Free Yourself from Hatred

While reflecting on the Epiphany today, which coincides with the celebrationof Christmas for the Orthodox Churches, I felt the need to communicatewith you, my friends, on some points that are essential to us Christians.

Christmas being the remembrance and the renewing of the Gift, the Giftfrom Heaven to humanity. Indeed, we welcomed the Emmanuel (God-with-us),the Gift of humanity to the newly born Marvelous Child: The Prince of Peace.

The Shepherds offering their humble gifts the Maggis also. The giftof the Creation to the Creator offering Him the Grotto for shelter, althoughHe shelters all of humanity with his hand. The thing that is so refreshing,is that all those gifts are given and received with joy and simplicity.There seems to be no complicity, even no condescendance, but real mutualappreciation.

This is what means to love someone. Itis to appreciate, to give and to take, in order to help growing, but neverin order to possess.

It is exactly the deep meaning of the Baptism of the Lord. This timewe are reminded of His appearance on the Jordan River after He appearedat the Manger in Bethlehem and in the Temple eight days later. Today itis in the waters of the Jordan river ...This year having year no rainsin the Holy Land, if the Lord was to come and be Baptized, He might findno water to that goal. But He did it. He was baptized like all sinnerswho came to be cleansed from their sins...Our Christian Baptism is meantin addition to the remission of sins, to provide us with Eternal Life.But first we need to be forgiven, which means we need torepent and ask forgiveness. The Lord invites us to His divine banquetbut never sorts us out. We have to prepare ourselves to become worthy ofbeing in His company.

These weeks I am reading the New Testament, preparing a series of lectureson Isaiah in Christian traditions and scriptures. I am so impressed withthe fact that the Lord never condemns, Helovingly invites to repentance and leaves the rest for us to do: The Samaritanwoman, the wealthy young man, the fallen lady, Peter: you follow me. EvenJudah: "Friend, is it with a kiss that you betray me"? I am amazedwith the attitude of the Lord: He never tried or intended to destroy. Healways called to repentance.

You know why? Because He was free, from hatred,from vengeance, from aggression. He wanted to win the other, neverto lose him or her. Although He came from God and was returning to God,He never considered himself to be the Judge, but the Savior. Even whileHe was on the Cross, all he wanted is the conversion, never the condemnationof those who crucified Him.

He was free from hatred and could in no way contemplate or want to destroyhis "enemies". He wanted to win them in to his company, to Hiskingdom. That is why Christmas and the Epiphany are much more than buyinggifts at the store or eating or even feeding the poor with charitable actionsand donations, it is first and above every other thing the conversion tothe Lord and the repentance from everything that does not go along togetherwith this fellowship.

Our conversion does not always mean only to give up sin but also toforgive and to stop contemplating destruction and revenge.These last twovices cannot be from God. They are from the devil, even whenever humanscontemplate doing them in the name or for the sake or in defense of God'sinterest. God is much more than a vengeful human being. He came to teachus what we did not know: Forgiveness, repentance, and acceptance of God'sgifts and of each other's gifts.

It is the initiation to the discipleship to Christ that we are livingthese days of celebrations of the `Lord being God-With-Us: Emmanuel. Idon't know if this fills you with joy, dear friends and brothers . It isdeeply meaningful to me.

I hold you all in my prayers with all those who work for justice, love,cooperation between the Semite bloodbrothers: Jews,Arab Christians, and Arab Muslims.

Abuna Elias Chacour