Homily of Patriarch Bechara Peter Cardinal Rai at Our Lady of the Cedars Boston, MA October 27, 2017 “The Kingdom of God is like a mustard seed and like leaven” We are happy to visit Our Lady of the Cedars upon the invitation of Bishop Gregory and Monsignor El-Khalli, myself, Archbishop Sayah and Mr. Walid Ghayad. I welcome Bishop Kennedy, who represents Cardinal Sean O’Malley, as well as Bishop Samra. We are grateful for their presence. Coming from Washington DC, from the 4th Summit of In Defense of Christians (IDC), which highlighted the importance of the presence of Christians in the Middle East and the need to overcome the challenges caused by wars raging in the region, including attacks, persecution, and genocide. This a war is piece by piece, in the Middle East, as Pope Francis has been saying. The Gospel of today inspires us to pursue our mission, our vocation, our witness to Christ. We resist all evils through our faith, and we witness to the Gospel of peace, love, justice, and fraternity, that we may help build societies that are more fitting to man. The Kingdom of God is the Church, which means us, the faithful, the Body of Christ. Jesus likens the Church to a mustard seed, the smallest of seeds, yet it grows so big that even the birds make their nests. This community is also Our Lady of the Cedars in Boston, and the Eparchy of Saint Maron, both are called to grow in number, faith, and in good works. I am happy to witness the growth of this parish from the work of Monsignor Lahoud to that of Monsignor El-Khalli. This Church welcomes all our communities in the Middle East, and we are all called to grow in this faith and service. We have to keep our parishes, Eparchies and institutions healthy and well to be able to serve our people. Jesus in the Gospel of today also compared the Church to leaven. As the leaven makes dough into bread, so we are the leaven in our societies in the Middle East. We are the leaven of the Gospel of true human values. Likewise, American society welcomed us, and we are also called to enrich this society with our heritage, liturgy, spirituality, and culture. This is why we work in our parishes and Eparchies. This is how we participate in the life and mission of the Church in the United States. The IDC summit showcased the value of the presence of Christians in the Arab and Muslim world. We are called upon, in Saint Paul’s words, to forget what problems lay behind, and to look forward to what lies ahead, trusting in God’s grace and strength, which defeats the powers of evil. In that IDC summit, we raised our voices, as we do now in this Liturgy, calling for the end to wars in the Middle East, the resolution of conflicts through the diplomatic and political means, the implementation of a just, lasting, and global peace, and the return of all refugees, displaced, and the kidnapped, to their homes. There they will enjoy their full rights of citizenship and their dignity. Lastly, we raise our voices in the international community, and in the Church as an earnest prayer to God, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Our Lady of the Cedars, that we may glorify the Father, Son and Holy Spirit now and forever, Amen.

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