Monday, February 10, 2014

Met. Ephrem (Kyriakos) on Christian Unity

Arabic original here.

Christian Unity

On January 25, the Week of Christian Unity ended with a blessed meeting at the Greek Catholic church in Shakka. It was a popular, fraternal meeting that kindled the spirit of solidarity and cooperation between believers in the one Christ. The cross of us Christians in Lebanon is that we want unity but each of us are isolated within his own community; we wrestle to divide up among outselves positions and gains. Perfect unity is possible in Christ alone. The more we approach Christ, the more we approach our brother, Christian and non-Christian. There must be earnest effort for us to "become one body, for we all partake of that one bread" (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:16-17). The Lord is the maker of this unity. In the time of the hoped-for unity, the churches' particular characteristics and distinguishing features with regard to worship and ritual must remain.

Do you see what brings us together and what divides us? In reality, today we are various sects and ethnicities. There is the issue of the Eastern Catholics Uniates. There is also the issue of the pope's infalliability, the issue of the bishop of Rome's leadership over the whole world. The Orthodox-- and Easterners in general-- do not agree to these two issues and they cannot agree with them. Christ alone is the head of the Church, within the original context of Peter's authority among equal apostles.

Christianity today is in decline throughout the world, especially in the West with its counterfeit civilization. This is the general trend because of materialism and individualism, while the Christian Church relies on the life of communion, after the image of the dogma of the Most Holy Trinity. Decline also comes from rampant luxury in every place. This is what leads to corruption and moral deviency. There remains a need to return to austerity of life, to the simplicity of the Gospel, which helps to make the human personality integral and avoiding having a fractured personality. Our faith must be our life. Also, when a person draws close to his fellow man, this strengthens unity-- not just Christian unity, but also unity with all humanity--  that is, unity with God, the Creator of all.

We live in hope. Consolations come amidst suffering, amidst divisions. They do not come by eliminating them or by forgetting about them, but rather through transcending them by way of faith, love, forgiveness and humility.

The secret to everything is always to be found in Christ's death and His ressurrection. We transcend pain through hope, so that the Lord might first of all grant us unity with Himself and also unity with our fellow Christians, so that together we may bear witness to the light of His love before the entire world.

Metropolitan of Tripoli, al-Koura and their Dependencies

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