Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Fr Georges Massouh on the Martyrdom of Fr Fadi Haddad

Arabic original here.

The Martyr Father Fadi Haddad, Aptly Named

In the living Christian tradition, the title "Redeemer" [al-Fadi] is given only to Christ, since through Him salvation came to the world. Without a doubt, in Christian terms redemption reached its culmination in Christ's accepting to die upon the cross, giving Himself as a ransom for man and his sins. We cannot understand redemption apart from the ultimate sacrifice that Christ the Lord gave upon the cross.

So ransom, in general understanding, means saving or freeing someone from captivity or from an ordeal by paying a certain sum.

However, Christ redeemed the world on the cross with His blood. The Apostle Peter says in his first epistle, "you know that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot" (1 Peter 18-19).

In the Christian tradition, Christ is the sacrificial lamb though whom the New Covenant begins, the covenant of salvation and pure love. "He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth" (Isaiah 53:7). Commenting on this verse, Saint Ephrem the Syrian (d. 373) says, "There are those who triumph through contentions, but our Lord triumphed through His silence... He did not open His mouth except to teach and was silent before the tribunal... the words of His enemies were nothing but a crown upon His head."

The Christian tradition finds the true meaning of the Christian concept of redemption in the prophecy of Isaiah about the "Suffering Servant of God" which was realized in Jesus Christ. This servant of God shall bear the sins of the world in peace and humility and he will be a ransom for them. "He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed... My righteous Servant shall justify many, for He shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great, and He shall divide the spoil with the strong, because He poured out His soul unto death, and He was numbered with the transgressors, and He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors" (Isaiah 53:5, 11-12).

We cannot separate this ransom from the divine love that makes God hurry to send His only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to redeem humankind through Him: "In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins" (1 John 4:10) and also, "God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8).

The martyr Father Fadi Haddad was aptly named. He was born in the city of Qatana, on the outskirts of Damascus in 1969. He became a servant of his parish after completing his theological studies in the Saint John of Damascus Theological Institute at Balamand University. He went out from his home, after saying goodbye to his wife and children, carrying a sum of money for the release of a member of his parish from the hands of his kidnappers. When he reached them, they seized him, tortured him, gouged out his eyes, and slaughtered him.

Father Fadi is aptly named. He imitated his Teacher, redeeming his flock with the most precious thing he had. He tasted excruciating torments and bore curses and insults. He was generous in giving himself and did not spare his spirit. He went to the ultimate meaning of the name he bore. He realized that he did not deserve it if he did not live it in all its dimensions and requirements. "Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends" (John 15:13). The Martyr Fadi attained the fulness of love by his blameless blood. What gives us some comfort is that in the Church, in Syria, and in his family, a new saint is born today.

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