The Great and Holy Thursday

97-03-28 01:38:18 EST From: BishopElya

Heart to Heart - To all my brother priests in the Eparchy of Newton: Holy Thursday, March 27, 1996

My dear brother priest:

As I was celebrating at our Cathedral the Divine Liturgy of Institution, during which I washed the feet of twelve “disciples,” I was thinking of everyone of you who dedicated your lives to serve the Lord as the Twelve Apostles did. I certainly appreciate and hold in the highest esteem your priestly work on behalf of our people for whom Christ suffered and died and rose from the dead. I was a parish priest for 16 years, until I was ordained as an Auxiliary bishop. I did not cease then to assume Pastoral responsibilities, until I was appointed as the chief Pastor in the Eparchy of Newton. I know what the care of souls entails: responsibility, challenge, anxiety, frustration, sacrifice and also exhilaration in the marvels achieved by God through our humble hands.

It all started today, at the Last Supper, when Jesus told us, as he told His twelve Apostles, “... I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father. It was not you who have chosen Me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in My name, He may give you. This I command you: love one another.” (John 15:15-17)

Since my appointment as your bishop, I have been praying many times a day for you as you are doing it for me. If you see good things taking place in the Eparchy, please add a word of thanks to God from Whom all good things come. If you see things lacking -- we are all human -- please add a word of supplication for guidance and courage and also patience for the many things which we cannot change. It is easier to change oneself than to change the world. As I have said it many times, I have my ears and my heart opened to your calls. My phone is at your service any hour of day and night. If sometimes you and I disagreed about particular issues, I have always considered the disagreement about issues and not about you or me. Issues come and go, but people are created in the image of God.

Often people advise me to be more firm about several issues. My answer had been that “people are more important than things.” We have no lack of laws and precepts and prescriptions and directives in our Eparchy -- God’s laws, Church laws, Synodal directives, Eparchy’s regulations. They are there for our fulfillment and for the common good. We may apply to ourselves the prayer which we recite on the baptismal candidate as we lay our hand on him/her: “Enable {us} to carry out all Your commandments and to observe all Your precepts, for if a man does these things, he will find life in them.” We need unity in our Eparchy. Unity cannot be achieved if each one of us goes his/her own way. “Jesus is our peace, He who made both one and broke down the dividing wall of enmity, through His flesh... that He might create in Himself one new person instead of the two, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile both with God, in one body through the cross, putting that enmity to death by it.” (Ephesians 2:14-16)

May our Lord and Savior Jesus, “Who was handed over for our transgressions and was raised for our justification” (Romans 4:25) give you the full joy of His glorious Resurrection.

With my continued best wishes and prayers, I remain

Devotedly yours in Christ,

Bishop John