Saturday, September 23, 2017

Met Georges Khodr: There is No Fear in Love

Arabic original here.

There is No Fear in Love

On the shore of the Lake of Tiberias, the Lord joined with the disciples in their daily activities and He used their boats to evangelize. He asked them to move one of the boats a little bit from the shore so that He could address the crowds and talk to them about the kingdom of God. Everything that is ours belongs to God. Our homes belong to God. Every tool, every intellect, every institution should give praise first to God and then treat our private concerns.

After Jesus evangelized in the boat, it went on to perform its own business in the sea, fishing. The Lord was with the fishermen when they caught many fish, after He ordered them to cast their nets in the deep. All things, everything of this world, comes to be by God's word. If they are not according to His word, they are harmful and destroy man.

When Peter and his companions pulled in this great amount of fish, he said to the Lord, "Get away from me, for I am a sinful man." The Lord's passing among us, the Lord's observing us, conscience, the word of the Gospel or prayer must produce the feeling within us that we are sinners. God is strict. Were he not, he would not be saving us. Sometimes God collides with us to the point of causing wounds because pain on account of sin is our starting-point towards eternal life. This feeling existed of old in all peoples and we feel it in the Old Testament: Moses veils his face when the Lord appears to him on Sinai. It is as though Peter started to feel that this teacher who had brought them together is the God whom we fear, before whom we cover our faces. He was overwhelmed by anxiety. He was overwhelmed by trembling, but the Lord said to him, "Do not fear. I will make you a fisher of men." But He made this conditional on his confessing that he was a sinner.

You cannot be a shepherd of Christ's Church if you do not know at every moment that you are responsible before God and before your own conscience. We are not masters over people and we do not rule their consciences. Rather, most of our interest is in strengthening consciences, in drawing their attention to God's will so that people will become masters over themselves. Priests are not masters. They are brothers who rouse the conscience so that man may rule over the universe.

"I will make you a fisher of men" and therefore you must not fear. The fundamental condition is that you do not fear, since you must love. When the Lord appeared to Peter after the resurrection, He said to him, "Simon son of Jonas, do you love me more than these?" Peter said, "Yes, Lord, I love You." So He said to him, "Feed my sheep." That is to say, "You, O Peter, after straying have returned to the perfect faith out of a love renewed. Your love has made you able to be a shepherd." Love is the condition for being a pastor. Otherwise, the pastor is taking advantage of the flock and lording over it out of egotism. If you are able to be kind to people and of accepting them as they are with all their sins, you do not judge them but have mercy on them. If you can do this, then you are pastoring in the way that God pastors, with God's staff, with God's word. Otherwise, you are pastoring them with your own staff, with your own word, with your own lusts.

Do not fear, Peter, because you must love in order to fish men. The Holy Apostle and Evangelist John, who was present at the miraculous catch, said in his first epistle, "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love" (1 John 4:18). Therefore, if you love, you pastor without inciting people against each other because you do not fear. If you pastor with love, then people are not diminished because of your words. Instead, they open and reach into the world and are comfortable with their Lord. Someone who lives in fear is someone who cannot forgive. And he who cannot forgive cannot receive God.

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