The Maronite Church is the foundation of my life. My service as a Subdeacon has brought me back to my childhood awe of our Creator. When I let myself view God and Jesus as I did when I was a child, tears of joy rise in me that go beyond explanation to a unwavering faith in Jesus Christ as the bridge to both a joyful life on earth and everlasting life with God.
When I was a little boy I remember singing the song, “Jesus Loves the Little Children” in Sunday school. This song still comes to me often when I see a child playing or laughing, or when I hear of a miracle that clearly seems to be the work of the Holy Spirit. If I were a child, Jesus would surely love me. But does he love me as an adult? Most of the time I believe he does, but the daily challenges of living and working in the world sometimes diminish that belief. I lose hope for a moment here and there. But then I see a small child laugh or a baby in a mother’s arms and I am reminded of my faith. It then becomes much clearer to me what we all need to do to support our faith…become and stay like children in our unfailing wondrous belief in the salvation of Jesus Christ. That seems easy if we can remember the awe of belief and faith we had as children in all things wondrous; Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, Superman, Mighty Mouse and the Lone Ranger. Heroes who made us happy children, bringing joy and saving people, just like Jesus who saved each of us who believe in Him. Now I am sure some will want to be a critic of my comparison of cartoon characters with Jesus. If you thought that, you’re missing my point. I am talking about the awe of belief in something, and when that something is the Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, we are transformed. The children’s song is a wonderful reminder of God’s love for each of us as adults who must be like innocent children in our worship. Here are the words again.
Jesus loves the little children
All the children of the world
Red, brown, yellow, black and white
They are precious in His sight.
Jesus loves the little children of the world.
Seems to me this is a pretty solid and unambiguous message. Believe in God and his Kingdom as a child does and you will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Another example of this is the scripture passage from Matthew 18:2-3 “2 And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, 3and said, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.”
All of this and much more contributed to my discernment to answer God’s calling to serve the Maronite Church as a lector, cantor and subdeacon. My favorite part of this role is participating in silent prayer and adoration of the Eucharistic celebration and during the consecration which is said in Aramaic. I love chanting the Fetgomo, I love the prayers of the Syriac Antiochene Maronite Liturgy. When I participate with the mindset of a child, I am awed every time and filled with the Love of Jesus.
My biggest challenge in this ministry is keeping the balance between my love, dedication and need to provide financially for my family and staying humble and discerning in my role as a servant of God. I think the ego can promote pride and the false self which is contrary to the Divine plan for disciples of Jesus Christ. We are told the world has temptations; people will take advantage of you if they can. If you focus on this fear, it becomes your operating mindset. If I set up a competition between my work needs, my family’s needs and the Church’s needs, it will become a lose/lose situation. The challenge is to stay with the love of a child, but discern with the help of the Holy Spirit each meet and greet choice, the events and the people in your home and work life. When we welcome these challenges with the awe of a child, discern God’s will and give each one to the Holy Spirit with faith, daily life will be blessed and human connections will thrive and sustain with simplicity living in the Presence of the Lord . It is not always easy, but the path is clear.
Another challenge is maintaining the wisdom and simplicity of patience. The patience of waiting for the Coming of the LORD in our spiritual development, the patience of Job as we continue our daily work of earning a living, strengthening our family relationships and serving God; and, most important of all sustaining patience with our own imperfection as sinners. I find I am much harder on myself than almost anyone. I need to develop patience, surrendering my life to His will, while He creates that wonderful and beautiful sculpture from the block of my present self, knowing I will someday get to a place of peace and simplicity living God’s will. I wrote this poem many years ago and it seems appropriate for this article’s theme. It is called
Patience is a funny thing,
That’s not inside of me.
I wonder how, and why and when,
Patience will come to me.
I hope it’s soon for it’s getting late,
I really am afraid.
For if I don’t get it soon,
I just will have to wait.
When I was child, Jesus was my Hero. He still is. But as I grow in my spiritual strength and faith He has become so much more than that. Jesus Christ manifested in the Most Holy Trinity, is my Friend, my Lord and my Savior, and to quote a wonderful Maronite Priest; Fr. Joe Thomas, our Trinitarian God is “my sickle in the thicket” May God grant me the patience to live my life according to His will.