and grow like a cedar of Lebanon
الصديق كالنخل يزهر، ومثل أرز لبنان ينمي
Brothers and Sisters,
The question “do you love me?” is probably the most asked question of all time. Even if we don’t ask this question verbally, I’m sure that most of us think about it all the time. In this week’s Gospel, we find Jesus asking Peter this very question not once, but three times. Although it seems that Peter gets very frustrated with Jesus for repeating the same question three times, it is a wonderful expression of Jesus’ linguistic mastery. In commissioning Peter to be the head of his Church, Jesus uses the oratory art of repetition to emphasise the importance of what he is asking Peter. What makes the question more powerful is the addition of “more than these.” Jesus is giving us a formula if you like of his expectation of us. Through Peter, he is asking us if we love him more than everything else in our lives; ourselves, spouses, parents, children, friends, relatives, careers, possessions, our pride, etc. If our answer is yes, then we too are also commissioned to “tend” and “feed” his flock.
This reminds me of a famous colloquial Lebanese expression which we often say to our loved ones, “Toukbourni.” Literally, it means “bury me”, however the expression rather means “I love you to death.” We use this term often, however do we really understand its value or know what it truly means? To love someone to death is to love in the same way that our Lord loves us, because he loved us so much that he physically died for us. Are we prepared to do the same for those that we love? To love someone involves wanting to be with them night and day. It means that you just can’t get enough of them. You think and talk about them constantly. Your whole world revolves around them. You will do anything for them even if it means compromising yourself. You don’t want to displease or disappoint them. You are moved to tears when you think about them and especially when you feel that they have hurt you. To love someone means that you would put your own feelings, your own pride, your own word and even your own dignity to the side. To love someone means that you would die to yourself for them.
Therefore, in order to love Jesus “more than these” we must first learn to love those that are around us “more than these.” In Amoris Laetitia, the Pope introduces a new way of doing this. It is an attitude of accompaniment and discernment. I will be speaking more about this in this corner in the coming weeks.
On a parish note, we had a very busy week last week with the Teens camp, Fersen Fete and English Faith Formation talk on Pornography. Thank you to all our wonderful committees who work extremely hard to ensure that our parish continues to be a hub of faith and love which always responds to our Lord’s call to follow him and only him. \
Brothers and Sisters,
We continue to encounter Jesus through his post-resurrection appearances and this week we encounter him with the two disciples on their way to Emmaus. One of the most beautiful Gospel accounts, the Emmaus story calls us to really examine our relationship with Jesus. We need to ask ourselves: “do we know Jesus?” This question reminds me of a very famous Lebanese saying: “Do you know him…he said yes! But have you had a relationship with him…he said no!” Therefore if one has not had a relationship with the other, then how can they truly know them? This is the same with Jesus.
In this week’s Gospel, Saint Luke allows us to discover Jesus with the two disciples. They did not know who he was to begin with, yet, the more they got to know him, the more they wanted him to stay with them. In spite of their confusion and fear, Jesus’ presence brought them peace and security. The real Epiphany however did not take place until the end when they discovered him in the Eucharist. When we spend time with Jesus, this also brings us peace and security. Many times in our lives we lose hope and feel helpless because of the crosses that we carry. However time with Jesus brings into our lives the light of his Resurrection which dispels the sorrow, pain and guilt and removes the darkness. We have the opportunity to discover Jesus every day through our daily Masses and through Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament each Thursday night at 8.00pm.
Now that the peak of the Season of the Resurrection has gone, I have had a little time to resume my spiritual reading on Mercy and the Saints. This week I’ve discovered Saint John Bosco or Don Bosco as he is commonly known. Don Bosco was a pioneer in establishing education structures that were based on preventive systems in Italy. He had the gift of combining the severity of reprimand and discipline with the sweetness of a smile. Here again the two notions of justice and mercy go hand in hand exemplifying the just and merciful God. Don Bosco lived and died by an oath that he made to his students: “I promised God that until my last breath I will have lived for my poor young people. I study for you. I work for you. I am also ready to give my life for you. Take note that whatever I am; I have been so entirely for you, day and night, morning and evening, at every moment.” Doesn’t this remind us of Jesus and the two disciples on the trip to Emmaus? It is as if Jesus is speaking to us through this oath as he does through all the Saints. Let us all make some time in our busy lives to discover Jesus! It is only then will we discover the peace and security that we are yearning for.