Monday, December 31, 2007

Graces to Pursue for the New Year: Faith and Hope

Graces to Pursue for the New Year: Faith and Hope
By: Elias Bejjani/LCCC Chairman
  January 01/08 

"Be on guard, then because you do not know what day your lord will come. If the owner of the house knew the time when the thief would come, you can be sure that he would stay awake and not let the thief break into his house. so then, you also must always be ready, because the Son of Man will come an hour when you are not expecting him". Matthew 24,/42-44

Therefore, stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come. Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour of night when the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and not let his house be broken into. So too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come

Almighty God does not put us in any kind of difficulties, temptations or hardships that we cannot cope with and overcome. He always provides an outlet for each and every deadlocked situation we encounter. Only those who have faith and hope can see and pursue the outlet.
With the New Year I call on my beloved people of Lebanon to fill their hearts with love, forgiveness, modesty, transparency and courage.

 I call on them to witness for the truth and train themselves to always consecrate their lives for Almighty God and fulfill his teachings through serving the just cause of their beloved Lebanon; the cause of freedom, independence, sovereignty and rights.  

I call on them all to solidify and strengthen their faith and never ever fall prey to despair, lose hope or support any Lebanese leader, group or party that advocate for venomous schemes against the free state of Lebanon and its democratic regime.
There is no doubt that he who immunizes himself with faith will never be defeated, and no trouble or toil can ever vanquish him. The graces of the Lord fill his spirit and his mind with hope. But he who has no faith and hope will be frustrated with despair and hopelessness because he places no trust in the future and the everlasting life.

The Lord said that he who has faith as small as a grain of mustard can move mountains, and he scolded his disciples for the weakness of their faith when they feared the storm winds on their boat, "He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, 'Quiet! Be still!' Then the wind died down and it was completely calm…He said to his disciples, 'Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?'" Mark 4:39-40.
The law of the Nazarene teaches us that men of little faith have no sense of perfection, cannot be trusted, and nothing good can come out of them on this perishable earth. The testimonials of the disciples teach us that he who has faith in God and abides by his laws will walk the paths of life and its turns and tumbles with courage and constancy, and will keep his head high without fear or hesitation. But he who has no faith will accept shame and insult without resistance, and becomes an obedient beast to the will and whims of the devils of the earth.
Our Lebanese heroes who gave their lives on the altars of the nation also taught us that he who has faith in the nation, in liberty, and in the rights of its citizens will defend them with absolute vigor and most honorable dedication, and will not fear the threat of oppression, the loss of position or property, or the disappearance of fortune.
So did our good forefathers teach us that the faithful man who believes in the sanctity, obligations, and the commitment to family and community, will work hard to meet his family members' needs and safety and convey to them creed and values.

From the sacrifices of our mothers we learn how they take the Virgin Mary as an example in their life to give without complaint or reluctance, and to fight back selfishness and egotism with faith.
Indeed, there is no room for egotism in the Law of Faith. He who loves will give himself for the sake of others. The lives of the saints and the free tell us that the faithful is never defeated by difficulties and is not crushed by toils.  

Saint Paul said: "Being therefore justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ; through whom we also have our access by faith into this grace in which we stand. We rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only this, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering works perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope: and hope doesn't disappoint us, because God's love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. For while we were yet weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man. Yet perhaps for a righteous person someone would even dare to die. But God commends his own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:1-8. 

Saint Paul teaches us that he who has no faith makes himself a slave to his greed and desires. "What then? Shall we sin, because we are not under law, but under grace? May it never be! Don't you know that to whom you present yourselves as servants to obedience, his servants you are whom you obey; whether of sin to death, or of obedience to righteousness? But thanks be to God, that, whereas you were bondservants of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching whereunto you were delivered. Being made free from sin, you became bondservants of righteousness."  Romans 15: 16-18.
Those of little faith and the hopeless forget that our Lebanese people during their six thousand years deeply rooted history never gave in to the will of the devil, and they have always been armed with faith, self confidence and honesty. All foreign invaders and occupiers were forced to withdraw from Lebanon with shame and humiliation. History is our witness to this glorious fact.
We remind those of little faith among our people that the citizens of Sidon (Lebanese city on the Mediterranean sea) burned their city on themselves in 350 B.C. after resisting valiantly against the Persian invader Artaxerxes, preferring death in dignity than life in humiliation and surrender.
Again, Tyre (Lebanese city on the Mediterranean sea) resisted Alexander the Great for seven months in 332 B.C., never surrendering or giving in, which led the Macedonian to crucify many of its people after he took the city and sell two thousand of them as slaves.
And how about our first Maronite Patriarchs? Our best example is Maronite Patriarch Gabriel Hjoula whose faith made him choose death by burning in 1367 in the city of Tripoli in front of the Omari Mosque, refusing to abandon his suffering and humiliated people at the hands of the murderous and oppressive Mameluks. And before him Patriarch Daniel Hadshiti suffered the same fate in 1282 in an unknown location. 

 Almighty God is mercy, love and consolation for all of us, especially when we are in pain, anguish and encountering hardships. Let us always remember that He shall never abandon any of his children.  "Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for your selves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light." Matthew 11,28-30.
Our call on the New Year to the defeatists, the vanquished in their hearts, those of little faith and poor hope, is that they should heed the words of our Lord: "If you continue in my word, then you are my disciples indeed; and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free". (John, 8:32)
Whoever has ears ought to hear because by the end of the day, every one of us is accountable for his acts, his choices, his conduct and most importantly for the kind of political, ethical, social and human rights' causes that we advocate for or adopt. Still our accountability is not only while we are on this earth, but most importantly on the eternal Judgment Day. On that Day the sinners shall be ousted in the darkness where they will cry and grind their teeth in the eternal fire which has been prepared for the Devil and his angles.
"Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption; but he who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. (Gal 6:7-8 RSV)

 *Elias Bejjani
Chairman for the Canadian Lebanese Coordinating Council (LCCC)
Human Rights activist, journalist & political commentator.
Spokesman for the Canadian Lebanese Human Rights Federation (CLHRF)

LCCC Web Site
CLHRF Website

No comments: