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

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Ibrahim Ibrahim: Build the Church

On Friday March 17, in his 2017 Lenten visit to the Toronto Greek Melkite Catholic parish, Most Reverend Bishop Ibrahim Ibrahim prayed the Akathistos hymns (Al Madayeh in Arabic) with the priests and the faithful at the Cathedral of the Transfiguration. And on Sunday March 19, Bishop Ibrahim presided over the noon Mass in which Fr. Ibrahim El-Haddad, Pastor of the parish, and his two assistant priests Fr. Michel Chalhoub and Fr. Youhanna Hanna con-celebrated with a huge crowd that included members of the Knights of Columbus who stood as Honor Guards, and a number of the Slovak Catholic Byzantine family whose head Helen Roman-Barber graciously gave the Cathedral to the Melkite Catholics as a place of worship.
In his homily Bishop Ibrahim reminded everyone of their responsibility to carry the cross as Christ carried it in order to conquer death and evil by his death and restore fallen humanity to the Father by his resurrection. "Do not be afraid of evil. Satan has no power over the Church because he knows that we are God's people in the tasks of building the Church". This was the last commandment by the risen Christ to the Apostles before his ascension to heaven (Matthew 28: 18-20). In the first sacrament we receive (i.e.Baptism) Bishop Ibrahim recalled the Baptismal vows in which we rebuke Satan. In baptism, we are buried with Christ in which we are also raised with him through faith in the power of God who raised him from the dead (Colossians 2: 12).  Since Jesus the King church building had burned in late 2016, it is now up to us the people to erect a Church. Building the Church is more than erecting a building. Caring for the elderly, the sick, and helping the neighbor are essential for those who work in the vineyard of the Lord. We must be generous with God, he said referring to Stephen Roman the billionaire who built the Cathedral that was dedicated by Saint John Paul II in 1984. Bishop Ibrahim said that Stephen Roman wanted to share in the building of the Church and the result was this amazing Byzantine-style, large Cathedral whose beauty could exceed that of Our Lady of Guadalupe Basilica or St. Patrick's Cathedral in North America.
In his words before the consecration of t he bread and wine, Bishop Ibrahim remembered Stephen Roman, those departed of the families, and prayed for the sick, the elderly, the wounded in wars, and the needy because God in his generosity created humanity out of love. "Beloved, let us love one another for love is from God; and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God...God is love" (1 John 4: 7-8).
Christ, the Good Shepherd who elected Bishop Ibrahim, inspired him to tell us the good news: the Bishop who built the first Melkite Catholic Cathedral in Canada said "Do not believe rumours; for I am not here to collect from you, but on the contrary, we can give you a hand as we have almost repaid the mortgage for the Montreal Cathedral - "Rejoice in the Lord" (Philippians 4:4)". He also announced the second year of the Melkite Catholic Youth Conference which successfully connected some 250 young adults in 2016 in Montreal, and will take place more vigorously in Toronto in September 2017.
In a gesture to the crowd, he now connected baptism and the cross to faith and unity:
1. Do not be afraid in your life regardless of the cross which we all carry with Christ if we accept it: When you are baptized you are no longer under Satan's threat; for God, who gives you and me this life, wishes to give us everlasting life.
2. Your task is to help us build the Church of Christ - Our experience of immigration taught us that we belong to no one land but to God above all and therefore we build the Church where we go.
3. In order to carry out any project, you need an active faith in Christ because "faith of itself if it does not have works is dead" (James 2: 17) - "Work out your salvation..." (Philippians 2: 12) in the Church.
4. The Church is always one; for she is the mystical body of Christ...Always be united in the Universal (i.e, Catholic) Church...
Bishop Ibrahim asked God to remember his servants Pope Francis and Patriarch Gregorius in his prayer before the Eucharist is given to the participants. In my own reflection, Bishop Ibrahim M. Ibrahim could not have built the Cathedral and installed new pastors everywhere in Canada if he did not have a great faith in the love of God.
May God be blessed Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen

Today's Quote

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


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