As we welcome this new year of 2017 we firstly give thanks to God for all the blessings and challenges we experienced together as a Parish family. In our Gospel reading for today we hear Jesus tell his disciples (and us also) “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you” and when reflecting on these words we can’t help but think about our undeniable need for the Peace of Jesus. In 2016 alone, the world witnessed dozens of terrorist attacks in different parts of the world including some in our beloved country Lebanon. Along with these acts of violence, we witnessed the unrest of many caused by a variety of issues. Even in our own homes and in the depths of our own hearts, many of us struggle to find the peace that Christ gives to us. So how can we find this peace? The answer for us as Maronite Catholics is simple; we find the Peace of Christ and receive it in the most complete way in the celebration of the Divine Liturgy (the Mass). In our liturgy, we hear four times “Peace be with you”, our Rite of Peace involves the peace of Christ coming from his holy Altar and passed to the people present and after receiving the Prince of Peace in Communion, we are commissioned to “Go in Peace”. We are called in the highest form of our prayer to receive the peace of Christ and share this peace with all who encounter us. I pray that this may be our goal and our prayer as the people of God in Sydney, Australia in 2017, to be Icons of the Peace of Christ for all people.
Continuing on from our Christmas celebration and as we journey through the Season of the Birth of our Lord, we come to our next great feast, the Feast of the Epiphany of Our Lord on the 6th of January. We will be celebrating the feast with a Vigil Mass (including the Rite of blessings of the water and baptismal promise renewal) on Thursday 5th of January at 10pm. The Mass times on Friday will be 7am, 8:45am and 6pm. Again I would like to extend a thank you to all the great people who helped with our various spiritual and social events of 2016 and I pray that the Prince of Peace, Jesus our Lord bless you and your loved ones with a happy, prosperous and holy 2017.
Happy New Year!
Father Tony Sarkis