July 2016 Letter
On the occasion of the fast of the Apostles, which ends by the commemoration of the martyrdom of the Apostles Peter and Paul, we learn from an article by HG Bishop Mousa that:
“Some may think that the successful service of the apostles which was full of miracles, was an easy way. But the truth is that it was a path strewn with pain, and in this pain they were united with the Lord who was crucified for their sake, thus they took power and lived hope and abhorred the death. The pain in the lives of our fathers the apostles was:
- Union with the Lord, who carried the cross: for pain in Christianity is no longer a punishment for sin, but union with the crucified and company in the cross. Thus the apostle says: “if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together” (Rom 8 :17), and also “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me” (Gal 2: 20). So pain in the mind of the apostles was union with the Lord and sharing the cross … thus it was accompanied by deep joy as a sacrifice of love for the beloved Savior.
- A divine gift with a great effect in their lives: the Apostle Paul says, “For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake” (Phi 1: 29). So pain is a divine gift because it is able to do a lot in the life of the believer. These are some of the objectives and benefits of the pain:
- Repentance: often God allows pain so man would stop and to revise on himself and repent … this is when he faces diseases, accidents or material loss. All these alert the person to the importance of spiritual success and eternal life.
- Purification: there may be a loved sin in the depths of the heart, like pride or self-righteousness or a certain lust, so God allows pain to wean us from the sin: “for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin” (1 Pet 4: 1). Job the righteous is a perfect example of that.
- Protection: as with the Apostle Paul: “a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure” (2 Cor 12: 7). So he was pleased “infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor 12: 10). It is important that the trials are not bound by sins otherwise it’s from the devil to drive him in more of sins.
- Pain is a holy joy; the apostles were able to offer something to Him who was crucified for them, as an expression of their love, for as long as the pain is from God and not because of sin, the internal joy and peace of soul and spirit will accompany it all the time. It doesn’t surprise us to hear of the Apostles that they “departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name” (Acts 5: 41).
May the blessing of Saint Mary, the holy apostles, and Saint Mercurius be with us all.
Belleville, NJ, July 1, 2016