Sunday, June 26, 2016

Met Georges Khodr on All Saints

Arabic original here.

Sunday of All Saints

The Apostle Paul calls all believers saints, in the sense that they are being sanctified in the Holy Spirit. After a long time, this name was limited to some of those who had died and whose intercession the Church began to seek. A general commemoration was established for them in every church, and in the East it is called the Sunday of All Saints.

In the Orthodox Church, there is no reason to give this name to those who have died apart from what the Church sees in their life. As for their true position with the Lord, He alone knows this. Designating a day to seek the intercession of all saints is because He alone knows them all and they are not all mentioned on the Church's calendar. Our belief is that those who died for Christ, whom He knew and in whom He knew us, are in a state of prayer in the kingdom, speaking with Him in confidence. In our prayer, we do not know them all, since this only happens in hearts. In other words, there are people in the Kingdom of the Lord that we do not know, and if we stand on Sunday and commemorate all saints, we will have commemorated them.

It is important for us to be for them all as they are for us. Therefore, we designated one Sunday a year for them, lest we ignore one of them in prayer. Blessed is the one in the Church who knows that all her saints are for him and he is for them and that he does not pray alone if he prays on the earth because others are praying for him in heaven.

One of the greatest consolations in the churches that commemorate the saints-- that is, the Western Church and us-- is that believers rely on them in prayer and know them as supports for them in heaven and they have friendships with them. It is true that Christ is the center and He is Master of our life, but it is good for you to know that you have friends with Him. Christ does not leave you and His friends do not leave you. This gives you courage in the struggle.

Arabic original here.

Who is a Saint?

A key sentence in this passage from the Gospel is: "And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters... for My name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life."  The condition for cleaving to Jesus is that you leave what you were attached to, because Christ and not-Christ cannot be brought together. There are things in the world that you use, but do not let your heart ever become attached to them. Only Christ dwells in the heart.

It is as though Christ is warning us when He says, "He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me," as He knows very well that man often wavers between his idolatrous affections and that sole affection that he must turn towards, affection for the Lord. It is no surprise if man hesitates between God and not-God, between that which belongs to heaven and that which belongs to the earth. If he torn, man is caught between his earthenness and his spirituality.

But he who wants to follow the Mater, who wants to put every force and momentum into obedience to Him in order to strive toward Jesus' face, is called to break the clay he is in so as to strive to crush the passions that consume him. It is one gesture from man towards God that makes him a saint, and constant gestures from him towards the world that make him frivolous.

Jesus does not want us to associate Him with what is not Him. What does this mean? Does it mean that we are not called to love our wife or livelihood or homeland or other such created things? Christ responded to this when He said, "He who does not leave wife or children or fields does not deserve me." What does it mean to leave when we live with our family and own what we own? At the time that the Lord was talking, monasticism did not yet exist, because it would not appear until three centuries after the Annunciation. So it cannot mean to leave for monasteries. This is what good monks have achieved and they will remain examples for us. But in general, God wants us to remain in the world. He wants us to persist there and to know its beauties because He wants us to rise from their beauty to the splendor of His face. He who has not tasted beauty in the world does not see the face of God.

The Lord categorically does not want us to neglect our wives and children, as He is the one who calls us to shepherd. But He wants us to be rooted in Him, not rooted in the people of the world and what they possess. He wants our hears to be turned towards Him, taken with Him. If they interact with Him, then they contain all humankind in Him. But if the heart is divided, then there is no room in it, neither for Christ nor for not-Christ. If a heart is not made like Christ, then it does not love any person.

One who loves God to the end, to leaving, to leaving that which is created, returns to that which is created with independence from it. He returns from above and draws created things to himself decisively. It is only then that he brings together in one heart love for God and love for people.

This is holiness. Holiness is not a sackcloth and it is not asceticism, even if asceticism is a necessary means to it. Holiness, however, is love. He who loves until death or until being prepared to die has realized holiness.

No comments: