Saturday, August 30, 2014

Fr Georges Massouh: Prayer Alone is Not Enough

Arabic original here.

Prayer Alone is Not Enough

Prayer alone is not enough. Prayer is a means by which the one praying is enlightened with the divine light in order to know Gods  will and to act according to it. Prayer can be sterile, mere words and chants without spirit, if it is not followed with action here and now in the present place and time. Prayer is a reminder to the faithful that they are called to realize God's will in the universe, that they are God's partners in working peace and living the commandment to love to the fullest.

When the Holy Evangelist Luke recorded the story of the first Christians, he said, "Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved" (Acts 2:44-47).

It is not by chance that Luke talks about communion of physical goods before he talks about spiritual communion. There is no meaning to prayer, liturgy and praise if they are not the culmination of communion in the practice of love, mercy and giving. The Lord Himself says in the Sermon on the Mount, placing action before teaching, "whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:19). People do not believe those who teach from the pulpit if they do not act on their teaching and preaching.

Therefore prayer is not the abandonment of the faithful's responsibility toward those for whom they are praying, casting the responsibility on God alone as though God were in need of reminding him of people's suffering. Prayer is an invocation to God for Him to help us to bear the cross of the tormented and persecuted, whatever their religious, sectarian or ethnic affiliation. Our obligation is not fulfilled by praying. Rather, this obligation begins after prayer stops.

The Holy Apostle James says in his Catholic Epistle, "If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?  Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead" (James 2:15-17).

As for the Holy Apostle Paul, in his numerous missionary journeys he would collect donations and sent them to the poor in Palestine.

Faith and all the acts of worship that follow from it-- prayer, fasting and everything else-- are useless if they are not tied to the works that are an essential part of faith. God has called upon the faithful to imitate Him and His qualities: "Be merciful just as your Father is merciful." "Be perfect just as your Father is Perfect"... There is no use in praying "Lord have mercy" if the one saying it is not merciful toward his fellow human beings.

Prayer, lighting candles, sermons and processions are not enough for the people of Iraq, Syria and Palestine. They are in need of true solidarity, which requires of church leaders and the faithful to invest everything they have in lessening their suffering by putting everything in the possession of the churches-- property, wealth and connections-- to their service.

This  is the least of faith.

No comments: