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

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The Resurrection of Christ for Today's Children

In June 2013, the Jesuit scholar Fr. Henri Boulad, S.J. gave a lecture on “Theosis” or divinization of Man at St. Elizabeth of Hungary Church in Toronto. He reminded his audience of St. Peter's Second Letter "by which [Christ] has granted to us his precious and very great promises, that through these you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of passion, and become partakers of the divine nature." (2 Peter 1; 4). While the Christian West emphasized the Cross, the Christian East emphasized the Resurrection, Henri Boulad said. In the Byzantine hymn of the Resurrection of Christ, the Church sings "Christ has risen from the dead, and by his death he has crushed death, and has given life to those who are in the tombs." Near the end of the Creed which is recited every Sunday in Mass in both East and West, we find the words "We await the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come." As much as carrying the cross with Christ is fundamental to our redemption, the resurrection with Christ is the purpose of our lives. Man is created for a purpose and that is to live eternally in a state of joy which can only be found in union with God our father who loves us. Death is only a passage. Theosis (to be one with God) is the basis of Christian Hope. Not the Augustinian pessimistic view of the evil person, but a Biblical view that God created humans in his image of goodness (Gen. 1, 27). In modern psychology Carl Jung and others found that deep down the human soul the person is good. Fr. Boulad quoted St. Paul “Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more”(Rom 5: 20). “Sensuality, pride, hate, and refusal of the other exist in the person as a layer, but deeper than evil, grace and goodness exist in the foundation of every person. I believe in the goodness of Man, even if he shouts and rebels.” Sin is a wound in humanity which Christ heals.

Since Jesus considers us not slaves but children of God, Fr. Boulad talked too about his encounter with children such as Marco who was a young student but felt he was left behind in playing with other children since he had a handicap. As a revenge Marco would pull his ears...”I called him to my room. He was surprised that I hugged him rather than rebuking him. Marco changed.” He found his essential goodness - a human person who is loved. “What Jesus is by nature, we are by grace.” He recalled the “beloved Son” the Father uttered to Jesus and said that the Father looks to you and me as beloved sons! He remembered seeing a man playing with his son pulling his father's noze and ears and thought “And my father in heaven surely welcomes me and loves me”. In his recent talk in Toronto, Most Reverend Bishop Ibrahim emphasized our need to make room for our children even if they cry or shout in church. They are our beloved children and God's children!

When a friend died a couple of weeks ago in Toronto and his wife and children were in tears, we could only remember the tears of Christ our God on the cross and the tears of Mary his mother. Jesus tears brought the Resurrection. There is no fear of death but only love in Christ. In the 2nd century St. Irenaeus of Lyon declared that "The glory of God is Man fully alive." In St. Athanasius, the great Alexandrian Father in the 4th century, "God became man so that man may become God." This is the Resurrection!

Today, we need to find the goodness within us and love each other as God himself loves us, because only then can we hope for our resurrection. How can we open ourselves to the goodness that God implants in us? Can we listen to the Spirit of Christ and follow him in our conscience? Can we approach those whom we neglected at home and in the community, ask forgiveness from those we hurt, and find the good in people around us? Can we kindly understand why our young teenagers and children rebel? Our children are precious like we are in God's eyes. They need us but we to need to listen to them. St. Pope John Paul II said “Open the doors “ to Christ! Open the doors of Christ to the young ones for they are the future - our future!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

The Tears of God

In the past week leading to the memory of the passions of Christ, many people suffered and died. In countries of the Middle East there have been ongoing wars between Sunni and Shiite armies that claimed the lives of many victims that continued to fall at the hands of radical Islamist forces including the recently martyred 21 Egyptian Christians and many more Christian martyrs in Syria and Iraq who could not flee the threat of ISIS but insisted to keep the Christian faith. Last week I was informed by SK Rami Kaai (in charge of Food for Syria at Jesus the King Knights of Columbus Council) that there was a memorial Mass celebrated in Homs Syria for the Jesuit martyr Fr. Frans van der Logt who, in spite of his long services to Muslims and Christians, was killed brutally by ISIS. In the same past week, a Germanwings plane crashed over France killing all 150 passengers in what investigators found the cause to be a deliberate act of suicide by a desperate co-pilot. Over all these victims much tears flowed from families, relatives, and friends who felt the loss of lives dear to them. How important it is to remember each departed person by name. Every human person derives his dignity from God who creates all and loves all.

One particular departure that we felt this week was that of Tony Tinawi who was hospitalized in Toronto, suffered complications to his health, and before his death last Tuesday received the sacrament of the sick administered by Fr. Michel Chalhoub. Fr. Youhanna Hanna too had remembered him in his prayers before the Crucified. My wife and I knew Tony here and dined with him, his wife Amira and a number of friends a few months ago. Amira and Tony, together with their two sons, have been attending Mass regularly at Jesus the King Melkite Catholic Church in Toronto. I knew Amira, a doctor from Egypt, and her two brothers Sherif and Nagui Wassef, partners and owners of the Wassef Design Group. since the 1970s in Cairo. My mother and their mother of blessed memory were friends. This past Friday we saw Amira, her twin sons, her brother Nagui and his wife at Highland funeral home. A crowd of relatives and friends gathered to pay respect to Tony and pray for him and the family. Many friends sent their condolences, and the family in Egypt offered a Mass for Tony on Saturday as the one here on the same dayat Jesus the King Church. On Friday too, members of the Homsy choir chanted as Fr. Michel said the prayers with emotions ascending to God. I talked to Amira and remembered together her mom and mine who sacrificed a lot for their children. My memory shifted also to the day when my dad of blessed memory passed away in Heliopolis, Egypt on the 14th of this same month in 1971. He was probably of the same age as Tony was when he passed away. My dad suffered peritonitis and my mother chocked in tears as she was besides his bed in hospital. My twin and I were almost of the same age as Tony's twin children are today. It is my opinion that as
God allows the departure of fathers and/or mothers, his blessings and presence are felt more intensely in those of the remaining family. God never forsakes anyone.

And where was God when tears flowed over all the victims lost on this earth? Following the Gregorian calendar in the Western hemisphere, this Saturday March 28 is the day the Melkite Catholic Church an other Churches in Canada celebrate the "Raising of Lazarus" by Jesus Christ.  It is written [When Jesus saw (Mary) weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled; and he said, "Where have you laid him?" They said to him, "Lord, come and see." Jesus wept. So the Jews said, "See how he loved him!" ] (John 11: 33-36). The full event of raising Lazarus from the dead can be read here. Here we find the answer to the question: where was God when tears flowed over all the victims lost here? Our God Jesus Christ wept with those who wept and today too God suffers and weeps with all those who suffer and weep. The tears of God bring the resurrection of Man! If we believe that Christ is God then the tears of Christ are the tears of God!
[Then he showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb. through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. There shall no more be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and his servants shall worship him; they shall see his face, and his name shall be on their foreheads. And night shall be no more; they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they shall reign for ever and ever.] (Revelation 22: 1-5).

Today's Quote

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


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