MEETING HIS FACE

by Metropolitan George (Khodr) of Mount Lebanon

 

If you were certain that you see God through purity of heart [Matt. 5:8], you won’t be possessed by anything and nobody can rule over you. Every one of us is busy contemplating his own face, loving himself and loving his belongings, transforming them into a part of himself. Man is possessed by his belongings, thoughts and private enjoyments. We are the slaves of what we own. There is no evil in the belongings themselves. It is in loving possessions. If you grieve for a lost item, then you are not free from what you own. But if you are calm after losing things or calm even if you possess things, then you are free from your belongings and free from yourself. If you get upset when somebody wrongs you, then you’re still a prisoner of yourself. Your ego is hurt because you see it standing in front of the others in its glory, which will suddenly disappear if they attack you. If you return their anger with yours, then you’ll stay in them and they in you. You live in their stupidities and they in yours and the collision of the two stupidities causes wrath. But if you are convinced that you are nothing, they can’t hurt you anymore because nobody can strike a vacuum. They stab the air! If you strive for glory, you do it because you believe that you can be better than you are. Whoever believes that he is something will be a loser if he can’t increase his glory, especially if he thinks that his glory comes from money. Money is not the glory, nor does the worship of money increase it. The same with food. If you over-eat, you think that this is an increase in your body, and in your eyes, this is an augmentation of your existence. In this way, you approach yourself from without. Your inner world is created by your outer world. You collapse if your outer world is gone because you came from it. If you were a gourmand, you become the food you eat and you are your stomach. If you lost what you had then there are no escape from being upset with those who you think are the cause of your loss. Your anger leads to crime, literally with your hands or by transforming the anger to hatred and hatred to revenge. All those tendencies are interconnected within yourself because they nest in your enslaved soul. And if your glory collapses, you grieve because you were tarnished by it. Whoever doesn't have brilliance has no glory! But if you were in command and abused this power for your own joy, you harmed this divine power entrusted to you. Power can be desired only in one way: as service is desired. But if you glorified yourself, you will then destroy the parish. God’s politic is the politic of equality. If you can’t see your subordinates as your equals, then you have no other choice but to make them your slaves. If God has appointed you to a position, this is no excuse for your self-glorification. It is a great and heavy burden indeed. You should rule as a lover, as a foot washer. You, who govern, elevate your subordinates in order to save them the abasement of asking for your compassion. Give as gifted men do. In this way, you are not affected by the power, which you exercise. It passes through you as if through the air.

If you are free like this from yourself, your body and the world, then you are in need of the love of God. Your concern is to ask His forgiveness and to be forgiven. As a lover spends sleepless nights working on his comportment, polishing his language, working the brilliance of his mind, minding his cleanliness, the beauty of his vestments, the promptness of his service and the fullness of his power in order to satisfy his beloved, in the same manner the believer will spend his time watching the chastity of his mind, feelings, words and every single thought of his mind in order to deserve the compassion of God. There are some people who are careful not to anger God because of their fear of hell and their desire of the reward of the last day, but the great believer will not desire anything, except the Face of God in this world and in the other world. He will discard everything else because nothing can be added to God, and nothing can be compared to His beauty. To hide and have refuge in God alone, to have Him alone your entire existence makes you fully independent from your body in this world and from your mind residing in its education. You are not from your body in this world, and you see your mind after God has taken up residence in your heart and your heart has embraced your mind. Then God will embrace the world to you. The love of the world without God is adultery, but if you see the face of God here, and if He reveals Himself transfigured before you in the fullness of light, filling the universe with His light, then the world, body, belongings and education become foundations for the Divine light. Then you receive God and scatter the obscurity of your soul and of the world. After that, nothing is left but your anxiety to meet the Lord in the fullness of the last day. And then your burden will be to purify your soul and body from every stain because you know that "Horrible is the judgment at the hands of the living God." If you knew that any thought, eye, tongue, hand or leg prevents this last meeting you’ll cut every thought, eye, tongue, hand or leg off because the face of God is the fullness of beauty. And you are no longer interested in staying in or leaving this world because both here and in the other end, you see the glory of God in "Mystery, in a mirror but there face to face". You knew Him here with some limits, but there you’ll know Him as much as He knows you. And if you started to be enlightened day after day and the clay in you started to transform to light, you are then ready to cross the last tunnel. Horrible is the crossing of this tunnel. Whose nature was transformed to light? Who can stare at the immense glory? Who has repented?

To love God because of the beauty of His face is the zenith of our eagerness. This love is for those who are perfect. It is not bad to desire His reward for us in heaven. To promise yourself happiness and to continuously work and to shed your blood for it, is something beautiful, but it is less faithful than the affection of love where your soul forgets even her own happiness. Even if you were afraid of the fire, it is not bad either, because this too costs you troubles, despite being less than the first two positions. In truth, he who loves God only for Himself is the most fearful man among all people because the great lover is the one who is most scared. He is always afraid to upset his beloved with a mistake, even the smallest one. What does it mean to say that this is a continuous weary struggle with an everlasting comfort? This is not that the beloved will be angry at our mistake, but it is love itself that makes us anxious not to cause any discomfort to the beloved.

The Divine love will teach whoever has affection like this, and shelter him during the difficulties of this last crossing where everyone stands in "fear and trembling." Only mercy enables us to make this final incursion.

Published December 25, 1995 in the © An-Nahar, Lebanese news paper (http://www.annahar.com.lb/).
Translated from Arabic.

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