Sunday, December 24, 2017

Fr Georges Massouh: Christ is the Feast

Arabic original here

Christ is the Feast

The feast has come, the feast of Christ's nativity in the flesh. Despite the tragedies that are happening in our country, the feast has come. The feast comes, and will come, at its time. No emergency or ongoing event will delay its coming from generation to generation.

The feast has come, as its Master comes in the latter times. Can we prevent Christ from appearing at every feast? Is this not our desire deep down? Is it possible for one of us ask Christ to delay His appearance? Therefore, when the feast arrives, we celebrate no matter the circumstances or the times. He appears to us in the feast, so we celebrate and rejoice, not for Him, but for ourselves. He doesn't need anyone to celebrate Him because He is the feast. But we need the feast in order to rejoice at our salvation that was accomplished through Him.

We will celebrate the feast no matter how oppressive our time. And has there been an age when the time was not oppressive? Was the era of the Roman Empire which witnessed the fiercest persecutions better than the current age of autocrats? Despite that, Christians gathered together at all times to praise God and glorify Him with great joy. In the era of Diocletian, the last persecutor of Christians, Christians faced martyrdom with great longing because it was a passageway to life with the Lord. The first people that the Church honored and recognized as saints and built places of worship over their tombs were martyrs.

The Christians did not cancel the feasts at any time: the time of catacombs, the time of persecutions that turned coliseums into slaughterhouses where Christians were offered as banquets for lions and wild beasts. Some stories and accounts tell us of  the hope with which many of those imprisoned in gulags lived in the time of the Soviet Union, where we see in some testimonies the measure of the faith that characterized some of them and their attachment to their faith and to what awaited them at the end of the tunnel increased.

We will celebrate the feast, even if we are refugees or are expelled from our homes or are without a fixed address-- our address is our face. We will celebrate the feast even if the number of victims of the wars going on in our lands reaches hundreds of thousands... We will celebrate the feast despite the existence of ISIS and plans for sectarian strife that strike here or there. Our identity is that all of us are children of God, Christians and non-Christians, He made us in His image and likeness. A person is born inheriting his parents' identity. It is a decaying identity because it is mutable and liable to change. A Christian is born at baptism and his identity becomes Christ Himself: "As many as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ." Therefore there is an explicit departure from Christianity when national or ethnic identity supersedes universal human identity for people.

Here it must be pointed out that Christ put an end to Hebrew exclusivity with regard to salvation and opened the door wide for all nations to enter into salvation. All of us have become, thanks to Christ, called from all the nations to receive salvation. Today we are agitated by a pointless argument: what was Christ's original identity? Jewish? Palestinian? Aramaean? Hebrew? Syrian? Lebanese? This is of no concern to Christ and consequently it is of no concern to us in any way. He is outside the geographic, linguistic and historical boundaries that seek to monopolize Him according to one aspect of His life. Christ is all in all, so why insist on reducing or restricting Him?

He is all in all. Let us celebrate the feast with gratitude.

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