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Sulaymaniyah, 9 september 2012
Dear friends I am really sorry that I had not the energy to provide some of texts which will be read during the ordination. Please forgive me. I will try to do better. I hope that I can give you still during this year the oportunity to understand the celebrations of the Chaldean tradition.
Maybe, it is because this is a special Day for me here in Sulaymaiya, but also because of these series of texts we read over the last few weeks, it seems to me that vocation is very much in the centre of the readings today. In Isaiah we find God again waiting for his people, true to his vocation which he will not withdraw. However there is a step to do. The conversion of the heart is the only way to be able to approach the Lord. He will help. He will stay beside us but we have to do this step by our own. For it is the design of His creation that we will able to approach him with the same free relationship of love as the Three Persons offer to each other. Therefore not to taint this freedom with his overwhelming force, he leads us trough our steps toward him, but it is to us to do the stepping. And the son shows us that the way to the Father might be painful. To strengthen us we have the support of the Holy Spirit who helps us to transform our suffering in hope.
St. Paul is continuing this thought giving courage to the Thessalonians. He asks them to stay to the traditions. What might be a "tradition" just half a generation after the Cross? Tradition here is the teaching of the Apostles, the witness that Jesus is the Lord, that Jesus is God. Keeping to the traditions is also the assembly on Sunday for the reading, the teaching and the room for spiritual experience - and breaking the bread together. In this frame praying is protection from all sorts of temptations, when following them might hurt our soul. And it seems that already this young community has the problem that people want to use them for their proper aims.
How many times have we heard this text of St. Mathew? Often one asks himself what am I: the edge of the path, the rocky earth, live I surrounded by thorns, or am I the deep musty rich soil? It is true quiet a lot depends on the circumstances of our life, but how is it that especially people that have a very difficult social environment like poverty or criminality or in very unhealthy places have a deep faith?
Reading the Gospel of St. Mathew it seems that for the author there are two things important: the place where Jesus teaches and the rocky land. Somehow he rushes through the examples of the "edge of the path" and even more in a hurry through the example of the thorns. However they enclose the central episode with two moments of extreme exposur to fate. Let us have a look why he cares so much about the rocky land and why he insists that there is rock and that there is no soil and that there cannot be roots, repeating the same problem three times in different words on two lines.
Well, if we remember the Old Testament in the Exodus the pharaoh or when the prophets are speaking what part of man is hardened? Where the Word of the Lord can't penetrate? Isn't it the heart like stone? This people on the shore: are they not in danger of death. Of old the sea is a symbol of death and in the Gospel and other parts of the holy Scripture we find this symbolism again and again.
Jesus in the wooden boat. He is the faithful ferryman to bring them over this dangerous Sea. All the listeners of this parabola are asked: "You on the shore of death, having the ferryman in front of you: How is your heart? Is it open? Do you have the courage to open it? Are you trusting Jesus Christ in this journey? Are you trusting that he will come to rescue you in the moment of your doubt as he did when Peter started to sink?"
Being of clay one might think that we are just helpless in our state, - exposed, rocky, overgrown, or deep -, but this parabola wouldn't have been told for thousands of years, if there wouldn't be hope. The hope of transformation that comes with faith, that will soften our rocky hearts and deepen its soil. Man is created for the relationship with God, seeking that, he can regain his innermost nature that Jesus Christ restitutes to mankind through the Cross and the Resurrection. Because this is the vocation God the Father is offering to each of us.
15 For Lord Yahweh, the Holy One of Israel, says this, 'Your salvation lay in conversion and tranquillity, your strength in serenity and trust and you would have none of it.
16 "No," you said, "we shall flee on horses." And so flee you will! And again, "We shall ride on swift ones." And so your pursuers will be swift!
17 A thousand will quake at the threat of one and when five threaten you will flee, until what is left of you will be like a flagstaff on a mountain top, like a signal on a hill.'
18 But Yahweh is waiting to be gracious to you, the Exalted One, to take pity on you, for Yahweh is a God of fair judgement; blessed are all who hope in him.
19 Yes, people of Zion living in Jerusalem, you will weep no more. He will be gracious to you when your cry for help rings out; as soon as he hears it, he will answer you.
20 When the Lord has given you the bread of suffering and the water of distress, he who is your teacher will hide no longer, and you will see your teacher with your own eyes.
21 Your ears will hear these words behind you, 'This is the way, keep to it,' whether you turn to right or left.
(Isa 30:15-21 NJB)
15 Stand firm, then, brothers, and keep the traditions that we taught you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.
16 May our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father who has given us his love and, through his grace, such ceaseless encouragement and such sure hope,
17 encourage you and strengthen you in every good word and deed.
Finally, brothers, pray for us that the Lord's message may spread quickly, and be received with honour as it was among you;
2 and pray that we may be preserved from bigoted and evil people, for not everyone has faith.
3 You can rely on the Lord, who will give you strength and guard you from the evil One,
4 and we, in the Lord, have every confidence in you, that you are doing and will go on doing all that we tell you.
5 May the Lord turn your hearts towards the love of God and the perseverance of Christ.
(2Th 2:15-3:5 NJB)
That same day, Jesus left the house and sat by the lakeside,
2 but such large crowds gathered round him that he got into a boat and sat there. The people all stood on the shore,
3 and he told them many things in parables. He said, 'Listen, a sower went out to sow.
4 As he sowed, some seeds fell on the edge of the path, and the birds came and ate them up.
5 Others fell on patches of rock where they found little soil and sprang up at once, because there was no depth of earth; 6 but as soon as the sun came up they were scorched and, not having any roots, they withered away.
7 Others fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them.
8 Others fell on rich soil and produced their crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.
9 Anyone who has ears should listen!'
(Mat 13:1-9 NJB)
St. Josephs Church:
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Friday, 14 september: Feast of the Holy Cross 17:30
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