Archbishops Migliore and Aboujaoude,
Bishops Mansour, Doueihi, and brother bishops;
Chorbishop Thomas, Fathers Root, Younes, and Madi;
Beloved Priests, Deacons and Subdeacons;
Ambassadors Chedid and Salam;
Consul General Azzam, Miss Ziade;
Members of CNEWA, Fordham University and Saint Joseph’s University;
Ecumenical Leaders from the Orthodox Churches,
Civic Officials and Dignitaries;
Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
What a blessing it is for us to be here, and what a grace it is to offer this Divine Liturgy for the intentions of the people of Lebanon. We ask God’s blessing upon her peacemakers, and we ask His help to soften the hearts of those who place obstacles in the way of justice and peace.
In the Church, the days after the Feast of Pentecost are filled with the Holy Spirit. On Pentecost, the disciples, along with Mary, were gathered in the Upper Room fasting, praying and encouraging one another as they awaited the Holy Spirit, which Jesus had promised them.
The Holy Spirit gave them the courage, power, and gifts to witness to Christ, to take risks, to work for the salvation of the world, to lay down their lives for the truth. They were afraid of the hatred and divisions that were so strong in their society, but something new happened. When the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles they spoke in different tongues, yet everyone understood them. This was a sign, as Pope Benedict recently reminded us, that, “the fruit of pride which divides mankind, was overcome by the Spirit which is charity, and gives us unity in diversity”. The Spirit of Love changes everything. There will still be hate and divisions, but the Holy Spirit helps us overcome evil with good.
The People of Lebanon today need to be filled with this promised Spirit. With the help of the Virgin Mary and the prayer of the Apostles we too will receive our share of this Spirit, encourage one another not to give in to fear or despair, and as the Gospel of today implies, we will sow justice so as to reap the gift of peace.
In the Spirit we will wait with hope, work closely together, fast, pray and trust that God never disappoints those who turn to him in faith.
So, let us turn to our Blessed Mother whom we honor today with the title of “Our Lady of the Harvest”. We place our hope in her maternal intercession, knowing that no one who ever turned to her in need was ever left unaided and we place our trust in God and beseech the prayers of Our Lady of Lebanon for safe keeping and protection.
Our Lady of the Harvest, Our Lady of Lebanon, pray for us, that Our Heavenly Father may, once again send his Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Love, upon us and upon all who work and pray for justice and peace.
Patriarch Nasrallah Peter Cardinal Sfeir
(Reprinted with permission.)