Archdiocese News - SIXTH SUNDAY OF LUKE [English]

[Arabic Version]

“Don’t Persecute Him”
“Then the whole multitude of the country of the Gerasenes
Round about besought Him to depart from them for they were
Taken with great fear” (Luke 8: 26-39).

There is anecdote circulating in the communities which is very characteristic of the human thought process. A board of trustees meeting was held in one of our parishes. One of the topics for discussion was the priest; i.e., whether or not the pastor should remain with the parish. As soon as the meeting started, one of the board members had fallen asleep. While he was dozing, the discussion was whether or not the priest should leave. When it came time to vote, he was asked for his ballot. Suddenly he awoke, not even aware of the issue discussed, and began shouting: “I agree with the last speaker. The priest has to leave the community, and by tomorrow morning”.

“Then the whole multitude of the county of the Gerasenes round about besought Him to depart from them for they were taken with great fear”. The people from that district of Gerasenes did not understand Him. They were overtaken by an ungodly fear and asked Him to leave. “And He went up into the ship and returned back again”. The board of trustees have nothing better to do than persecute the priest. However, in the cases, the example is relative. The priest was a man with human weakness. He should not have been persecuted, but his parishioners were moved by the viciousness of envy. Envy deforms everything that it strikes. A persecution by the board of trustees waged against the priest is not incomprehensible. In contrary, it is a very common thing nowadays. I mention this simply because, if they are to continue, they should not employ false accusations or vulgarity while doing it.

There is a proper way to handle such problems. And, if you will, the Christian way. The Church has as Her head leader, the Archbishop. It is through the archbishops that any problems are to be aired. But, beloved brethren, in the first and second cases, the confrontation is between men. In the third case, that of the Gerasenes, the situation is very different. On one side is man, while on the other stands God. Christ is not a man. Here is Christ, free from sin of any kind, never permitting even a vain word to pass His lips. It is Christ who asked that famous question: “Who will accuse Me of sin?” And so it was this same Christ that the Gerasenes drove from their district, absolutely amazed by his presence. He destroyed their illegal gains, taken in from their trading in swine. They were not concerned about the man possessed by the demons- whether or not he would be well again. It was their loss of commercial profit that worried them. “So, Jesus, leave from them. We don’t want you. Today you destroyed our pigs, perhaps tomorrow you will ask for our fields, and after for our children, and our cash register, monies, properties, etc. and, finally, God forbid, you might even ask us to follow you. We want to leave it as we found it”. And as the Gospel says, He did not perform many miracles there.

It is not sufficient for good, per se, to stare you right in the face and demand your attention and appreciation. Rather, you must acknowledge that which is good and most of all practice it. God is able to save you, to change you. But you must desire to be saved, to be changed. For example, when the doctor prescribes certain medicines and treatments in order to cure your illness, you must either accommodate yourself to his prescriptions, or find yourself on a permanent journey leaving this world (Wisdom of Sirach 38: 1-10).

Dear brethren, never in your lives try to imitate the obstinate Gerasenes. Rather than close your home, communities, and hearts to Christ, open them wide. Our Lord always knocks at the door and waits for you to open, so that He might make the blind to see, the lame to walk, the lepers to be cleansed, the dead souls to be awakened, and the poor to become encouraged (Matt. 12: 4-5). He waits for your doors to be opened: to come into your homes, to sup with you… “Behold, I stand at the door and knock, if any man hear my voice and open the door…” (Apoc. 3: 20). Open wide – do not cast Him out.

                                                                                          A M E N
From our Late Metropolitan Paul

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