Malankara World Journal - Christian Spirituality from an Orthodox Perspective
Malankara World Journal

Great Lent - Week 6

Volume 5 No. 270 March 20, 2015

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Archbishop Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim of Alleppo

Archbishop Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim, the Syrian Orthodox archbishop of Aleppo, Syria was kidnapped in April 2013. In his 2006 book 'Accepting the Other', His Eminence describes the peaceful coexistence of religions in Syria before the war. You can read excerpts from the book in this issue of Malankara World Journal.

TABLE OF CONTENTS
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I. This Sunday in Church (Samiyo - The Blind)

1. Bible Readings for This Sunday (March 22)

Bible Readings For The Sixth Sunday of Great Lent
http://www.Malankaraworld.com/Library/Lectionary/Lec_6th_sunday_of_Great-Lent.htm

2. Sermons for This Sunday (March 22)

Sermons For The Sixth Sunday of Great Lent
http://www.Malankaraworld.com/Library/Sermons/Sermon-of-the-week_6th-sunday-in-lent.htm

3. Malankara World Great Lent Supplement

Great Lent is the time for personal reflection, meditation, reconciliation, and prayer. Malankara World has a great resource that helps you accomplish that. We provide you daily reflections, meditations, prayer, bible readings etc. Read the articles about how to practice lent. Then do the reading for the day specified. We will guide you week by week. You can find the resources here:

Malankara World Great Lent Supplement
http://www.Malankaraworld.com/Library/Lent/Default.htm

Week 6 of Great Lent
http://www.Malankaraworld.com/Library/Lent/Lent_week6.htm

II. Articles Based On This Sunday's Gospel Reading

4. Signs, Miracles, and Messiah-ship of Jesus

Why would people be offended that Jesus performed miracles or healed? Think about it for a moment. Even Jesus' most severe critics, who had no intention of following him anywhere, agreed that Jesus performed many signs and wonders. [Matthew 12:24-32] But they found fault with Jesus on technicalities (like healing on Sabbath day, for instance), didn't they? But there is more to it. ...

5. The Man Born Blind - A Meditation

The grace will come when I acknowledge that my eyes have been opened. Others may not want to believe I can see, but I know I can only keep repeating it, to myself and to them. I may experience rejection by some for claiming this new vision, but in the Light I can see clearly one who has healed me, and I give him thanks and praise.  ...

6. Surely We Are Not Blind, Are We? A Reflection on John 9:1-41

They all looked but none saw him. If they saw him they would have to confront their own blindness. This man blind from birth is not just a single individual, he is every man, every woman. The only difference between him and all the others in today's gospel is that he knows he is blind. Until we know we are blind we can never see with new eyes. "Surely we are not blind, are we?" ...

7. The Miracles of Jesus Christ: Healing a Man Born Blind (Part One)

As his gospel begins, the apostle John writes that Jesus Christ "came to His own, and His own did not receive Him" (John 1:11). That He "came to His own" describes the content of John 9, where we find Him healing a man born blind (John 9:1-38). Chapters 9-12 emphasize Jesus' calling out a people of His own in the midst of, and in spite of, growing hostility from Jewish authorities. As His own people are rejecting him, Christ begins to call out a new people, first exemplified by the story of His calling of the blind man. ...

8. The Miracles of Jesus Christ: Healing a Man Born Blind (Part Two)

The miracle of healing recorded in John 9 displays Jesus Christ giving sight to the blind. Healing is a work of the God of the Old Testament, as seen in Psalm 146:8, "The Lord opens the eyes of the blind . . ." (see also Exodus 4:10-12). Giving sight to the blind is also a work of the Messiah, as prophesied in Isaiah 35:4-5, "He will come and save you. Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened. . . ." Jesus' healing of the man born blind, then, is another testimony of His Deity and of the fact that He is the Messiah. ...

9. The Miracles of Jesus Christ: Healing a Man Born Blind Part Three)

Despite the joy of Jesus Christ healing the man born blind (John 9:1-41), the Jewish leaders conspicuously resist. Divided into two camps, some Pharisees reason that Jesus could not be of God because He had broken the Sabbath, while others assert that a sinner could not do such miracles. The ensuing questioning of the healed man exposes a telling contrast between the Pharisees' "we know" (verse 24) and the man's "I know" (verse 25). ...

10. Born Blind: Are Christians Like The Pharisees of Old

Every time I read this, I can't help but wonder what went through the mind of the blind man when he heard Jesus. All his life people have been telling him he's cursed, that his blindness is punishment for some sin his family committed. Then, in a single moment, Christ turns his world around. Not only does he absolve him of guilt in front of the disciples, he announces that God is going to display his glory through a blind man's life. Many people read this story and think it's all about how Jesus healed his sight, but I believe it's more about how Christ restored his soul. ...

III. General Articles/Features

11. Inspirational: Counting on a Miracle

I can't explain how this boy lived. I can't explain why prayers are sometimes answered. I can't explain why miracles happen.

And yet they do. ...

12. Family Special: Safety Rules for a Lasting Marriage

The surest way to avoid an affair is to flee temptation as soon as it confronts you. Author Jerry Jenkins has referred to this determination to preserve moral purity as "building hedges" around marriage so that temptation is never given a foothold. You take steps to protect yourself and enhance the trust level in your marriage at the same time. ...

13. Poem: His Eye is on the Sparrow

14. Health: Taking the Right Precautions For A Family Member With Dementia

Not every person struggling with dementia lives in a nursing home or assisted-living facility.

In fact, more than 15 million Americans – usually family members or friends – provide unpaid care-giving to people with Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia, according to a 2014 report by the Alzheimer's Association. ...

15. Recipe: Eggplant in Spicy Tomato Sauce

16. How a Kidnapped Syrian Archbishop Described Faith in Pre-war Syria

Days before his kidnapping, Archbishop Ibrahim told BBC Arabic that Muslims and Christians in Syria were in the same boat. He said: "There is no persecution of Christians and there is no single plan to kill Christians. Everyone respects Christians. Bullets are random and not targeting the Christians because they are Christians."

Archbishop Ibrahim's 2006 book, 'Accepting the Other', described how Syrians of different faiths lived peacefully together at that time. ...

17. About Malankara World

I. This Sunday in Church (Samiyo - The Blind)
Bible Readings for This Sunday (March 22)
Sermons for This Sunday (March 22)

Malankara World Great Lent Supplement

Great Lent is the time for personal reflection, meditation, reconciliation, and prayer. Malankara World has a great resource that helps you accomplish that. We provide you daily reflections, meditations, prayer, bible readings etc.

If you only have a few minutes to spend a day, you can read short reflective articles and meditations. If you have more time, there is bible readings, and others to enrich your day.

Read the articles about how to practice lent. Then do the reading for the day specified. We will guide you week by week. You can find the resources here:

Malankara World Great Lent Supplement http://www.Malankaraworld.com/Library/Lent/Default.htm

Week 6 of Great Lent
http://www.Malankaraworld.com/Library/Lent/Lent_week6.htm

Malankara World Journal Issues:

MW Journal Issue 207 (April 4, 2014)

Malankara World Journal Issue 130 (March 14, 2013)

MW Journal Issue 66 - Great Lent Week 6

II. Articles Based On This Sunday's Gospel Reading
Signs, Miracles, and Messiah-ship of Jesus

by Dr. Jacob Mathew, Malankara World

As you know, the Holy Church had been "living through" the Public Ministry of Jesus Christ by highlighting one miracle/sign performed by Jesus in each of the Sundays of the Great Lent. The coming Sunday is the sixth Sunday of Lent. Let us look at what we had covered so far:

week 1 - Kothne / Wedding at Cana (John 2:1-11)
week 2 - Garbo/Healing of the Leper (Luke 5:12-16, 4:40-41)
week 3 - M'Shariyo/Healing of the Paralytic (Mark 2:1-12)
week 4 - Knanaitho/ Healing of the Daughter of the Canaanite Woman (Matthew 15:21-31)
week 5 - Kfiftho/ Healing of the Crippled woman (Luke 13:10-17)

This week is the 6th Sunday of the lent and we have:

week 6 - Samiyo/ Healing of the Blind (John 9:1-41)

Only two more Sundays remain in the Lent of 2015. Week 7 Sunday, being Palm Sunday, we look at one of the last of the miracles of Christ on the Lazarus Saturday, the day before Palm Sunday:

week 7 - Raising of Lazarus (John 11:28-46)

We finish the Lent on week 8 with the Easter/Kymtho - the mother of all miracles/signs, the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. The mission (of Jesus) accomplished.

week 8 - Kyomtho/Easter (Mark 16:1-8)

The question remains, why look at the healing ministry/miracles of Jesus to highlight the Public Ministry of Jesus? We could have selected the teachings or major discourses of Jesus like Sermon on the Mount, Olivet Discourse, etc. Not being a theologian, I do not know. But my guess is that old testament prophets gave us clues as to identify the Messiah - they specifically talked about the Messiah performing the miracles and healing. For example, Isaiah prophesied that the blind would be healed in the Messianic Age:

"In that day ... out of gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind will see."
(Isaiah 29:18)

"Then will the eyes of the blind be opened...." (Isaiah 35:5; cf. 42:7)

John the Baptist sent emissaries to Jesus, asking, "Are you the Messiah, or should we be looking for somebody else?" [Luke 7:20-22]. Why did John the Baptist asked Jesus to confirm that He is Messiah? John already knew Jesus was the chosen one and his role was to pave the way for him. Holy Spirit revealed it to him when he was in the womb when Mary visited Elizabeth. Also, when Jesus came for baptism in the Jordan river, John told him that Jesus should baptize John instead. John also was witness to the heaven opening and the Holy Spirit descending like a dove and alighting upon Jesus. And he heard the voice that came from heaven, saying, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" (Matthew 3:13-17). Also (John 1:26-34) He had told his disciples that Jesus was the Messiah and few left him to follow Jesus.

So, John did not need any further proof of who Jesus was or his aunthenticity. He already knew. So, why did John, the Baptist, send emissaries to Jesus to ask Him to confirm that He is the real Messiah? I believe it was for the benefit of his disciples. John's ministry was over; he was in Jail. He wanted to introduce his disciples to Jesus. He prepared the way for Messiah and now he told them who is Messiah. Let us take a look at what Jesus said in answer to the question sent by John the Baptist:

20 When the men had come to Him, they said, "John the Baptist has sent us to You, saying, 'Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?'" 21 And that very hour He cured many of infirmities, afflictions, and evil spirits; and to many blind He gave sight.

22 Jesus answered and said to them, "Go and tell John the things you have seen and heard: that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the gospel preached to them. 23 And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me."
- Luke 7:20-23 (NKJV)

Jesus lists some of his wonders as evidence (proof) for who he is: the blind, the lame, and the deaf restored to health, the dead raised. These were the signs of Messiah that was prophesied by the Old Testament Prophets. Healing Ministry of Jesus was central to the Public Ministry of Jesus. It defined who He was - the Son of the Living God. This is why the Holy Church examines the miracles and signs performed by Jesus to meditate on during the Holy Lent so that we believe and to reinforce our faith.

If you look at the end of Luke 7:20-23, there is something really odd that Jesus told the disciples and John's emissaries: "...and blessed is he who takes no offense in me."

Why would people be offended that Jesus performed miracles or healed? Think about it for a moment. Even Jesus' most severe critics, who had no intention of following him anywhere, agreed that Jesus performed many signs and wonders. [Matthew 12:24-32] But they found fault with Jesus on technicalities (like healing on Sabbath day, for instance), didn't they? But there is more to it. The Rev. Dr. William H. Willimon, Professor of the Practice of Christian Ministry at The Divinity School, Duke University, explained it well:

Note that none of the gospels calls any of Jesus' healing works a "miracle." "Miracle" is our word for the inexplicable phenomena that appear to arise from sources other than ourselves. It's always the crowd that is astonished by Jesus' miraculous moments, never Jesus, as if his wondrous work is the most natural thing in the world. What we label as "miracle," odd, out of this world, is what the gospels regard as normal now that Jesus is here. Jesus does these things naturally, giving us a privileged glimpse of the way the world is intended to be. Thus, Jesus challenges our notions of "natural" and "supernatural." "Supernatural" is that weird, pre-scientific, unverifiable, inexplicable realm to which we relegate everything we don't know how to think about. Maybe what we call "natural" is a perversion of what God intended and what we call "supernatural" is the way the world really is?

Jesus' healing wonders serve as parables pointing to the truth of who Jesus really is and the direction the world is really headed now that Jesus is on the move. Not proofs--they are pointers, glimpses of who God is and what God wants. Of course, signs and wonders don't tell us modern people much, because we like to believe that we live in an orderly, cause-and-effect world governed by natural laws, where miracles are not permitted. Jesus' miracles disrupted the perceived world and indicated that there was more going on with Jesus and with us than we first imagined. Something is afoot.

John's Gospel presents Jesus as going head-to-head with some of the most popular gods of the classical world, principally through his magical works of power. Jesus turns water into wine [John 3:1-10] (an affront to the god Dionysus, who had the wine monopoly), Jesus miraculously produces bread [John 6:1-15] (Demeter thought she was in charge of grain), and Jesus heals [John 4:47] (cutting into the practice of Dr. Asclepius, god of medicine).

Though Jesus healed many, he didn't heal everybody. He walked by all the sufferers laid out on pallets by the magical pool and unceremoniously healed only one crippled man who had been lying there for years. [John 9:1-7] Jesus was downright annoyed when huge crowds dogged him and interfered with his teaching. [Matthew 4:25] As important as health and wholeness were to Jesus, something else was even more significant. Jesus never once told his disciples that, if they loved and obeyed him, he would free them from all pain and misery. In fact, just the opposite, he told them that there would be a cross for every one of them.

Jesus regarded his miracles as ambiguous at best, often charging people to keep quiet about them. [Mark 5:43; 7:36] When he healed people, he seemed to do it simply as overflowing compassion for those who suffered and as a sign that the kingdom of God was breaking out among them. In other words, when Jesus healed someone, or when he produced an overflow of bread to feed the hungry people in the wilderness, it was a sign, a sign, that God's kingdom had come close, that God's intentions for the world had surged forth.

Jesus sent out the Twelve "to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal." [Luke 9:2] Even as a healer, Jesus did not work alone. Thus the church founded the first hospital. He declared that all shall be judged on the basis of "I was sick and you visited me." [Matthew 25:36]

One of the paradoxes of John's Gospel is that people see miracles with their own eyes, but don't "connect the dots." Spiritual blindness was present in Jeremiah's day as well as in our own.

"To whom can I speak and give warning?
Who will listen to me?
Their ears are closed so they cannot hear.
The word of the LORD is offensive to them;
they find no pleasure in it."
(Jeremiah 6:10)

The Pharisees are a reminder to us that not everyone can "see" and "hear" Jesus. Only those who have eyes to see (Revelation 3:18) and ears to hear (Mark 8:18; Luke 8:8; 14:35; Revelation 2:7, 11). Spiritual blindness is a curse of the devil.

"The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God."
(2 Corinthians 4:4)

Lessons for Disciples From This Week's Gospel

The story of the healing of the man born blind has a number of lessons for Jesus' disciples to learn. (source: Dr. Ralph Wilson)

1. Sickness and affliction are not necessarily the result of someone's sin. Sometimes it is so that God may be glorified (John 9:1-3).

2. Jesus' method of healing varied -- he didn't always heal the same way. (John 9:6) No doubt he sought the Father about whom he should heal and the particular method in each case (John 5:19, 30; 12:49).

3. Some people refuse to commit themselves to Christ out of fear of how others might react to it (John 9:22; cf. John 12:42).

4. Some people are just waiting to know how to put their trust in the Lord -- like the man who was healed (John 9:35-38). All they need is some guidance.

5. Some unbelievers are not seeking, but have their minds already made up. They are set in their spiritual blindness (John 9:39-41).

This week's Gospel reading is one of the longest we read in the church. But if you read and meditate on the various issues presented here and look at the story from the views of different persons (stakeholders) present (the blind man, disciples of Jesus, parents of the blind man, the community/neighbors of the blind man, and finally the religious leaders of the temple), we will get a great idea of how a compassionate act can be viewed in different ways by different people depending on their perspective and may "even offend someone" as Jesus suggested. Once we understand this, we are well on our way to understanding the Messiah-ship of Jesus.

The Man Born Blind - A Meditation
Gospel: John 9:1-41

The man born blind washed the mud from his eyes in the pool called, Siloam, "The One who is sent."

How is Jesus a pool to wash the mud from my eyes, that I might see?

As soon as he could see, his life became very difficult. People wondered if he was the same man, before they believed he could now see.

Has the restoration of my sight so changed me that others are surprised at the transformation?

So much fear seems to surround the restoration of his sight.

What fears do I now have to seeing clearly who Jesus is and what choices I must make to be with him?

The grace will come when I acknowledge that my eyes have been opened. Others may not want to believe I can see, but I know I can only keep repeating it, to myself and to them. I may experience rejection by some for claiming this new vision, but in the Light I can see clearly one who has healed me, and I give him thanks and praise.

Source: Creighton University - Praying Lent

Surely We Are Not Blind, Are We? A Reflection on John 9:1-41

by Michael K. Marsh

Gospel: John 9:1-41.

They all looked at him but they never saw him. He was the blind guy. Born that way. Day after day he sat and begged. They looked. They walked by. They wondered. But they never saw. He had never seen their faces until today. He had never seen his own face, his parents' faces, a sunrise, the stars, his home, a smile until today. Before today it was as if he didn't even exist. He was a life waiting to be born, a light waiting to shine, a word waiting to be spoken. Today he became a new creation, he was enlightened, he became a living testimony to the Son of Man but they still don't see him. For some reason they are unable to see him.

The disciples look at him and see a theological question, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" Their vision is distorted by the popular belief that suffering is caused by sin and you get what you deserve.

The neighbors looked but couldn't see past the image of the way things had always been, a blind man sitting and begging. It's all he had ever known. It's all they had ever known. Blinded by disbelief they keep asking him, "How were your eyes opened?"

Two times the religious leaders call him in. Two times they interrogate him. Two times he gives glory to God. They cannot see the prophet, the man from God, that this formerly blind man now sees. They cannot see the new life, the new man, the new creation that bears testimony to the man from God. Two times they turn a blind eye to this man and his God. No one, as the saying goes, is more blind than he or she who chooses not to see. They have chosen power, rules, and boundaries over the truth and their eyes have grown dim.

Even this man's own parents distance themselves from him. They can talk about their blind son but not about their seeing son. To see him, the enlightened son, meant they would have to tell the story. "We do not know how it is that now he sees, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself." They deny what is right before their eyes. Fear does that. Fear keeps us from seeing a larger reality, from living with a larger vision. So we live with tunnel vision only seeing that one thing that we most fear.

They all looked but none saw him. If they saw him they would have to confront their own blindness. This man blind from birth is not just a single individual, he is every man, every woman. The only difference between him and all the others in today's gospel is that he knows he is blind. Until we know we are blind we can never see with new eyes. "Surely we are not blind, are we?"

Blindness is not about the quality of our vision or the condition of our eyes. It is not about the darkness around us but, rather, the darkness within us. How we see others, what we see in the world, the way we see life is less about the objects of our seeing and more about ourselves. We do not see God, people, things, or circumstances as they are but as we are. Until our eyes are opened by Christ our seeing is really just a projection of ourselves onto the world. What we see and how we see manifest our inner world. They describe and point to the fears, attachments, and beliefs within us.

If we wish to see God, life, and others as they really are then we must attend to what is going on within us. True seeing begins in the heart not the eyes. We must begin to acknowledge the fears, attachments, and beliefs that live within us and how they have impaired our vision.

Think about a time when you were scared, really scared. Maybe it was about your marriage, your job, the illness of loved one. That fear had a way of blinding you. Fear rivets our attention on that thing we fear to the exclusion of everything else around us. That one thing is all we can think about, all that we can see. Fear narrows our world view and our vision becomes myopic, nearsighted to the point of exclusion.

Attachments are those things or people we think we must have to be happy. We can't imagine life without them. We have convinced ourselves that our very existence in some way depends on them. The Bible calls them idols. Modern society calls them addictions. Regardless, we will inevitably look for and see only that which fosters and affirms our attachments and will turn a blind eye toward anything that threatens them. Our vision becomes selective.

We have probably all met someone who is so fanatical in his or her beliefs that he or she cannot see another point of view. He cannot look at any other possibility. She refuses to see other ways but her own. Not only have we met these people too often we are these people. We all have certain beliefs to which we cling. They offer the illusion of stability and security. So we no longer live in the real world, God's world, but a world that we have created in our head.

The inner darkness of our fears, attachments, and beliefs is what keeps us from seeing. They cover our eyes like the mud on the eyes of the man born blind. In placing mud on the blind man's eyes Jesus is holding before him the reality of his blindness. He wears thick black lenses of fear, attachments, and beliefs. We all do. Those who know this are sent to wash in the pool, to be re-created, and to see with new eyes. Once they were darkness but now in the Lord they are light. The rest will continue looking but never see, their faces caked with mud.

Don't just look around. Look within. What do you see? How do you see? Where is the mud of darkness in your life? Name that reality. Acknowledge it and then go wash. The mud of darkness always gives way to the light of Christ.

The Miracles of Jesus Christ: Healing a Man Born Blind (Part One)

by Martin G. Collins

As his gospel begins, the apostle John writes that Jesus Christ "came to His own, and His own did not receive Him" (John 1:11). That He "came to His own" describes the content of John 9, where we find Him healing a man born blind (John 9:1-38). Chapters 9-12 emphasize Jesus' calling out a people of His own in the midst of, and in spite of, growing hostility from Jewish authorities. As His own people are rejecting him, Christ begins to call out a new people, first exemplified by the story of His calling of the blind man.

This miracle, which John alone relates, occurs in a conspicuous setting. The sixth of eight miracles recorded in his gospel, it is an illustration of the previous day's significant affirmation of Jesus Christ as "the Light of the world" (John 8:12). He is the Light of divine salvation that overcomes the darkness of man's moral and physical blindness. Thus, as the Light, He gave sight to a blind man.

1. Can anything or anyone frustrate God? John 9:1-5.

Comment: The first lesson to be learned from this miracle is that sinful man cannot frustrate God. Rather, God accomplishes His purposes sovereignly, saving by grace those whom He chooses to call to Himself. Even man's hatred cannot frustrate God, seen clearly in this miracle story. Jesus seems undisturbed by the religious leaders' attempt to stone Him, an action that would have created great turmoil in the Temple precincts. Yet, a moment later, after Jesus had removed Himself, we find Him stopping beside a blind beggar sitting near the Temple gate. In a similar situation, most of us would scarcely have seen the beggar, being more concerned with being pursued and distancing ourselves from the enemy. Not Jesus!

He had God's perspective and acted accordingly. Therefore, instead of complying with the prohibitions of sinful men, Christ simply perseveres in His task and begins to elect some to salvation. As Paul writes of God in Romans 9:15, "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion."

The poor blind man symbolizes the state of the lost apart from the creative and transforming power of Christ. On the one hand, the rulers of the people, the Pharisees, can see physically but are spiritually blind. On the other, the blind man cannot see physically, but Christ makes him see both physically and spiritually. By the end of the story, we find him worshipping Jesus as the Son of God.

2. What is the blind man's plight? John 9:1.

Comment: Obviously, he cannot see, which means that he cannot see Jesus. This is the plight of the lost today: Jesus is taught, but they cannot "see" Him. Even when the Bible is explained, they cannot understand it. Why? Usually, it is because they think that they do not need God. Paul writes, "The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned" (I Corinthians 2:14). For there to be spiritual sight, Jesus must first open blind eyes.

Second, because the man born blind was unable to see, he could not seek Jesus. How can the blind seek anything? In spiritual terms, this means that an uncalled person is unable to seek God and His truth. Paul declares in Romans 3:11 that "there is no one who . . . seeks God."

Third, if the blind man could not seek Jesus, he was unable to find him, nor as a beggar, could he hire someone else to seek Christ and find Him. What a condition - unable to see, seek, or find Jesus, and incapable of procuring help in finding Him. It is a sad state - and doubly sad in that it describes the spiritual condition of most (Revelation 3:17-18).

3. Do believers and non-believers suffer in the same way for the same purpose? John 9:2-3.

Comment: At some time or other, every human being experiences suffering. A baby causes pain by being born. Many live by inflicting pain on others. We all suffer pain and eventually experience death. Granted, believers alive when Christ returns to this earth will be transformed in a moment, but with this exception, the lot of all is to suffer and die (Hebrews 9:27). Eliphaz spoke truthfully to Job when he told the suffering patriarch, "For affliction does not come from the dust, nor does trouble spring from the ground; yet man is born to trouble, as the sparks fly upward" (Job 5:6-7).

Although everyone - Christians as well as non-Christians - suffers at some point in life, it is not true that all suffer alike. Seen from the outside, a Christian and a non-Christian suffering from the same incurable disease may appear to undergo the same experience. According to God's Word, however, the two are not equal (II Corinthians 6:15-16). From God's perspective, the non-Christian is suffering without purpose, or perhaps he is suffering at the whim of Satan, who is merely doing as he pleases with a member of his own kingdom. In the case of the Christian, though, an all-wise heavenly Father is permitting suffering in a carefully controlled situation to accomplish a desirable purpose. God is a Father who disciplines His children (II Corinthians 6:18; Hebrews 12:5-8), which the book of Job vividly teaches.

So what is the purpose of a Christian's suffering? To learn from it, we must ask what we are to learn; if we are to benefit, we must ask how. As we will see, some of Christ's words spoken when healing the man born blind suggest the answers to these questions.

Source: Forerunner, January-February 2013; © 2013 CGG

The Miracles of Jesus Christ: Healing a Man Born Blind (Part Two)

by Martin G. Collins

The miracle of healing recorded in John 9 displays Jesus Christ giving sight to the blind. Healing is a work of the God of the Old Testament, as seen in Psalm 146:8, "The Lord opens the eyes of the blind . . ." (see also Exodus 4:10-12). Giving sight to the blind is also a work of the Messiah, as prophesied in Isaiah 35:4-5, "He will come and save you. Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened. . . ." Jesus' healing of the man born blind, then, is another testimony of His Deity and of the fact that He is the Messiah.

In spite of this great testimony, most of the witnesses missed the miracle's message, and the religious leaders persecuted the newly healed man. Moreover, they condemned the Healer, Jesus Christ, calling Him a sinner. Greater blindness existed in their lives than in the man Christ healed; he was only physically blind but their blindness was spiritual, of the heart and mind.

1. How does the blind man respond to Christ's command? John 9:7, 11.

Comment: It is significant that the command is simple, containing only seven words: "Go, wash in the pool of Siloam." It was also personal, directed to the blind man alone. In addition, the command involved a test of obedience, requiring a response to Jesus. Finally, it encouraged the man, despite his not being able to see the compassion in Jesus' eyes. He somehow knew that the One whose voice he heard would help him.

Christ's command tested the man's faith, confirming and strengthening it. Without delay or reluctance, he obeyed the divine command: He went and washed and saw. Many would consider it a useless chore for a blind man to do such a simple thing to obtain his sight, but having obeyed, the man was healed. Blessing still comes through obedience. In one sense, he obeyed Christ blindly, but as a result, he immediately received his sight, beginning down a path by which he eventually also received true spiritual sight.

In the same way, the gospel that comes to us is simple. God requires us to respond in faith, and when we do - when we understand and believe that the Son of God became human to enable mankind's salvation - our spiritual blindness begins to be removed.

2. Why does Jesus heal the blind man on a Sabbath? John 9:14-16.

Comment: What is the true purpose of the Sabbath? God's instruction about the Sabbath is contained in general principles that we are to apply properly. To do this, we have to understand its purpose.

From the beginning of His ministry, Jesus instructs us on how to live His way of life using these principles. The Sabbath is so significant that His ministry formally began on one and ended on a preparation day for another. In His inaugural sermon (Luke 4:16-19), He spells out His work: setting people free from captivity. He specifically mentions revealing His truth to the poor (that is, the weak), brokenhearted, captives, blind, and oppressed (see Isaiah 61:1-2).

The Sabbath - which, He says in Mark 2:27, "was made for man" - is a key element in this work of delivering people from oppression. God established His Sabbath law, including the weekly and annual Sabbaths, to prepare a people to come out of and stay out of spiritual slavery. Each Sabbath reminds Christians that God is their Liberator, and by keeping it, they show that they are free and want to remain free.

We need to recognize that the blind man's life was not in immediate danger, but the liberating healing Jesus performed was done to one who was chronically ill. Spiritually, we are the same, beset by lingering sins. God provides the Sabbath to free us from the chronic problems caused by the desires of our human nature.

3. Do all Christians receive opposition and persecution? John 9:8-17.

Comment: Every genuine believer in Jesus Christ will have conflict at times, and in one form or another, every Christian will be opposed for the sake of God's truth. The apostle Paul alerts us that "everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted" (II Timothy 3:12), and that "it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake" (Philippians 1:29).

God will not abandon us in the conflict any more than He abandoned the once-blind man. When challenged about his opinion of Jesus, he bravely answered, "He is a prophet" (John 9:17). God has His purposes in allowing persecution, and among them are at least two seen in John 9: Opposition will 1) sharpen our testimony and 2) deepen our understanding of God's purpose and way of life. No less than the man born blind, we should be humbly bold in our testimony. If the blind man, who had merely met Jesus and knew little about Him, could be so, why should we Christians not be also in our defense of God's way of life?

Source: Forerunner, "Bible Study," March-April 2013; © 2013 CGG

The Miracles of Jesus Christ: Healing a Man Born Blind Part Three)

by Martin G. Collins

Despite the joy of Jesus Christ healing the man born blind (John 9:1-41), the Jewish leaders conspicuously resist. Divided into two camps, some Pharisees reason that Jesus could not be of God because He had broken the Sabbath, while others assert that a sinner could not do such miracles. The ensuing questioning of the healed man exposes a telling contrast between the Pharisees' "we know" (verse 24) and the man's "I know" (verse 25).

Amid all the wrangling, however, the healed man applies his common sense: "If this Man were not from God, He could do nothing" (verse 33). The man's progress of knowledge about his Healer is interesting, speaking of Jesus as a Man (verse 11), a Prophet (verse 17), and the Son of God (verses 35, 38). He believes, confesses, and worships (verses 35-38). The man's implicit faith, his fearless confession of his healing, his utter disregard of consequences, his brave confession, his simplicity in confounding the "wise," and his belief in and worship of Christ are beyond commendable.

1. What part does knowledge play in the man's healing? John 9:12, 20-21, 24-25, 29-31.

Comment: The theme is suggested by the fact that each of the parties claim both to know and not to know something. Since the claims and the reasons for them differ, the contrasts highlight their various types of knowledge. By their questioning, the Pharisees try to discredit the man's testimony, attempting to find a cause to brand the healing a fraud and attack Jesus (verse 19). They imply that the parents should stop lying and come clean (verses 20-21). Yet, the parents affirm two facts: that the healed man was indeed their son and that he was born blind. They knew this, and they were not afraid to affirm it.

Conversely, they denied knowing how he came to see and who did the miracle. Why do they not acknowledge what they know of Christ's role in the healing? "They feared the Jews." They know that the leaders would excommunicate anyone who confessed Jesus as the Messiah. The parents simply did not want to get involved. They were afraid to acknowledge what had been revealed to them.

This is an accurate picture of many today. The truths of Christianity have been proclaimed to them - perhaps by parents, friends, or the church. Intellectually, they know and even believe these truths, but they will not admit them. They are afraid to acknowledge Christ for fear of the consequences.

2. Are the Pharisees and the parents lying about knowing Jesus? John 9:18-30.

Comment: The Pharisees, unable to extract damaging testimony from the parents, begin to interrogate the healed man more thoroughly. Apparently, he had been absent during the questioning of his parents, because the Pharisees attempt to finesse an admission out of him by pretending that they had learned the true story from them (John 9:24). In the ensuing exchange, they amplify their position (John 9:29).

The Pharisees also claim both to know and not to know something. They claim to know that Jesus is a sinner and that God had spoken through Moses. They claim not to know Christ's origin. Yet, what they claim and what they deny contradict (John 9:29; 7:27) - they are lying! Unlike the parents, who know the truth but will not admit it, these men think they know the truth but are actually ignorant of it.

Sadly, this also describes many people today, particularly those pseudo-scholars and pseudo-leaders who claim to know all about Christ and Christianity but who have never really come to know Him personally.

3. What makes the testimony of the healed man different? John 9:25-29.

Comment: The healed man readily acknowledges his ignorance but then adds, "One thing I know: that though I was blind, now I see" (John 9:25). Despite not knowing of Jesus, he is certain that He had changed him. In this, he becomes a type of the genuine Christian. They do not know everything, but what they know they truly know because they have met and accepted Jesus personally as Lord and Savior.

Unlike the others, the man humbly begins with his limitations in knowledge. Both the parents and Pharisees say "we know" first and only after they declare what they do not know (see verses 20-21, 24-29), revealing their cowardice or ignorance. The man first admits his ignorance but then affirms what he knows as the result of God's revelation.

In his humble state, he easily recognizes the lack of knowledge in others, in this case, the greater ignorance of the "educated" leaders of the people. Having eliminated false self-confidence as well as any unjustified confidence in the Pharisees, all that remains is what he truly knows: He could now see. Thus, he takes his stand on the certainties.

As Christians, beginning in ignorance and sin, we confess both our spiritual dependence and our failings. We realize that, unless God chooses to reveal Himself - which He does in His Word and in Christ - we can know nothing. No one can know God by means of human reasoning or by any other human instrument (Job 11:7; I Corinthians 2:14). Spiritual knowledge is not revealed even through religious tradition, but it comes through the intervention of God in history, in His written Word, and the opening of the mind by the Holy Spirit - and only to those whom God calls.

Jesus says to the once-blind man, "Do you believe in the Son of God?" Having been blind, do we now entrust our spiritual well-being to Jesus Christ?

Source: Forerunner, "Bible Study," May-June 2013; © 2013 CGG

Born Blind: Are Christians Like The Pharisees of Old

by Ryan Duncan

"Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life."
– John 9:3

One of my favorite Bible stories appears in John 9, where Jesus heals a man born blind. Take a moment to read the following:

As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" "Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life. As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world." Having said this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man's eyes. "Go," he told him, "wash in the Pool of Siloam" (this word means Sent). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing.
– John 9:1-8

Every time I read this, I can't help but wonder what went through the mind of the blind man when he heard Jesus. All his life people have been telling him he's cursed, that his blindness is punishment for some sin his family committed. Then, in a single moment, Christ turns his world around. Not only does he absolve him of guilt in front of the disciples, he announces that God is going to display his glory through a blind man's life. Many people read this story and think it's all about how Jesus healed his sight, but I believe it's more about how Christ restored his soul.

Too often we Christians are like the Pharisees of old. We look at people, find something in their life that isn't quite perfect, and make a note of how much they "need God." What we're really saying is, "Look at how messed up this person is, you know it's because they've turned away from God." Just like the disciples did. If you ever find yourself tempted to think that, beware. While the story of John 9 ends with one man receiving sight, it also ends with some who are still blind.

"Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, "Do you believe in the Son of Man?" "Who is he, sir?" the man asked. "Tell me so that I may believe in him." Jesus said, "You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you." Then the man said, "Lord, I believe," and he worshiped him. Jesus said, "For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind."
 – John 9:35-39

Intersecting Faith and Life:

"The gospel declares that no matter how dutiful or prayerful we are, we can't save ourselves. What Jesus did was sufficient."
- Brennan Manning

Further Reading

John 13:34-35

Source: Crosswalk.com - The Devotional

III. General Articles/Features

Inspirational: Counting on a Miracle

by John O'Leary, RisingAbove.com

"There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as if everything is a miracle." – Albert Einstein

On a flight from Boston to St. Louis, a gentleman asked "what I do."

I told him I work with a company that teaches individuals and organizations to breathe life and possibility into every moment.

He looked at me suspiciously and asked, "Um, how?"

I shared about being burned as a kid, spending five months in the hospital, my parents' book and how it all changed my life.

I told him that because of that book and through the help of my team, I now speak, write and share this story all over the world.

He asked, "Did you always dream of becoming a speaker?"

Heck no! I never even told people how I was burned until a few years ago. It's actually not only a miracle that I survived, but that I'm actually sharing this story.

He looked at me and candidly replied, "I don't believe in miracles."

Don't believe in miracles?

My friend, sometimes to deny the miraculous is to simply ignore reality. The past few weeks have reminded me of this truth. Let me explain.

A friend asked me to pray for a boy in her community. He'd been playing on a frozen pond and fell through the ice. His friends and emergency workers were there quickly, but couldn't locate him for more than 15 minutes. He was transported to the ER without a pulse.

After the boy had spent more than an hour without a pulse, the mother was brought in to say goodbye.

She came into the hospital room, looked at her lifeless son, and screamed out, "Lord God, give me back my son!"

A moment later, a pulse returned.

Not only did he survive, but the boy who was not expected to live is now completely fine: out of bed, walking, requesting his favorite foods and ready to go home.

I can't explain how this boy lived. I can't explain why prayers are sometimes answered. I can't explain why miracles happen.

And yet they do.

If you are looking for miracles, they will occur repeatedly in your life.

Stunning circumstances, improbable occurrences, remarkable beauty, absolute love, and amazing grace fill your story.

Sometime in the monotony of racing to work and raising kids we miss it.

Here's your chance. This is your resuscitation: Don't miss it today.

Open your eyes. Look around. Count the blessings. Life is a gift. It's all a miracle. And the best is yet to come.

Source: Monday Morning Motivation from John O'Leary

Family Special: Safety Rules for a Lasting Marriage

by Drs. James & Shirley Dobson

"Can a man walk on hot coals without his feet being scorched?" Proverbs 6:28

The surest way to avoid an affair is to flee temptation as soon as it confronts you. Author Jerry Jenkins has referred to this determination to preserve moral purity as "building hedges" around marriage so that temptation is never given a foothold. You take steps to protect yourself and enhance the trust level in your marriage at the same time.

How? Talk with your partner about your interactions with the opposite sex, then establish sensible, sensitive guidelines. Some couples rule out lunch with a coworker, traveling together, talking alone behind closed doors, sharing rides, or working as a "couple" on a project. Agree on what you both consider reasonable, then stick to that agreement. If you're faced with a situation that you haven't discussed, ask your spouse about it beforehand, and if he or she isn't comfortable with it, don't do it. Listen to each other's concerns. The Lord has made you "one flesh" for good reason.

At first it may seem strange to ask for permission to take part in what's probably a completely innocent activity. But you'll quickly discover how wonderfully reassuring it feels when the situation is reversed and your partner is the one asking you!

Just between us…

  • Are you comfortable with my behavior around members of the opposite sex?
  • Is there anything I should do differently?
  • Are we praying enough that God would protect us from temptation? What does Proverbs 6:28 mean to you?

Prayer:

Dear God, we want to protect our marriage from any threat. We want to live freely and securely as a result of having chosen to live wisely. By Your Spirit, show us how to honor each other and please You. Amen.

Source: Night Light For Couples, by Dr. James & Shirley Dobson
Copyright © 2000 by James Dobson, Inc. All rights reserved.

Poem: His Eye is on the Sparrow
why should I feel discouraged, why should the shadows come,
why should my heart feel lonely, and long for heaven and home

when Jesus is my portion, a constant friend is he
his eye is on the sparrow, and I know he watches over me
his eye is on the sparrow, and i know he watches over me

I sing because I'm happy, I sing because I'm free
his eye is on the sparrow, and I know he watches me
his eye is on the sparrow, and I know he watches me
he watches me, I know, he watches me.

Health: Taking the Right Precautions For A Family Member With Dementia

Modifications Help Create A Home Environment That's Safe and Supportive

Not every person struggling with dementia lives in a nursing home or assisted-living facility.

In fact, more than 15 million Americans – usually family members or friends – provide unpaid caregiving to people with Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia, according to a 2014 report by the Alzheimer's Association.

Although it's wonderful so many are willing to assume that responsibility, it's also important they take steps to make sure the home is a safe place, says Kerry Mills, co-author with Jennifer Brush of the book "I Care: A Handbook for Care Partners of People With Dementia." (www.engagingalzheimers.com)

Part of that is to focus on potential hazards. The concept is not unlike new parents making a house "childproof." Many of the concerns are similar, such as stairs, electrical sockets, sharp objects and swimming pools.

At the same time, it's easy to go too far, Mills said. Ideally, the environment for the person with dementia should be as unrestricted as possible.

"For example, if your loved one enjoys cooking for a hobby and can safely cut and peel vegetables, then by all means, encourage it," Mills says.

Mills suggests several ways to make a home safer for someone with dementia.

For the front and back doors. Use bells on the doors, motion sensors that turn on lights or alerts, or other notifications that make the care partner aware when someone has gone out. Add lamps or motion-activated lighting so people can see where they are going when they are entering or leaving the house.

"Another way to discourage someone from wanting to leave the house is to make sure that he or she gets plenty of outside exercise whenever possible," Mills says.

For stairways and hallways. Add reflective tape strips to stair edges to make stairs more visible. Remove obstacles, such as mats and flowerpots, to minimize risks of falls on or by the stairs.

Also, install handrails in hallways and stairways to provide stability, and install a gate on the stairway to prevent falls. Improve the lighting around hallways and stairs by installing more ceiling fixtures or wall sconces.

For the bathroom. Install grab bars and a raised toilet seat to help both the individual with dementia and the care partners so they don't have to lift the person on and off the toilet.

Add grab bars inside and outside the tub, and a non-skid surface in the tub to reduce risks of falls. You can also add colored tape on the edge of the tub or shower curb to increase contrast and make the tub edge more visible.

Lower the water temperature or install an anti-scald valve to prevent burns, and remove drain plugs from sinks or tubs to avoid flooding.

For the possibility the person becomes lost. Provide your loved one with an identification or GPS bracelet in case he or she wanders. Label clothes with the person's name, and place an identification card in his or her wallet with a description of the person's condition. Notify police and neighbors of the person's dementia and tendency to wander.

About Kerry Mills

Kerry Mills, MPA, is an expert in best care practices for persons with dementia both in the home and in out-of-home health care residences and organizations. She is a consultant to numerous hospitals, assisted livings, hospice, home care agencies, senior day care centers and nursing homes. In her twelve-year career in health care, she has served as executive director and regional manager for numerous long-term dementia facilities. She is an outspoken advocate for persons with dementia, lecturing in Hong Kong, Canada, China, Europe and the United States. Her book, coauthored with Jennifer A. Brush, "I Care," (engagingalzheimers.com), is the 2014 Gold Award Winner of the National Mature Media Awards. 

Recipe: Eggplant in Spicy Tomato Sauce

by Madhur Jaffrey

Ingredients:

1 large eggplant (about 11/2 pounds)
9 tablespoons vegetable oil (approximately)
1 piece fresh ginger (11/2 inches by 1 inch), peeled and coarsely chopped
6 medium-size cloves garlic, peeled
1 teaspoon whole fennel seeds
1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
3 medium-size tomatoes, chopped
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon Cayenne pepper

Directions:

1. Preheat broiler.

2. Halve eggplant lengthwise and then cut crosswise into 1/2-inch slices.

3. Brush slices on both sides with about 3 tablespoons of the oil and arrange them in a single layer in large broiling tray. Broil 3 inches from heat source, about 7 minutes; turn with spatula and broil another 7 minutes, or until eggplant is nicely browned.

4. While eggplant is broiling, puree ginger, garlic, and 3 tablespoons of water in food processor or blender. Set aside. In large skillet, heat remaining 6 tablespoons of oil over medium heat. When hot, add fennel and cumin seeds, and let sizzle 30 seconds, or until seeds turn a shade darker. Add ginger-garlic puree and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Stir in chopped tomatoes, coriander, salt, turmeric, and Cayenne, and bring to a simmer. Cook, still stirring, over medium heat 2 to 3 minutes. Cover, turn heat to low, and cook 5 minutes.

5. Fold the browned eggplant slices into the tomato sauce and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook over low heat another 3 to 5 minutes. Turn into serving dish.

How a Kidnapped Syrian Archbishop Described Faith in Pre-war Syria

by Ruth Gledhill

The Greek and Syriac Orthodox archbishops of Aleppo, Boulos Yazigi and Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim, were kidnapped in Syria near the Turkish border in April 2013. There are growing fears that only one of them is still alive.

The Archbishops were captured when they were on their way home from attempting to secure the release of two priests who had themselves been kidnapped two months earlier. Their driver was murdered in the attack.

Repeated interventions by senior church leaders around the world have had no success in securing their release.

Last October the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, raised the plight of the two Archbishops and said that we in the West "can't turn our backs" on the "poisonous" effects of religious tyranny in the region.

So far more than 220,000 people have died in the civil war. Four million Syrians have fled to neighboring countries, mainly Turkey and Lebanon, and millions more have been displaced within Syria, forced to their towns and villages.

Days before his kidnapping, Archbishop Ibrahim told BBC Arabic that Muslims and Christians in Syria were in the same boat. He said: "There is no persecution of Christians and there is no single plan to kill Christians. Everyone respects Christians. Bullets are random and not targeting the Christians because they are Christians."

Archbishop Ibrahim's 2006 book, 'Accepting the Other', described how Syrians of different faiths lived peacefully together at that time.

Aid to the Church in Need, which has pledged $2.8 million in emergency aid for the Christians of Syria, marked the fourth anniversary of the war yesterday by translating and publishing an extract from Archbishop Ibrahim's book.

Archbishop Ibrahaim wrote:

The plurality of religions and faiths does not foment an inter-religious conflict due to the fact that the common denominator of its teachings, heritages and ethics affirms the oneness of God and the multiplicity and integrity of its people.

Whenever Christians and Muslims approach the sources of divine teaching, they may feel that their common heritage is part and parcel of the universal belief of the relationship between man (the weak) and the Creator (the mighty). Christians say we have one God and Muslim say there is no God but God.

From this understanding of our common heritages derived the concept of the "Dialogue of Life" – to which we owe our peaceful coexistence and the flourishing of our communities. However, even given the rich ethno-religious diversity of our communal tapestry, it is not at all like the concept of multiculturalism that is emerging in Western society.

The "Dialogue of life" is a rather simple, spontaneous, and natural way of life – a sort of coexistence sustained by the values of solidarity, humanity, impartiality and accepting the other unconditionally. Some may argue that our "Dialogue of Life" draws on the principles outlined in the Geneva Convention. Not so, our "Dialogue" has its own unwritten codes, whose values far predate this relatively new Western concept of dialogue and coexistence.

The "Dialogue of Life" is an in-built intuition: its values have been well tried and tested throughout the centuries of our coexistence, both in situations of peace and war, with and without the presence of media and UN observers. There is no need for awareness classes, training courses or fundraising campaigns.

The "Dialogue of Life" starts with the first steps of a toddler in the neighborhood, and carries on at nursery and schools, so that in adulthood people are well equipped with the basic skill to coexist and keep this dialogue alive and functional. Understandably, such values are not a commodity and certainly, may not have a sell-by date. However, they are not immune but in fact extremely sensitive to the fluctuations of security and law and order in our milieu. Therefore, they cannot be taken for granted, but need constant nurturing, maintenance and enhancements.

The "Dialogue of Life" reflects that we are all children of God, created in His image. We are all in the same boat, riding the same waves, facing the same reduced circumstances. We often find ourselves peddling in shark-infested, uncharted territories. Understandably, it is not necessary that all are able to reciprocate. But for us the principle of the survival of the fittest is not an option, and it cannot be spelled out who will come out on top. The "Dialogue of Life" hinges on accepting others and shuns religious or sectarian distinctions.

At this juncture of our history, when war has become a part of daily life, there never has been a greater need for this "Dialogue of Life." It remains to be seen how waterproof our treasured "Dialogue of Life" and what the limits of effectiveness might be in such reduced and perilous circumstance—especially with so many outside factions coming into our country with the object of tampering with our way of life, upsetting our peaceful coexistence.

Let us hope and pray that the profound effects of civil war will not be so great as to prevent the recovery and survival of our "Dialogue of Life" and our civilized coexistence.

[Editor's Note: This is an excerpt from 'Accepting the Other' (2006) by Mar Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim, the Syrian Orthodox archbishop of Aleppo, Syria. It was translated from Arabic for Aid to the Church in Need.]

Source: Christian Today

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