Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
As I’ve mentioned in the last two weeks, the Gospel passages in this Season of the Exaltation of the Glorious Cross have been rather confronting. Today’s Gospel passage is no different! In fact both the Gospel passage and the Epistle are quite challenging both speaking of the coming of God and eternal life. We are faced with the contrast of victory and defeat. Victory when we set our minds on the heavenly things and defeat when we set our minds on the earthly things!
As we reflect on the Holy Cross which has been and still is the sign of victory, as opposed to a sign of punishment, humiliation, pain and suffering, we come to know that with Jesus everything has changed. The first becomes last and the last becomes first! Nothing is defeated with Him! The sign of death becomes a sign of salvation because of him. Unfortunately, our human nature focuses on vanity, material wealth, selfishness, pride and hierarchy; however, with Jesus we draw our wealth from his Cross in a spirit of selflessness, humility, sacrifice, service and simplicity.
Saint Paul tells us in his letter, do as I do, and look at those who are walking like us in a spirit of selflessness and acceptance of suffering for the love of Jesus Christ in the same way that he did for the love of his Father in heaven. We should not be like those who are concerned only about their belly and their own glory in the matters that pertain to this world because it is so easy for us to be consumed by the earthly. Rather, we need to do as Saint Paul tells us and in turn we too become examples to others, leading the way and truly earning our heavenly citizenship.
Our Lady was and continues to be a shining example of someone who through the history of salvation has earnt her citizenship into heaven, body and soul. Through her example and prayers, she continually guides us to heaven. As we celebrate this Sunday the Feast of the Holy Rosary and devote the month of October to our Lady, I encourage you all to pray the rosary with your families, with your friends and with your parish. Through the rosary, we contemplate on the selfless life of our Lord who leads us to the bosom of his Father in Heaven. As a parish we pray the rosary together in Arabic and English every day. Please make an extra effort this month and join our prayer groups and experience the power of praying together as a community.
As I approach the conclusion of my trip to Lebanon, I am happy to see the wonderful events and activities that continue to take place through the various social media channels. From the English Faith Formation talks organised by Father Yuhanna Azize and his committee, to the Seniors activities, Sodality trip to Saint Rafqa, to the procession on the Feast of the Rosary in addition to all the work behind the scenes of the Stewardship Committee. May God bless all our priests and committees who have truly set their minds on the heavenly things!
Blessings from Lebanon, Father Tony Sarkis