Homily. Father François Beyrouti. Sunday, July 27, 2015
The word ‘synergy’ has become a popular, yet overused word. Many people throw this word around in conversations and presentations. There are also many books that use the word ‘synergy’ in the title. For example one book uses this word in relation to food:Food Synergy: Unleash Hundreds of Powerful Healing Food Combinations to Fight Disease and Live Well. Elaine Magee (March 4, 2008)
Mark Latash in his own book entitled ‘Synergy’ said: “The word ‘synergy’ has recently become very common in both scientific and nonscientific fields. This word is used in the names of companies, cereals, methods of education, interactions among humans and animals, and certainly in basic and applied studies of movements.” (p.1. Mark L. Latash, department of Kinesiology, Penn State University. Synergy.)
Mostly, this word is used today to refer to a cooperation with others that produces a result that neither party could have achieved on their own. However, much before it became a word that so many people threw around to sound sophisticated, Saint Paul used this word to refer to the relationship that we have with God.
In today’s letter to the Corinthians, Saint Paul says: “we are God’s co-workers.” (1 Cor. 3:9) Here the Greek word ‘synergy’ is translated as “co-workers” because the word ‘synergy’ literally means ‘to work with.’ This is a very important word and concept in our Catholic tradition because it is used to emphasize that neither God nor us work alone.
However, before humans were created, God did work alone. The book of Genesis focusses on this in the first verse which reads quite simply: “In the beginning Godcreated the heavens and the earth.” Then in the third verse there is a further emphasis on God creating both alone and instantaneously: “And God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light.” (Gen. 1:3).
Although God created the first humans alone and without any help, after that He was only a co-worker in the creation of the life of every other animal and human that has been created since then. After God created the world and everything in it, God no longer worked alone. Rather, He began to synergize with humans. We need to be aware that in every aspect of our life, God still invites us to be co-workers -- to be in ‘synergy’ with Him.
In the letter to the Corinthians that we read today, Saint Paul emphasizes that we are co-workers, that is ‘in synergy’ with God, and also that we are co-workers -- in synergy -- with each other.
Saint Paul says: “According to God’s grace which has been given to me, as a wise builder, I laid the foundation, and another builds upon it.” (1 Corinthians 3:10) This is an important point in our spiritual life. We cannot think that either God works alone or that we work alone.
We can neither say that God can do whatever He wants, nor can we say that we can do whatever we want. God works with us to encourage us to make good things happen in our life and when we work with God those things are very fruitful.
The source of every good thought and every good thing we do is God Himself. These are daily gifts that God gives us. God has put the Holy Spirit in us to encourage us to do good things and it is our response that determines whether the good that needs to get done, actually gets done. This is what synergy, working ‘with God,’ means in the Christian tradition and as used by Saint Paul.
We have another example of synergy in the Gospel we read today. When Saint Peter sees Jesus walking on the water, he says: “Lord, if it is you, order me to come to you over the water.” (Mt. 14:28) With Jesus’s invitation and his own strong faith, Saint Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on water. However, when Saint Peter began to sink when he saw the wind and focused on his own fears. He forgot that it was Jesus who had given him the power to walk on the water. When Saint Peter saw himself sinking, he turned once again to Jesus and said: “ ‘Lord, save me!’ And Jesus at once stretched out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, ‘O you of little faith, why did you doubt?’ ” (Mt. 14:30-32) This is a great example of ‘synergy’ with God and an inspiration for all of us to turn to God in our every need regardless of what those needs may be.
When we realize that true success is only achieved when we are working with God, then we can see God as the source of every inspiration and also see God as our strength in accomplishing the good we need to do. Very often we are like Saint Peter who turn to God only when we are not doing well, then forget God when things are going smoothly. Working with God means to remember God in times of difficulty as well as in times of strength.
There is a story of a group of scientists who got together and decided to tell God that human knowledge has developed so much that humans no longer need God. God said, “Ok, so let’s have a test to make sure that what you’re saying is true. I created a human person from the soil that was on the ground. Are you able to do that?” The group of scientists said: “Of course we can. Watch this.” They went and got a big pile of soil and began to experiment. Then God said: “Wait a minute, that’s my soil. I created it. If you think you’re so smart, go make your own soil, then create a man out of it.”
It is good to think that we are smart, but it is even better to know that every good quality we have is a free gift from God that we are to use in ‘synergy’ with Him because this is how God intended us to use our gifts. Today’s readings encourage us to ‘work with’ God and with others. This is the kind of synergy that helps us grow as men and women of faith. We are not super-heroes trying to save the world by ourselves.
In everything we do, let us remind ourselves that God is the source of every inspiration that we have and God is also our strength as we work hard to accomplish our dreams. We are truly in ‘synergy’ with God when we work with God and when we use our talents to work for God.
On Monday, July 20, the Maronite Servants of Christ the Light facilitated an afternoon of prayer and reflection for the children enrolled in the three week “Summer Fun” program at St. Francis Xavier Elementary School in Acushnet, MA.
Our afternoon began with lots of fun, with the children participating in the game “Jesus says”. Mother Marla Marie used the game as the first point of reflection for the afternoon, “do we want to do what Jesus says?” and “what does he say?” The children answered that Jesus wants us to love, to give, to be kind. One boy even answered that Jesus wants us to follow the “Golden Rule.”
Mother Marla Marie explained to the children that Jesus wants us to give our all in loving Him and in loving others, and one way we can do that is by sharing. Mother Marla Marie showed a video to illustrate this point and then asked how they can make a habit of sharing in their own lives. A craft project concluded the afternoon, and they were able to take home a decorated cross to remind them of their promise to share.
The Maronite Servants of Christ the Light participated in the Maronite Youth Organization (MYO) National Workshop held on July 6th to July 11th at St. Vincent’s College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. The workshop was coordinated and facilitated by Fr. Gary George, C. Ss.R, National Youth Coordinator.
The theme was “Christmas in July”, with a focus on the Maronite Liturgucal Season of “Happy Announcements” leading up to the Glorious Birth of Our Lord. Each day focused on a different “happy announcement”, which also included daily Divine Liturgy and lots of time for fun and sports.
Beginning with the Announcement to Zechariah, the theme of the first day was fear. The youth were encouraged to look at their own lives and journeys of faith and see where fear may be crippling their growth. As Jesus, present in the Holy Mysteries, was brought into the midst of the youth on that first night, they were encouraged to listen to his sweet voice telling them, “Be not afraid, I am always with you”.
The second day focused on the Announcement to Mary by the Angel Gabriel, and Mary’s visit to her cousin, Elizabeth. Fr. Gary encouraged the youth to use their imagination in thinking about just how Mary would have felt, as a young teenage girl, being asked to become the Mother of the world’s Savior? Mary said ‘yes’ without really knowing what she was in for, without really knowing how much her ‘yes’ would involve. Her trust in God was beyond measure. The youth were asked to consider how they can say ‘yes’ to God in their everyday lives. Some said “by praying more”, others said “by helping out more around the house”.
Not only did Mary say ‘yes’, but the next thing she did was run in haste to the hill country of Judea and share her gift of Jesus with her elderly cousin, Elizabeth. Mary made a complete gift of herself to everyone in need around her, and so the youth were encouraged to think about how they can give more of themselves to those in need, and the particular gifts they have received from God. That night, the youth were able to receive the gift forgiveness in the Mystery of Penance.
The third day of the Workshop focused on the Birth of St. John the Baptist and the Revelation to St. Joseph. The Birth of John the Baptist demonstrates the sheer joy that accompanies those who submit to the divine plan of God. Mother Marla Marie spoke to the youth about the joy of consecrated life, and the privilege of being able to serve God. On the night of the third day, the youth were able to experience the deep joy that comes from Christ’s healing presence in adoration, as each one was invited to come up and touch Jesus. It was a moving sight as each teen emerged from their encounter with Jesus deeply touched and unburdened.
The fourth day focused on the Genealogy of Jesus and His Glorious Birth. As mentioned by Fr. Rudi Wakim in his homily for the day, Jesus came from a long line of sinners, and was born in a humble stable that housed animals, and probably didn’t smell too good. Now why would the King of kings do that? To show us how much he loves us, and to redeem all that is sinful in us.
The Workshop concluded with a fun day for the youth at the local water park, “Idlewild”, and the Christmas Ball in the evening. God bless the efforts of all those involved in coordinating and assisting in this year’s Workshop.
The Maronite Servants of Christ the Light attended this year’s National Apostolate of Maronites (NAM) Convention in Cleveland, Ohio from July 1st to July 5th, 2015.
We were blessed with the opportunity to meet and mingle with over 1,000 of our Maronite parishioners who attended the Convention from all over the US, listen to spiritual discussions, and participate in enriching events.
Throughout the several days of the Convention, we also had the opportunity to attend and participate in events with our Maronite Young Adults (MYA), including Theology on Tap (ToT), and the MYA lunch with Bishops Gregory Mansour and Elias Zaidan, and other clergy.
Another highlight on the second day of the Convention was listening to inspirational Maronite speaker, Rachel Muha. Rachel is a native Maronite of Ohio who was sharing the emotional and heart-wrenching story of how her son was brutally murdered at the young age of 19, and how God gave her the grace to forgive her son’s two murderers. Rachel discovered in the trial of her son’s murderers that these two men both had severe substance abuse problems for quite some time and came from impoverished families which showed them no love. This spurred Rachel on to found a not-for-profit establishment now known as the “Run the Race” Club in Ohio. The “Run the Race” Club is open to all underprivileged children that come from difficult family situations and broken homes, and are given the opportunity to have some fun and, most importantly, are shown a lot of much needed love. God bless her endeavors!
At the Closing Banquet of the NAM Convention, we were able to congratulate the winner of this year’s Golden Massabki Award, Therese Abi Habib, a parishioner of Our Lady of Lebanon Cathedral in Brooklyn, New York, and listen to famous Lebanese singer, Tony Kiwan.
May God bless the efforts and work of all those involved in this year’s Convention. It was a great success. We look forward to seeing you all next year in San Francisco, God willing!
On Saturday, June 27, the Maronite Servants of Christ the Light hosted an afternoon of “pray and play” for the Knights of the Virgin Mary (Arabic: Fersen el Adra) from Our Lady of the Cedars Parish, Boston, at the Mother of Light Convent. Also in attendance with the Fersen children were their parents and coordinators.
Our afternoon began with lots of fun, with the children participating in games and enjoying the grounds of the convent, and enjoying pizza lunch. The children and adults were then given a tour of the Mother of Light Convent, with an opportunity to spend some time with Jesus in our Chapel of St. Maron.
The afternoon followed with a spiritual talk from Mother Marla Marie about what we can do as Christians to become more like Jesus, focusing especially on the need to share what we have with others. They had time for a craft to remind them that must allow Christ’s light to shine before others in this world, which they, and then a visit to Our Lady’s Grotto to offer a decade of the rosary.
Nisrine Abou Rached, a parent and coordinator of Fersen, commented that “it was a blessed day, thanks for having us. We start our visit with yummy food, then games, movies, learning, craft and much more we can't thank you enough. We had a great time.” For those interested in also holding a similar event, please contact the Maronite Servants at 508/996-1753.
Golden Jubilee of Father Bill Salmon
We attended the Eucharistic Celebration commemorating the Golden Jubilee of Fr. William Salmon at the Roman Catholic Church of St. Helen in Norwell MA on Sunday, June 28. Fr. Bill, a priest for the Archdiocese of Boston, greatly assisted the Maronite Servants in the early stages of our establishment by providing us with accommodation in the convent on the premises of his former parish, Immaculate Conception in Weymouth MA. We lived there for two years before moving to the Mother of Light Convent in Dartmouth. May God continue to bless his ministry.