Third Sunday of Epiphany
My dear brothers and sisters,
"Out of the depth I cry to You O Lord", the words of a lamenting psalm of David. These words of a distressed sufferer are also the words of a hopeful and engaged sufferer who is fighting for life, and not to die. The depth is supposed to be the abyss, the darkness, the deepest depression, the greatest jail where there is no hope, no one to call upon, no destination to run to, only the depth which become a very felt and horrible death.
Has anyone of us ever been in such a place? Has anyone who will read these lines ever stopped for a minute and realized that "the depth" could be at every corner of our life? Have we not learned that when we leave God, we fall into the abyss of despair and darkness? Have we not seen how people falling into pathological depression end up reaching that depth of despair and total hopelessness so they decide to take their lives with their own hands? This is the mechanism of falling in despair when life becomes so lonely. This is the intrigue of the evil one: It likes to see us falling apart. It enjoys seeing our minds split from our souls, our bodies from our minds, and our souls from God. The intrigue of the devil is led by its hate to mankind. Because mankind is the joy of God, and because the life of mankind is to adore God and be one with Him, the devil is the force that tries to separate this unity which produces life and prosperity, which produces eternity and everlasting Joy.
Unfortunately, it is taking humanity a long and painful time to realize that the key to a joyful, peaceful, and everlasting life can only be in how much we are connected to God Almighty. In this context, the essence for a healthy way to be a "living human being", means to live in all holiness or towards holiness. Holiness is not the virtue of the only perfect ones in this world. Holiness is the mechanism that will enable sinners to reach their true destination of relating to God, through active acts of contrition, active acts of mortification, fasting, prayers, works of charity, public profession of Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, practicing pardon and the love of the neighbor, trying to constantly benefit from the healing power of the Holy Sacrament of penance and especially the Holy Eucharist.
Holiness is not the virtue of the heroes alone. I look at myself every day and I do realize that I may not be able to be Saint Maron; or one of the apostles; or Saint Francis; or Saint Maximilian Kolbe, who offered himself to a concentration camp to be burned in order to save the life of a father whose children needed him. Life is hard without Jesus. I many times wonder what could have happened to the many people who won many graces counting on the intercession of these saints if these saints did not do what they did: Love Christ, followed Christ, become Holy and remain as lights to lead us to Christ in this world of sadness and darkness.
We are underestimating how important it is in this Season of Epiphany to awaken these saints and to seek their intercession more and more. We are in so much trouble if we think times will enable an exit from the current culture of death we have entered if we let go of our public Christian commitment to Christ as his flock and church. This is why I say: We have reached the depth. We are being consumed by hypocrisy, by hate, by confusion, by oppression, by the flesh, by violence, by indifference, by anger, by perplexity, by selfishness and desires of power. We have lost our place in this world. We are no longer the stewards of life and procreation. We have become instead the vehicle that is being possessed by evil and led to death.
We do need an exit from this life, but not through death and evil. We do need an exit from this trap of evil, we continue to not ask for help, and when we do, it is only on the lips, and does not reach the deepest urge of truth and conviction. We do need to turn to God, yet we are still enjoying the images of blood and adventures of death. The world has become lethal to the faithful ones in Christ. The Church is now living almost in an existential schism and division over the meaning of persecution and the way to react to it. The church is under attack from inside and form outside, yet we are counting on our human intellect and on our bureaucratic instincts in order to prove a point versus another, while all of us are sinking, because all of us are in the same boat: The Church.
My prayer today, is that we are in the middle of a stormy sea, I know that Jesus is with us, yet he is sleeping, while the high and gusty wind is breaking the ship and turning it into wreck. "Who is the faithful servant who is going to look to Jesus and cry: "Out of the Depth I cry to You O Lord, O My Lord hear the voice of my cry of anguish...".
Today the glory of the Church is in the renewed blood of its martyrs in the Middle East and everywhere in the world who are dying for the Faith in Christ. These millions of people are not dying because of what they did wrong. They are not being raped, kicked out of their homes and cities, slaughtered by dull knives because of the rhetoric of their understanding or not of a religious war or not. Or because they lack coexistence virtue in order to live or not with their co- citizens of other religions in the area. The fact is simple: these people are dying regardless of who is their murderer, and their murderer even is merely enjoying being creative in killing and in murdering them simply because they are Christ followers, Nazoreans as the murderer forces of evil called them in Iraq and Syria.
So now, the world is living in a special "Edition of Time", between silence to the slaughter or a mediocre power of speech. The world today is living in a special "Edition of Church", between sin and grace, between the world and Christ, between hell and Heaven, between Christ and the antichrist.
During our Maronite Liturgical season of Epiphany, we live in the wonderful time of the manifestation of Christ in the Flesh as the Son of God, Savior of the World and the King Messiah, the son of David. We call this time the time of Light, the time to return to Light. So our own time with God can only be the true time to be. All other times are persistent tries of the devil to limit time at the moment of death, and to cancel eternal life which is the life in Christ.
Therefore, as Saint Paul says: “I don't live, but it is Christ who lives in me". This is how we should all be these days. So look deep in your hearts, remember that you have been called to live in fullness, the fullness of the glory of the One who came to save us from sin and evil – Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God and Savior. Call upon Him with me and let Him lead back the Ship into the Harbor of Safety, in his Passion, Death and Resurrection. Let us rejoice and be glad, for all the times of the week and all years now take off and go back to the One and Only Day of the Lord: The Sunday, the birth of all other Days. My friends, Powerful is the Day of Sunday. In it all evil and all darkness is defeated. All dead have been liberated and Heaven's Gates opened again, God reconciled with men, and time became Holy Time. Our death in Christ
is life and total joy. Out of our depth we should cry, with full trust and in full force of Faith, Hope and Love, The Most Holy Name of God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, the One God. Then Out of the Depth the Victory of Christ will be assumed again and again and for eternity Christ will conquer all darkness, and we will live, not as if we are going to die, but, with Mary and the Saints, we will enter into Eternal Life. From there, like Saint Teresa the Little flower, we shall continue doing works of redemption here on earth, leading through miracles and signs, our brothers and sisters to conquer evil in Christ, and with Him to join us here in Heaven in full Glory and in Total Holiness.
May Almighty God bless us, protect us from all evil, and may we all enter into eternal life.
Fr Andre Y Mahanna