2020-03-29 Father François Beyrouti's Homily:"Are You Still Alive?"
This is the link to Sunday's homily: https://youtu.be/p2MGQYAofzk
The full readings and homily are below.
Are You Still Alive?
Sunday, March 29, 2020 homily by Father François Beyrouti, Ph.D./D.Th.
Hebrews 9,11-14. Mark 10,32-45.
Fifth Sunday of the Great Fast. Sunday of St. Mary of Egypt.
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-Monday, March 30. 7:00 p.m. Great Compline.
-Wednesday, April 1. 7:00 p.m. Pre-Sanctified Liturgy.
-Saturday, April 4. Lazarus Saturday.
11:00 a.m. Divine Liturgy.
5:00 p.m. Triumphal entry Vespers.
-Sunday, April 5. Palm Sunday. 11:00 a.m. Divine Liturgy.
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Gather as a family for daily prayers, watch the live-stream prayers together, and spend time with each other reading the Bible.
If you have any questions or requests please call. We are praying for you every day. Keep in mind Psalm 23:4. “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for You are with me.”
Father François Beyrouti, Ph.D./D.Th.
Holy Cross Melkite Catholic Church
451 West Madison Avenue
Placentia, CA 92870-4537
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Epistle. Fifth Sunday of Lent. Hebrews 9:11-14.
Brethren, when Christ appeared as the high priest of the good things to come (Cf.Lv.16: 14; 19: 4), he entered once for all through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made by hands (that is, not as a part of the present creation), nor again by virtue of blood of goats and calves, but by virtue of his own blood, into the sanctuary, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls and the sprinkled ashes of a heifer sanctify the unclean for the cleansing of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ (Cf. Rv. I: 5), who through the Holy Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God!
Gospel. Fifth Sunday of Lent. Mark 10:32-45 (The Greatest in the Kingdom).
At that time Jesus took the Twelve, and began to tell them what would happen to him, saying, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and the Scribes; and they will condemn him to death, and will deliver him to the Gentiles; and they will mock him, and spit upon him and scourge him, and put him to death; and on the third day he will rise again.” And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him, saying, “Master, we want thee to do for us whatever we ask.” But he said to them, “What do you want me to do for you?” And they said, “Grant to us that we may sit, one at thy right hand and the other at thy left hand, in thy glory.” But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking for. Can you drink of the cup of which I drink, or be baptized with the baptism with which I am to be baptized?” And they said to him, “We can.” And Jesus said to them “Of the cup that I drink, you shall drink; and with the baptism with which I am to be baptized, you shall be baptized; but as for sitting at my right hand or at my left, that is not mine to give, but it belongs to those for whom it has been prepared.” And when the ten heard this, they were at first indignant at James and John. But Jesus called them and said to them, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers among the Gentiles I lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. But it is not so among you. On the contrary, whoever wishes to become great shall be your servant; and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be the slave of all; for the Son of Man also has not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
For several reasons, this was an amazing week for me. The first and most important reason is that every day this week I woke up alive.
The more I thought of how amazing this is, I realized something even more amazing. Apparently I have been waking up alive every day, not just this week, but every day.
Even more amazing than that, I was breathing, eating, sleeping, and even doing some fancy dance moves from way back when I was in my mother’s womb. The Lord told the prophet Jeremiah 1:5. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you.”
It is really amazing to appreciate, not only that we are alive physically: that is because we are eating, sleeping, waking up, walking, talking, and doing everything else we do, but we are also alive spiritually. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you.”
We also see the connection between our physical and spiritual life in Luke 1:41 where we read: “When Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped [:44 for joy] in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.” This shows us that not only were Elizabeth and Mary happy they were pregnant, but also John and Jesus who were in their mother’s wombs, also expressed physical and spiritual joy at being in each other’s presence.
We can’t underestimate seeing the important connection between our physical and spiritual life, especially during this time when many people around the world spend most of their time at home. We might feel discouraged or depressed that our physical movement is limited and we can’t do everything we want to do, but this is perfect time to think of our spiritual life.
This has been an exciting week because I woke up alive, but it is an even more exciting week because I woke up spiritually alive and commit myself to be spiritually alive every day of my life.
You can tell if a person is physically alive if they move, breathe, or respond in any way. How can we tell if we are spiritually alive? First, do we live our life for God? Second, do we live our life for others?
Jesus summarized this in Matthew 22:35-40, when “a lawyer, asked him a question, to test him.  ‘Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?’  And Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.  This is the great and first commandment.  And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.  On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.’ ”
First, do we live our life for God? What does our spiritual heartbeat sound like? What do our vital essentials look like? When we wake up are we only thinking of our physical needs? Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:31-33 “Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the Gentiles seek all these things; and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.  But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.”
For us to be alive in God, the first part of our day and our journey through the day has to be with God: praying to God, thinking about God, allowing God to journey with us in our day to day decisions, and offering God our joys, successes, sorrows, and fears.
Our relationship with God has to be a real relationship. We have to offer our life to God and see our life as being from God, for God, and with God. We heard in today’s epistle to the Hebrews 9:14. “Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God.” Offer yourself today to God and cooperate with where He is leading you.
We see a perfect example of this in Mary’s response to the archangel Gabriel “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38). Repeat this phrase every day and you will be living a very healthy spiritual life.
Second, how do we live for others. This is an important second stage and not a first, because if we live for others before we live for God, then we are simply people pleasers who live for the approval of others. This is much different than Christian service which is rooted in our love for God and a love for what God wants from us and for others.
Jesus tells us what true service means in today’s gospel form Mark 10:42-45 “Jesus called them to him and said to them, ‘You know that those who are supposed to rule over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them.  But it shall not be so among you; but whoever would be great among you must be your servant,  and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all.  For the Son of man also came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.’ ”
Do we first notice the needs of others and second do we do our best to serve in the way Christ serves us? If we do this, we are spiritually alive.
A few months ago I saw priest who was with me in the seminary thirty years ago. He said, “What I remember about you is you were always smiling and always happy.” That was nice to hear because those were the most difficult years in my life academically. If you were to ask me then how I was doing academically, I would tell you how difficult I found things because I wasn’t used to such a big workload. Although these were tough academic years, they were the best years of my life spiritually and emotionally.
This is a reminder to me that there are many aspects of our life. Even if we are limited or are struggling in one aspect, we always have the other aspects that can be a great source of joy.
We sometimes focus too much on our physical well-being and forget the spiritual. Jesus reminds us “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28).
I was happy to wake up alive this morning, but am happier to be spiritually alive in Christ’s love and for Christ’s service.
Regardless of how restrained you are physically, ask yourself what you are doing to remain spiritually alive in and for Christ.