“Emmauel, The Light the darkness could not overcome!” is the Parish theme chosen for the Season of the Glorious Birth of our Lord. Meditating and reflecting upon this theme and the Sunday Gospels throughout the Season, we will realise that this theme is perfectly chosen and truly befitting.
On the first Sunday, an aged and barren couple, whom in the eyes of the community were seen as sinners because they could not have children, are told that they will have a son. The darkness would not overcome their light. On the second Sunday, the Light is made flesh through the “yes” of a Virgin. Light and hope is being through the cooperation of Mary with the Will of the Father. Mary’s visit to Elizabeth is the third Sunday in the Season of the Glorious Birth. Mary, carrying the Light of the World in her womb goes to visit and serve her cousin. The birth of John the Baptist of the fourth Sunday is proof that God is merciful to those who seek it, this mercy is Light for all those who are in darkness. On the fifth Sunday, we see Righteous Joseph caught in a bit of a dilemma. He experiences some darkness about what to do with his pregnant fiancé. The angel appears and sheds Light on his problem. Genealogy Sunday is the final Sunday before the Birth of Christ. A quick glance at Christs’ ancestors reveals both Saints and Sinners. Regardless of family history or how dark some of the relatives may be, light overcomes it.
All the above Gospels lead us to the birth of Emmanuel. The birth of Christ is the birth of Light. It is the birth of a new hope and the birth of the salvation of the world. It is the birth of a Saviour whose life was to show the love of the Father to all humankind. It is the Birth of Emmanuel; the Light the darkness could not overcome.
My dearest Parishioners, in our world darkened by pleasures of the flesh, we are in desperate need of the Light. As baptised children of God, it is our duty and responsibility to help spread this Light throughout the world. We are called to be witnesses to the Light of the World and to ensure that the darkness does not overcome it.
I would like to thank the men and women who helped light up our Church grounds with Christmas lights and to those who put together the Christmas tree and Nativity Scene in the CPYC and in the Church. This week, the Seniors’ Committee celebrated a Christmas Mass and Christmas party for our senior citizens. On Thursday night, the Sodality celebrated the Feast of the Immaculate Conception with renewal of vows followed by a Cocktail. The Come Alive Road Trip to St Mary’s Cathedral for the opening of the Christmas lights display was also a great success. Thanks to those who organised this event. Our Fersen children also celebrated Christmas as a family with their annual Christmas party. Brothers and sisters, our Maronite Christmas Novena begins on the Thursday 15th December, please check our Facebook for more information. Finally, our annual Carols by Candlelight will be held on the 16th December. Father Tony Sarkis
Dearest Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
This week we arrive at a very important station in our preparations for the Birth of our Lord. John whom we know as the forerunner to Jesus is born. In this passage we find the joy that the new born brings to the old and frail couple Zechariah and Elizabeth and we also see the calamity that society brings with it to override this joy. Zechariah and Elizabeth who had come to understand the will of God in their life, however their neighbours and relatives were still infused with the social precepts and laws. Elizabeth wanted to name her son John, which means God is compassionate, yet everyone around her thought that she was crazy because she was going against the norms of her society which dictated that he should be named Zechariah, after his father.
Of course Zechariah who after many months of silence and full of the knowledge of God’s will for his family took action and in his muteness, spoke and broke all the barriers that society was choking him with. Although a priest and a man of great faith, society had been choking him with its expectations. Through his silence, he came to realise that following social norms was not so important. What was important was activating the will of God in his life. This activation of God’s will empowered him to speak up and break his silence.
The question for us today is very important. Are we activating the will of God in our life or are we enslaving ourselves to the social norms that our society demands of us? There is a constant pull in two opposing directions. Society pulls us in one direction while God pulls us in another. It is up to us to be strong enough to be able to pull harder in the direction that God leads us as this is the ultimate source of truth and life.
On a parish note, last Sunday the Family Committee organised a beautiful one day retreat for families. Eighteen families attended the retreat and over half of them were new families who had not regularly attended such spiritual days. The theme of the day was “a family who prays together stays together.” The day was rich with spiritual and social activities and it truly emphasised the importance of the family in our society. Thank you to all who took part in the organisation of this day. A special thanks to the members of the Family, Fersen and Teens committees who have been working very hard to prepare the day. Also, our Christmas program has been finalised by the Pastoral Council who met this week. Please be sure to take a copy home so that you can fully participate in all the spiritual and social events and truly bring the spirit of Christmas into your lives this year. Our theme this year is: Emmanuel, The Light that the Darkness could not overcome. I will be speaking more about this in the weeks to come.
Father Tony Sarkis
Dearest Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
We continue this week with the second announcement in this joyous season, the Announcement to Mary. Mary was greeted by an angel and told, ‘The Lord is with you . . . do not be afraid’. Mary was fully present to God, silently waiting for Him to act in her life. She was not afraid, and entirely opened her heart to him and to his will for her. However, as trusting as she was, Mary took the time to ponder on Gabriel’s words, question and then finally accept. In her silence, Mary didn’t just blindly accept! In contrast to Zechariah, Mary’s silence up until her encounter with Gabriel gave her the time and space to allow God to work in her life so that she could fully accept what he had planned for her. Zechariah only discovered this after he was forced to be silent. We have so much to learn from Mary whose prayerful silence allowed her to discern the will of God in her life. Are we able to discern the will of God in our lives with all the noise and calamity that engulfs us?
Today we conclude our journey in this Jubilee Year of Mercy. This year has truly allowed us to ponder on Mercy in our personal lives and in our parish community. Mercy is not just a concept or a value, it is a way of life. Mercy is more than feelings or emotions that are expressed in tangible ways. Mercy is a definition of the relationship that God wants to have with us and that we must have with one-another. In our parish, it was not a coincidence that we established our Merciful Committee Heaven on Earth in this Jubilee Year. The team from Heaven on Earth led by Subdeacon Robert Albayeh travelled to Fiji on Thursday to activate this Mercy in the lives of the poor and marginalised of this country. Pope Francis teaches us that “we need constantly to contemplate the mystery of mercy”. As we close the Door of Mercy in this Jubilee Year, let us pray that we will continue to be open to the door of God’s mercy in our lives and truly activate it. In this way, we will truly be Merciful as the Father is Merciful.
On a parish note 35 children and leaders last Sunday consecrated themselves to the Immaculate Heart of Mary as Fersen Al Adra or Knights of Mary. Over 50 others renewed this vow also. A knight is honoured by a King or a Queen because they have been a good and trustworthy soldier. They are given this honour because they have promised to be upright and virtuous citizens who will defend their beliefs. Our parish is very blessed to have so many people who are willing to devote their lives to our heavenly Mother. On behalf of my brother priests and our parishioners, I would like to congratulate you all. Congratulations also to Father Youhanna Khalife and to the Fersen leaders who are doing a remarkable job. May the prayers of the Immaculate Heart of Mary be with you.
Father Tony Sarkis