Wednesday, June 5, 2019

We Must Conquer Weakness

St. Charbel speaks with simplicity and guilelessness but also with the strength and vision of a prophet.  He can see very clearly the source of the world's sorrow (our sin) and its healing (the Cross).  The Cross alone is the key that opens the gate of heaven for us.  Yet, so many think there is no lock or that they can fashion a key of their own making. Vanity and delusion blind us to reality and our efforts and energies mock the true Cross.

Our path must be one of repentance. Such a path does not allow us to be immobilized by our poverty and failings.  We must courageously move forward, trusting not in ourselves but in the mercy of God and the intercession and support of Our Lady. No amount of sorrow or trials can match the infinite joy of the Kingdom found at the end of the journey.  So press on!  Know that your enemies will be numerous and hostile, but in the midst of violence you must preserve the face of Christ. Do not treat enemies as such but rather speak to them with the language of the Cross. 

Every lock has its key.  Every door has its lock that opens only with the key that belongs to it.  Death shut the door and sin bolt it.  The cross is the key that frees the lock from sin and the bolt from death; the cross opens the gate of heaven, and there is no other.

The gate of heaven is found where heaven and earth meet, at the summit of Calvary.  The gate is well-known, tangible, and visible; everyone has eyes to see it.  Some think that it has no lock and that it opens if you push it; but when you draw close to it you understand that it has a lock that opens only with its key.  We can know the right key only if it is inserted into the lock.  There is only one true key: the cross of Christ.

Do not weary yourself looking for other keys with which to open the gate of heaven, or fabricating others.  Many are those who spend their life trying to design their own keys, believing that they would be capable of opening the gate for them; and many too are those who ridicule the cross of Christ.  In front of the gate the truth shines forth, and they notice then that all their keys are in vain.

Our whole life is a journey toward this age, and you will arrive there at the end of your pilgrimage; if you are holy the key in your hand, you will open it and enter.  If not, you will stop in front of the gate without being able to go in, because the keys that you have are nothing but your own handiwork.  They will disappoint you.

Therefore, carry the cross of Christ, and you will have the key of heaven.  Carry the cross with joy ardor, and courage.  Do not weep, do not lament every time you fail.  Salvation history is not made up of tears and lamentations, even though the gate of heaven opens only to those who strike their breast and utters cries of lamentation.  Just one tear is enough to open the gate of heaven, the tear of repentance that bathes the cheek of the courageous believer.

Carry the cross of Christ and follow in his footsteps; you will find the Virgin at your side, as she was for Christ.  Every time that you feel hurt, say: "By the wounds of Christ."  When you suffer, say: "By the sufferings of Christ."  When they persecute you, when they mistreat you or insult you, say: "For the glory of the Lord."

You must conquer your weakness and not make it an excuse to let yourself go.  If you carry the cross of Christ, no suffering can bend you, no weariness can demoralize you; you will walk steadfastly, patiently, silently.  Once you have arrived at the gate, you will feel that the joy of your passage far surpasses your suffering and fatigue during the walk.  The happiness at your arrival at the destination will infinitely surpass the sorrow of your travels.

The road to Calvary in this corner of the world is long, and here you carry the cross of Christ on your shoulders.  Your enemies are numerous because they are enemies of the cross; do not take them as enemies; always speak to them with the language of the cross, even if they are hostile toward you because of it.

The months and years to come will be very difficult, bitter and as heavy as the cross.  Endure them by praying.  May your prayer proceed from your faith, may hope spring from your patience, and may the cross make your love grow.

Violence will reign over all the earth.  The planet will be stabbed by the knives of ignorance and hatred.  All the nations that surround you will totter user the weight of suffering; fear will beat down on the whole earth like a storm; sadness will overflow from the heart of everyone.  Ignorant and hostile men will preside over the destiny of all their peoples, dragging them along the paths of mystery and death, because of the blind revenge that they will nickname "justice" and because of the lugubrious ignorance that they will call "faith."

Rancor and ignorance will prevail in all four corners of the world.  Resist and stand firm in faith and charity.  The face of the earth will change, but you will preserve the face of Christ.  Boundaries, communities and regimes will be erased and redrawn, nations will totter beneath the weight of fire and sword; but you will preserve your love without boundaries.

Safeguard your ecclesial community, and may your rule be the Gospel.  Be the anchor that holds fast the boats that wander on the turbulent seas; may your hearts be the port of refuge for every human being who is lost, astray, and in need of protection.  By your prayers you can bring down the rain of mercy and water the earth with your charity.  Pray to soften hardened hearts, to open darkened minds, to comfort those who have experienced catastrophes and horrors.

Finally, have no fear, because the light of Christ will rise and shine, the cross and the Church will illumine each other.  Stand fast in your faith in Christ, have no fear, have confidence in the God of the Resurrection and of Life.  To him be glory eternally.

Love is a Radiant Light
Homilies of St. Charbel

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