Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Happy New Year! Thanks-be-to-God for the many graces that He has bestowed upon us in 2017 and we ask His blessing upon 2018. I pray that this year will be a very fruitful year for you and your families as we all continue our spiritual journey towards the Kingdom that awaits us.
The Christmas and New Year period is always a wonderful time for families to get together and enjoy the season. It is also a period of rest, relaxation and fun. Many of our families take time-off during this time to enjoy the beautiful weather, but most of all enjoy each other. It is so important that we have this time to firstly refresh and rejuvenate ourselves for the year ahead and to experience memorable moments with our loved ones. I hope that everyone is enjoying the break and each other.
On Saturday, we began the Season of the Glorious Epiphany of the Lord. Through this feast we celebrate the baptism of the Lord in the Jordan River by John the Baptist. At this Baptism, we celebrate the appearance or manifestation of Christ among us as God’s Son and revelation of the Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
The Feast of the Epiphany is the Feast of humility par excellence. Jesus, the Divine Son of God, humbled himself and was baptised by John the Baptist in the Jordan River like everyone else at the time. The Prayer of Forgiveness from the Maronite Ritual for Baptism proclaims it beautifully: “Although you had no need to do so, in your compassion you came and were baptized, sanctifying the waters of the Jordan. O Son of Majesty, you bowed your head before John the Baptist, while the Father called out from on high: “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased!””
Jesus bowed His head and was baptised as the ultimate sign of humility by John the Baptist who was a symbol of humility himself. He lived an extraordinary humble life and prepared the way for Jesus, exclaiming “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30). As we begin this New Year and celebrate the feast of the Epiphany, let us reflect on the humility of Jesus and John the Baptist and learn from them how to live a life that is pleasing to God. Let us think about the ways in which we can decrease so that He can increase!
The food that we prepare during this great feast is also very humble. Comprising of flour, water and oil (and sugar for the sweet-tooth), our beloved mothers and fathers kept the Maronite tradition of the Epiphany pastries, Zlaabyi and Awamet, alive in the parish. They have worked very hard on preparing these sweets and savouries for us to enjoy as we greet one another by saying “Deyim, Deyim”.
Last weekend I was very fortunate to attend the annual family retreat between Christmas and New Year. Twelve families attended the retreat this year and the theme was “The Family: a treasure for the Church”. Thank you to all who organised this retreat. Also, last Saturday our youth celebrated Christmas and New Year’s with their annual party in the church hall. It was a great night, and everyone enjoyed it. Thank you to our MYO team for organising it.