Thursday, December 9, 2010

Met. Ephrem on the Feast of St. Barbara

This sermon was given during vespers at the Church of St. Barbara in Ras Masqa on December 3, 2010. The Arabic original can be found here.

Beloved, we gather today to celebrate the feast of St. Barbara who lived between the third and fourth centuries. It is an amazing thing, this and other saints who lived in ancient times and who we continue to celebrate over the centuries until today. One wonders: what is the secret of these people? There must be some secret, something distinct about them, such that the whole world honors them and has continued to honor them over such a long period of history!

Their secret is that they were witnesses to Christ against paganism. Saint Barbara, the patroness of this holy church whose feast we are gathered together to celebrate today, was killed by the hand of her own father. He cut off her head because he was a pagan and she could not allow herself to follow those errors. She remained steadfast in her faith in the Lord Jesus Christ the God-Man. She did not backtrack, but rather gave her life as the price for this confession and for this faith.

This martyrdom is the martyrdom of blood. Perhaps it is not demanded of us these days. Perhaps one day it will be demanded of us. However, what is demanded of us today is martyrdom of another kind, which is called white martyrdom. You may be saying, ‘there is no more paganism today.’ From one perspective, that is true. But from another perspective, if you think about it you will find that paganism remains in our life. Before us are new pagan gods that we worship these days in every corner of the world and especially in Lebanon. People these days worship money. They worship authority and worldly glory. They worship lust. They worship entertainment and all the other vices.

Our children who are very young, who are in colleges are exposed to many temptations. They stay out late having questionable parties. They fall into drug use. What do they benefit from that? They lose consciousness and focus and they might lose their entire future.

Beloved, today we must pay attention to all these new idols and resist them. We must become white martyrs. This means that we must be aware and watchful over our spiritual life and not let material life overpower us and conquer our minds. If people are immersed in a life of leisure and luxury and leave aside the life of prayer and spiritual watchfulness, what will become of the children? Naturally, they will depart from the right path and will become subject to the worship of the idols of the world.

Life with Christ makes one immune to evils. It makes one peaceful, loving all people, not stirring up problems and enmities. It makes one obliging and helpful to all in need. Do you have extensive wealth? That is not a problem. Wealth is not an evil in itself. However, know that your wealth will not bring you happiness. Be wise and know how to use it: give to those in need, undertake projects useful to people, to society… Rid yourself of any power that material things may have over you so that you will be strong and defeat this fading world.

Do you know what the purpose of this life is, my beloved, and why God created us in this life? The purpose of life is for us to become saints. God created us so that we can strive and seek after the face of the Beloved through the smoke and wreckage of this world. And so we must possess sound spiritual vision in order to search after the divine things and hold on to them and so that we do not let worldly things distract us from our true concern, from striving for eternal life.

May the Lord Jesus Christ bless you with His divine grace so that you will become victorious martyrs, amen.


ofgrace said...

Thank you for posting this. It is wonderful in its simplicity, gentleness, and truth. Would that we all, who have been blessed with material wealth, would take it deeply to heart!

Could you tell us more about Met. Ephrem, or point me to more about him at your site?

ofgrace said...

Never mind that last question, Samn!, I found your link for Met. Ephrem at the right of your page.