Saturday, June 28, 2014

Met Georges Khodr on the Apostles

Arabic original here.


Inspired by the Feast of the Apostles

Today the Church commemorates the crowns of the apostles, Peter and Paul and tomorrow, June 30, she commemorates the twelve apostles all together. What I would like to call to your attention is that the apostles, while the Lord was with them, had the task of healing the sick, cleansing the lepers, and raising the dead. Jesus gave them His own power to bring the world back to health-- health of the body and health of the soul. As for health of the soul, it remained their primary task after the Resurrection and it was given to people through the Gospel. The Gospel is health of the soul.

After Pentecost, when they received power from on high, they started to preach the Gospel in their country first, then they went out into the world. Some specialized in evangelizing the Jews and some specialized in evangelizing the pagans. The stories of the apostles show that they spread out through the world bearing the Gospel and the new message that "God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son so that whosoever believes in Him might not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16).

We know that most of them died as martyrs. All of them died after confessing the Savior as Lord and Redeemer, the source of life for them, for believers and for all. Remember that the Lord took them from around the Sea of Tiberias as fishermen and He made them fishers of men.

He taught them by example and they followed it out of obedience and love for three years while He was with them, correcting their efforts and strengthening their faith. He was weak in people's eyes and He remained weak until the night of the Resurrection. But He loved them, was patient with them and opened their hearts to accept the Holy Spirit. When the Spirit came and purified them, they understood the words that the Lord used to speak and they loved Him and obeyed Him even until death. The understanding that was in them was from the Spirit. What knowledge they had was from the Spirit of Holiness placed in them by the Beloved Son.

After they loved Christ alive and risen from the dead,  active in their hearts and in the hearts of their followers, after they felt Him in this way, they translated Him into Gospels and they translated Him in deed, in martyric death. They were pleased, as Paul says, to be like filth in this world, where people despise them and oppress them because they came with a message of love and people do not want love. People want death and to kill, to exercise authority, to oppress, to lust, to drink up the world, to subjugate be subjugated by it and by its authorities. The apostles came with a message of meekness, kindness, giving and universal brotherhood that knows no boundaries.

The first Christians did not say "I'm from this neighborhood and you're from that neighborhood" or "You are from that village and I am from this village" or "You are the son of so-and-so and I am  the son of such-and-such". Names, families, influence and factionalism all divide people. When they met, they would say "my brothers" and they felt that way. People would say of them "See how they love one another." No one would say that his money was his own, but rather everything was shared among them. Thus they sold everything they possessed and cast it at the feet of the apostles. The apostles would distribute it to the needy among them. The needy person was master, the weak person was master , the illiterate was master.

Power that is from the world-- the power of wealth, the power of authority, the power of lust-- all this was cast at their feet. They had the power of love and by it they conquered the world. Thus when we recite in the Creed, "I believe in one, holy, apostolic and catholic Church", when we say "apostolic" we indicate two things. We indicate that we have the faith of the apostles according to what we read in the Acts of the Apostles, "they devoted themselves to the teachings of the apostle." There lies true, Gospel faith without distortion or innovation. This is what we received and what we subsist on. The second meaning of the term "apostolic Church" is that we have apostolic behavior. That is, that we are not pagan gentiles. When we say that we are Christians, we do not mean the party of Christians, we mean those who love Jesus Christ with pure behavior and love for all, for the people of this neighborhood and the people of that neighborhood.

As we celebrate the crowns of the apostles, let us bear witness that we are an apostolic group that has no right over people other than to love them. Its right is to love and its duty is to love, whether or not people love it. Let us proceed in this faith and this witness.

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