This sermon was given to the meeting of priests in Shakka on Saturday, October 8, 2011. The Arabic original can be found here.
In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, amen.
Beloved, you heard this passage from the Gospel according to the Evangelist Luke in which the Lord calls the fifth disciple, the tax-collector Levi, that is the tax-collector Matthew, who was considered a sinner, after calling the first four disciples who were fishermen.
This passage from the Gospel reminds us of the basic Christian mission. The wisdom of the Lord, God's wisdom, is not the wisdom of men. He calls illiterate fishermen to become fishers of men and here he calls someone that people consider to be a sinner, a tax-collector, a thief, to follow him and to become holy through repentance. This is God's wisdom and by it we are pointed toward the Christian mission, to his mission and to our mission too. When they gathered in the evening, the scribes and Pharisees started to grumble, how could the Lord sit with sinners and tax-collectors and those outside the law? Then Jesus came and revealed his mission saying, "The healthy are not in need of a doctor but rather the sick. I did not come to call the righteous and the prominent, but rather sinners to repentance." Here the Lord Jesus means by "the prominent" the Pharisees who considered themselves prominent in following the law, while sinners were separated from society.
This is Christ's mission and our mission. We do not search for those who are prominent people. The mission of the priest, the mission of the Christian is not just to search for prominent people in this world. He must instead search for the sinners that have been rejected by society because he is a physician and he must call those who have been rejected, the sick and the poor, to repentance.
This is the meaning of holiness according to our holy fathers. Saints are not important people and dignitaries in this world. Saints are those who repent. This is why the Lord Jesus said, "I did not come to call the righteous but rather sinners to repentance."
We, beloved, in the world in which we live today, must know what our mission is, the mission not only of the priest but of every Christian. If one wants to follow Christ and to help others, one must first repent of one's sins and after that also care for the sins and afflictions of the people and to look after them. At that point the Lord comes and says, "Come, you will be among my disciples. You will be saved with me and you will inherit eternal life." Amen.