Archdiocese News - SEVENTH SUNDAY OF LUKE [English/Arabic]

[Arabic Version]

The Humility of the Saints
“For I bear on my body the slave marks of Jesus”

There are a few truths and divine teachings of our faith which we have to be taught and hear many times, so that they will become a conscience way of our daily life. These truths are like the cornerstone of the edifice of the Church. For instance, the Cross and the sacrifice of Christ. The Resurrection of Christ. The salvation through the blood of Christ; and so many others, which are repeated almost every Sunday in the Gospels and Epistles. Today, with the grace and help of God, we shall speak about the “slave marks” which Paul revers to “For I bear on my body the slave makes of Jesus”.

A characteristic attribute of the saints and of the righteous is not to speak about themselves. As much as the saint ascends up into the climax of holiness and perfection, so much so does he descend into humility and humble contrition. A characteristic of an empty person is to cry out and demonstrate his virtues. To quote a popular proverb, “the empty barrel makes noise, the full one remains silent”. Sometimes the hour comes when we may think the saints should have opened their mouths in their own defense. Yet the ecclesiastical historian of the fifth century, Lafsaic, visited the monastic communities of his epoch in Egypt, Livie, Palestine, and others, and he records in his History of Palladius characteristic anecodtes from the lives of the monks, their “seal and imitation of those who struggle for the heavenly city.

The Jewish minded teachers accused St. Paul of not really being an apostle at all, that is one of the twelve apostles. Nor was he authorized by them to offer the Christian salvation to the Greeks on such easy terms. They further accused St. Paul of never seeing Christ in his lifetime. Paul apologizes with some boasting and simply says: “For I bear on my body the slave marks of Jesus”. In simple terms; I bear the scars of the wounds which I suffered and suffer, for the Lord Jesus Christ, so that these wounds are my best answer to you. What were these slave marks of the Lord that he referred to? He mentions them in his second epistle to the Corinthians. “With all my hard work, with all my beatings, with all my times in prison, many times at the point of death, far more than they; five times I received from the Jews a whipping of thirty-nine strokes; three times I was shipwrecked; I have spent a whole day and night in the sea”(II Cor. 11: 24-30).

In the epistle to the Hebrews we read of the saints of God: “…others experienced insult and whipping, yes, even chains and imprisonment; they were stones, they were sawed in pieces, they were burned, they were killed by the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, helpless, hunted, and mistreated”(Heb. 11-33:40).

Signs of this kind bring glory and honor to the man who bears them, and as such they are the seal of his faith. St. Paul does not feel shame for them, but on the contrary he is happy and very proud of them. For the signs and marks which are honest glorify a man, as those signs and marks which are dishonest disgrade a man. The scars which the soldier suffers in serving his country are the same scars which bring him honor and appreciation. There are also wounds which bring dishonour and shame. Wounds which are a result of drunkenness, covetousness, a life which is full of sin and violation. These actions we should avoid and stay away from, inasmuch as they bring not only shame and disgrace upon the human dignity, but many times death itself. For St. Paul says: “The wages of sin is death”.

Today we are given neither the opportunity nor the occasion for such martyrdoms which produce wounds. Today no one forces us to believe or to disbelieve or to worship what we do not please. But if there are not opportunities to bear slave marks and wounds on our bodies, indicative of our dedication to Christ, then let us bear the signs of a good and moral life. For the unbelievers who see them see our good works and will glorify the Father who is in heaven.


From our Late Metropolitan Paul

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