Sir Marwan Sehnaoui.
National president of the Order of Malta in Lebanon.
The knights and dames of magistral grace.
Brothers and sisters in Christ.
There was an explosion in Lebanon. It destroyed Beirut. It destroyed the port and the blast was felt as far as Cyprus. We did not hear the blast.But our dear brothers and sisters in Lebanon.We hear your cry.We hear your cry asking the Lord for help. We hear your cry asking humanity to help.We hear your cry of anguish asking the Lord, “why?” Your cry is a cry for meaning. Because, like us, we cannot understand why God allows sufferings to enter the lives of people who call upon his name.We cannot understand why bad things happen to good people. We cannot understand why God who says he is all loving, he is all-compassionate, he is all-merciful does not intervene, does not lift a finger when in fact, he knows that suffering will fall upon his people. The question of suffering being allowed by God is perhaps the most difficult question that humanity has ever faced and humanity continues to struggle with the question because we do not understand why God of love, God who loves us allows us to suffer. We know of the incident at the sea when the apostles saw the Lord sleeping while there was a storm at the sea. And the apostles cried to the Lord and said “Lord, are you not even troubled that we are perishing? Lord we are perishing will you continue to sleep? Lord we do not know what to do. We are your disciples. We are your friends. Are you going to allow us to perish in this Storm?”
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, from the Philippines to Lebanon, we can say we are not in the same boat. But we are facing the same storm and we worship the same Lord. And to the Lord we say, “Lord are you not concerned that we are perishing?” Like Lebanon our economy in the Philippines is in shambles and 45% of our people are jobless because of covid-19.Lebanon has a high degree of joblessness also. There is covid-19. There is political unrest in Lebanon. There is also political instability in this country. There is covid not only in Lebanon, not only in the Philippines but worldwide. We are from different boats. We are riding in different boats, but we are facing the same storm and to the Lord we say “Lord are you not going to do something to alleviate this pain?”
The answer my dear brothers and sisters is, Christ did not come from heaven to earth in order to remove our pain, in order to stop all storms, in order to cure all sickness. No. The Lord did not do that. The Lord came to share our helplessness. The Lord came to share our grief. The Lord came to share our sadness, to share our insecurity, to share our hunger, to share our victimhood to terrorism, to bad politics. The Lord came to shareour storms, to be with us as the storms torment us. Why? If he really loves us and he is all-powerful. Why did he not stop the blast in Lebanon? The Lord knew that the port that will explode, that will be affected by this explosion will affect the lives of people because it is where most of the food for Lebanon arrives from other countries.
My dear brothers and sisters in Lebanon. To you I say, the Lord is with us, the Lord shares your pain and we in the Philippines share your grief and your sadness. Suffering is a mystery. We do not know why an all-powerful all-loving God allows it. Suffering like forgiveness. Suffering like faith is mysterious because suffering has no logic. Faith has no logic. Forgiveness has no logic.
Mystery has no logic. Your suffering is a mystery. But keep in mind that the love of God is as mysterious as our suffering. But the love of God is stronger than all human sufferings. Sufferings can be alleviated by humanitarian action.
And we in the Philippines and in many other parts of the world are with you brothers and sisters in Lebanon to send humanitarian help because your hunger is our hunger, your tears are our tears, your anxieties are our anxieties, your fears are our fears, we are with you. But then mercy is not just giving food to the hungry. Mercy is not just giving drink to the thirsty. Mercy is not just giving a roof to the homeless. Mercy is not just helping and consoling those in need.
Heart of Mercy my dear brothers and sisters is correcting those in error. Because to be blin to those who are in error is not an act of mercy. In other words, as we send you our humanitarian help, in other words, as we send you our prayers for mercy and compassion from the Lord and from the whole of humanity, we also want to appeal to the leaders in Lebanon, to the leaders in the Philippines, to the leaders all over the world that common good must prevail over individualism. Common good must prevail over capitalism and democracy must be at the service of the common good.
In the Philippines, in America, in Europe, in Lebanon the church stands not just to extend humanitarian help. The church stands as an act of mercy correcting error because to correct those in error is a great act of mercy that this world needs. Because seeing error and seeing individualism, seeing materialism seeing secularism being allowed to have it’s fine day, to have it’s fine hour and not do anything about it. Is not an act of mercy. It is tolerance of evil and a stand up against evil. It is an act of mercy to correct those who are wrong.
This explosion in Lebanon. This crisis in Lebanon is a mystery that only in heaven we can understand. This crisis in Lebanon is an invitation for mercy. Not just of charity. It is an invitation for mercy to correct unjust social structures that contribute to bad economy , that contribute to social political unrest, that contribute to the proliferation of hunger of thirst of injustice of oppression all over the world. It is an act of mercy to feed the hungry. It is also an act of mercy to correct those in error. This situation in Lebanon, finally my dear brothers and sisters invites us to mission.
The family of nations are asking Lebanon to return ethics to its governance. Ethics that is centered on people. Ethics that is centered on people who are poor. Not on the rich, not on the powerful but on the poor. It is people-centered ethics. That is our mission. Because, although the Lord is at the center of the universe, in the heart of the Lord is people. At the center of the whole universe is not the sun but the Lord. But at the center of the heart of the Lord is people and therefore all ethics, all morality should be grounded on the Lord should be centered on the improvement of the lives of people.
My dear brothers and sisters. This is our mission Lebanon right now might be suffering but the whole world right now is suffering because of an ethical leadership. The whole world right now is suffering because we have forgotten morality.
We boast that we are a government of laws. And the laws metaphorically like a tree are the roots. The roots nourish the tree and the trunk of the tree are the people and then the leaves and the fruits of the tree are the developmental programs the liberation of programs. But my dear brothers and sisters, if we are a nation of laws, if our world should be a world of laws, where should the laws be?
The law should be on the soil. Because if the roots are floating in the air, the tree will starve and dry up. The roots should be planted in the soil and the soil on which the roots should be planted is ethics. Ethical laws, moral laws give life to the tree, which is the people and bear sweet fruits of development and progress for the people. When the roots are disconnected from ethics, when the roots are disconnected from the nourishing soil of ethics, the country will die and the world will whither. These my dear brothers and sisters is our mission.
Our sufferings here in the Philippines and your sufferings in Lebanon bring us together.
We are facing the same storms although riding in different boats. It is a mystery too much to understand. It is an invitation for mercy not just for humanitarian charity, but also for correcting errors. It is our mission to make sure that from here on we’ll learn from our mistakes and always remember that ethics must prevail morality must prevail and laws, countries, governmental systems, political systems, not grounded on ethics will whither and die and the people die too.
Let this suffering which is mysterious increase our faith.
Let this suffering which is so deep lead us to mercy.
Let this suffering which is so deep make us accept our mission to change the world and to restore all things in Christ.
My dear brothers and sisters in Lebanon. We are with you in faith. We are with you in love.
We are with you in dreaming for a better world. And we know that our dreams will come true because the Lord will never abandon the people who call upon His holy name.