Friday, November 13, 2020

Year of Maronite Outreach Sunday of the Announcement to Zechariah

 Dear Brothers and Sisters,

As I wrote to you previously, I was in Lebanon during the month of October to participate in the meetings and work of the Annual Synod of Bishops held in Bkerke. I recently returned to Sydney. I thank God for a safe trip and I thank you for your prayers and well wishes for me personally and for the work of our Synod. The Synod meetings discussed many pressing social and national issues pertaining to Lebanon, as well as liturgical and ecclesiastical matters pertaining to our Maronite Church.

I felt that this visit to Lebanon was sadly different to every other visit before. The impact of the socio-economic crisis, the repercussions of the explosion at the port of Beirut, the stalemate situation of the political life and the health crisis caused by COVID-19 have had catastrophic effects on Lebanon and its people. It is estimated that unemployment has reached 60% and people are quickly falling below the poverty line. The price of food and goods has drastically increased and a number of medications and essentials have started to run out. This has resulted in mass migration from Lebanon by all: young, old, families and single people, hoping to find a better life anywhere else due to a lack of hope that the situation will change soon.



All this and the government is absent or doing very little to alleviate the pain and suffering of the Lebanese people. It has all been left to the NGOs and Church organisations working on the ground. These organisations are doing their best but the need is beyond their capability. At the moment, the best avenues to help the people of Lebanon is by supporting your relatives or friends there directly or by donating to the organisations in the diaspora sending aid or financial support to Lebanon. I thank you for your generosity and help.

In preparation for Christmas, our Eparchy in Australia, in collaboration with our diocesan organisations and in partnership with Caritas Lebanon, will launch a sponsorship program over the coming days, whereby a family in Australia can commit to donating $100USD per month to support one family in Lebanon. Caritas has a list of more than 15,000 families in need and $100USD, or $25 per week, may not be much for a family in Australia, but it can help a family in Lebanon buy its bare necessities. More details will be provided soon.


This Sunday in our Maronite Church is the Sunday of the Announcement to Zechariah and this week begins a new season of our liturgical year, the Season of the Glorious Birth. In this Gospel, we see that nothing is impossible for God. He sent a child to Zechariah and Elizabeth in their old age and fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah that someone will come before Christ to “prepare the way of the Lord” (Isaiah 40:3). This prophecy was fulfilled in John the Baptist. Over the coming 7 weeks, we are called to prepare the way for the Lord in our Church and in our lives.

I wish you a good day with your families and a blessed Season of the Glorious Birth of our Lord, praying that you make way and room for the Lord in your homes and hearts

+Antione-Charbel Tarabay

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