Intervention of Mons. Gregory John MANSOUR, Bishop of Saint Maron of Brooklyn of the
The Preface to the Lineamenta, reminds us that the situation surrounding the missionary
efforts of the first Christians is very similar to ours today. In the early days of
the Church, the small Christian community in the Middle East faced numerous challenges
and were in the minority. Today after much history, we are once again in the minority
and facing numerous challenges. From the perspective of a Maronite living in the
United States, whenever I visit the Middle East I notice with great appreciation the
ways in which Catholics make a profound difference in the lives of those around them.
The schools, universities, hospitals, nursing homes, drug rehabilitation centers,
hospices, orphanages, and other facilities which they operate are open to Muslim,
Jew and Christian alike. These Catholics are the “salt of the earth” and the “light
of the world” (Matthew 5:13 14). Like the early Christians, we face seemingly unsurmountable
challenges, and our chances seem slim. But we live by faith not by sight (2 Cor 5:7).
We may never convince with words our Muslim or Jewish neighbors that our presence
is truly a real blessing for them, but the same antidote which helped the first Christians
survive and overcome all challenges is also available to us: a share in God's generous
and Holy Spirit and an apostolic love for one another that has the power to make us
once again able to be “of one heart and soul” (Acts 4:32).