Volume 4 No.1 January-June 2000
"A Role In The Plan Of Salvation"
Reflecting on the mystery behind the continued existence of my people - the Maronites - occupied quite a bit of my contemplative time before, during and after the beginning of the Third Millennium.
What is behind this mystery? How could such an insignificant group in the eyes of the world survive all the persecution, oppression, self-destruction, neglect, nonchalance and victimization? What is the reason behind their survival in such a violent and non-tolerant environment?
Understanding their survival in the social, political and economic context is unfathomable. However, comprehending their endurance as part of the Divine Plan is more likely to give us a clue to this mystery, for neither their number, nor their poverty or geographical area, or even their alliances throughout history could have helped them withstand the threats and challenges of time.
Many people, including His Holiness Pope John Paul II, believe that God had designed a role for these people in the Plan of Salvation. Many have contemplated this mission. Some have said that the mission is to bear witness to Christ's love for humanity and be a good example in order to reconcile the Jews to Christ the Messiah. Others have said that it is to bear witness to Christ's love for humanity and set a good example in order to bring the Muslims back to Christ's flock. Yet some think that the role of the Maronites is simply to act as a beacon for conviviality among different groups, or to make Lebanon an exemplary land of peace for diversity and plurality, while others believe that it is to ensure that Lebanon will remain a land where people of different ethnic and religious backgrounds have basic human rights and freedoms.
The common denominator in all these beliefs is that the Maronites are called upon to live as true Christians, to live the teachings of Christ, and to accept martyrdom, suffering and trials for the love of Him. They are called upon to be charitable even to those who have betrayed them, prayerful even to those who persecute them, forgiving even to those who have killed them. in other words, they must emulate Christ's love for humanity in all its aspects.
This is quite a demanding mission to understand and bear. For 1600 years, God has had a role for the Maronites in His Plan of Salvation. It seems that He continues to entrust the Maronites with this role through Third Millennium. However, what the Maronites tend to forget is that their survival and persistence is contingent upon their fulfillment of this role. Every time the Maronites forget God and their role, their existential essence becomes threatened.
God remains faithful to the Maronites, but will the Maronites remain faithful to God in this millennium? Will they collectively recognize their divine mission? Will they believe that they who are insignificant in the eyes of this world are significant in God's eyes? Will they believe that this mission is entrusted to each one of them wherever he or she may be? Will they believe that regardless of all their sins and inadequacies, God still trusts them to share in His Plan for humanity?
We pray that they will.
Guita G. Hourani