Monday, February 23, 2015

Met Georges Khodr: Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth

Arabic original here.

"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth"

The Apostle Paul tells us in today's epistle, "The night is far spent, the day is at hand." Behold, we set aside the works of darkness and approach the light, the light that will come at Holy Pascha. However, before Pascha this divine light comes through the efforts that we will undertake by mercy from our Lord and by His favor.

The Evangelist Matthew has spoken to us about the fasting that we undertake for God's sake, which we undertake in secret, without making a show or admitting to it, but we know it as a mercy from our Lord and we fight to acquire the grace of contentment and so that we may be trained in the way of the Lord and the fear of Him.

It is not an issue of refraining from food or drink. These are exercises, practice by which we train for something higher. Of course, we must submit our body to the fast in order to tame it because there is something better than the body and in order to make it feel the presence of the poor. Mercy is one of the dimensions of the fast. The purpose of the fast is for us to be trained in it in the school of mercy.

Today the Lord tells us at the end of the Gospel reading, "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal." That means, do not place your reliance on money, but know that there are poor people who need this money and that they have a right to it. Giving is not a sort of optional charity. You do not have a say in whether to give or not to give. It is an obligation because the earth belongs to all people and the riches of the earth belong to everyone.

"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth  for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." This means that if you consider money to be your treasure, then your hearts will be full of the love of it and if you consider the kingdom of God to be your treasure, then your hearts will be filled with God. Life must not be a state of confusion between God and the world, where we hesitate between Christ and what is not Christ. Therefore, we enter into the struggle of this fast affirming that Christ is all of life and so we will enter into the calm sobriety of Christ so that we may build for Him a glorious church, not of stone but of hearts living in harmony.

The fast is a struggle that each of us undertakes according to his ability and as his health permits. This is as regards food and drink. However, we all undertake it as regards its spiritual aspect. That is, we are all called to love, to forgiveness, and to hold all people close to our hearts, so that God may hold us close to His heart. If we love people, then we are God's beloved and if we hate people, then we are separated from God. There is nothing in the Christian Church but this: that we love each other and that we strive to remain in this love all our life.

Whatever people say about us and whatever they do, all people are God's beloved and the children of God and so we love them and support them and we fast from gossiping so that we may all have a share in the Lord's love. With these feelings, let us enter Blessed Lent so that God may make it a season of blessings for us and show us at its end a great and glorious Pascha by which we are blessed with love, forgiveness, peace and joy.

No comments: