IX Sunday of Pentecost - الأحد التاسع من زمن العنصرة
Year 112 - Issue No. 31|| July 31 — Aug 6 2022
n July 31, we commemorate the 350 Maronite monks who were martyred in the year 517, slain by other Christians for no other reason than holding the true faith. The debate on the natures of Christ (Divine and human), became problematic. In 451, the Council of Chalcedon dealt with the debate once and for all, declaring that Christ is both divine and human, but one person. This is symbolized by the stole البطرشيل(The strip of fabric used as an ecclesiastical vestment, worn over the shoulders and hanging down to the beneath the knee). The stole symbolizes the priesthood, as the yoke of Christ, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart” Mt. 11:29. The priest is vested in Christ (who has two natures Divine and human in one person).
The Maronites upheld the proclamation of the Council of Chalcedon. The monks of Saint Maron led the way preaching the true doctrine and opposing heresy. The opposing camp to the council, persecuted the Maronites, some monks had been beaten and others had been thrown into prison. While on their way to Saint Simon Stylite, the Maronites had been ambushed and 350 monks were killed, even though some of them had taken refuge at the altar.
The words of Jesus Christ, “I have chosen you out of the world,” echo in us, as we commemorate these events. The Greek word ek-klesia, from which we get the word “church,” means “those called out of [the world].” The Church must never forget that she is not of this world; She is called out of it by God. Sometimes we only remember our fundamental unease in this world when it persecutes us.
We are used to Church and State living in relative harmony in America (a nation founded by religious pilgrims). But for most of their history, Christians have been misunderstood and lived in at least low-grade persecution. Do we expect to be understood by a world that uses a different operating system? It is completely normal—and I would say necessary—for us to feel ill at ease in this world. We should not be disturbed at being misunderstood and persecuted; we should expect it. Jesus told us, after all that “because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you.” Yet we can live with the world hating us, because it doesn’t hate us relentlessly. Much of the time the world loves us, and we love the world. Even in this world, which must misunderstand us, God gives us places of retreat, little foretastes of heaven. We hope that one day, we will know God so deeply that nothing will disturb us. I hope that one day everyone will come to a place of peace “that the world cannot give.” But by Christ’s own definition, this place is not to be found in this world. God’s creation is beautiful, seeing him in the beauty of nature, is a foretaste of life of the world to come.