April 2011 Letter
We have passed the middle of the Holy Lent, and as we approach the Holy Week with its beautiful deep hymns and rites, we would like to remember some words of St. John Chrysostom on the Passion of Christ, for our meditation during this week:
About the denial of Peter: “Why did the Evangelists mention Peter’s denial? not to condemn Peter the disciple, but they wanted to teach us the extent evil can reach, up to not trusting in God, and also not to have confidence in ourselves. Then you might wonder of the extent of love of The Teacher, for although He was under arrest and restrained, yet He showed great care for His disciples. He did that by a look of His eye, which made Peter come out and cry bitterly”.
On formality of worship, he says: “Note that the Jews who are worthy of mockery, have arrested the righteous, bringing with them their weapons, but they did not go to the state house “lest they should be defiled” (Jn 18 :28). Tell me then: who is the unclean? Isn’t it he who judges the innocent? These oppressors at a time when they refrain from entering into the state house, lest defiled, did not feel that they may defile when actually sentenced him to death unjustly!”
“O man, keep in mind these things when you see the Lord bound and guided here and there. Pay attention to the things of this present life that are not worth anything, because it is strange how much He suffered for you while you’re in – many times – can not hear the words of The Book”.
“When anyone mocks you remember your master. They have bowed down to him contemptuously and insulted Him by words and deeds, and mocked him but He did not defend himself. If only we can follow His example because it so we can free ourselves from all the impact of an insult. It does not harm anyone to be insulted, but what really is lacking is patience. Why then feel grief? If you’re unjustly insulted do not get angry from him who did that, but be gracious unto him and have mercy. And if you are insulted because of a mistake you did then you’d rather remain calm”.
“For nothing makes God happy with us as our love for our enemies, and our philanthropy to those who insult us. If anyone does evil to you don’t consider it from him but rather to the devil driving him. Thus keep your anger to the devil, but on the other hand he who has left himself to the devil, have compassion on him”.
About the coming out of blood and water from His side: “These two flows were not created by coincidence, but from them the church is consisted, and who participate in the sacraments, believe in the water (baptism) and feed by the Blood and Body (the Eucharist). This is how they obtain the sacraments to the extent that when they come to the Holy cup they feel they’re approaching His speared open side.”
Asking you to remember the church, its priest, servants and all its services always in your prayers, and may the blessings of St. Mary and St. Mercurius, and the blessings of these Holy days be with us always Amen.
Fr. Youssef Halim & Fr. Luke Istafanous
Belleville, April 1, 2011