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

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.

Amen


Written by Kristen and Paige

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.

Reflection:

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.

Meditation:

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

Activities for Hosanna Sunday

Download these activities for the family on Hosanna Sunday.

Responding to Institutional Abuse

Certain allegations have emerged about abuse within Mission De Vie which is under the auspice of the Maronite Church in Lebanon. We are in no position to know the truth of any of those allegations and can’t comment on them.  However, experiences from around the world have demonstrated how sinister abuse in institutions can be.  In many parts of the world the Catholic Church is still dealing with the devastation amongst many of the religious orders and institutions in which these crimes have been committed. There have been a number of important lessons that have been learnt from situations in other countries which have uncovered institutional abuse against children and others forms of abuse around the world that we think are useful to be reminded about now.

  1. As a Church we must demand the highest standards of ourselves, especially when it comes to child protection. We must take complaints seriously and ensure the highest regulations of ourselves. We must also submit to the independent regulations which have been put in place for the protection of children in the civil societies we live in. Abuse does happen in the Church and it is unacceptable
  2. Voices calling out abuse must be supported, and we must demand they be heard. Natural justice, investigation and transparency are essential to uncovering the truth. Political interference in the judicial process and trial by media must be avoided. The media in particular must be careful in reporting witness testimony before it has been given in court and before investigations are concluded so as not to taint evidence or cause the victim further pain. We must remember that everyone deserves the right to due process and natural justice, including those accused. That is fundamental to uncovering the truth and protecting victims, and potential victims. Due process also requires that the judiciary is free from political and other influences and corruption. We accept that things become difficult when the allegations involve people of high profile and when the media and others are ready to decide cases even before the law has. Legislators must refrain from interfering with any process before investigations are concluded.
  1. What matters is the truth and it matters beyond reputations, including the reputation of the Church. Investigations of institutionalised abuse have revealed that so often the abuse continued because victims, especially children were not heard, because those that knew about the abuse remained silent, because those who reported it were not believed or because complaints were never investigated. Even more often, it was because people in power were more concerned about their own reputation and the reputation of the institution or the Church, than concerned with doing what was right and protecting children or victims.
  1. Abuse, especially at the hands of those in positions in power is nothing new and is not confined to the walls of the Church. Institutions are susceptible to it for all sorts of reasons which we are now learning about. It is made even worse in those developing countries that lack regulations or where there is lack of enforcement or where institutions are closely aligned to the political or judicial system and can influence it. It is also shocking, for some beyond belief and it challenges everything they have ever trusted. For the faithful, it is a huge betrayal and it takes time to process. Education is key.
  1. We must avoid defensiveness and the rhetoric of defensiveness. To the amazement of many, sometimes even ourselves, we stay in our Church, even when we are surrounded by the stench that is overwhelming us. We believe the Church and our spiritual lives transcend beyond the stench and beyond the actions of individuals. The collateral damage is the people who leave the Church because of the deep sense of disgust and betrayal they feel and we don’t judge them for that. But for those of us that remain in the Church, this is no time to remain silent. Avoid seeing things as an attack or a persecution of the Church. Rather anything that reveals the truth in fairness and in process must be welcomed. We must demand it before anyone, because that is what Christ demands of us – to protect those who cannot protect themselves and be a voice for those who are not heard and are hurt or marginalised.
  1. Today we pray for all those who have experienced sexual abuse, especially by those in positions of power in our own Church. We pray for all those who have to endure the consequences of it in fear and we pray, in this season of the Birth of Our Lord, we pray that the infant babe will protect all children.

Amen


Warning:

We understand that some readers may themselves have experienced sexual assault.
Be careful about disclosing your experience on social media. Others may not understand the issue causing you further distress. If this article causes you distress seek help from a rape or abuse service provider in your area.

What the Lebanese Revolution can teach us on this Renewal Sunday

This Sunday in the Maronite Church we commemorate Renewal Sunday in preparation for the start of the liturgical year.

Over the past 24 days we have been witnessing a revolution in Lebanon. As a child of the diaspora, I know well that the problems in Lebanon stretch back further than 30 years. I was born in Australia and my story is a familiar one. My father, like many of his generation, came to Australia nearly 50 years ago, even before the civil war, for a better life and greater opportunities.

One of the triggers of the Lebanese revolution were bushfires. Anger raged among the people as it was revealed that the Lebanese government had failed to maintain the air equipment that was needed to fight the fires. In the last month fires have also raged in the Amazon and California. This week in already drought-stricken parts of Australia we have also witnessed bushfires. In NSW over 150 homes have been lost, three people killed and almost an entire native koala population has been wiped out.

Creation is God’s revelation to us and right now Creation is crying out in pain for the damage we are causing to it. In the developed world, we continue to live in denial of the damage we are causing.

Something has awoken in the Lebanon. It is no secret that developing countries will be the first to feel the effects of climate change, pollution and degradation. Already Lebanon is experiencing an increased rate of environment related cancers and is drowning in its own waste.

Over the past two weeks, the world has witnessed as this small nation rises and demands better of its politicians. Collective voices are demanding change which will bring an end to the corruption and the exploitation of people and the environment. We have watched as people take their own initiatives to clean waste and recycle. Lebanon has become a message to all of us around the world. The entire world needs change and renewal, because all around the fires of destruction are raging.

Indigenous Australian’s long managed the environments using fire. They controlled fire rather than letting it control them. They used fire as a means to renew the bush rather than destroy it. We are all looking to Lebanon and are watching and willing, that in peace control the fires of rage and transform it into genuine change. The revolution is giving us all hope to demand the changes that all the world needs.

On this Renewal Sunday, let us pray and seek renewal from the burning fire of the Holy Spirit. Guided by the Spirit’s wisdom, let us seek renewal for ourselves, our families, our Church, our nations and most importantly Creation.

Women in the Pentecost Gospels

A Maronite lesson in the Church we are called to be

Pentecost marks the birth of the Church and throughout the season we hear Gospels and Epistles with messages to the Church. As Pentecost comes to an end, we hear a series of Gospel’s whose central characters are women. While the Gospel’s can speak to each of us individually about the kind of person we should be, these Gospel’s are chosen to speak to us collectively about the Church we are called to be, a Church that is called to decrease in order to increase.

In the Syriac Rabbula Gospel icon for Pentecost, we see the inclusion of Mary in a prominent position.  Mary is not specifically mentioned in the scene in Acts 2, however she is mentioned as being with the Apostles earlier in Acts 1:14. In Syriac thought, Mary herself is a type of  Church. As the Pentecost Gospel’s unfold, we see other women in the Gospels are also types of Church.

On the twelfth Sunday of Pentecost we are introduced to the Canaanite woman (Matthew 15:21-28). The Gospel begins with Jesus leaving “that place” and going to the region of Tyre and Sidon. The place he was leaving was where he had been challenged by the Pharisees and teachers of the law about the breaking of the traditions of the elders (Matthew 15:1). The leaders and experts of the Church are burdened and preoccupied with the laws and  it is against this exchange, that we are introduced to the Canaanite woman, a foreigner. The Canaanite woman’s call to Jesus demonstrates immediately that she knew who he was. She recognised he is Lord, the Son of David and that he is the one that can heal her demon possessed daughter who is suffering terribly. The disciples tell Jesus to send the woman away and Jesus, in what can only be regarded a humiliating rebuke, tells the woman that he was sent only for the lost sheep of Israel.

When our faith is challenged and we are

humiliated our instinct is to react and demand justice for ourselves. Instead, even when the Canaanite women was compared to a dog and humiliated and marginalised, her concern remained for her daughter’s healing. She knew that Christ was the path to that healing and she continued to beg him for it.

In the season of Pentecost,  the Canaanite woman becomes an example to us all about the Church we are called to be. The Canaanite woman is not preoccupied with the law, rather she understands the law and with that understanding approaches Christ in love, faith and humility.

With so much happening in our world today, it is easy for us to consider ourselves persecuted and react with anger and demand justice for ourselves, forgetting those who are suffering terribly. It is easier to speak of the “rules” like the Pharisees and teachers of the law and demand that they not be broken. The Canaanite woman does not react this way, instead she unravels her beauty in humility and meekness and becomes an example of faith. She kneels before Christ and begs him, not for herself, but for her daughter who needs healing. To be the Canaanite woman is counter intuitive to how we think the Church should conduct herself in society. Why shouldn’t the Church stand up and defend itself? Against our intuition, we as a Church do not need to demand justice for ourselves, rather we need to have faith that our love and humility can lead others to be healed by Christ.

On the thirteenth Sunday of Pentecost, in the Gospel of Luke 8:1-15 we hear about the women who were accompanying Jesus, including Mary Magdalene, Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward, Susanna ‘and many others who provided for them out of their resources.’

These were women who were healed by Christ are now devoting their resources to accompany Christ, preaching and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God.

The mission of the Church is a central theme in Pentecost. The Church is called to devote its resources to preaching and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The women in this Gospel are testimony to the fact that Christ came for all of our healing and salvation. This is the very mission of the Church, to proclaim that good news.  In the season of Pentecost, we are reminded that the Holy Spirit has been sent to give us the wisdom to take the message of redemption to the world. As a Church, the message is simple, Christ came for our healing and our salvation and like the women who were healed, we as a Church also stand witness to that and are called to proclaim that. These women have left everything to be with Christ and join him on his mission.

Similarly, on the fourteenth Sunday of Pentecost we hear the story of Mary and Martha. Mary leaves everything to be with Christ. Like the other Gospels, Luke 10:38-42 opens with Christ, accompanied by others, continuing a journey.

Martha like the Pharisees in Matthew’s Gospel is burdened, “anxious and worried about many things” even though Christ came to lift that burden and fulfil the law.

The message to us as a Church, is we need to avoid getting caught up in anxiety for the future, of losing our rights and way of life. Christians trust God to provide for them. The Church is more than an ideology. When as a Church, we become disciples of the ideology and are consumed by anxiety, we forget the very essence of who we are. Christ is at our centre and as a Church, like Mary, all we need is to be with him.

This year, the liturgical cycle did not proceed to the fifteenth week of Pentecost, yet in that week we would hear the Gospel of the sinful woman who found repentance through Christ. (Luke 7:36-50)

The Maronite  Pentecost lectionary gives as a typology of women to inspire us to the Church we are called to be, a Church of faith, love and humility. A Church on a missionary journey who is accompanied and healed by Christ himself.

In the words of the Liturgy at Pentecost let us remember:

Jesus is the faithful Groom
and we are the Church, his Bride.
He loves us and keeps us in the palm of his hand.
Our betrothal prophets blessed,
and our vows apostles wrote,
and when martyrs shed their blood
the promise was sealed.

Amen