We will gather together for our Badaliya Prayer on Sunday, December 17th from
1:30pm-3:00pm in the small chapel in St. Paul's Parish Center. Please join us
in person or in spirit as we pray for peace and reconciliation in the Middle
East and especially in the Holy Land, in Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan.
In this Advent season we are called to enter ever more deeply into our experience
of the young Jewish Mary and her experience of an angel of God inviting her
to welcome the Divine Guest into her very being in order to give birth to the
Divine in the world. We are reminded that Louis Massignon's devotion to
the Virgin Mary was founded on his understanding of her as the bridge between
all three Abrahamic faith traditions. From the angel Gabriel, to her willingness
to trustingly enter into the unknown and accept the words of an angel, her"fiat",
"let it be done to me according to your word" and the birth of Jesus,
we share our story with our Muslim brothers and sisters. For Massignon, Mary's
fiat stands at the core of the religious and secular dilemma of our time. He
sees this young Jewish woman as chosen by God to bring into the world the child
destined to complete the sacrifice of Isaac that was interrupted. He writes,
" From the beginning she agrees to become a betrothed woman suspected
of infidelity, slandered by her neighbors, called an adultress in the geneological
records of the city where she was born, and suspected ( or ignored) for more
than 2000 years by her race for which she had infinite love, because in order
ro save her people she laid bare the secret vow of an immaculate heart, something
that was greater than Abraham's willingness to sacrifice Isaac. For this
she offered up for Israel the very root of God's justification vis-à-vis
His only perfect creature in a spiritual sacrifice unimagined by the angels".
For Massignon the secret of the mystery of the Annunciation is our inheritance
revealed in the virginal heart of Mary whose "Yes" to God was offered
for the salvation of all of humanity. She fulfilled the vocation of the Jewish
people and that of all of us. His message is one our world has not been ready
to hear and we are invited to ponder on it with Mary in our heart of hearts
to imagine how she has the potential to spiritually reconcile these three faith
December 8th, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, is the 5th anniversary
of our present day Badaliya movement in the USA, and beyond. It is a celebration
of Mary herself whose own purity of heart and mind allowed her to be the chosen
one of God in fulfillment of God's own plan. Given Massignon's profound
insights in his meditations inspired by both the Hebrew/Christian Bible and
the Qur'an on the significance of the Virgin for all three faiths, this
feast day seemed the most appropriate for marking our efforts to begin our prayer
for peace and reconciliation of the world's religious communities.
The story of the birth of Mary found in the Qur'an seems appropriate
in honoring our December 8th Feast day and the 5th anniversary of our Badaliya.For
our further reflections I offer you these words from Surah 3 verses 33-37 found
in the Qur'an:
Let us pray especially for refugees everywhere at this time and remember all
those suffering from poverty and disease. I am reminded that December 1st
was World Aids Day and include a web site with messages from around the world
including the one below from our friend in Damascus,Syria, Eustathius Matt
Roham, Archbishop of the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch.
- Allah chose Adam and Noah, the family of Abraham, and the family of
'Imran above all people.
- Offspring, one of the other, and Allah knows all things.
- Behold! A woman of 'Imran said, "O my Lord, I do dedicate to
You what is in my womb for Your special service. So accept this of me for
You hear and know all things".
- When she was delivered she said, "O my Lord! Behold! I am delivered
of a female child!" And Allah knew best what she brought forth. And nowise
is the male like the female. I have named her Mary, and I commend her and
her offspring to Your protection from the Evil One, the Rejected".
- Right graciously did her Lord accept her. He made her grow in purity and
beauty. She was assigned to the care of Zakariya. Every time he entered (Her)
chamber to see her, he found her supplied with sustenance. He said,"O
Mary! Whence (comes) this to you?" She said, "From Allah, for Allah
provides sustenance to whom He pleases without measure".
Peace to you.
World AIDS day 2006
MY FIRST EXPERIENCE WITH HIV-POSITIVE PEOPLE
In connection with World AIDS Day on December 1st, I would like to share my
experience and thoughts on HIV as many other religious leaders do. We all
make sure that we, who fortunately live in communities so far spared by this
pandemic, are prepared so we can act as good and caring Christians when the
comes when we for the first time meet a person with HIV.
I had an interesting experience in the summer of 1986 when I shook hands with
HIV-positive people at Nassau County Medical Center - East Meadow, New
I was taking a course in clinical pastoral education with Revd. Thomas F.
The course was about ten weeks in length, and one morning Revd. Kennedy informed
us that a nurse was coming to do an hour-long presentation about AIDS. At
of the lecture, the nurse escorted us to the sixth floor of the medical center
and told us
that two rooms on this floor had been designated for people with AIDS.
Before I entered the room, I thought that HIV-positive people would be quarantined,
but when we entered the room, I saw two patients, who seemed to me to be just
any other sick people. The nurse introduced us and said that she had been
of these two patients for five years and had not contracted AIDS. She affirmed
HIV is not transmitted through normal handshaking or breathing.
Revd. Kennedy proceeded to shake the patients' hands and we followed
Initially, I was hesitant, but then I took heart and thought to myself, "If
the fear of
dying is hindering me from shaking hands, then I should choose shaking hands
Our world nowadays is very similar to the world of the past some 2,000 years
Some people still treat HIV-positive people the same way that people with
used to be treated at the time of Christ. A leper used to be shunned and quarantined,
and leprosy itself was explained as God's anger towards people.
Jesus, however, never ignored lepers or other marginalized people. We owe
ourselves to follow Christ's example by standing humanely with HIV-positive
and other marginalized groups in our society. I assure you all that I will
any in our church who is living with HIV. I will welcome that person and sit
share a meal and discuss how Christ came to heal persons in such a difficult
and to bring them salvation through His suffering, death and resurrection.
Eustathius Matta Roham,
Archbishop of Jazirah and Euphrates
Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch