Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch and All East
OCP News Service – 20/2/14
Syria: The speech of His Eminence Metropolitan Mor Eustathius Matta Roham – Archbishop of Jazirah and Euphrates, on the occasion of the passing of Metropolitan Mor Dionysius Bahnam Jajawi, of three-fold mercies, into the heavenly dwelling places.
The speech was delivered at the funeral ceremony, which was conducted at St. Mary’s Church in Qamishly, Syria, on 19th February 2014.
‘My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better,’ Letter to the Philippians 1:23.
How lucky you are, my beloved brother and dear friend, Your Grace the venerable Archbishop Mor Dionysius Behnam Jijawi, to leave this passing world and pass into the vicinity of your Lord where the tongue of your soul cries out with the apostle to the gentiles, St Paul, saying, ‘My desire to is depart and be with Christ, for that is far better’ (Philippians 1:23).
These are beautiful words, spoken by St Paul after his great apostolic endeavours, comforting all those who are struggling in the course of life, and proclaiming to them that the best place for living is life with Christ, the living Word of God. Today, Your Grace, you left us to enter your rest with Christ, in gardens of paradise, after all that came your way in life, both the sweet and the bitter. How happy you are to be with Christ, judge of all creation, to Him be all praise.
The life of the eminent departed man was not all sweet, and especially in the beginning of his venerable service. However, despite the most despicable evils, the eminent departed man was patient in the face of oppression and treachery, and his service saw him move between numerous cities of the region, until in 1999 when he chose the final station for his retirement, and by this I refer the St Mary’s Monastery, In Tel Wardiat. I, personally, had no hesitation in accepting his request to reside at the holy monastery, because I saw it as a spiritual obligation that the Archbishop should enjoy a pleasant life in the Syrian Orthodox Church, to which he devoted himself in service.
Thus it was the will of God that the eminent departed man should spend the most beautiful days of his life in the beloved Archdiocese of Jazirah and Euphrates. We, the priests, the councils, institutes and people, took care of his rest and happiness for fifteen years, and whenever we looked to his advanced age, the command of the Lord was always in our minds, when He says, ‘Honour your father your mother’ (Exodus, 12:20). Rather, through his piety, his fasts and his prayers we would call to mind what St Paul said about the holy ones of God, whose pure way of life is an example to all believers, when he says, ‘Remember your leaders, those who spoke the word of God to you; consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith’ (Hebrews 13:7).
The years of my personal relationship with his Grace were marked by affection and respect. As for our spiritual, ecclesiastical relationship, you used to aim for distinction in adding to the number of faithful servants in the Church, encouraging the next generation to preserve their holy Syriac language, and our spiritual and secular heritage. Indeed, all the cities of the Archdiocese, and especially the city of Qamishly have been the fertile ground for the revival of our culture and heritage, and our Syriac identity. Therefore Qamishly was blessed with the special attention of the paternal heart of the dear departed man, and so he decided to donate all he had to build a Syrian Orthodox secondary school, in order to encourage the people of the city to pass on to their children the language, culture and knowledge of their parents and grandparents in our ancient land. However, in spite of his extremely generous gift to the city of Qamishly, he was not sparing in his generosity to the other churches of the Archdiocese in his spiritual guidance, and ecclesiastical service.
Your Grace, my lord, you, in front of whose holy remains all stand with reverence, you departed from us whilst I was personally absent from you in body, but in truth I never left you in spirit, mind or thought, ever. How happy I am now, for your sake, that God has granted you your desire to lie in the Church of St Mary in Qamishly, near to deacons’ choir, to allow your pure spirit to listen to the prayers and delight in the praises which are lifted up to God morning and evening. We shared life together for fifteen years, and at every stop along the way you left for us fragrant memories. Indeed the days of the life you spent with us were the most radiant days of your life, in power, glory and generosity. Thank you that you shared with the most beautiful moments of life with us, and thanks to all who helped us in bringing happiness to your good heart, and tirelessly took care of your comfort, your health, and your service. You lived nobly amongst us, and today you have passed nobly to meet your noble Lord, to see His shining white face, and after having received double the talents in your hands, you have heard the great voice of God saying
‘You have been trustworthy with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master’ (Matthew 25:21).
Sleep soundly, o eminent departed man of three-fold mercies, Mor Dionysius Behnam Jijawi, and be glad and sing with the apostle Paul his refrain with pride, ‘I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. From now on there is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have longed for his appearing.’ (2 Timothy 4:6-7). May God have mercy upon you, and make you dwell in the gardens of paradise in the company of innocent and holy, and pour onto our hearts distressed at the loss the balsam of patience and condolence.
Remember us, departed saint, in your prayers when you are in front of the throne of God, so that He would loose peace in our dear country Syria, and reconcile the people, and bring back safety and stability to all corners of the nation. May the Lord answer your prayers, and those of the faithful for true peace which brings comfort to all hearts and souls. God have mercy upon you, and make your holy way of life a lamp to guide the faithful.
OCP News Service