Reflections delivered by Mgr Prof Hector Scerri, Ecclesiastical Assistant to ACN Malta, during the talk by Marc Fromager: “Christianity in the Middle East -can it survive?”
Thank you Marc Fromager for offering us a spectrum of reflections, ideas, an analysis, the inter-play of many forces in different parts of the world especially in the Middle East. You have explained the various geo-political forces at hand, geo-economic, geo-social forces, and at least you have helped me and, I think most of us, to understand a bit, some of the things we hear in the news, and the news we hear don’t tell us everything, you have tried to explain and by analysing what goes on behind the scenes: economic interests, political interests and so on. As they say, “facts are stranger than fiction”, and infect what you have shared with us proofs this. Well… my role this evening is different from yours, dear Marc, my role in ACN (Malta) is that of Ecclesiastical Assistant and I’ve been doing this for the last 1 ½ years and so my brief reflection will be a spiritual reflection… In the light of what we have heard about the small minorities of Christians in the Middle East, what we have heard about the testimony of Faith of our brothers and sisters in Iraq, Syria and other countries, what we’ve heard about the spread of Christian culture in India and Christian values, as well as what you have said a few minutes ago about the not insignificant number of Muslims attracted to Christianity in the light of these things which struck me a lot, my brief reflection will be focused, my spiritual reflection will be focused on the words of Jesus Christ when he talks about the little flock.
The little flock
One day Jesus Christ, while he was journeying toward Jerusalem, it was an uphill journey, not only physically, but even from a spiritual point of view, he was facing his passion there… so on the uphill journey towards Jerusalem, he once said “Fear not little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom.”, you find this text in Luke Chapter 12 v 32, “Fear not little flock…” and in the light of what we have heard, it’s out duty to be spiritually close to those little flocks who against all odds are doing their best to preserve the Faith, to remain faithful to Christ and it’s our duty as Christians, in a relatively comfortable situation, in our Country, relatively comfortable, to pray for these little flocks of Christians. A little flock may feel threatened, a little flock is vulnerable, but with the grace of God and fully confident in the words of Jesus Christ, these little flocks will not be vanquished because Christ is at their side.
The salt of the earth
My second brief point is also take from Jesus’ words, when Jesus tells his disciples and the crowds, “You are the salt of the earth”, that’s in Matthew 5, v13, “salt”. So the members of these little flocks, these Christians, as all Christians after all, but they in a special way, are called to be “salt”. A few weeks ago, Pope Francis during his daily meditation at the chapel in St Marta, during the morning Mass there, reflected on this particular text, and he said “Well, salt is not sold in tons in supermarkets”, the exact words in Italian he said, cause I was present there so I can remember these words very, very vividly, he said “Il sale non e venduto a tonnellate, ma in piccholi saccetti di plastica.”So you don’t need a lot of salt, salt carries out its role, its chemical role, but reflecting on Jesus’ words, salt which has to disappear, which dissolves, but which affects the rest, and I remember Pope Francis, on that particular morning on the 12th of June, saying “Well, no one praises the salt when we are invited to lunch, we don’t say ‘how good the salt is’, we say how good the meat is, how good the fish is, and so on…”. And Pope Francis reflection was on the Christians role to be effective without being noisy. It is true that we are called to proclaim the Good News and to bear witness, that is very true and very important, but reflecting on these little flocks of Christians, they too in a special way are living these words of Jesus.
Does this sound paradoxical?
And my final reflection in the light with what I have shared with you is that all this may sound paradoxical, a little flock, why not a big flock? A powerful flock, a militant Church, a triumphant Church, why not? Why salt which has to disappear? Why? And this may sound paradoxical. And this reminds me of a Pastoral letter which when Archbishop Cremona together with Bishop Grech, written some 6 years ago, contrasting divine logic and human logic. Which logic are we trying to embrace as Christians? Is it simply human logic and full stop? Or are we trying to embrace divine logic? What is divine logic? Christ’s who emptied himself, he who is called emptying himself, self-abasement, to save us. And we, his followers, Christians, are we embracing the divine logic?
And so what I would like to conclude with are these few words, to remind you, these key words, “Little flock” , the little flocks which we are to support in these countries, ‘salt of the earth’, and divine logic. Yes, suffering Christians all over the world certainly contribute to the holiness of the Church, yes the Church become more holy not only because of great and wonderful ceremonies or wonderful documents written by Popes or bishops, but the Church becomes holy through the silent suffering of Christians all over the world, and this is indeed my friends, divine logic.
CORINTHIA Palace Hotel, Attard
Monday 2nd July 2018