Philadelphia, PA May 16, 2008
Your Eminence, Cardinal Rigali;
Bishops Aboujaoude, Shaheen, Mansour, McFadden, Thomas, and Bura; Monsignor Lischaa and Father Mouawad;
Beloved Clergy, Religious and Laity;
Distinguished Civic and Ecumenical Leaders;
Friends in Christ;
In the days after Pentecost, the Church recalls what it means to live in the Spirit, to be gathered as one body of faith, to be no longer afraid, to be bold in preaching and to live the faith with joy.
When Mary, the Mother of Jesus, the Apostles and the other disciples were gathered for the Feast of Pentecost they were afraid that the hatred and divisions of their society would consume them. The Holy Spirit changed all that in a miraculous way. Hatred and division still existed, but the apostles were able to respond with new courage, new love and new hope.
This same Holy Spirit can still change things today! As the Holy Father said recently “The Church is in a perpetual state of Pentecost”. Yes, even though the world around us remains imperfect in so many ways, we are always in a state of Pentecost if our hearts are open to repentance, forgiveness, and the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
We gather today to offer this Divine Liturgy and to pray for a new outpouring of this Holy Spirit. We invoke the tender care of the Mother of God, Mary, to pray for Lebanon and her people. We believe that God still sends out His Spirit to “renew the face of the earth”. It is that Holy Spirit who gives us the grace to love another as He loves us.
In the Gospel of today, Phillip says, “show us the Father”. Jesus responds, “I am in the Father, and the Father in Me”. When we worship Christ we encounter His hidden Father. Let us always “venerate Christ in our hearts” as St Peter said, for then we shall also worship the Father and Holy Spirit.
In closing, I offer a special prayer of gratitude to God for His Eminence Cardinal Justin Rigali and the Archdiocese of Philadelphia; you have received your brother and his prayer for Lebanon in such a gracious manner. Thank you. I also offer a sincere prayer to our Heavenly Father, asking Him to send His Holy Spirit upon all here present and upon all in communion with us here, in Lebanon, and throughout the world.
Nasrallah Peter Cardinal Sfeir
(Reprinted with permission.)