  when we depart from this earth and we depart from what is dead in this body, we encounter ourseles in light, we encounter ourselves filled with eternal life. This is our new life! There will come an hour when we even get this body back, by God's grace, and the new life that has been given to us will settle in the body of glory that is our body. This body that will be glorified as Jesus' body was glorified will be given to us in the fullness of time. Until then, however, each one of us who walks in faith in the Lord Jesus and who is faithful until the end is filled with God's life, with new life, with God's light. It is true that we will be without this body until the last day, when this body will rise to glory. However, something that the Lord God has not revealed to us is, if we  do not have the body of glory, what will we have after we die? We do not know. However, we do know that we shall be in Christ, in some manner, in some form. God knows. We do not know! God has only revealed to us that which is beneficial for us.

And so, starting now, if we walk faithfully toward God, our life will be God's life. We will be filled more and more with God's life, more and more with God's light, more and more with God's glory, until the day of the general resurrection comes, when the Lord God shall bring back  the body. But He will make us glorified. The new life that has been given to each one of us will then settle in the body of glory. We are not spirits, nor are we angels:  we are human beings. Thus this body must rise into glory. In this hope we walk in life, we walk in the commandment, we walk in the love of God. There is nothing else on this earth in which and for which people live. "For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s" (Romans 14:8). May His name be glorified unto the ages.


Archimandrite Touma (Bitar)
Abbot of the Monastery of St Silouan the Athonite-- Douma
April 20, 2014

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Fr Georges Massouh on Choosing Barabbas

Arabic original here. For context, today the Lebanese parliament is starting the process of electing a president. Prominent on the list of candidates is a particularly notorious Civil War era warlord.

Barabbas was Murderer and a Robber

Between the righteous man and the robber, the people chose the robber. When Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of Syria and Palestine, resorted to "democracy" and asked the Jewish people which of the prisoners they wanted him to release to them on occasion of the feast, Jesus or Barabbas, they chose Barabbas. "And Barabbas was a robber" (John 18:40). In another account, "Barabbas had been thrown in prison for fomenting revolt in the city and for committing the crime of murder" (Luke 23:20).

Between the righteous man and the murderer, the people chose the murderer. It is noteworthy that "the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitudes that they should ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus" (Matthew 27:20). Religious leaders colluded with rulers and strongmen to commit this sin. Religious leaders and scholars of the Law conspire to kill the innocent one, while the theif crucified on the right announces Jesus' innocence, "we receive the due reward of our deeds, but this Man has done nothing wrong" (Luke 23:41). The religious leaders conspire against the Righteous One, but the pagan Roman centurion testifies to Jesus and says, "Certainly this was a righteous man!" (Luke 23:47).

Saint Ambrose of Milan (d. 387) decries the attitude of those who "demand that the innocent man be killed and seek the criminal's release." He is surprised that "evil has laws such as these, that condemn the innocent and pardon the guilty." Between Jesus, the Son of God, and Barabbas, whose name means "his father's son", people chose "his father's son". In exegesis, the expression "his father's son" means those of whom it was said "You are of your father the devil" (John 8:44). Between God and the devil, people chose the devil.

Since the dawn of history, this situation has not changed. Before democracy and after it, people have preferred various sorts of criminals. They prefer to have their affairs governed by murderers, those who commit massacres, robbers, and the corrupt. They elect those who have stained their hands with blood and those who have stained their hands with money... Then you see them grumbling about rampant corruption, poor living conditions, and the decline of their societies and their countries.

Yes, the religious leaders preferred the robber and the murderer to the righteous man. They condemned the righteous person to crucifixion and set the criminal free. The religious leaders and the men of the world made a pact against God and against His Christ. They ignored the weightiest thing in the Law, mercy, and went to the authorities and strongmen of this time. Until today they continue to disregard defending the oppressed and they scramble to serve the authority that is in place.

Today, April 23, is the feast of Saint George. George, who was an officer in the army of the Roman Empire, refused to offer sacrifices to the authority that was in place at that time and he ended as a martyr. He did not resist evil with evil. Rather, he was pleased to be stripped of his weapons-- that is, stripped of his authority. He did not strive to put anyone in authority and he did not serve anyone in authority. He did not strive for power, even though he could have started a revolution because he realized that authority might corrupt one who attains it. He did not want to be a murderer, a spiller of blood, or a theif.... So he abandoned everything and bore his cross, the cross of his Lord, and he walked upright with his head held high.

When will the people stop choosing the theif and the murderer and elect a just and righteous person? If there is no one to whom these qualities apply, then why are religious leaders concerned with demanding something that is none of their business? Let the dead bury their dead and let those concerned with the election elect someone in their image and likeness.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Paschal Canon in Syriac

The Syriac version of Saint John of Damascus' Paschal Canon below is on the basis of Sinai Syriac 71 (ca. 11th century), ff. 186r-189v. I have compared it with Sinai Syriac 4 (ca. 12th century), 51v- 55v and Sinai Syriac 77 (1237 AD), ff. 65v-70r. Variant readings from the latter two manuscripts are given in footnotes below the jump. Because they were written in red and are mostly illegible in the scan, I've left out the rubrics as well as the kontakion between odes 6 and 7. As is typical, the translation is very free. A good English translation from the Greek, with extensive notes can be found here in pdf. 

In both Sinai Syriac 71 and 4, the Paschal Troparion is abbreviated, but the full text is given in ms 77, f. 65r:

ܡܫܝܚܐ ܩܡ ܡܢ ܒܝܬ ܡܝ̈ܬܐ ܘܒܡܘܬܗ ܕܫܗ ܠܡܘܬܐ ܘܩܛܠܗ ܘܠܡܝ̈ܬܐ ܕܒܓܘ ܩܒܪܐ ܝܗܒ ܚܝ̈ܐ ܘܐܩܝܡ ܐܢܘܢ

Translated literally, it reads:

Christ rose from the dead. By death He trampled death and killed it. To the dead in the tombs He gave life and raised them.

The Paschal Canon of Saint John of Damascus:

ܝܘܡܐ ܗܘ ܕܩܝܡܬܐ ܬܘ ܟܠ ܥܡ̈ܡܐ[1] ܢܦܪܓ[2] ܒܚܓܐ ܦܨܚܐ ܗܘ ܓܝܪ ܕܡܪܝܐ ܦܨܚܐ ܡܢ ܡܘܬܐ ܓܝܪ ܠܘܬ ܚܝ̈ܐ ܘܡܢ ܐܪܥܐ ܠܗ̇ ܠܫܡܝܐ ܡܫܝܚܐ ܐܠܗܐ ܠܟܘܠܢ ܒܢܘܚܡܗ ܐܥܒܪ ܟܕ ܫܘܒܚܐ ܕܙܟܘܬܐ ܡܝܒܒܝܢܢ܀

ܢܬܕܟܐ ܒܪ̈ܓܫܐ ܘܒܗܘܢܐ[3] ܘܢܬܒܩܐ ܒܡܫܝܚܐ ܒܢܘܗܪܐ ܠܐܡܬܩܪܒܢܐ ܕܩܝܡܬܐ ܡܛܠܩܬ ܠܚܒܠܐ ܕܡܨܡܚ ܗܕܝܪܐܝܬ ܘܫܠܡܐ[4] ܥܡܟܘܢ ܡܙܥܩ ܒܚܕܘܬܐ ܓܠܝܐܝܬ ܢܫܡܥ ܟܕ ܫܘܒܚܐ ܕܙܟܘܬܐ ܡܝܒܒܝܢ܀

ܫܡܝܐ ܕܠܥܠ ܥܡ ܟܠ ܕܒܗܘܢ ܙܕܩܐܝܬ ܢܚܕܘܢ ܬܪܘܙ ܕܝܢ[5] ܐܪܥܐ ܕܠܬܚܬ ܢܥܕܥܕ ܬܘܒ[6] ܥܠܡܐ ܘܢܚܓܐ ܡܬܚܙܝܢܐ ܐܟܚܕܐ ܥܡ ܠܐܡܬܚܙܝܢܐ ܡܫܝܚܐ ܓܝܪ ܩܡ ܘܐܬܢܚܡ ܙܟܘܬܐ ܫܪܝܪܬܐ ܕܠܥܠܡ܀

ܬܘ ܡܗܝ̈ܡܢܐ ܢܫܬܐ ܫܩܝܐ ܚܕܬܐ ܕܠܘ ܡܢ ܟܐܦܐ ܒܬܕܡܘܪܬܐ ܪܕܐ ܠܐܡܦܪܝܢܝܬܐ[7] ܐܠܐ ܡܥܝܢܐ ܕܠܐ ܚܒܠܐ ܕܡܢ ܩܒܪܐ ܐܬܡܛܪܬ ܥܠܝܢ ܡܫܝܚܐ ܕܒܗ ܟܘܠܢ ܡܬܥܫܢܝܢܢ܀

ܗܫܐ ܟܘܠܐ ܐܬܡܠܝ ܚܕܘܬܐ ܫܡܝܐ ܘܐܪܥܐ ܐܟܚܕܐ ܘܐܦ ܗܠܝܢ ܕܬܚܝܬ ܐܪܥܐ ܢܥܕܥܕ ܕܝܢ ܥܠܡܐ ܘܢܚܓܐ ܒܝܘܡ ܩܝܡܬܗ ܡܫܒܚܬܐ ܕܡܫܝܚܐ ܕܒܗ̇ ܟܘܠܢ[8] ܡܬܥܫܢܝܢܢ܀

ܐܬܡܠ ܥܡܟ ܡܨܛܠܒ ܗܘܝܬ ܡܫܝܚܐ ܘܐܟܚܕܐ ܩ̇ܐܡ ܐܢܐ ܝܘܡܢܐ ܒܩܝܡܬܐ ܕܝܠܟ ܥܡܟ ܡܬܩܒܪ ܗܘܝܬ ܐܬܡܠ ܐܫܘܢܝ ܡܪܝ ܕܐܦ ܥܡܟ ܐܫܬܒܚ ܒܡܠܟܘܬܟ ܫܡܝܢܝܬܐ܀

ܥܠ ܡܛܪܬܐ ܐܠܗܝܬܐ ܗܘ̇ ܡܡܠܠ ܟܗ̈ܢܝܬܐ ܚܒܩܘܩ ܢܩܘܡ ܗܫܐ ܥܡܢ ܘܢܚܘܐ ܠܢ ܡܠܐܟܐ ܡܥܛܦ ܢܘܗܪܐ ܕܬܩܝܦܐܝܬ ܡܙܥܩ ܟܕ ܐܡ̇ܪ ܝܘܡܢܐ ܦܘܪܩܢܐ ܠܟܠܗ ܥܠܡܐ ܡܛܠ ܕܩܡ ܠܗ ܡܢ ܩܒܪܐ ܡܫܝܚܐ ܓܢܒܪ ܥ̈ܠܡܐ܀

ܕܟܪܐ ܡ̇ܢ ܐܝܟ[9] ܐܝܢܐ ܕܦ̇ܬܚ ܡܪܒܥܐ ܗܘ̇[10] ܒܬܘܠܝܐ ܕܐܡܗ ܐܬܚܘܝ ܡܫܝܚܐ ܘܐܝܟ ܐܪܥܢܐ ܡܬܐܟܠܢܐ ܐܡܪܐ ܐܬܟܢܝ ܕܠܐ ܡܘܡ ܕܝܢ ܐܟܡܢ[11] ܕܠܐ ܛܥܡܗ̇ ܠܚܛܝܬܐ ܗܘ̇ ܦܨܚܐ ܚܝܐ ܕܝܠܢ ܘܐܝܟ ܐܠܗܐ ܫܪܝܪܐ 
 ܡܫܡܠܝܐ ܬܘܒ ܡܬܐܡܪ܀

 ܐܝܟ ܐܡܪܐ ܒܪ ܫܢܬܐ ܡܫܝܚܐ ܟܠܝܠܐ ܕܨܒܬܢ ܗܘ̇ ܕܡܒܪܟ ܟܠܝܠ ܫܢܬܐ ܒܪ̈ܚܡܘܗܝ ܨܒܝܢܐܝܬ ܐܬܕܒܚ ܚܠܦ ܟܠܗ ܥܠܡܐ ܦܨܚܐ ܚܝܐ ܘܡܕܟܝܢܐ ܘܬܘܒ ܡܢܕܪܝܫ ܒܬܫܒܘܚܬܐ ܐܠܗܝܬܐ ܡܢ ܓܘ ܩܒܪܐ ܐܬܢܚܡ ܫܡܫܐ ܕܙܕܝܩܘܬܐ܀

ܗܘ̇ ܐܒܐ ܕܐܠܗܐ[12] ܕܘܝܕ ܩܕܡ ܩܐܒܘܬܐ ܛܠܠܝܬܐ ܪܩ̇ܕ ܟܕ ܕ̇ܐܨ ܚܢܢ ܕܝܢ ܡܗܝ̈ܡܢܐ ܥܡܐ ܡܩܕܫܐ ܕܐܠܗܐ ܟܕ ܠܡܦܩܢܐ ܕܫܘܕܥܐ ܕܪ̈ܐܙܐ ܚܙܝܢܢ ܬܘ ܢܚܕܐ ܐܠܗܐܝܬ ܡܛܠ ܕܩܡ ܠܗ ܡܢ ܩܒܪܐ ܡܫܝܚܐ ܓܢܒܪ ܥ̈ܠܡܐ܀

ܡܗܝ̈ܡܢܐ ܢܩܕܡ ܒܫܦܪܐ ܥܡܝܩܐ ܘܚܠܦ ܗܪ̈ܘܡܐ ܬܫܒ̈ܚܬܐ ܪܘܚ̈ܢܝܬܐ ܠܡܪܢ ܢܩܪܒ ܘܠܡܫܝܚܐ ܢܚܙܐ ܒܗܘܢܐ ܫܡܫܐ ܪܒܐ ܕܙܕܝܩܘܬܐ ܕܚ̈ܝܐ ܚ̈ܕܬܐ ܡܕܢܚ ܥܠ ܥܠܡܐ܀

ܬܘ ܢܬܩܪܒ ܫܩ̈ܝܠܝ ܠܡܦ̈ܝܕܐ ܠܡܫܝܚܐ ܕܢܦܩ ܡܢ ܩܒܪܐ ܐܝܟ[13] ܕܠܚܬܢܐ[14] ܡܢ ܒܝܬ ܓܢܘܢܐ ܘܢܥܕܥܕ ܐܠܗܐܝܬ ܥܡ ܬܓ̈ܡܐ ܪ̈ܚܡܝ ܥ̈ܐܕܐ ܕܠܥܠ ܦܨܚܐ ܦܪܘܩܝܐ ܕܐܠܗܢ[15]܀

 ܪ̈ܚܡܐ ܫܦ̈ܝܥܐ ܠܟ ܕܠܐܡܬܬܟ̈ܝܠܝܢ ܡܝ̈ܬܐ ܕܐܚܝ̈ܕܝܢ ܒܐܣܘܪ̈ܐ ܩܫ̈ܝܐ ܕܫܝܘܠ ܟܕ ܚܙܘ ܒܐܬܪܗܘܢ ܠܘܬ ܢܘܗܪܐ ܐܣܬܪܗܒܘ ܗܘܘ ܒܪܓܠܐ ܕܡܩܝܙܐ ܘܢܩܫܘ ܟܦܐ ܦܨܚܐ ܕܠܥܠܡ܀

ܢܚܬܬ ܒܢܦܫܐ ܠܥܘܡ̈ܩܐ ܕܬܚ̈ܬܝܬܗ̇ ܕܐܪܥܐ ܘܬܒܪܬ ܣܘܟܪ̈ܐ ܐܦ ܡܘܟ̈ܠܐ ܐܚ̈ܘܕܝܗܘܢ ܕܡܢ ܥܠܡ ܕܐܣܝܪ̈ܐ[16] ܕܫܝܘܠ ܡܫܝܚܐ ܘܠܬ̈ܠܬܐ ܝܘ̈ܡܝܢ ܐܝܟ ܕܡܢ ܡܥ̈ܝ ܢܘܢܐ ܝܘܢܢ ܐܬܩܝ̣ܡܬ[17] ܡܢ ܓܘ ܩܒܪܐ܀

ܟܕ ܡܫܘ̈ܙܒܐ ܢܛܪܬ ܠܚܬܡ̈ܐ ܕܩܒܪܐ ܡܫܝܚܐ ܩܡܬ ܒܬܫܒܘܚܬܐ ܡܢ ܓܘܗ ܐܢܬ ܕܠܛܒ̈ܥܐ ܕܒܬܘܠܬܐ ܠܐ ܐܟܝܬ ܒܡܘܠܕܟ ܕܗܘܐ ܒܬܕܡܘܪܬܐ ܘܦܬܚܬ ܠܢ ܒܝܕ ܢܘܚܡܟ ܬܪ̈ܥܐ ܫܒܝ̈ܚܐ ܕܦܪܕܝܣܐ܀

ܦܪܘܩܝ ܕܝܠܝ ܗܘ̇ ܦܨܚܐ ܚܝܐ ܒܟܠܙܒܢ ܘܠܐܩܛܝܠܐ[18] ܐܝܟ ܐܠܗܐ ܨܒܝܢܐܝܬ ܟܕ ܩܪܒܬ ܢܦܫܟ ܠܐܠܗܐ ܐܒܐ ܐܟܚܕܐ ܐܩܝܡܬܝܗܝ ܠܟܠܗ ܓܢܣܗ ܕܐܕܡ ܟܕ ܐܬܢܚܡܬ ܡܢ ܩܒܪܐ܀

ܗܘ̇ ܕܒܙܒܢ ܫܘܙܒ[19] ܒܐܬܘܢܐ ܠܛ̈ܠܝܐ ܟܕ ܨܒ̣ܐ ܘܗܘܐ ܒܪܢܫܐ ܚܫ[20] ܐܝܟ ܡܝܘܬܐ ܘܒܝܕ ܚܫܗ ܠܡ̈ܝܘܬܐ ܦܐܝܘܬܐ[21] ܐܠܒܫ[22] ܕܠܐܡܬܚܒܠܢܘܬܐ[23] ܗܘ̇ ܟܝܬ ܕܒܠܚܘܕܘܗܝ ܡܒܪܟܐ ܘܡܥܠܝ ܒܬܫܒܘܚܬܐ ܐܠܗܐ ܕܐܒܗ̈ܬܢ܀

ܢܫ̈ܐ ܒܨܦܪܐ ܟܕ ܛܥܝ̈ܢܢ ܗܪ̈ܘܡܐ ܒܬܪܟ ܪ̈ܗܛܝ ܗ̈ܘܝ ܦܪܘܩܢ ܠܗܘ̇ ܕܝܢ ܕܐܝܟ ܡܝܬܐ ܒܕܡܥ̈ܐ ܒܥ̈ܝܢ ܗܘ̈ܝ ܐܦ ܒܟ̈ܝܢ ܗ̈ܦܟܝ ܣܓ̈ܕܝ ܟܕ ܚܕ̈ܝܢ ܐܝܟ ܕܠܐܗܐ ܚܝܐ ܘܦܨܚܐ ܬܘܒ ܪܐܙܢܝܐ ܠܬܠܡ̈ܝܕܐ ܕܡܫܝܚܐ ܣܒ̈ܪܝ ܗܘ̈ܝ ܟܕ ܚܕ̈ܝܢ܀

ܡܝܬܘܬܗ ܕܡܘܬܐ ܡܥܕܥܕܝܢܢ ܝܘܡܢܐ ܣܬܘܪܝܗ̇[24] ܕܫܝܘܠ ܕܘܝܬܐ ܘܪܝܫܝܬܐ[25] ܚܕܬܐ ܕܕܘܒܪ[26] ܚܝ̈ܐ ܕܠܐ ܣܟܐ ܘܟܕ ܕܝ̈ܨܝܢܢ ܕܝܢ ܢܫܒܚܘܗܝ ܠܥܠܬܐ ܕܗܠܝܢ ܟܠܗܝܢ ܗܘ̇[27] ܕܒܠܚܘܕܘܗܝ ܡܒܪܟܐ ܘܡܥܠܝ[28]܀

ܡܐ ܒܫܪܪܐ ܟܗܢܝ ܒܟܠ ܘܥܐܕܐܢܝܐ[29] ܠܠܝܐ ܗܢܐ ܡܐܚܝܢܐ ܘܡܨܡܚܢܐ ܕܢܘܗܪܐ ܕܝܘܡܐ ܡܥܛܦ ܟܠ[30] ܡܒܪܩܘܬܐ ܕܡܩܕܡ ܡܫܘܕܥ ܠܩܝܡܬܐ ܡܫܒܚܬܐ ܕܒܗ̇ ܗܘ̣ ܢܘܗܪܐ ܕܠܐ ܙܒܢܐ ܠܬܠܡܝ̈ܕܐ ܕܡܫܝܚܐ ܒܬܗܪܐ ܡܣܬܒܪ ܗܘܐ܀

ܗܢܘ ܝܘܡܐ ܩܪܝܐ ܘܩܕܝܫܐ ܘܡܥܒܕ ܚܝ̈ܐ ܚܕ ܒܫܒܐ ܡܠܝ[31] ܟܠ ܫܘܦܪ̈ܝܢ ܡܠܟܐ ܘܡܪܐ ܕܟܠ ܝܘܡ̈ܬܐ ܥܕܥܐܕܐ ܕܥܕܥ̈ܐܕܐ ܘܚܓܐ ܐܝܬܘܗܝ ܕܟܠ ܚܓ̈ܝܢ ܕܦܘܪܩܢܐ ܕܓܢܣܢ ܕܒܗ ܗܘ̣ ܡܒܪ̈ܟܝܢܢ ܠܡܫܝܚܐ ܒܟܠܙܒܢ ܘܠܥܠܡܝܢ܀

ܬܘ ܗܫ ܕܠܝܠܕܐ ܕܓܦܬܐ ܚܕܬܐ ܢܫܬܐ ܒܚܕܘܬܐ ܐܠܗܝܬܐ ܒܝܘܡܐ ܝܕܥܐ ܕܥܕܥܐܕܐ ܕܩܝܡܬܐ ܡܫܒܚܬܐ ܕܒܡܟܘܬܗ ܕܡܫܝܚܐ ܢܫܬܘܐ ܟܕ ܕܝ̈ܨܝܢܢ ܘܡܒܪ̈ܟܝܢܢ ܠܗ ܠܡܫܝܚܐ ܒܟܠܙܒܢ ܘܠܥܠܡܝܢ[32]܀

ܐܪܝܡܝ ܥܝ̈ܢܝܟܝ ܠܚܕܪ̈ܝܟܝ ܥܕܬܐ ܨܗܝܘܢ ܘܚܙܝ ܗܐ ܓܝܪ ܐܬܝ̈ܢ ܠܟܝ ܒܫܘܒܚܐ ܢܗܝܪ̈ܐ ܡܨܡܚ̈ܝ ܒܐܠܗܐ ܡܢ ܡܕܢܚܐ ܘܡܢ ܡܥܪܒܐ ܘܡܢ ܓܪܒܝܐ ܐܦ ܡܢ ܝܡܐ ܬܘܒ ܒܢ̈ܝܐ ܥܡܝ̈ܕܐ ܕܒܟܝ ܢܒܪ̈ܟܘܢ ܠܦܪܘܩܗܘܢ ܡܫܝܚܐ ܒܟܠܙܒܢ ܘܠܥܠܡܝܢ܀

ܐܒܐ ܐܚܝܕ ܟܠ ܘܒܪܐ ܝ̣ܚܝܕܝܐ ܘܪܘܚܩܘܕܫܐ ܟܝܢܐ ܕܒ̈ܬܠܬܐ ܩܢܘ̈ܡܐ ܡܬܝܚܕ ܠܥܠ ܡܢ ܪܥܝܢܐ ܡܥܠܝ ܒܗ̇ ܒܐܘܣܝܐ ܘܡܥܠܝ ܬܘܒ ܒܐܠܗܘܬܐ ܒܟ ܥܡܝ̈ܕܝܢܢ ܘܠܟ ܒܠܚܘܕܝܟ ܡܒܪ̈ܟܝܢܢ ܒܟܠܙܒܢ ܘܠܥܠܡ 

ܩܘܡܝ ܐܢܗܪܝ ܩܘܡܝ ܐܢܗܪܝ ܥܕܬܐ ܐܘܪܫܠܡ ܗܝ̇ ܚܕܬܐ ܗܐ ܓܝܪ ܬܫܒܘܚܬܗ ܕܡܪܝܐ ܥܠܝܟܝ ܫܒܝܚܐܝܬ ܗܫ ܕܢܚܬ ܚܕܝ[34] ܘܪܘܙܝ ܘܐܬܦܨܚܝ ܨܗܝܘܢ ܫܒܝܚܬܐ ܐܢܬܝ ܕܝܢ ܕܟܝܬܐ ܚܕܝ ܝܠܕܬ ܐܠܗܐ ܒܩܝܡܬܗ ܕܝܠܕܟܝ ܡܫܝܚܐ ܣܒܪܢ܀

ܐܘ ܠܒܪܬ ܩܠܐ ܫܒܝܚܬܐ ܚܠܝܬܐ ܟܝܬ ܐܦ ܐܠܗܝܬܐ ܥܡܢ ܓܝܪ ܫܪܝܪܐܝܬ ܐܫܬܘܕܝܬ ܕܬܗܘܐ ܟܠܝܘܡ ܥܕܡܐ ܠܫܘܠܡܗ ܕܥܠܡܐ ܐܘ[35] ܡܫܝܚܐ ܕܠܗ ܚܢܢ ܡܗܝ̈ܡܢܐ ܐܝܟ ܐܘܩܝܢܐ ܕܣܒܪܐ ܟܕ ܐܚܝܕܝܢܢ ܟܘܠܢ[36] ܡܘܪ̈ܒܝܢܢ܀

ܐܘ ܦܨܚܐ ܗܘ̇ ܪܒܐ ܘܟܗܢܝ ܒܟܠ ܡܫܝܚܐ ܡܐܚܝܢܢ ܐܘ ܡܠܬܐ ܘܚܟܡܬܐ ܘܨܡܚܐ ܘܚܝܠܐ ܕܐܠܗܐ ܐܒܐ ܐܫܘܐ ܠܢ ܡܪܝܐ ܕܝܬܝܪ ܓܠܝܐܝܬ ܒܦܨܚܟ ܢܫܬܘ ܐܦ ܒܝܘܡܐ ܗܘ̇ ܕܠܐ ܪܡܫܐ ܒܡܠܟܘܬܐ ܕܝܠܟ ܫܡܝܢܝܬܐ܀

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Met. Georges Khodr: Who Shall I Be at Pascha?

Arabic original here. My translation is rather inadequate to the beauty of this piece.

Who Shall I Be at Pascha?

How should I conduct myself at Pascha? If the word means passing over, then there's nothing left for me except to leave everything to meet Christ. There is nothing in the feast except for Christ. There is nothing in Christianity except Christ. Everything else is just a way to talk about Him. It is an expression of Him. Once I was asked what I would keep from this world if I was stranded on a desert island. I answered, "The Sermon on the Mount from Matthew and the Gospel of John." You know, Lord, that we Orthodox read the entire Gospel in our homes during Holy Week because the Gospel is You.

How should I conduct myself at Pascha? I try to become the Gospel, to become the word so that people may read me and live. Christianity is faces that are illumined in order to give light. This is the living Pascha. It is what causes me to pass through people to the Father's face. How should I live? "I do not live, it is Christ who lives in me." Christianity is not a religious system. It is love-- that is, clinging to Christ such that you forget your own face in order to see His face and the whole world in His face. If we are people of Pascha, then we are in a state of constantly going beyond ourselves and the world in order to become Him and for Him to become us. It is not a matter of systems and it is not a matter of theoretical principles. Everything is His face, until all faces pass away or we read Him traced upon them.

How should I conduct myself? I should forget myself until I see Him and Him alone in me, until I see myself overlooking all existence. How should I conduct myself? I should place Him before my eyes and see Him as the existence that makes everything else superfluous for me. I do not converse with Him-- I encounter Him. Your face, O Lord, Your face is my desire until the moon passes away.

I am passing, Lord, until I meet You. Do not let me be distracted: "Let Your face shine upon your servant" so  that I may be of Your light. Take me to You so that I may know You. Do not leave me to the desolation of this world. Do not leave me as prey for the beasts. Come, and in your coming I will come into being. If you come to me, I will complete my path to your face, O Lord. If I see you, Your face will become the world. Nothing is of use to me except for Your face. It itself is Pascha. Let no face distract me from You. Fix my eyes upon You. Every day I desire Your face, Lord. I am content with it as life for me. Train me to see You as everything in this age and in the age to come, and I will understand that You are existence. Teach me to leave everything so that I may see You. If I reach You, then You guide me. I become a person of Pascha in You. If I arrive at You, then my way has ended.

There is nothing after Christ and nothing other than Christ. If you are not an extension of Him or an expression of Him, then you are nothing. At Pascha, I become Him or I am nothing. If I have loved Him, then I grow through Him and I  grow in Him. I do not want anything in His place because He is everything. All the saints are in Him and unto Him and if you look at their faces, do not look for them.  Search for the face of Jesus traced upon them.

How should I conduct myself at Pascha? My only affair with my soul is to bring it to the Lord. With Him it comes into existence. The Father is the beginning and the end and in Him the Christ of history pours forth. I am nothing if I do not become a person of Pascha, one who looks to the Father, the end point.

I am nothing if the Lord has not brought me to the face of His Father and this will not happen unless I have become the place of Pascha, the point of passing from myself to the Father through Christ Jesus.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

"Today is Hung upon the Tree" in Syriac

The Syriac text below, is taken from Sinai Syriac 77, ff. 54v-55r. This manuscript was copied at Sinai by Shem'on bar Ma'la bar Abu Fadl from the town of Maaloula, who finished it on July 5, 1237. 

ܝܘܡܢܐ ܐܬܬܠܝ ܒܩܝܣܐ ܕܨܠܝܒܐ ܗܘ̇ ܕܬܠܹܐ ܠܐܪܥܐ ܥܠ ܡ̈ܝܐ.
ܟܠܝܠܐ ܚܣܕܐ ܕܡ̣ܢ ܟܘܒ̈ܐ ܐܬܬܣܝ̣ܡ ܗܘܐ ܒܪܝܫܗ̣ ܕܗܘ̇ ܡ̇ܠܟܐ ܓܢܝܙܐ ܕܡ̈ܠܐܟܐ.
ܘܢܚ̈ܬܐ ܕܐܪ̈ܓܘܢܐ ܒܒܙܚܐ ܐܬܥܛܦ ܗܘܐ ܗܘ̇ ܡ̇ܪܐ ܕܡܟ̇ܣܐ ܫܡܝܐ ܒܥ̈ܢܢܐ.
ܫܘܩܦ ܦܟܐ ܘܪܘܩܐ ܩ̇ܒ̣ܠ ܗܘ̇ ܕܒܝܘܪܕܢܢ ܢܗܪܐ ܚܪܪ ܠܐܕܡ ܡ̣ܢ ܥܒܕܘܬܐ.
ܩܘܒܥ ܨܨ̈ܐ ܣܝܒܪ ܗܘ̇ ܪܥܝܐ ܡܪܐ ܕܬܫܒܘܚܬܐ.
ܘܐܦ ܕܩܝܪܘܬ ܪܘܡܚܐ ܐܡܪܐ ܕܚ̈ܝܐ ܒܪܗ̇ ܕܒܬܘܠܬܐ.
ܣ̈ܓܕܝܢܢ ܠܚ̈ܫܝܟ ܕܚܠܦܝܢ ܡܫܝܚܐ.
ܚ̇ܘܢ ܒܪ̈ܚܡܝܟ ܠܩܝܡܬܟ ܩܕܝܫܬܐ ܘܡܫܒܚܬܐ.

As is common with many Syriac versions of Greek hymns the translation is not entirely literal in order to fit the Greek meter. The Syriac reads:

Today is hung on the wood of the cross He who hanged the earth on the water.

A shameful crown of thorns was placed upon the head of the invisible King of angels.

ܑHe was mockingly wrapped in robes of purple, the Lord who hides the heavens with clouds.

He received a blow on the cheek and spit, He who in the River Jordan freed Adam from slavery.

He endured the driving of nails, the Shepherd, Lord of Praise.

Also the spear's stab, the Lamb of Life, Son of the Virgin.

We worship Your sufferings for our sake, Christ.

Show us in Your mercy Your praised and holy resurrection.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Met. Elias (Audi)'s Sermon for Palm Sunday

Arabic original here.

Audi at the Palm Sunday Liturgy: I Want a President who  Loves Lebanon, without Hatred or Malice in His Heart

Greek Orthodox Metropolitan of Beirut and its Dependencies, Elias Audi, presided at the liturgy for Palm Sunday at the Cathedral of Saint George in Nejmeh Square in the presence of a large crowd of the faithful who carried palm and olive branches and children.

After the Gospel, Audi gave a sermon in which he said, "Beloved, next Sunday we shall see the Lord rising from the dead after having suffered excruciatingly, having suffered unto death. Today, however, we see Jesus coming into Jerusalem as the people welcome Him as a king and as the Son of God, the Christ whom they awaited. But this king did not come on a horse or a chariot, but rather on a donkey, in order to teach Christians who follow Him that power does not come from any authority other than the authority of humility, meekness, love and brokenness. [...]"

He continued, "Talk has been focusing lately on who will be the next president of the Republic and who they will place in this position or that. However, I have not once heard an official emphasizing that you must be a true citizen. That is you must love your country first and your brother first, and afterward seek positions. I want those who address our children to build them up with morals and to teach them how to be good citizens. The nation is not a nation except through its citizens. This is why in Lebanon we need schools that teach citizenship. Then there will be no need for talking about sectarianism because the citizen will become a brother to every citizen. We have not yet cast our robes before God, before Jesus who became incarnate for our salvation."

He said, "They often ask me, 'Why do you not speak?' My reply: I am not a politician. I am a man of religion who teaches the teachings of Christ who did not talk about politics. Why don't we go back to the book that inspires us on how to talk, how to behave, and how to be Christians in the image of Christ? We hear a lot of talk and speeches about politics, but we have not heard a single speech about morals or citizenship. [...]"

He added, "I was recently asked, 'Who do you want to be president of the Republic?' I said: I want a president who loves Lebanon. I want him to be peaceful, a man of peace, without hatred or malice in his heart, but rather as the Apostle Paul said, I want him to be pure, just, faithful to his nation, someone who loves people. And I want all his helpers to be like this. Beloved, if you are truly Christians then Jesus is your king. If you follow Him, then you will not even fear death because the apostles who followed Him did not fear death. A few days ago we heard that a brother priest [i.e. Fr Frans van der Lugt] been killed. He knew he  was in danger but he did not leave his monastery, his parish and those he cared for. When we sense danger we flee. [...]"

He concluded, "We must thank God for all the graces that he has given us and continues to give us, even as we ask Him to preserve Lebanon and to grant its children the grace of thankfulness for all things, the grace of love, citizenship, giving, of reognizing the other and respecting his freedom and dignity."

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Met. Georges Khodr: From Death to Resurrection

 Arabic original here.

From Death to Resurrection

Today everyone flocked to see Jesus who raised Lazarus from the dead. A plot had been hatched against the Teacher because the Jews could not bear for it to be said that Jesus had raised someone from the dead and because they could not bear for the new Teacher to appear with power. But He wanted to complete His path and His path was to death, since it was necessary for Him to be sacrificed for our sins and out of love for us. This love of His led Him to the ultimate sacrifice. Jesus lived the most beautiful love story because His love was completely pure and it was great. He did not seek for Himself, but rather He sought for others. Jesus is the only person who has lived for the sake of others, while each of us lives for his own desire, great or small.

He entered Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and those sent to her, since He had to die in the heart of His country. He had to be killed by the "pious" or those considered to be so because the tragedy is that Jesus was killed by the Law, by the Law of Moses, or He was killed by those zealous for the Law because they reckoned that He had violated the Sabbath and did not keep to the ways that they had manufactured for themselves to prove their devotion to their Judaism.

Jesus knew that the plot that had been hatched over three years had to be implemented in Jerusalem. He went from Galilee to Judea, passing through Bethany where He raised His friend Lazarus, by this showing that He Himself was able to rise. Yesterday He inaugurated His resurrection with a miracle that signaled to the world that He would rise. He signaled to people that they would all rise, and not only on the last day, because He said to Martha when she affirmed that her brother would rise on the last day, that He was not talking about Judgment Day but rather about an immediate resurrection: "I am the I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live" (John 11:25).

They instigated against Jesus at the beginning of His preaching life, at the outset of the three years He spent among people. They instigated against Him because He healed the man with a withered hand on the Sabbath. The plot started because He loved and because people did not love Him. They  did not accept for there to appear among them a person who loves until the end, a person in whom there is no treachery and no deception, who is wholly pure for the sake of God and others.

However, before that He had to die because love kills. He had to descend into the pit of death, to the lowest abysses of death. He had to taste death out of love for the dying, so that no longer would anyone die but rather all of us will live through our faith in Him and our love for Him and Him alone. Then each one of us rises from his sin, rises from his stumbling, rises from his death.

He could have entered Jerusalem riding on a horse, like kings and great men, but He said in the Gospel, "Those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve" (Mark 10:42-44). Jesus wanted to become a servant, even as He was King of Kings and Lord of heaven and earth. He rode upon a donkey and entered in the manner of the humble into the city of the proud. He touched a beast in order to release us from beastliness. He touched an animal so that nothing animal would remain in man. He entered the city after some little ones and some of His sincere friends greeted Him. He knew that the rest of the people would be bought and bribed and would call for Him to be killed. He entered and the children were joyful because they are pure but the leaders of the people wanted to implement their plot. He entered into the temple, His Father's temple, into the heart of Jerusalem and there he saw money-changers and people selling doves trading in money, and He cleansed the temple of them. As we enter into Holy Week, let us remember that the Lord touched a small donkey so that there would be nothing animalistic left in us, so that sin would be erased and we might become pure. If we follow this path, without a doubt we will arrive there. And if we do not follow it, we have no true feast. The only thing left for us is pagan revelry.