A Syriac world view of ecological conversion

Greetings from Darug Country.

In 2015 Pope Francis wrote his encyclical Laudato Si, it is in my view prophetic. 

The science is clear, in coming years the world is facing ecological crisis. We are approaching a time when many will be living in great fear and as the science tells us, the most vulnerable and the poor will be exposed to this crisis more than anyone else. 

This is a time when the Church can lead in a world that will be panicked and uncertain. This will be an area which can unite. If the Church seizes this opportunity, and works with others, including the secular, our First Nations People, other Christian denominations and other faith groups, this will be a time when we can unveil to others the beauty of our Church. It will be a time when the Church can offer an alternative to the degradation and decline both of nature and of faith. 

In my own Syriac spiritual tradition, it is emphasised that nature and the natural word stand side by side with Scripture as witness to God. Ecological conversion is not just about climate change, it infuses every aspect of our physical and spiritual being. We are called to stand in wonder and in gratitude of the natural world as it is God’s own revelation to us. We are called to look the natural world with reverence, as in it, are the symbols of God. Our attitude towards Creation is demonstrative of our attitude towards God and each other. Like Adam and Eve in the Garden, when sin enters Paradise, it disturbs the balance and the harmony of things. A balance and harmony that Christ the Gardener came to restore. 

Human injustice goes beyond its own injustice. Our greed, our waste our turning away from God and our rejection of him in our own mistreatment of our neighbours and Creation impacts beyond the moment. It disturbs the natural order of things.  As we have already begun to see, the rising seas have an impact on our neighbours in Oceania and the warming of the earth has an impact  on our people in the bush. For me in this moment, the words of St Ephrem, a deacon and giant of spirituality in the Syriac Church are ringing louder than ever:

‘Because the mouth of human beings had condemned Him, 

The Voice of creation cried out to proclaim him innocent.

Men were silent, so the stones cried out.’

God’s revelation in nature is crying out. It is reminding us that God is still here, that Christ is still in our midst and that we must join our voices with the stones crying out and the mountains shaking, like they did at the time of the crucifixion  and profess Christ to the world. Let us not be a Church that is reactionary, rather let us be the leaders in this moment so that the world might know that truth is in Christ. If we begin now, then in the decades to come the world can recover and it will be certain that that recovery was in Christ.

Theresa Simon

St Helena and St Constantine

May 21 marks the feast of St Helena and Constantine the Great, emperor of Rome.

St Helena is said to be born in Drepana, Asia Minor, modern day Turkey around 248AD. She came from humble beginnings and was called a good stable-maid.

She met Constantius while he was serving in Asia Minor. He saw her as his soulmate. They got married and Helena gave birth to the future emperor Constantine around 270AD.

Constantius divorced Helena in pursuit of a wife that would elevate his rising status. Constantine never left Helena and was very loyal to her. They were sent to Diocletian, Nicomedia where Constantine became a member of the inner circle. He kept Helena close to him.

Helena never remarried.

Constantius died in 308 and Constantine became emperor. He elevated his mother’s title to Augusta and minted coin in her image. She was given free reign over the treasury.

Helena converted to Christianity and convinced Constantine to stop the persecution of Christians. This was the beginning of the Roman Catholic Church. Helena was around 65 years old at the time of her conversion.

For the next 15 years, she built churches and discovered many relics, the greatest of them to be the one true cross of Christ. She had a fondness for the Holy Land and had the church of the nativity in Bethlehem built as well as the Church of Eleona at the Mount of Olives, the site of the Ascension.

Helena destroyed the temple of Venus in Jerusalem then began excavation projects to find the True Cross. Workers found 3 crosses. Helena brought a woman with a terminal illness, she touched the first and second cross. She was still sick. When she touched the third cross, she was cured.
St Helena declared the 3rd cross to be the True Cross of Christ.

St Constantine ordered the church of the Sepulchre to be constructed over the site of the findings.

St Helena continued to find relics throughout her life such as the nails of the cross, Christ’s tunic and pieces of the rope to tie Jesus to the cross.

Eusebius described her as follows: “Especially abundant were the gifts she bestowed on the naked and unprotected poor. To some she gave money, to others an ample supply of clothing; she liberated some from imprisonment, or from the bitter servitude of the mines; others she delivered from unjust oppression, and others again, she restored from exile.”

She visited churches and donated great sums. She contributed greatly to the spread of Christianity throughout the empire.

She died in 330 with Constantine by her side.

Constantine continued to support the Catholic Church financially, built basilicas, placed Christians in high office, returned property that was confiscated during persecution and legislated that Sunday is a rest day for all citizens.

He summoned the first council of Nicaea which dealt with Arianism and the institution of the Nicene creed.

Constantine was only baptised on his deathbed in 337. He hoped that he would be absolved of sin before death.

St Helena and Constantine, pray for us

St Hilarion – 21 October

St Hilarion was a hermit that spent most of his life in the desert, taking from the example of St Anthony the Great. St Hilarion is considered to be the founder of Palestinian monasticism.

He was born in 291AD in Tabatha, South of Gaza in Palestine to pagan parents. He studied in Alexandria, Egypt and it was there he was converted to Christianity. After his conversion he rejected all worldly pleasures of the day and spent all his time at church.

He heard of St Anthony and at only age 15, Hilarion went to live with him in the desert but returned after 2 months since the hermitage was preoccupied with healing visitors who were sick. Hilarion returned to find his parents had died. He gave his inheritance to his brothers and the poor. He left for the wilderness. He took a shirt of coarse linen, a cloak of skins given to him by St Anthony and a coarse blanket.

He led a nomadic life, fasting and only eating a prudent meal after sundown. He lived a life of hardship and simplicity in the desert where he also experienced many temptations and desolation.

He became well known in Palestine after 22 years of living in the wilderness, the sick came and asked him for help. This drove Hilarion to retreat to more remote locations, but people still trekked out to see him. He went to St Anthony’s retreat in Egypt, Sicily, Dalmatia and then to Cyprus where he died in 371.

Miracles that he is associated with are curing a barren woman in Palestine, he cured 3 children of a fatal illness, he healed a paralysed charioteer and expelled many demons.

St Hilarion by Basil II c.1000 Vatican Library

The Sinful woman, a Church of action

On this fifteenth week of Pentecost, we hear of yet another woman as part of the collection of Pentecost Gospel’s.  She is the sinful woman who found repentance through Christ. (Luke 7:36-50).

As we highlighted last week, the Maronite Pentecost lectionary gives as a typology of women, Brides of the Groom, to inspire us to the Church we are called to be. A Church on a missionary journey who is accompanied and healed by Christ himself. 

The sinful woman came to Christ begging for his forgiveness. One of the most beautiful literary techniques used in Syriac literature is that of dialogue. The dialogues usually draws on a moment of tension from the Gospel and then two speakers conduct an argument in alternating verses. One of these is between Satan and the Sinful women. In this stunning dialogue the author draws out, through Satan, the tension he imagined would have been going through the sinful women’s mind in approaching Jesus.

The poem starts with a beautiful introduction in which we are told that God sent his Son clothed in his humanity as the Compassionate doctor who could heal. The Sinful Woman had heard of his healing and knew he was at Simeon the Pharisees house, she had resolved to go to him for forgiveness of her sins. As witness that the early Syriac writers saw this woman as the Church, the woman states to Satan:

I am indeed brazen and impudent,
And debauched men have loved me
But Christ the Bridegroom has betrothed me,
And he has made me holy, to be with Himself

We hear this theme of the Church being the Bride of Christ throughout the Maronite Pentecost liturgy:

Jesus is the faithful Groom
and we are the Church, his Bride.

In the poem, Satan is an externalization of what the writer imagines are the sinful women’s innermost thoughts. The poem highlights the sinful women’s struggles in detaching from her former life and gate crashing the party to meet Jesus. Her worst self and all that is bad about her is being portrayed by Satan who gives her all the reasons to stay away from Jesus, including:

SATAN: I can see that you’ve gone out of your mind,
You don’t know what you are saying.
You’ve never read the Scriptures,
And yet here you are expounding their words!
WOMAN: I can see that you are ashamed,
For the Son of God has condemned you.
Up to today I belonged to you,
But from now on I reject you and your friends.
SATAN: You’d be better off, my girl, if you stayed back
And didn’t go off to Mary’s son.
Perhaps, unbeknown to you, he’s already scowling at you,
And if he sees you he will be angry.
WOMAN: What could be happier than today
If I go and approach Mary’s Son?
I be better off even if HE killed me,
For I’d escape from you, the enemy of everyone.

The Gospel also highlights Simon the Pharisee was outraged that the Sinful woman touched Jesus and we hear Jesus say to him:

Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet.You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”

Our faith is demonstrated by our actions and not our condemnation. Here we would like to address something relevant to our times. 

Social media can be used as a wonderful resource for evangelisation, however used incorrectly, it can also drive people away from the Church. Our Maronite Church can reach out in a very unique way to those who may not know Christ. People are not going to be attracted to a negative Church, one that is unhappy and focused on consistently debating and judging. People are not going to be attracted to an angry mob.  The Church is not going to be attractive if the people in it are morally outraged, full of self-righteousness or judgemental like Simon was.

Before you share, post or comment, think about the overall objective and whether it will bring those in need of God’s mercy to the Church. The dialogue between Satan and the Sinful woman highlights the voices that might drive people away. The need to win an unnecessary argument or correct in the short-term can drive others away. People are looking for something that gives them peace, not a fight.  For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints. 1Co 14:33

Observers seeing people confusion and chaos will not find the Church attractive. A discussion that descends into argument, heated debate and attacks will not bring anyone to Christ. There are times when it is actually prudent to say nothing. 

Collectively we are part of the Church. How one of us behaves can have an impact on the Church as a whole. People who may be seeking Christ could be watching. The faith is not an ideology, it is a living example and we are witnesses to it.

Do not share things you can not verify yourself or believe them just because a ‘friend’ told you so. Next time you want to post, comment or share, think about the bigger picture. Think about whether it is necessary and whether it will bring you or others closer to Christ.

We shall conclude with the same prayer of the dialogue between the Sinful woman and Satan.

‘O Son of God, who opened Your mouth
And forgave the Sinful woman her sins
Forgive us our sins too, just as you did her
For we have sinned just as she did.
And as the Sinful Woman was forgiven
Because she kissed your feet in Simeon’s house
So you forgive Your Church
Which, at the altar consumes Your Body and Blood.’


15 July – Yolita and her son Kyriakos, Martyrs

Yolita and her son Kyriakos are otherwise known as St. Quiriacus and Julitta. They are considered early Christian martyrs who died in the year 304 AD.

Yolita lived in modern day Turkey and it was said that she lived her life in prayer and charity. Shortly after the birth of her son, her husband died suddenly and she was left as a widow.

When Kyriakos turned 3, persecutions began against the Christians by the Emperor Diocletian. Yolita took her son and fled to Syria where it was just as bad. She picked up and left again to Tarsus.

The governor there, Alexandros was cruel. Yolita tried to keep a low profile but both her and her son were arrested and brought before him.

He tortured Yolita before her son. The governor ordered Yolita to bow down to their idols to secure their release. Yolita said that not even her son would offer a sacrifice to their idols. The governor turned to Kyriakos who told him that he was a Christian.

Kyriakos was beaten to death at just 3 years old.

Yolita was filled with courage and did not weep at her sons death, but was joyful that he received the crown of martyrdom.

She was later executed, both of their bodies thrown into a heap of corpses. The bodies were rescued by two maids and hidden in a cave in Tarsus.

When Emperor Constantine came into power, he built a church where they were martyred.

Today, their relics are at Nevers, France and in the monastery of Saint-Amand, Tournai. People pray to them for happy families and for sick children to get better.

13 July- The Prophet Joel

Joel was a prophet of Israel, believed to have lived in the 9th Century BCE. He was the second of the twelve minor prophets and is the author of the Book of Joel in the Old Testament.

He is mentioned only once as the son of Pethuel (Joel 1:1).

Joel was from Judea and is known to have preached there. He is linked to the Second Temple of Jerusalem. Joel’s book in the Old Testament focuses on Judah and Zion with themes of judgement and hope for repentance in a time of disaster. At the time, there were locust plagues that destroyed wine and grain, both offerings to the temple.

Joel does write that the Lord’s kingdom will be fruitful and void of suffering, which is why he focused on repentance.

The following prophesy by Joel was used by Saint Peter in his homily on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2:

17 “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
    and your young men shall see visions,
    and your old men shall dream dreams;
18 even on my male servants and female servants
    in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.
19 And I will show wonders in the heavens above
    and signs on the earth below,
    blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke;
20 the sun shall be turned to darkness
    and the moon to blood,
    before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day.
21 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’

St Peter was preaching to the crowd that the 11 were not drunk after the tongues of fire came upon them. Instead he quoted Joel in the hope of warning them about Gods wrath if they don’t accept Jesus as Lord and repent. St Peter does not forget the good news, he includes it at the end of the prophesy.

St Paul also uses Joel’s prophesy in Romans 10:11 – 13.
For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved

‘In this Together’

For the past eight years I have taught Criminal Law to first year law students, and throughout the unit we explore the complex reasons for the over-representations for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) peoples in the Australian criminal justice system.  At the commencement of the university semester students respond with typical stereotypical beliefs about the causes of this overrepresentation, these include: a perception that ATSI communities are inherently dysfunctional; ATSI people are prone to drinking and substance abuse; and ATSI communities are welfare dependent and unwilling to get out of the cycle of poverty.  
Over the course of the fourteen weeks we challenge these stereotypes by exploring the criminogenic effects of colonisation and past brutal discriminatory policies; in particular, the stolen generation.  We question whether the dismantling of colonisation and past discriminatory policy has eradicated deeply entrenched institutional racism, and how this continues to adversely impact on the material conditions and life chances of ATSI peoples.  We examine in detail the findings of the 1990 Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody (RIADIC) and follow the tragic life trajectory of Malcom Smith a child of the stolen generation, and one of the ninety-nine deaths in custody investigated by the RCIADIC. We read numerous cases of subsequent deaths in custody, which still continue to frequently occur even 30 years after RCIADIC handed down its findings, and discover a continued failure by authorities to follow the recommendations. We explore the ubiquity of discretion throughout the criminal justice process, from policing to judicial sentencing, which has time and time again resulted in the over policing of certain offences in ATSI communities and the frequent handing down of maximum penalties at sentencing.  The incident captured on video a few days ago showing excessive use of force by a police officer against a young ATSI teenager in the Sydney suburb of Surry Hills, is an example of the how frequently ATSI people are charged and prosecuted for public order offences. At the completion of the semester there is satisfaction in knowing that many of the students, who when they complete their studies will become legal practitioners, policy advisors and possibly judicial officers, have developed a greater empathy and understanding for the plight of ATSI peoples.  It is the dismantling of these stereotypes and prejudices that I believe leads to the most profound change.
The death in custody of Rebecca Maher disturbingly shows how stereotyping that we may think is harmless, can have unintended and fatal consequences. Rebecca, aged 36 and a proud Wiradjuri woman, was detained by police at Maitland Police Station in NSW on 19 July 2016.  She was brought into the police station as an intoxicated person, and from CCTV footage she is seen in the police charge room to be stumbling, incoherent and having difficulties breathing.  There was no indication that her intoxication was caused by alcohol consumption.  Rebecca died about five hours later in a police cell as result of a drug toxicity, with fatal levels of the of drugs prescribed for her anxiety, as well as methadone which she had been using to deal with a heroin addiction.  The Coronial Inquest heard evidence that the police officers involved did not search Rebecca because they feared she was carrying an infectious disease, a fear which was unfounded. The Acting Coroner held that if the police officers had conducted a simple pat down search, it was likely they would have found the pill bottles in her leg pockets and this would have alerted them to the cause of her intoxication and the need to call an ambulance. The inquest also heard evidence that prior to being put into the police cell, officers rejected her request for food, another breach under the legislation which requires intoxicated persons in custody be provided with sustenance.  Evidence was also submitted showing one of the officers in the charge room mimicking Rebecca’s stumbling as the behaviour of a chimpanzee.  At 1.34 a.m, CCTV footage in the cell shows Rebecca leaned on the mattress, lay down on her right side with her back to the CCTV camera.  Her right arm was above her head and her knees were tucked up slightly.  She remained in this position until she was found dead at 5.51a.m in the morning.  The Acting Coroner found that police officers failed to follow procedure by conducting appropriate checks of the cell and incorrectly detained Rebecca under the legislation which required an incoherent person be given a reasonable opportunity to contact a responsible person.  No recommendation was made to lay criminal charges against the police officers involved.  Her tragic death could have easily been prevented had she been treated with dignity.
In conversations with friends and parishioners I often come across this kind of stereotyping and a perception that ATSI offenders should be harshly prosecuted for their offending These are people who have lovingly dedicated their lives to their families and serving the Church, and as migrants have often overcome prejudice to prove themselves as valued members of the Australian community; however, they cannot see how misguided and detrimental their attitudes can be. Unlike the students I teach over course of the semester, there is not the benefit of exploring these complex and difficult issues, and I am not sure even then, their views can be dissuaded.  However, Scripture is our best teacher. We read Jesus conversing with those who others consider unclean, sinners and marginalised.  He challenges the legalism and hypocrisy of religious leaders and the disciples who believe that the people Jesus interacts with are not worthy of God’s love and care.  He tells them that their lives matter, and in doing so, we witness new possibilities and the transformation that such love can bring. So, as Reconciliation Week comes to a close, may St Maria of Paris’ reflection on the Last Judgement fill us with awe:

The way to God lies through love of people. At the Last Judgment I shall not be asked whether I was successful in my ascetic exercises, nor how many bows and prostrations I made. Instead I shall be asked did I feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick and the prisoners. That is all I shall be asked. About every poor, hungry and imprisoned person the Savior says ‘I’: ‘I was hungry and thirsty, I was sick and in prison.’ To think that he puts an equal sign between himself and anyone in need. . . . I always knew it, but now it has somehow penetrated to my sinews. It fills me with awe.

Monica Ibrahim

Sorry Day

We feel deep gratitude and blessings that our young sisters and neighbours are proud Australian Indigenous women of the Wiradjuri Nation. They also share with us as sisters in the Maronite Church and are part of our Maronite Parish community. Today in Australia is Sorry Day and they share this lovely reflection with us. 

‘I have seen their ways, but I will heal them;

    I will guide them and restore comfort’ Isaiah 57:18

National Sorry Day has been held every 26 May since 1998. This day acknowledges the many thousands of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children who were forcibly removed from their families due to the policies of past governments and the step towards reconciliation for our First Nations’ people. 

These children, who are known as the Stolen Generations, have suffered untold hardship. The past still impacts us today, in the continuing devastation of the lives of Indigenous Australians due to the permanent scarring of these policies. Although we can’t change the past, we can address the past by listening as a community with open minds, to commemorate those affected and listen to their stories in order to reconcile.

As Catholics and as Maronite’s we are called to share in the process of Reconciliation in accordance with the values and mission of the Church. In the Social Justice Statement for 2006 “The Heart of our Country: Dignity and Justice for our Indigenous Brothers and Sisters”, the Australian Bishops identified the areas where Australian Catholics are called to reach out to the Indigenous community. They call us to ensure the preservation of Indigenous cultures and to keep working for an inclusive multicultural Australia. To accept the rich Indigenous culture, traditions and values that align with those of Jesus and all his people. To learn to restore and care for the environment through the Indigenous knowledge.

Today on 26 May we ask you join with us to pray as a Maronite and Catholic community in Australia for the continued path of Reconciliation and for all indigenous communities throughout the world :

Holy Father, God of Love 

We thank you for the survival of Indigenous cultures. 

Our hope is in you because your son Jesus Christ came to reconcile the world to you. 

Teach us to respect all cultures. 

Help us to bring about spiritual and social change.


Written by Kristen and Paige

Dead are my People

Dead are my People

Dead are my people, gone are my people, but I exist yet, lamenting them in my solitude. Dead are my friends, and in their death my life is naught but great disaster. The knolls of my country are submerged by tears and blood, for my people and my beloved are gone, and I am here living as I did when my people and my beloved were enjoying life and the bounty of life, and when the hills of my country were blessed and engulfed by the light of the sun.

My people died from hunger, and he who did not perish from starvation was butchered with the sword; and I am here in this distant land, roaming amongst a joyful people who sleep upon soft beds, and smile at the days while the days smile upon them.

My people died a painful and shameful death, and here am I living in plenty and in peace. This is deep tragedy ever enacted upon the stage of my heart; few would care to witness this drama, for my people are as birds with broken wings, left behind the flock.

If I were hungry and living amid my famished people, and persecuted among my oppressed countrymen, the burden of the black days would be lighter upon my restless dreams, and the obscurity of the night would be less dark before my hollow eyes and my crying heart and my wounded soul. For he who shares with his people their sorrow and agony will feel a supreme comfort created only by suffering in sacrifice. And he will be at peace with himself when he dies innocent with his fellow innocents.

But I am not living with my hungry and persecuted people who are walking in the procession of death toward martyrdom. I am here beyond the broad seas living in the shadow of tranquillity, and in the sunshine of peace. I am afar from the pitiful arena and the distressed, and cannot be proud of ought, not even of my own tears.

What can an exiled son do for his starving people, and of what value unto them is the lamentation of an absent poet?

Were I an ear of corn grown in the earth of my country, the hungry child would pluck me and remove with my kernels the hand of Death form his soul. Were I a ripe fruit in the gardens of my country, the starving women would gather me and sustain life. Were I a bird flying the sky of my country, my hungry brother would hunt me and remove with the flesh of my body the shadow of the grave from his body. But, alas! I am not an ear of corn grown in the plains of Syria, nor a ripe fruit in the valleys of Lebanon; this is my disaster, and this is my mute calamity which brings humiliation before my soul and before the phantoms of the night. This is the painful tragedy which tightens my tongue and pinions my arms and arrests me usurped of power and of will and of action. This is the curse burned upon my forehead before God and man.

And oftentimes they say unto me, the disaster of your country is but naught to calamity of the world, and the tears and blood shed by your people are as nothing to the rivers of blood and tears pouring each day and night in the valleys and plains of the earth.”

Yes, but the death of my people is a silent accusation; it is a crime conceived by the heads of the unseen serpents. it is a sceneless tragedy. And if my people had attacked the despots and oppressors and died rebels, I would have said, “Dying for freedom is nobler than living in the shadow of weak submission, for he who embraces death with the sword of Truth in his hand will eternalize with the Eternity of Truth, for Life is weaker than Death and Death is weaker than Truth.

If my nation had partaken in the war of all nations and had died in the field of battle, I would say that the raging tempest had broken with its might the green branches; and strong death under the canopy of the tempest is nobler than slow perishment in the arms of senility. But there was no rescue from the closing jaws. My people dropped and wept with the crying angels.

If an earthquake had torn my country asunder and the earth had engulfed my people into its bosom, I would have said, “A great and mysterious law has been moved by the will of divine force, and it would be pure madness if we frail mortals endeavoured to probe its deep secrets.” But my people did not die as rebels; they were not killed in the field of battle; nor did the earthquake shatter my country and subdue them. Death was their only rescuer, and starvation their only spoils.

My people died on the cross. They died while their hands stretched toward the East and West, while the remnants of their eyes stared at the blackness of the firmament. They died silently, for humanity had closed its ears to their cry. They died because they did not befriend their enemy. They died because they loved their neighbours. They died because they placed trust in all humanity. They died because they did not oppress the oppressors. They died because they were the crushed flowers, and not the crushing feet. They died because they were peace makers. They perished from hunger in a land rich with milk and honey. They died because monsters of hell arose and destroyed all that their fields grew, and devoured the last provisions in their bins. They died because the vipers and sons of vipers spat out poison into the space where the Holy Cedars and the roses and the jasmine breathe their fragrance.

My people and your people, my Syrian Brothers, are dead. What can be done for those who are dying? Our lamentations will not satisfy their hunger, and our tears will not quench their thirst; what can we do to save them between the iron paws of hunger? My brother, the kindness which compels you to give a part of your life to any human who is in the shadow of losing his life is the only virtue which makes you worthy of the light of day and the peace of the night. Remember, my brother, that the coin which you drop into the withered hand stretching toward you is the only golden chain that binds your rich heart to the loving heart of God.

Gibran Khalil Gibran

A Night in Gethsemane with Jesus

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 22,1-23. 

The festival of Unleavened Bread, which is called the Passover, was near.
The chief priests and the scribes were looking for a way to put Jesus to death, for they were afraid of the people.
Then Satan entered into Judas called Iscariot, who was one of the twelve;
he went away and conferred with the chief priests and officers of the temple police about how he might betray him to them.
They were greatly pleased and agreed to give him money.
So he consented and began to look for an opportunity to betray him to them when no crowd was present.
Then came the day of Unleavened Bread, on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed.
So Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, ‘Go and prepare the Passover meal for us that we may eat it.’
They asked him, ‘Where do you want us to make preparations for it?’
‘Listen,’ he said to them, ‘when you have entered the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you; follow him into the house he enters
and say to the owner of the house, “The teacher asks you, ‘Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ “
He will show you a large room upstairs, already furnished. Make preparations for us there.’
So they went and found everything as he had told them; and they prepared the Passover meal.
When the hour came, he took his place at the table, and the apostles with him.
He said to them, ‘I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer;
for I tell you, I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.’
Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he said, ‘Take this and divide it among yourselves;
for I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.’
Then he took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’
And he did the same with the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.
But see, the one who betrays me is with me, and his hand is on the table.
For the Son of Man is going as it has been determined, but woe to that one by whom he is betrayed!’
Then they began to ask one another which one of them it could be who would do this.


Jesus you knew your fate, you sat with your disciples and taught them humility and how to spread the Gospel when you were gone. 

You introduced a new Passover, replacing it with the Mystery of the Eucharist, so that it is not a lamb that is sacrificed as was done for Passover but now, Jesus is the new lamb, sacrificed for our sins.

You ate the Passover lamb with them, so that you yourself might become our Passover and our Lamb.” (Prayer of forgiveness)-

 “Let us raise glory, honour, and praise to the Lamb of God, who voluntarily became the Paschal Lamb and offered himself as a redeeming sacrifice. He truly gave us his Body as food and his Blood as drink, as a pledge of eternal life.” (Prayer of Forgiveness)

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be

The Passover Lamb and the Exodus (Exodus 12,14) Ephrem, Hymns on Unleavened Bread

  1. In Egypt the Passover lamb was slain;
    in Sion the True Lamb was slaughtered. (Exodus 12:6)

    Refrain: (repeat after every verse) Praise to the Son, the Lord of symbols who fulfilled every symbol at His crucifixion.

  2. My brethren, let us consider the two lambs,
    Let us see where they bear resemblance and where they differ.
  3. Let us weigh and compare their achievements:
    of the lamb that was the symbol, and the Lamb that is the Truth.
  4. Let us look upon the symbol as a shadow, 
    let us look upon the Truth as the fulfilment.
  5. Listen to the simple symbols that concern that Passover,
    And to the double achievements of this our Passover. 
  6. So with the True Lamb there took place for the Gentiles
    An Exodus from error, and not an entry.
  7. With the Living Lamb there was a further Exodus, too,
    For the dead from the Sheol, as from Egypt.
  8. For in Egypt a pair of Symbols are depicted, since it reflects both Sheol and Error.
  9. With the Passover lamb, Egypt’s greed
    learnt to give back, against its wont;
  10. With the Living Lamb, Sheol’s hunger
    disgorged and gave over the dead, against its nature\
  11. With the true Lamb, greedy Error
    Rejected and cast up the Gentiles who were saved;
  12. With that Passover lamb, pharaoh returned the Jewish people,
    Whom, like death, he had held back.

With the Living Lamb, Death has returned
The just who left their graves.  (Matthew 27:52)

With the Passover Lamb, Egypt was breached,
And a path stretched out before the Hebrews.


Spend time thinking about what you just read, think about the two lambs and the typology you noticed. 

Read the Hymn a second time and highlight anything that stands out to you

Spend time reflecting on what stood out to you, and why you think it stood out for you.

Matthew 26:36-46

Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled.Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”

Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”

When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.

Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour has come, and the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”

Spend time in prayer with Jesus as he faces his destiny. Thank him for becoming the new Lamb, and becoming a sacrifice for our sins.

Has there been a time when you have been fearful? Ask Jesus to assist you to ‘drink from your cup’.

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be


Christina Maksisi