Helping others to help themselves

Dearest Brothers and Sisters,

After a break last week from the miracle stories we find ourselves this week in Capernaum bearing witness to the fourth miracle during this season of Great Lent, the healing of the Paralytic Man. We all know this story well and are always captivated by the faith of both the paralytic man and his friends who overcame all obstacles to get to Jesus, even if it meant climbing a roof and some heavy lifting. If we focus on the friends of the paralytic, we can speak about two things, their love for their friend and their confidence in Jesus’ healing power. These two aspects allowed them to be creative and find a way to help their friend help himself to get to Jesus.

This begs the question of us; when we are helping others, are we helping them to help themselves? Or are we trying to find a short-term solution to alleviate some immediate pain and suffering. For example, when we feed the homeless or the needy, is it enough to provide them with a portion of food for a period of time to alleviate their hunger and need or are we being creative in finding a way to help them to help themselves out of the despair that they may be living in. This may be to help them find a job, or help them to learn something new or find an organisation that can also help them. Further, through our good-will, are we helping them to help themselves get to Christ? This may mean that we may need to go beyond giving them a portion of food, it means that there is going to be some climbing and heavy lifting involved. It means that we may need to get out of our comfort zone and do something different that will truly deliver them to Christ. This facilitation will hopefully allow them to truly encounter Christ, so that that they can stand up, take their mat and walk again.

This past week we celebrated two feasts of two women who continue to help us to help ourselves get to Christ. On Thursday, we celebrated the feast of Saint Rafqa who is a remarkable example for us. Saint Rafqa was able to join her suffering with the suffering of Christ on the cross and teaches us to do the same in our brokenness and despair. On Saturday, we celebrated the feast of the Annunciation, that great day when Mary said yes to God and played a major role in delivering the human race from its abandonment. Through their intercession and prayers, they facilitate our deliverance to Christ. May their prayers be with you always.

The program for Passion Week and Easter has now been finalised. I encourage you to take a copy and note all the events that will take place during this Holy Season. This year we will be hosting a spiritual concert for Nizar Fares together with the Syriac Catholic Church on Passion Tuesday (11 April). This and all the spiritual events will help us on our journey toward the Resurrection.

Fr Tony Sarkis

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