Monday, May 12, 2014

Carol Saba to Met. Paul Yazigi: "Return to us, so that our joy may be complete"

Arabic original here.

Will Our Joy be Completed by Your Return? We Still Await You, Sayedna Paul

On a day like this last year, right around the time of Lord's going up to Jerusalem to be crucified and to rise, you were taken away, beloved Sayedna Paul. Even if you are absent from eye and ear, you, "the pilgrim between heaven and earth", are present in your absence, ruling over hearts, minds and hope. There is no fear for you in my heart, you who have meditated on 'the places of the heart's ascent' in the prophetic words that say, "Blessed is the man whose victory is from with You; in his heart he has purposed to go up the valley of weeping, to the place that he has appointed."  This is my third letter to you. My hope is that it will be the last before your return, when we will speak to each other face-to-face at the Lord's  resurrection.

I will not write 'about you', beloved Sayyedna, but like usual I will write 'to you' and each of us will be the one addressing and the one addressed. We will not address you as one absent, since you are the most present of those who have been made absent. Presence is not only in the body,  just as listening to another is not merely hearing.  My words will go over to you through the power of faith, they will reach your ear and land at the places of the heart's ascent, to tell you of my faith and my longing to meet with you once again. Yes, my faith in seeing your face that lights up screens throughout the world, from east to west. According to the Apostle to the Gentiles, your intercessor Paul, we understand faith to be "the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Hebrews 11:1).

You who said that living words are kneaded with the dough of faith and the leaven of hope, do you not set off and cross distances and way-stations visible and invisible? Do you not challenge bonds and chains, obstacles no matter how high? Do you not soar high above and land unseen in the places of the heart's ascent, of which you have spoken and have experienced?

I will not speak to you of the state of the universal Orthodox Church. The challenges are still immense and the gap is still enormous between the worldly engines of the Church and the engines of the Church that strive for the kingdom in brotherhood, boldness and intelligence.  I will not speak to you of the evangelical revolution being carried out by Pope Francis, who is trying to shatter the many worldly and institutional chains with which the Catholic Church has bound herself and which have caused her to lose the ability to address the modern world spiritually.

I will not speak to you of the conditions of Middle Eastern Christians. Today they are fractured, battered by every storm. They are still unable to rise up and escape from this sectarian, minoritarian thinking that has gradually cast them into insularity. They are holding on to existence, while what is needed of them is to be leaders and to surpass the challenges-- all challenges-- in order to tirelessly work within their Middle Eastern societies to be an active presence, so that they may bear witness to humanity-- to all humanity-- to their freedom, to their legitimate rights as citizens, and to the foundation of living with dignity.

I will not go into examining the crises of today's globalized world. Speaking of this would go on and on and I want to adress you specifically. You have always dwelt on proclaiming the Gospel in today's world, searching and inquiring about the means to develop evangelism and to expand its scope, so that the Church can address the world's modernity, its questions and its suffering. In bold and intelligent evangelism, the believer in the Lord Jesus is transformed into a meteor of spiritual fire and light, indicating his citizenship in the kingdom starting in this age, and so he does not fall under the warning of punishment that the Lord explicitly declared to us in the Book of Revelation: "Because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth" (Revelation 3:16).

Indeed, apathy and the results of relativism are evils that threaten the Church because they attack the evangelical witness within her and turn her into an administrative institution and overwhelm her with all kinds of new Pharaseeisms. The challenge of our Antiochian Church today under the wise leadership of our father Patriarch John-- the challenge of the path of revival and renewal that he prepares for her despite all the storms, calamities, and suffering that plague her and threaten the boat from every direction, both from within and from without, since the time of his election and enthronement-- is for us to once more take stock and gather together clerical and lay leaders, not only to approach systematically all the internal and external difficulties with vision, transparency, boldness and modernity, but also so that we may be a church of pioneering leadership and living, life-giving witness in this Arab world and throughout the world.

Along this path, the first inklings of which will emerge at the First General Antiochian Meeting to be held this June at Balamand Monastery,  we need you. You are the one whose concern has always been to take every earthly thing that the Lord has placed in our hands and to transform it into the flame in the burning bush, which enlightens but does not burn, radiates but does not consume. Are you not the one who wrote to all the faithful and said, "You bear upon your brows the Seal of the Lamb. Your mouths are trumpets of the Word and your legs are harbingers of peace. Redeem the time, for the days are short and one who puts his hand to the plow does not look back"? Come, Paul, you who put your hand to the plow, return to us, so that our joy may be complete, so that we may rejoice together in the resurrection of the Lord and bear witness to Him with boldness, peace and intelligence.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

thank you Carol