Fri

27

Dec

2013

The Herods of Syria

A meditation for the feast of The Holy Innocents 28th December

by

Fr Georges Massouh

 

Fr Georges Massouh is an Antiochian Orthodox priest and the director of the Christian Muslim Studies Center at Balamand University, Lebanon.

Artical courtasy of Notes on Arab Orthodoxy

 

The event of Christ's birth is tied to the tragic event of the killing of "fourteen thousand children" at the orders of Herod, the king of Judea. Herod could not bear for someone to be born who would threaten his authority and speak the truth in his presence. He committed the massacre of thousands of children in order to insure the continuation of his rule and his power over people.

The child-killer Herod is still alive and well. He has not died. From the dawn of history until today, how many Herods have ruled, tyrannized, been exalted, then feel and slept under the ground?

Even so, he has not died. He has worn various garbs and and put on various clothes. He has spoken all the languages of the world. He has taken the colors of every race and nation. He is white, black, yellow and red. He might be a man at one time and a woman at another time.

He takes different forms from one generation to another and he has no lack of grooming in this age. In all situations there are those who laud and applaud him and grant him obedience and loyalty, pledging him to be the ruler of themselves and their tribe.

Herod might be wrapped in the garb of secularism, socialism, nationalism or any other ideology... He might put on the mantle of religious leaders and hide behind religious or sectarian slogans. But he remains the Herod who does not see his glory remain and grow as quickly as the number of victims piled up in mass graves.

"Herod, who seeks the young child's life, is dead." With these words, the angel brought the good news to Joseph, the betrothed of Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ. The angel brings good tidings of the dead of King Herod who ordered the destruction of all the children of Bethlehem under the age of two so that Christ might perish among those babies. The angel appears to Joseph in a dream and asks him to return with the baby Jesus from the land of Egypt to the land of Palestine, after the one who was seeking to kill Him died. The death is wonderful news brought by the angel, the angel of good tidings, to Joseph.

Yes, news of Herod's death was joyous news that brought good tidings to many, among them Joseph and Mary. We are not sinning if we rejoice and and glad with them. Death is true, as people say. There must come the day when a person dies and goes from this world to the next. But Herod's death did not prevent Christ's crucifixion and killing. Herod is not a closed-off and isolated individual. One Herod grows and sprouts another Herod, and on and on until time ends and God inherits the earth and everything upon it.

In Syria today there is not one Herod, but rather many Herods who consider it permissible to commit massacres, killings, beheadings and forced expulsions. All the Herods of the world have come together against Syria, like hungry vultures circling over corpses. The Herods are Syrian, Arab and foreign. Or, you could say the Draculas of this age, satisfied only by more Syrian blood.

When will those who seek to kill the child die? This is not merely a question. It is an ardent prayer that we raise up on the feast of the Nativity of Christ, the King of Peace. When will they die? A question as a prayer from the heart bearing hope, as we are the children of hope, that there will be an end to the shedding of the blood of innocents. Your Nativity, O Christ, fills us with gladness, joy and delight. But it is also our right to be glad, rejoice and delight when when we hear that one of the Herods has died, and how much more so if it were all of them!

Remembering the victims of the Sadad atrocity

Two teenagers and their grandmother, who were killed in Sadad, Syria, and thrown down a well along with other members of their family. October 2013
Two teenagers and their grandmother, who were killed in Sadad, Syria, and thrown down a well along with other members of their family. October 2013

Read more about the massacre in late October at the Christian town of Sadad in Syria where an attack by elements of the “Free” Syrian Army  and al-Qaeda left 45 dead. Thousands fled for their lives amid widespread looting and destruction of homes, businesses and churches. Read more here.


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As-Salaam-Alaikum

Petition to Journalists asking for responsible and accountable reporting on Syria. Please sign

H.E. The Sunni Grand Mufti of Syria, Sheikh Ahmad Badreddin Hassoun - I am the Mufti of all Syrians – Sunni Muslims, Christians, Alawites, Druze – of all the diversity of sects we had before the war. There is no choice other than reconciliation."

H.B. John X Yazigi, Antiochian Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch -

The Antiochian Orthodox Patriarch in Syria, John Yazigi, says Syrian Christians "will not submit and yield" to foreign-backed extremist militants who attack "our people and holy places."

H.E. Sheikh Mohammed Rashid Qabbani, Sunni Grand Mufti of Lebanon - “Christians’ fears nowadays over their presence and their dignity in the Middle East are right and justified”

H.B Cardinal Bechara Rai, Maronite Catholic Patriarch of Antioch - The West and other countries are helping to foment conflict in the Middle East "there is a plan to destroy the Arab world for political and economic interests"

H.E Sheikh Abdul Amir Qabalan, Deputy President of the Higher Shiite Council Lebanon - Called on the U.S to “work on giving people their freedom in Syria by refraining from supporting radical Islamists and criminals who are killing innocent people and violating their freedoms.

 H.B. Gregorios III Laham, Melkite greek-Catholic Patriarch of Antioch - "Every day Islamic extremists from all over the world are pouring into Syria with the sole intent to kill and not one country has done anything to stop them."

H.H. Mor Ignatios Zakka I Iwas, Patriarch of the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch (R.I.P.) - "Syrians are the only ones who will decide their destiny, and that decision will be taken in Damascus, not in a European country."

H.H. Mor Ignatius Ephrem II Syriac Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch -  “Christians and Muslims alike are exposed to a terrorist war in the region”.... the Patriarch denounced the silence of the world regarding crimes committed by armed terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq.

H.B. Youssef III Younan,  Syriac Catholic Patriarchs of Antioch - "We Syrian Christians, sold by the West for oil” - "Christians in the Middle East have not only been abandoned, but we have been lied to and betrayed by Western nations, like the United States and the European Union."

H.B. Fouad Twal, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, “Who appointed them [United States] as ‘policemen of democracy’ in the Middle East? ”

H.E. Maroun Laham, Latin Patriarchal Vicar for Jordan  - “This interest, on the part of the United States or of Europe, for human rights or for the defence of the weak, no one believes. No one believes it!,”

H.E. Jacques Behnan Hindo,  Syriac Catholic Archbishop ofHassaké-Nisibi (northeastern Syria) - Regarding the U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, and the French Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabuis “Please excuse my expression. They are screwing all Syrians

H.E. Theodosius Hanna, Greek Orthodox Archbishop of Sebastia (Nablus, Palestine) - "Will the displacement of Christians from Syria, their killing and slaughter and the destruction of their churches lead to an alleged democracy?"

Rev. Georges Massouh Antiochian Orthodox priest and director of the Christian Muslim Studies Center at Balamand University, Lebanon. "It goes without saying that Christians in Syria do not consider themselves greater or more important that their Muslim partners in the one nation. They find themselves in solidarity with all the people of Syria, in the calamities that they share and the strikes that fall upon all their heads."