- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 14, 2006

The following is an excerpt from the homily delivered last week by Bishop Gregory Mansour at the dedication of Our Lady of Lebanon Maronite Church, which is being pastored by Chorbishop Dominic Ashkar:

In Washington, D.C., there are government buildings, museums and houses of worship. The government buildings help to make our society more just. The museums bear witness to our glorious and sometimes ignominious past. The houses of worship are there to bring us closer to God.

The new Our Lady of Lebanon Church is not a government building in order to make people more just, although this is important. Nor is it a museum to remind us of our past, although this too is important. It is a house of worship, created to help us encounter God.

In particular, since it is a Christian house of worship and since Christianity is not a religion of law, we focus on the mercy of God, for the church is the presence of Jesus Christ the Merciful One, in the world.

But what is mercy? From Webster’s dictionary we see three definitions. The first, “compassion or forbearance shown especially to an offender.” Second, “compassionate treatment of those in distress.” Third, “compassion that forbears punishing even when justice demands it.”

Isn’t this how God has treated us in Christ Jesus? Since, therefore, God has so mercifully dealt with us, offenders of His justice and His mercy, how then ought we to treat one another, if not with the same generous mercy that God has treated us?

Brothers and sisters, your pastor, Chorbishop Dominic Ashkar, overcoming many obstacles, has helped you build this house of mercy, the place where Christ dwells. Today is a new day for us. May we be ambassadors of His love and mercy in our world.

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