Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Met Elias (Audi)'s Christmas Sermon 2017

Arabic original here.

At the Christmas liturgy, Audi calls for strengthening Lebanon:
The world is advancing and we are falling behind.

The metropolitan of Beirut and its dependencies, Elias Audi, presided at the Christmas liturgy at the Cathedral of Saint George in Ashrafiyya.

After the Holy Gospel, he gave a sermon, in the political portion of which he said, "We are living in an age dominated by darkness. Wars, killing, hatred, revenge, deliberate starvation, forced expulsion-- the list is long. Despite the coming of Christ, the evangelism of the apostles, and the piety of the saints, man is still drowning in sin. How can man, who is redeemed by God's blood, abandon his being a son of God and go back to being a slave to his passions and failings. The sun of justice has come to put an end to souls' darkness, but those called are many and those chosen are few, because those who accept grace with the fullness of their wills are few. God's graces are many and He inundates us with them, not because of our worthiness but because of His boundless love and mercy. But He does not violate our freedom."

He continued, "The Lord has given us a beautiful nation whose importance we have not realized and which we have not kept as we should. I fear that we will weep over it if we do not quickly set things aright. Lebanon belongs to us all. It belongs to all its children with all their groups, religious communities, and affiliations. If something bad happens to it, it happens to everyone, not to one group but not others. If we exhaust its finances, the consequences will be reflected on all of us. If we neglect its forests and harm its environment, we will all pay the price. If we break international agreements and the law of the United Nations, then the one accused will be all Lebanon. That is, all Lebanese, not one specific group or religious community. All of us are responsible."

He pointed out that "the world is advancing and developing, while we are increasing in backwardness, poverty, ignorance, economic decline, moral dissolution, and social fracturing. Where is the creative capacity that motivates people and pushes them to pose questions, to rebel, to constructively criticize, to be creative? Where is the faith in God that sews love and hope in the heart?"

He said, "We are all required to work tirelessly to rebuild the united, free, independent, distinguished, democratic Lebanon, far from bargaining, patching up, and special interests. We are required to fortify Lebanon against division, encroachment, auctioning, liabilities, quotas and deals. It must once again become a capital of culture, peace, tolerance, dialogue and freedom-- freedom of belief, freedom of sound and responsible expression, and of justice, the renunciation of violence and extremism, respect for diversity and difference, modernity and creativity. All are required to fight against corruption in the soul first, and then in others. Public debt is piling up and threatening the country's future, while there is enormous wealth, deals and suspicious activities. Why are the laws not enforced? Sloganeering is not enough. What is needed is a serious commitment from everyone and a renunciation of private interests for the sake of the common good, the good of the nation and its citizens."

He pointed out that "constructive criticism corrects deviation, so it is incumbent on all to pay attention to where faults are located and to fix them. Someone might say that Lebanon is living in the middle of a region that is in blazes and no device is at hand. We reply that it is within our capability to reform our internal house by enforcing the laws for everyone without differentiation and not only against the weak while the strong are always exculpated, along with those who are affiliated with them. It is within our capability to spread justice everywhere, to reduce the public debt by adopting transparency in the awarding of contracts in order to remove from the minds of citizens doubt about the conduct of officials, to protect national industry, reduce pollution of the air and water, reforest regions, prevent encroachment on the environment, deal with the traffic crisis, road congestion, unemployment, and other matters necessary for protecting citizens."

"We are in need of an internal workshop to save us from everything that impedes us from attaining the dignified life that every citizen hopes for and which he has a right for the nation to provide him with. This citizen no longer believes in his state's ability to function. This state that has not managed to deal with the electricity problem or the trash for decades, is it capable of eradicating corruption from souls and morals? But we all live in hope."

Audi concluded, "In this blessed feast, we lift up prayer to the divine Child, that He will have compassion for us and help us, both officials and citizens, to work silently and effectively to return Lebanon to the level of advanced, civilized states. We ask Him to inspire officials to cooperate to raise the country up and to change the painful current situation that citizens are enduring with wisdom, integrity, honesty, respect for values and laws, and the fear of God and dependence upon Him because He alone is our help and our Savior. We pray that the Lord will preserve our rulers, our army and all citizens and guide them to do all good. We also pray for all the oppressed, the missing, and the sick, that they may find their consolation in the Lord, the Savior whom we ask to return to us our brothers Metropolitans Paul and Yuhanna safely, to return Jerusalem to its people, and to return all to their homes. At the feast of the birth of the Lord Jesus, our eyes are fixed on Jerusalem and our hearts are lifted to the Lord of Lords, to establish His peace in His holy city and to spread His justice upon it and upon the entire inhabited world because the justice of the land is lacking and Jerusalem is its first victim. Is not the commemoration of the Savior's birth our being transported from the old, corrupt life to newness of life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen."

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