Saturday, July 14, 2018

Met Georges Khodr: We are Children of our Fathers

Arabic original here.

We are Children of our Fathers

Today we commemorate the holy fathers. Who are these fathers? There are those whom we call holy fathers, such as John Chrysostom, Gregory the Theologian, Basil the Great, Maximus the Confessor, John of Damascus... We do not call all those who wrote about theology fathers, even if they were impressive. Our father is the one who begat us. Our father in the Church is the one who makes us children of God with his teachings.

When the Church needs someone to defend her, when she is in danger, God reveals someone within her who teaches in a manner that supports and clarifies what we have received from the Apostles. Danger to the Church appeared in the late first century from the Jews and Greek philosophers, or from Judaism mixed with Greek philosophy. Therefore clearer teaching about the divinity of the Lord was necessary.

The Church as a body is threatened by illness and in the body itself there are those who defend her. The Church is threatened by teachings foreign to her because Christians are influenced by what is not upright and drift in the wake of the fleeting intellectual fashions of our age. Then God sends, by His inspiration, men who clarify the dogma that we must believe. When the struggle intensifies, they gather in a council where they state their faith.

When Arius appeared in Alexandria and said that Christ is created-- that is, that He was not with the Father from eternity-- the deacon in Alexandria Athanasius went and said, "No indeed, relying on our holy scriptures, Christ is uncreated." The controversy raged in Egypt and spread throughout the empire, so the Emperor Constantine called for a worldwide ecumenical council for the first time. This council enacted the creed that we recite today in the Divine Liturgy.

Some people imagine that in the creed and in the dogma that we teach, we philosophize or bring something difficult. Of course, it is difficult to a great degree and students learn it in theological institutes. But for  the early fathers, these statements were very necessary because the Church was in danger and it was necessary for them to address people in the language and concepts of people at that time.

Those who heard "begotten not made" understood that Christ is eternal with the Father and understood that these words refute the teaching of Arius and confirm the Orthodox faith.

The fathers defended true dogma and Orthodox Christians were pleased to die in order to affirm the truth of the dogma, because they insisted that they had something essential in their faith, which if they lost it, they would die spiritually. If Christ was not God, then the one who died on the cross does not save us. Christians did not debate for the sake of controversy, but if Christ were an ordinary human, then we are without redemption and without hope. What is at stake in the defense of the faith is an issue of life or death, life in Christ or death without Christ. The whole of our salvation is connected to this dogma.

The dogma that we learn and repeat in our prayers is a sort of boundary that if we cross, we fall into the valley of death and darkness. We cannot scatter this inheritance that we have received. If someone comes and tells us, "Your dogma has been cut to pieces. Remove from it what bothers us so that we can live in harmony. Please us and say that Christ is not divine and that he is an ordinary human," we reject it completely. The faith isn't a possession for everyone who wants to squander it. We have received it and we remain with it because from it we have life.

This is the importance of the Feast of the Fathers. We are children of our fathers. We are children of the Apostles, the righteous ones, the saints and the martyrs, and we persist like this in strong sincerity that some call obstinacy. We call it sincerity and we persist in it in humility, since the grace of our Lord has preserved us in it through our fathers.

No comments: