Today in our Maronite Church we here the familiar Gospel passage about the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. Luke’s Gospel tells us the story of the Road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-32) were on the road to Emmaus, two of Jesus’s disciples encounter the Risen Lord along the road. Although they could not recognize him to begin with, after they here the scriptures proclaimed to them and participate in the breaking of the bread – their eyes are opened to finally recognize Jesus. The disciples remarked to each other: “were not out hearts burning when he spoke to us about the scriptures” and when they returned to Jerusalem, they told the story to the other disciples, and how Jesus had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread. This combination of hearing the Word of God from the Scriptures and partaking in the Eucharistic celebrations is the most central way in which Jesus makes himself known to the Church today, the celebration of the Mass. Like the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, Jesus walks with us and makes himself completely known to us through the Mass. However, the question remains, how do we respond after sharing in this beautiful mystery. The disciples on the Emmaus road, immediately got up and went back to Jerusalem to be with the other followers of Christ and lived their lives inspired and guided by the communion and transformation they experienced from hearing the word of God and receiving the Word of God in the Eucharist. For us today, we must make strong efforts to share and live our lives inspired by the love and communion found in the Mass. If we see the Eucharist as a big vitamin pill for our own private spiritual health, or go to Mass locked in our own little world, then we misunderstand it. Receiving the Eucharist is not just a private act of faith but a public sign of Commitment to our relationship with Jesus AND with one another as Christ’s body. Some practical things we can do to live in this spirit: Comfort those in need, pray for the people who we know are in need and also try to care for their physical needs, show our appreciation for the tireless work of our priests and other volunteers who work so selflessly in our parish. In the Mass, we are called to receive love to then share that love with everyone we encounter.
A big thank you to our Fersan leaders and all who helped and attended the Fersan Fete last Sunday, the day was a success. We also held a Retreat day for all the leaders of our parish, we pray God’s continual blessing on all those who selflessly serve. This week our Pastoral Council met on Wednesday night to discuss and plan many upcoming events including the visit of His Eminence Leonardo Cardinal Sandri – Prefect of the Congregation for Oriental Churches. The 11am Mass on the 7th of May will be celebrated by Bishop Antoine Charbel Tarabay and presided by Cardinal Sandri to mark this important visit. On the 13th of May there will be a procession from our Parish to St Patrick’s Cathedral in Parramatta to mark the 100 year anniversary of the Fatima Apparitions. The morning will begin at 9am with prayers here at Our Lady and conclude with Mass at St Patrick’s. Finally, our Annual Parish Gala Fund Raiser Dinner will take place on the 26th of May at the Clarence House in Belmore. To book please contact the Parish office. Wishing you a blessed week inspired by the love of God, given to us in his Word and in the Most Holy Eucharist.
Dearest Brothers and Sisters,
The Resurrection of our Lord is the pillar on which our faith is built. If it wasn’t for the Resurrection, then our faith would be futile. Saint Paul teaches us “if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation has been in vain and your faith has been in vain”
(1 Cor 15:14). The Resurrection is the most important event in the history of humanity. However, it is an event that challenges us personally because it is beyond our human understanding. Jesus dislikes those who look for signs and miracles to believe and this week he puts Thomas (and us) to the test. The gift of our faith is a gift of love and trust. Although we have not seen with our eyes, this gift of love and trust drives us to believe and to be witnesses to the truth of the Resurrection of Jesus. Our challenge daily is to profess this truth with love and trust!
On behalf of the clergy, staff, committees and all our parishioners, I would like to offer my condolences to Father Raphael Abboud whose brother entered into eternal life last week unexpectedly. His Excellency, Bishop Antoine-Charbel Tarabay celebrated the Divine Liturgy for the rest of his soul on Thursday evening. It was wonderful to see so many of you standing by Father Raphael in his time of human loss. On behalf of Father Raphael, I thank you all for your support.
On Thursday, the Seniors committee had their Easter Mass and lunch. It was heart-warming to see so many of our seniors attend and enjoy the day. A very big thank you is extended to Father Bernard, Sister Guitta and the Seniors Committee for their hard work and dedication in caring for our seniors.
The Divine Mercy Novena began on Great Friday and will conclude with prayers, confession and a Mass today beginning at 3pm. Thank you to Subdeacon Robert Albayeh and the Divine Mercy team for organising the prayers and celebrations. Speaking of Divine Mercy, I would like to welcome back Father Paul Joubeir who has been in Brazil with his family for the last few weeks.
On a final note, I would like to encourage you all to participate in our upcoming events and celebrations. These include; the Month of May home visits: there are still a few nights left if anyone is interested. On 7 May, the Cathedral will be hosting the visit of Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches in the Vatican with a Mass at 11am. Our Mother’s Day Mass and luncheon will be held on Tuesday 9 May at 10.30am (tickets are now available). On 14 May, there will be a procession from our Cathedral to Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in Parramatta with the Our Lady of Fatima statue. Our Annual Gala Dinner will take place on the 26 May at the Clarence House in Belmore to raise funds to replace the statute at the top of the church and carry out much needed repairs to the grotto and shelter. Let’s all work together as the active members of the Body of Christ so that through all these events and celebrations we can truly glorify God and serve his people.
Dearest Brothers and Sisters,
It is with an earnest cry that we greet each other this year in the wake of the tragedy that has taken place in Egypt. Yet again we find ourselves in the midst of despair, anger and loss at a time when we should be celebrating with joy because of the victory that was achieved on our behalf through the Resurrection of The King. Suicide bombers attacked two Coptic Churches in northern Egypt on Hosanna Sunday killing forty-four people. Forty-four new martyrs have been added to the scrolls at the gates of heaven because they bore supreme witness to the Resurrection of The King, their faith being their only crime in the eyes of their perpetrators. Year after year, these scrolls are being populated with the names of people who are loved, people who love and people who put the witness of their faith into action. Although they did not choose their destiny, they lived their faith to the ultimate degree of sacrifice; in the footsteps of The King, the Supreme Martyr.
Pope Francis teaches us that: “a Church without martyrs is a church without Jesus.” In this Jubilee Year of Martyrdom and Martyrs in our Maronite Church, we celebrate the witness of the martyrs to their faith. Not only do we celebrate the many martyrs in the history of the Maronite Church, but we also celebrate the martyrs who everyday give up their lives. Further we celebrate the white martyrs who suffer persecution and torture today and every day. As difficult as this may be, yes, we celebrate them because they have earned the eternal reward of the heavenly kingdom. Each drop of blood is a sign of victory because it is a drop of love and forgiveness which cries out with the Lord: “forgive them Father, for they know not what they are doing.” Each drop of blood is a shout to the mothers and fathers to stop weeping because “He is Risen, He is truly Risen.” Each drop of blood is a call to the nations to take action against injustice. Each drop of blood is a reminder to us of the ultimate and supreme sacrifice that we must be ready to make so that we can truly be witnesses to the Resurrection of The King. Are we ready to make this sacrifice?
We are a people of faith, hope and love and we are witnesses to the Resurrection through the work that we do here in our parish. Over the last few weeks of Lent and during Passion Week, I cannot but testify to the great faith of our parishioners. The church and church grounds have overflown with the many faithful that have taken part in all our celebrations. The wonderful work of our parishioners in making everyone who comes to Our Lady of Lebanon Co-Cathedral feel welcomed into their home is something that I am very proud to proclaim aloud. Day after day, you have worked tirelessly to serve and to help others come closer to the Risen Lord. Through your actions, you have helped them on their journey to the Resurrection. Every member of the clergy, every staff member, every committee member and every volunteer has contributed so much to the mission of our parish. I thank you all for your contributions no matter how big or how small. Through your actions, my brothers and sisters, you are circulating the unending drops of blood of the martyrs through the Body of our Lord Jesus Christ. Your witness is a clear message to those who are trying to eliminate us!
Christ is Risen…He is truly Risen, and we are witnesses to this!