This week’s message will concentrate on the Divine Will of God for us to be Happy and to be Saved.
On the Third Sunday of July, it has been the custom of the Maronite Faithful to celebrate the feast day of Saint Sharbel Makhlouf, the monk and hermit of the late 18th century who died on December 24, Christmas Eve, 1898. Saint Sharbel (also written as Charbel) lived the last part of his life as hermit in the hermitage of Saints Peter and Paul, near the Monastery of Saint Maron, Annaya, a village in the mountains of Jbeil, a region of the Mount Lebanon province, in Lebanon.
Two ways this saint has been described are: “a man who is drunk in God’, and “The Mystic of Lebanon”. In both cases what we need to know, is this saint stands as a sign of the Truth is Life in the Spirit against materialism, secularism and fanaticism.
These monikers refer to extraordinary events that took place in Sharbel’s life. In the first one, it was when a major snow storm hit the mountains and Sharbel was found in the Church kneeling for over 7 hours, lightning struck the church, split the walls, pierced through Sharbel’s fringed black cassock all the way to the ground leaving Sharbel’s robe on fire. The two other hermits ran to put out the fire in the church, whereas Sharbel did not feel the fire, stayed in complete ecstasy with the Lord who he was adoring in the Blessed Sacrament.
The other story has to do with Sharbel’s heroic life of full obedience. One time Sharbel rebuked a snake and it obeyed him by simply telling the snake: “Rouhi Ya Mbarkeh” which translates to: “Go away blessed”!
The question of the life of Saint Charbel rises the bet on the purity and the beauty of the life in Heaven, versus the passing life here on earth. How can such a man leave everything behind, stick to a life of asceticism, hard fasting, long hours of kneeling on bamboo sticks, long hours of payers, very few hours of sleep, many hours of working in the fields, and sleeping, when he did so, on bare floors.
Consequently, I like to assert as a beginning of one main fact: Man needs God for Joy, Peace and Life. However, this does not come away from the way of the Cross. The second assertion I like to remind us of, life is in the Spirit. That which is from above is Spirit and which is from below is the flesh. Flesh will die, will suffer, will end up in the dust of the grave. But life in the Spirit will rise from death both in body and soul. In fact, as a sign of immortality and the life of the resurrected body, Saint Sharbel’s body stayed incorrupt, perspiring blood, perfume and water for 100 year after his death.
My brothers and sisters in the Lord Jesus Christ, many are the temptations in the world today. The objective of being Christian in today’s world has become an insult, a shame, a political incorrectness. While 200 million Christians are suffering persecution in the world, Christians are being accused of radicalism, of exclusivism, of pride and boasting, of insensitivity to poor and/or arrogance. This is the complex of Christianity today: the scandals of some, are bore by the blood of the martyrs and saints of the same Christian faith in the World.
Please live a life in the Spirit. Please repent and come to Church. Please pray and ask for God’s forgiveness. Please serve the poor. Please give up the sins you are doing. Your personal example of life in holiness and purity, will enhance, will strengthen, and will fortify the case of the innocent Christians who are being led to the slaughter today in the world, just like sheep and no one is there to defend them.
It is incumbent upon us to give the Good News of the Word of God to all the nations of the world. The sensitivity between Christian leaders is on the rise. Major conflicts are now being highlighted amongst major leaders inside the Church and inside what used to be known as Christian Nations. Today there are a main stream academic influential people who are making the case against Christianity in the World. These are backed by economic, political, and social activists, and unfortunately other religious groups all to state: let us get rid of Christianity in the World, for it does not fit the new world.
My children, enemies could be everywhere, but the worst enemies are when we ourselves give up on our commitment on our Faith, Hope and Love, and not live as Christians. The self-proclaimed animosity to Christ and his Holy Church is the deepest harm that Satan can inflect upon Jesus and cause the main sadness in God the Father’s Heart.
Ask yourself, Does God really want us to be sad? To be persecuted, to be killed, to be deprived of every kind of goods? Of course not. It is the hate of Satan that causes that. It is also the miss-distribution of resources, and (of course, removed from any form of socialism) it is the feeling of responsibility to care for one another that allows Christians to be better distributors in the world. We must care for the poor in order to give hope. Our help for others in time, talent or in treasure will reassure the people in need of God’s Divine love for them in their own life. Another factor that is important for us to know, is the need to self-realization by means of serving others, all the way to accomplish the perfect love: the love of self-giving freely in order to save others.
Another factor in our life is the dimension of God’s Divine Will in our life. Do we ever think that we are important to God? That God has a will for us in our life? The need for God in your and my personal life is crucial knowledge. It is God who speaks through us and who, through us make miracles. In return, in order to see God’s will for us in our life, we need to ask ourselves the following question: when did you or will you ever feel that You need God in your life? Does God relate to Joy or to guilt in your life? Does the Cross of Christianity contradict the invitation of God for us to be happy by clinging to Him who is the Joy of our life?
The absence of this realization is a sure sign we are not in direct relationship with God. Somehow, we do not know Him and He does not know us.
What good does it do for us if God keeps telling us, “I love you” and for some reason we cannot hear nor relate to God’s love? This could be a curse or grave illness. In both cases, the solution is to hear, accept, trust, and do God’s Divine Will for us which is to come to Him in order to be happy and to be saved.
How do we solve this? Have your Relationship with God be stable, not subject to relativism , passions, desires and human instability of emotions and inconsistent Acts.
“Be Stable and steadfast in your relationship with God”
This is the example of Saint Sharbel and many saints.
God bless you.
Fr Andre Y Mahanna