Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Our Lord appears for the third time after his Resurrection in this week’s Gospel passage. The apostles had gone back to their normal jobs after the recent events that had taken place. They were angry, confused and hopeless and to make matters worse, even their job as fishermen was not giving them any satisfaction because they were unable to catch any fish. Jesus, having seen that they had not caught a thing, suggested to throw the net on the other side of the boat. At this stage, he was still unknown to them. Having nothing to lose, they did just as he suggested. Shocked by such a huge large catch, they put the pieces of the puzzle together and recognized the person on the shore to be Jesus. Peter in his usual sporadic fashion, instantaneously dived into the water and swam while the others returned to shore and all responded to Jesus’ request to eat together.
This scene connected the post-resurrected Jesus with the one they had lived with for the last three years. He ate fish. He knew them in and out. Jesus not only arose but was meeting with them as before. But more than proof of a physical resurrection, we see Jesus’ commitment to communion with them and his desire to continue to work with them. The Apostles can do nothing of worth on their own - not even catch a fish, and with gentleness the Lord reminds them that with him, they can do the impossible. This is our story too! We tend to lock ourselves up in our own little world, just like the Apostles did, and only later do we come to realize that there is someone missing - the Lord. The Lord will not allow any barriers to get in his way. He will reveal himself, one way or another, and not allow any of his sheep to wander too far off. Therefore, when we too are angry, confused and have lost hope, we must also remember that we can do nothing of worth without Jesus. He is our hope and our strength and it is only through him and with him that we too can do the impossible.
The month of May home visits continue this week with Our Lady. It has been beautiful to see families gathering together in prayer. We need to encourage this not only during this month, but every day of our lives. This coming week we will be honouring our mothers on Tuesday 9 May beginning at 10.30am with a Mass and then a luncheon in the Cathedral Hall. Please don’t miss out on buying a ticket for your mother. On Friday 12 May, the Novena to Saint Rita begins after the 6pm Mass. We will be praying for the persecuted Christians in Egypt this year through the intercession of Saint Rita. On Saturday 13 May at 9am, our brothers and sisters from the Latin Rite will be joining us to celebrate 100 years of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima. We will start here at the Cathedral with morning prayers, then process with the statue of Our Lady of Fatima to Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in Parramatta, where we will celebrate Mass and have lunch together. I look forward to seeing you all at these events.
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.