Saturday, May 11, 2013

Carol Saba to Met. Paul Yazigi

Arabic original here.

To Sayyidna Boulos Yazigi: We Await You, For Christ Is Risen

The feast has passed, beloved Sayyidna, the Feast of the Lord's Pascha, and we await you. It will not escape you, wherever you are, that Christ is risen, since He nests within you. You embrace Him and He protects you. He is the one who raised you up for His people as a shepherd and model for emulation and strength in times of joy and hardship. It is the first time since God put us in constant contact for the service of His Church that I give you a Paschal greeting through the media and not personally by direct communication. My words are not to strengthen you in the trial, since you are at the forefront of the Church's vision and a pioneer in realizing pastoral programs and Christian witness in the world today. I will not strengthen you, since you are firm in upright, holy patience and if the earth shakes below your feet, you realize the Lord's words, "Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you" (John 16:22). Christ, Sayyidna, does not retreat. He grants respite and does not neglect. We, following the words of the Lord, remain firm in hope, realizing what is asked of us here and now. They thought that they had taken you captive. If they bound your hands in captivity as they did with the Lord, you are set free in Christ.  I am not here as an analyst of actors, motives, and beneficiaries, given all the complexity, ambiguity, and lack of clarity of this act. However, as I see it, Sayyidna, it is a major turning point in this fire that is raging in our beloved Syrian land. The target of your kidnapping, you and your companion Metropolitan Youhanna Ibrahim, is the model of a man who is a bridge-builder, a peacemaker, a man of moderation, openness, and dialog. The target is those who strive to build bridges, bridges of links, connections, and positive cooperation between all the different elements of Syrian society.

The target is the society of coexistence, the society of encounter and interdependence among all elements in a civil state that embraces all in equal rights and responsibilities and preserves diversity that enriches and does not negate. We realize, Sayyidna, that our peaceful witness to Christ risen from the dead is subject to dangers in this tormented Middle East, including persecution. The Lord warned us of this at the Mystical Supper: "the servant is not greater than his master. If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you" (John 15:20). But He asked us to stand firm with courage and intelligence, that today more than any time in the past our witness might be effective and present: a witness of openness that rejects insularity, a witness of initiative towards the other that rejects retreat, a witness of encounter that rejects division, a witness of dialog that rejects unilateralism in thought, speech, and program, a witness of embrace that rejects any type of negation, a witness of freedom that rejects any type of dominance, the witness of a person who is free and dignified in his life, the witness of unity that admits diversity. The target today is the ability to encounter man and serve him anew, regardless of his religion, creed, or affiliation, to have boldness in national moderation and the refusal to follow sectarian plans and various unilateralisms. You and those like you, men armed with hope, are a danger to them. Your kidnapping is an attempt to hijack the bold line of national moderation, rooted in this Arab Middle East and which always has been and will remain the historic line of the Middle Eastern Antiochian Orthodox Patriarchate, for which our beloved Patriarch John X is boldly and firmly working. If sorrow has enveloped his heart in awaiting your return, may our joy be fulfilled and let us complete the journey with you for the sake of a bold and loving witness and a model of openness in which we participate in citizenship with our Muslim brothers to build Arab nations, states, and societies that respect man. Let us make them long for the face of God in our neighbor also. Let us openly remain aware that when adversities are great, so too is hope!

No comments: