November 2009 letter
When a lawyer asked Jesus about the he great commandment in the law, Jesus answered: “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” (Math 22: 37-40). We usually focus on the first part of this response and judge ourselves accordingly, and often confess our weaknesses regarding the commitments of our relationship with God. On the other hand, we pay less attention to the second part which is the relationship with others, and tend to judge them and justify ourselves!
This is a very dangerous attitude, as we then forget what St. John taught us in his epistle: “If someone says, I love God, and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?” (1John 4: 20). If we can’t love one another and tolerate each others’ mistakes, we can’t claim that we love Him who is The Father of everyone: “that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Math 5: 45).
The Bible teaches us many commandments about dealing with others we here focus on three:
Loving all without preference: “You have heard that it was said, `You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Math 5: 43-45).
Tolerate others and their mistakes: “bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do” (Col 3: 13). Review also the parable of the servant who was forgiven by the king but did not forgive his fellow servant (Math 18: 23-35).
Patience and gentleness in dealing with others: whether family members, relatives, friends or those whom we don’t know: “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering” (Col 3: 12), and also “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love” (Eph 4: 1-2).
For our church news, due to many Coptic activities during November, our annual banquet in favor of the church’s services, has been postponed to Sunday; January 10th, 2010.
Please remember the church, the priest, the servants and their services always in your prayers, and may the blessings of St. Mary and St. Mercurius be with us always, Amen.
Fr. Youssef Halim
Belleville, November 1, 2009