Sunday, April 28, 2013

Fr Younes Younes on the Bishops' Kidnapping

Arabic original here.

In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, amen.


Here we are at the edge of Holy Week, when we accompany the Lord Jesus in his Passion, so that He may grant us the grace of beholding His glorious Resurrection. We began preparing a few weeks ago with fasting and prayers. But some of our brothers had a different preparation. Our brothers in Lebanon, and especially our brothers in Syria,  accompanied the Lord in His passion in expulsion, destruction, and oppression, ending in the martyrdom of blood. Despite everything, they remain firm in their faith. They are patient in trials. They are children of hope. The trial is becoming harder to bear, because there are still people who believe that if the shepherd is struck, then the flock will disperse (Mark 14:27). They proceeded to abduct Bishop Paul, shepherd of the Orthodox diocese of Aleppo, and Bishop Youhanna, shepherd of the Syriac Orthodox diocese of Aleppo. In doing this, they  conspire with Satan not only against our brothers in Aleppo, but also against the one Church in Lebanon, Syria, and the entire Middle East.

It slipped their minds that there is someone who preceded them in their sin and dared to conspire against the Good Shepherd and to crucify the Lord of Glory. He thought that the affair would end with a stone rolled over the door of the tomb. Did those who kidnapped Sayyedna Paul and Sayyedna Youhanna not learn that the Shepherd was struck but the sheep were not scattered, since they were established on the rock of faith? That the Shepherd was crucified and His Church was born from His pierced side? That the Shepherd was buried, but rose victorious over death?

Our brothers in Aleppo, our brothers in the entire Middle East, you are children of hope. You are children of the Resurrection. If you are faithful unto death, then the One who was dead and came back to life will give you the crown of life (Revelation 2:8 and 10).

Beloved Sayyedna Paul, we are not frightened by what is happening and we do not fear for you. You come from the way of life of the desert-dwellers, those who soar with divine love. Nothing frightens them except sin. How can we fear, when your love for God has made us disciples and we have learned from you that "Jesus being lifted up on the wood is a prefiguration of ourselves being lifted up as His disciples. When the disciple of Jesus looks at his Lord being crucified, he relies with Him on the likeness of His death and resurrection. When a brave soldier sees his leader wounded in war, he throws himself into battle even more fiercely" (Metropolitan Paul Yazigi, Safar al-Kalima, vol. 3, p. 8).

How can we fear, when you say, "Life and death are happiness, when near God, and Hell when defying Him. Death is a word and a fiction. There is death for the body, which we will get back glorified. Death does not exist. Thus, eternal life begins here" (Metropolitan Paul Yazigi, Safar al-Kalima, vol. 1, p. 145).

We only fear that we will not remain faithful to the Word of God. We rejoice to be among "the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple. And He who sits on the throne will dwell among them. They shall neither hunger anymore nor thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any heat; for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes" (Revelation 7:14-17). Amen.

Let us pray for our father Metropolitan Paul, shepherd of the Orthodox diocese of Aleppo, and for Metropolitan Youhanna, shepherd of the Syriac Orthodox diocese of Aleppo, who were kidnapped, in the hope that they will be safely returned to their flocks.

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