Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Build well the temple of the Lord without growing weary

St. Charbel does not mince words: we are to be about the work of our Heavenly Father!  What we spend our energy on and what we seek to build must be the life that He has made possible for us in His Son.  The temple that we are to build lies within us and we are to adorn it with jewels of every virtue.  We are to labor for what does not perish.  In similar terms, St. John Chrysostom wrote: "Nothing is weaker than human affairs. Whatever term therefore one may employ to express their insignificance it will fall short of the reality."  All knowledge and labor, all riches and worldly achievements, fall short of the reality of the new life of the Resurrection.  Pope Benedict XVI said that the Resurrection is for us an "Evolutionary Leap": we have become something that we were not before - sons and daughters of God who share in the life of Christ.  In so far as we seek to find meaning and purpose in worldly knowledge rather than the knowledge that comes through Love, we destine ourselves to be crushed by anxiety and sadness.  Christ alone is our salvation and we must not rest from the labor of seeking Him.  "God is love; he is the goal and guide of this lost humanity. Christ is the remedy of the sick man. The water of baptism in the Spirit is what extinguishes the fire raging in the world."

The Kingdom of God is like the construction site of a temple whose building stones come from rocks taken from the quarries of this world. Human beings are the workers on the site at God’s decree, and the builders build according to his will. They hew the stones from the rocks taken from the quarries and place them stone upon stone, one after the other. And God breathes life into them so that human beings become living stones of this temple.

Many men build their own temple with the stones hewn from the rocks and claim to be their owners. They build them stone by stone, one after the other, without being able to give them life, however, because God alone is capable of providing it. Those people perish, leaving behind them the stones, rocks, and quarries, as well as their little temples built of dead stones. Subject to deterioration, they are annihilated over time. They too are perishable along with their temples.

Only the temple of the Lord is eternal because it is alive. Build up this temple and be living stones in it, instead of raising your little fleeting temples with dead stones that time will ruin. Work diligently, joyfully, cooperatively, and lovingly; do so with patience, humility, and obedience to the Lord of the temple. Since you work by his decree, build according to his will.

Build well without growing weary. Do not seek rest, because that is the source of a great danger for you. If you see an idle worker, do not criticize him, do not condemn him, and do not curse him. On the contrary, with your pick or your sickle in hand, continue your work; thus you will oblige him to work, because the building belongs to both of you. The harvest is yours and his, and the whole thing belongs to the Lord of the temple and to the God of the harvest.

Respect your fellow man as you respect yourself. There is always in you something of what you see in your brother, because the other is you with a few differences. Instead of speaking against your brother, go and speak with him; if not, then kindly keep quiet.

Never condemn, and do not judge by what your eyes see. You cannot pass judgement on the water that you see in a glass, because with your eyes you cannot tell whether it is fresh or salty, drinkable or insipid.

To outward appearances, jars of wine are all alike, even if the wine inside is not the same. Look at the outside with your eyes, but at the inside with your hearts. The heart does not condemn.

Do not claim to have absolute knowledge and this build temples by the measure of the things that you know; they will fall down on your heads and kill you. Knowledge needs love in order to becomes understanding.

However great your knowledge may be, you cannot understand as long as you do not love. Love is much nobler than intellect. The logic of love is much more sublime than that of the intellect.

Knowledge without love lacks soul; it destroys a human being. The earth is a sanctified globe on which the God of the universe has set his foot. He has illuminated it with the light of the Spirit, and his divine Heart watches over it.

With their loveless knowledge, human beings have made the earth sick. Their food poisons them, their drink makes them thirsty. They mistake their illnesses for medications; the air that they breath stifles them, their food tires them, their peace causes them anxiety, their joy saddens them, their happiness torments them, their truth is an illusion and their illusion truth, their light darkness.

Human beings have more knowledge than wisdom. Their theories have become in their minds like the fog on the mountains and in the valleys; they prevent them from seeing things as they are. Their theories rob them of sight.

Their buildings rise, their morality sinks. Their worldly goods increase, their values diminish. Their speeches multiply, their prayers grow scarce. Their interests deepen, their relationships wear thin; their facades expand, their interiors become impoverished. Their roads are broadened, their vision become shortsighted.

They have many paths, but they do not lead them to each other’s houses. They have multiple means of communication, but they do not help them to communicate with each other. Their beds are spacious and comfortable, but their families are small, broken up, and exhausted. They know how to go faster without being able to wait. They are always running to make a living, forgetting to lead their lives.

They hurry toward the outside and neglect what is inside. They are prisoners who take pride in the comfort of their prisons, lost travelers who boast of the distances that they have covered, dead men who flatter themselves with the luxuriousness of their tombs. They die of hunger while sitting next to a kneading trough, poor men, yet sitting on the treasures that they themselves have buried.

Why do you take a place beneath the table to eat the crumbs that fall from it when the meal is being served for you? Human beings sow thorns which, while still tender and new, caress their feet; but once they have hardened they will tear the feet of future generations.

You cut the wood, you pile the logs, you light the fire, you feed it so as to throw yourselves into it, and you wonder why you are burned by it! Humanity has gone astray, man is sick, and the world is catching fire.

God is love; he is the goal and guide of this lost humanity. Christ is the remedy of the sick man. The water of baptism in the Spirit is what extinguishes the fire raging in the world.

Base all of your knowledge on Christ; all knowledge built apart from the foundation of Christ will condemn you. All knowledge without soul is considered ignorance.

An edifice based on man may well rise, but it ends up crushing him. Man lives in sadness and anxiety; he is satisfied and fulfilled only when he is unified in the heart of God.

Meet one another, look at one another, listen to one another, greet one another, console one another with sturdy, charitable words, go out from yourselves to visit one another, embrace one another in the love of Christ work in the Lord’s field without growing weary or bored.

May the sound of your picks fill the valleys and drown out the noise of the world, and may the sound of your scythes’ call remind people of the harvest.

May your prayers split the deaf rocks and cause the mute springs to gush forth. The rocks hear prayer, the springs speak about it, and together they all pray and glorify God.

St. Charbel
Love is a Radiant Light