Today's Wisdom

Those who do not pass from the experience of the cross to the truth of the resurrection condemn themselves to despair! For we cannot encounter God without first crucifying our narrow notions of a god who reflects only our own understanding of omnipotence and power
Pope Francis

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Serving Each Other

Last night, again, was a great event not only because we had over 30 persons participate in the meeting but also and more importantly because we listened to two senior Church Council members who contributed to the building of the people of God in this church and who continue to contribute out of their love for the Church. To those who object to this approach, I say: Regardless of the heart and merits of everyone whom God alone knows and gives the grace to sanctify and strength to serve Him, the church is a community of sinners that lives by the mercy of God and the hope that comes from Christ our Saviour. She is made of sinners like you and me. Learn from the good things that your fellows in Christ did and do to help the Church.  If I invited two or three prominent people in the community to speak to us, it is because I believe that much good was done through their efforts for the Church. Christ came for us the lost more than for the saints. He served all and gave us the good example when he washed the feet of each of the apostles. It is you and me that Christ continues to call in order to serve each other and by serving each other we preserve the faith and Christian tradition. Last night was a call to the young families and the young ones to continue in the footsteps of their fathers and mothers, to teach their children the Christian moral values.

In this spirit we started the meeting with a reading from the Acts of the Apostles that reflected how the early Christians voluntarily served one another. Here it is:
The community of believers was of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they had everything in common. With great power the apostles bore witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great favor was accorded them all. There was no needy person among them, for those who owned property or houses would sell them, bring the proceeds of the sale, and put them at the feet of the apostles, and they were distributed to each according to need.” (Acts 4: 32-35)

In my introduction, I emphasized the need of all our families to live according to the Christian mandate of love founded on Jesus Christ our God and his apostles. We must work together and serve each other in the community. In the economic crisis we have in the globe, it is fundamental that each of us attempts to help the others who are out of jobs, because today's families depend on two parents working. When one of them stops working then other social evils may occur such as divorce and the consequent loss of children. We saw that in our discussion about marriage two weeks ago. For this reason I developed and published a blog and sent it to all on my email list. The first post is about finding jobs. To those looking for a job, please post your name, email address, city, country, and your area of jobs as a comment on the post. See my comment there (first comment) and do the same. If you are a business owner or senior manager in your business, have a look at the comments. You may be able to assist the ones who are seeking jobs in the same business line or in your company.

Then Joe Gideon spoke. He talked about the early community of Melkite Catholics in Toronto that he and his team helped build. Only 25 families in 1965! A priest would come from Montreal to serve the community and celebrate Mass every week. The Mass was celebrated in the Byzantine rite at St. Michael’s Roman Catholic Cathedral. Joe himself helped many young people of the Church find jobs. As I had said before, Joe helped me get my first job in Toronto in 1983. He did more with others. In 1994 through the efforts of Fr. Georges Farah and the Church Council, they raised $1.25 million to buy and own a church building with its big parking, our current Church: Jesus the King Church. Then in August 1994 we bought the current church building for $2 million and added to it all the necessary works to reflect a Byzantine church as much as possible. Joe said that he looked to soon have a Byzantine Church built in the free area owned by the Melkite Catholic Church. His vision is to involve the young adults in every activity that the older generation carried forward for the new projects of the Church. That was an impressive presentation which inspired many.

Ibrahim Akleh spoke too of the Church. He went back to the 19th century as there was a small Melkite Catholic community in Toronto since then. The late Fr. Saba Dagher had written a short study about the growth of this small community which should be published as we need to preserve the Christian tradition for the new generations. He said that out of 25 families in 1965 there are today 1400 families who belong to the Melkite Catholic Church in Toronto. We have now three priests serving and leading the Church in two locations Jesus the King in Richmond Hill and St. Ambrose in Etobicoke: Fr. Georges Farah, Fr. Michel Chalhoub, and Fr. Youhanna Hanna. Ibrahim has been very active in the financial committee and in maintenance of the Church. He is always working with his team on projects under the guidance of Fr. Farah such as the festival of Jesus the King Church commemorating the feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord on August 3, 4, and 5 this year.

Knowing that Joe Gideon has the gift of singing hymns and opera music I asked him to sing for us the beautiful hymn Ave Maria. He did perform it as a professional singer to the applause of all present.

A few friends asked the presenters about the finances of the parish's expansion project.  Joe asked everyone to contribute as much as they can to the project financing. Ibrahim mentioned that some Coptic Orthodox offered up to $6 million to buy it but their offer was turned down because the Church is our heritage. Is this a lesson for us? The answer is to get all united under Christ.

Before closing I thanked Joe Gideon and Ibrahim Akleh and all those who attended and pointed to the many gifts and treasures we have in our community mentioning by name the contributions of each of the attendees. We need to work harder to bring together these gifts for the Church and her Lord Jesus Christ. We will be acting on projects which support young families and children; for they are the future of the Church.

We closed with a hymn of thanksgiving to Christ played by Sonia Isho and sung by Ivan her husband and us. It was beautiful.

I asked Fr. Michel Chalhoub to give us the blessing and lead the closing prayer. He did it with advice to us and with much humility.

May the Lord be blessed.

Today's Quote

"Behold I make all things new." (Revelation 21:5)


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