"And where is the Church in all of this?" He asks. "She has no army and no power. The dreams of a powerful church that punishes the infidels are only bad dreams. Jesus says to us 'Love with all your heart, and all your strength.' Yes, we love those friends that surround us with their affections and comfort us...But real love starts when it becomes practically impossible to love. The Gospel is a challenge to what is natural and animal. If you partake (or share) then give everything...Who lives this love? Certainly not I who struggles as St. Paul did with 'the old man' in him that wants vengeance...Nevertheless, here is Christianity - here is the Church - here is the Gospel. Either we live love to the end or we are not Christians ...What did political revolutions change? I am not against political revolutions that aim for liberation. But then people dispute again and a new slavery sets in. The essential revolution is that of the heart. This is the revolution of Jesus Christ. He knows that no political revolution can change us; for we need a change in the human person. It is the revolution of love. This is why he came. We are all happy that the Jesuit Pope Francis is for the needy and is making changes in the Vatican. But where are the billions of Christians? There will be more disputes between the powers of this world by violence. There will be changes of chiefs but misery will not finish unless we change the world. But I believe that we can change the world...The first word is 'I can' by the grace of the one who said 'Love your enemies'."
Second: Henri Boulad also touched on his personal struggle with the demonic powers of hatred that could enslave the heart. "I have enemies and they detest me. My spontaneous tendency is to detest them. But I say to myself 'Henri, you are not Christian?' - One day Sister Emmanuelle with whom I was working in helping the hungry in Mukkatam said to me 'Fr. Boulad, find for me someone who really loves?' Reflections made me rethink whether I am working for my own glory or for God. It is impossible to love my enemies. This is the challenge of the Gospel. Only through this love let us attempt to be in the Church and change this poor world. Probably a church is dying but a new church is being formed, the church of love. It seems to me that we can change the world by small gestures of love step by step starting with changing our hearts first by the grace of God."
Third: Reflections on love If such a spiritual missionary man could reveal the depth of evil thoughts, how much more evil do we ordinary lay persons harbor in our hearts? I recall Paul Antaki the Great, the late bishop of Melkite Catholics in Egypt. In one retreat with the young Catholics, of whom I was one in 1974, he spoke of his sins, and said that both Peter and Judas betrayed Christ, yet Peter not only saw his sins but also the mercy of God and repented while Judas, who saw only his sins, hanged himself. This was a lesson of hope for me. Always hope in Christ's mercy even if we betray him because there is always a second chance in this life; for He died for the many and not only a few elect.
Christ passionately spoke of his Father here "What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish." (Matthew 18: 12-14). St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church and Patron of Preachers in the Church who suffered at the hands of the Byzantine political wolves in his days, spoke too about the enormous love that God bestows upon us: "God seeks you to return to him even if through one tear in your eyes". Loving God takes time, commitment and perseverance. See St. Bernard of Clairvaux on the four loves here. He is a Doctor of the Church and a mystic too. St. Francis of Assisi, named the Alter Christus, also had a lot of sufferings to partake for Christ, but he never gave up. On the contrary he named the Sun and Moon his sister and brother and found the goodness that God implanted in creation. St. Ignatius of Loyola who founded the Order of the Society of Jesus was a soldier and learned the hard way to become a disciple of Christ. He wrote his Spiritual Exercises, a masterpiece in finding God and in discerning the good in everyday life which is followed to this day by many Christians because of their imitation of Christ. St. Thérèse of Lisieux, the greatest proclaimed saint in modern times and Doctor of the Church who lived only 24 years, is yet another great witness to the love of God in little ordinary things. Last year, Nelson Mandela passed away. He spent years of spiritual battles in prison where he learned how to forgive his enemies and reconcile with them.
Fifth: Love and violence - Murderers know no religion
In his homily in Mass at Jesus the King parish this past Sunday February 23, 2014, Fr. Georges Farah spoke of the last judgment and said that today nations use religion and worship by killing their victims. They do it with zeal but are they following the truth? Is not this the story of Cain who killed his brother Abel in worship of God? However Christ tells us otherwise. Before you worship God, go and reconcile with your brother; for this is the true religion of Christ. The Fathers of the Church were not perfect but they defended the truth of Christ - Fear not."
All of the above is real. But the question remains: How can Christians eliminate violence and hatred today not only on an individual basis but in whole communities? Are not we all interconnected? First Christians need to examine their conscience, then they need to eliminate hatred towards each other and towards others too? Will Christian leaders in the conflict-torn countries and Christian leaders in the Roman Catholic Church attempt a kind of reunion? For example, Christians in the Middle East want to survive and flourish in their lands which are historically the lands that first became Christian. There is hope that the meeting of the leaders of Catholic and Orthodox Churches with Pope Francis this coming May in Jerusalem may result in more than the exchange of the traditional kiss of peace. A reunion of Churches in the face of violent Islamism and other powers is now urgent. It is in this sense that we must read the visit of Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II to Pope Francis in Rome last May and the encounter of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew with Pope Francis in the official installation of the latter last March in Rome.
He who has ears to listen let him listen...