Bush Fires of Love

The bushfires in Victoria over the past week or two have certainly shaken our country. It is hard not to be touched by these scenes of human tragedy in our own ‘backyard’.

We have seen images of charred homes on the news, weeping families and stubbornly resilient hope in people’s eyes. We have seen people’s lives destroyed and acts of heroic courage. We have seen a huge outpouring of support, in words and in donations, for the victims of the fires. We have seen acts of profound selflessness, evidence that there remain in our days people who genuinely care for others.

I received an email that contained this message:

“…a volunteer firefighter who spent three days fighting the fires, saving lives and homes, finally went to his own home for some badly-needed sleep. His house burnt down at 3.30 am while he was sleeping in it.”

I am reminded of the words of our Lord Jesus:

“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” (John 15:13)

Some may see this as a gross injustice. Why should a man who worked so hard to save others be treated in this shabby way by life? What had he done that he deserved to die?

But there is a bigger picture: the same words might have been said of Jesus Himself as He hung on the Cross.

When Love enters, Justice retires to the back of the room, for one far greater is present. Love is not about justice for oneself – it is about the giving of oneself. Often, to give in love means to surrender one’s rights willingly and happily.

I don’t know anything else about his firefighter, whether he was a good man or not, whether he loved God or went to Church. But I think his act of selfless giving to save others would not go unrewarded by God.

If nothing else, it is interesting to contemplate that we all must die, one day, somehow. Perhaps this way of dying gives meaning to his life, more than many other ways he might have died? And perhaps that makes his life a life worth living.

Selfless self-sacrifice has its own rewards, not just in eternity, but also here on earth. It means something to forget the self and to serve others, regardless of the cost. How many people are at this very moment stumbling through their day without a real purpose, living selfish lives without meaning?

Perhaps the fire-fighter’s sacrifice is to be celebrated; perhaps we should reserve some sadness for those who still walk on the earth but are dead inside.

Fr Ant

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13 Replies to “Bush Fires of Love”

  1. The life of the cross is the greatest meaningful life to fill the emptiness of the human being on earth and to gain eternal heaven ….. it is simple ,love to be loved,be merciful so you will get mercy . forgive to be forgiven , respect to be respected , give hope to receive hope ,be honest to be treated with honesty ,be open so the others to be open with you ,treat others with dignity so others to treat you with dignity ,share so others will share with you ,be kind so others will be kind to you ,care so others will care about you ,give so you will be given ,treat people on merits and fair go so you will be treated the same way ,give to be given and by giving more any of these without limit it would be the most rewarded meaningful aspect on earth and heaven ….as mother Teresa said , we can not fix the world by doing big things but we can do small things with love and care which are great in front of the eyes of God …. look at Anba Abram of his unlimited giving to those LEAST ….mate our main problem in the Coptic culture that we are strict in keeping our Church traditions of our mass and hymns etc. which i believe it is great but i believe we are the worst in our real way of meaningful life of the cross towards one another and the human beings race as a whole ….Jesus said it straightforward i need mercy and not sacrifice …FAITH WITHOUT DEEDS IS DEAD …..i believe it is time for the leaders of the Coptic Church in this part of the world has to work hard in this aspect and restore trust and faith back in our Australian Coptic community and the church ???!!!!i believe it is time now this is to be preached around the year in our churches and i believe it would be great if a conference in our churches to be held in this aspect …it might be the first step of real reconciliation for our community to heal and restore back trust and faith among them and our churches …..we look forward that our blessed bishop and our priests and the whole Coptic community to come in line together and praise our Lord Jesus Christ for his great deeds toward us… all of us make mistakes everyday but we learn from it ….. Praise God by your life and work ,amen ….

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  2. well said romani,
    I share all your views, but is there anyway you can reach the whole community. Because big numbers are lost, some have opposite ideas to what stated above. My nephew came yesterday with questions that brought tears to my eyes as i did not know how to answer.
    Truly, it is sad to see people die in fires, but i believe it is even more heartbreaking to see people alive but dying slowly in the spirit.
    Not just that, but also dragging others with them.
    I think it is worse than bushfires case. Because bushfires case is showing, so people are helping. Firefighters are working, donations are there, love is there. But where are our firefighters gone, we urgently need them now.

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  3. Marina , i believe our Bishop and our priests got the message as most of them read this blog with its broader honest views of a lot of young and old Church congregation in this part of the world …. it reflects honestly a great opinion sample of our church congregation ….the ball is still in the court of our bishop and our priests and we are waiting … we are not giving away neither our identity as Australian Coptic Community nor our way of meaningful life in this part of the world … simply ,we need a spiritual bishop and spiritual priests in our churches to look after our families spiritual affairs and needs in this part of the world …. urgently active and real spiritual life must be developed in our churches for our youth, with sermons , conferences and forums ….our least need regular care and love by the church …we ask our bishop or might be pop Shounouda in this stage to send his representative to check and review the situation and to check the tasks of our priests in regular performance appraisal to fulfill our community spiritual needs … i believe if some of our priests can not cope with the pressure in Sydney ,they can provide their services to our smaller communities in the country side ….sometimes we wonder what our priests do in regular daily work in ESSENTIAL TASKS ?????!!! we can see the other christian communities around in Sydney , the priests from the morning driving the church micro bus ” no private cars provided by the church like our priests ” with their simple mobile phones ” no open line mobile phones like our priests provided by the church ” and they go around to serve their christian communities ….. if our priests have got no time please no need for a lot of masses during the week and please use the saved time to activate our spiritual life in this part of the world before it is too late, you are accountable in front of God for all those spirits ….Our lord said , I NEED MERCY AND NOT A SACRIFICE… we urgently ask Pop Shounouda to interfere ….. every thing is possible in God , amen ….. please forgive me but i believe like others, i feel something must be done as soon as possible ….

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  4. dear Romani
    I have been following this blog for a while, but to tell you the truth I never expected these judgmental comments from you. You seemed like a spiritual caring person, I mean you still are but why do you think that our priests don’t have much to do?

    I am sure you have not been closely associated with a priest’s tasks before. I have… It happens to be that I am related to a priest, and I know pretty much what their job requires. It is as demanding as anything. You do not know my friend what these priests go through, most of their tasks are hidden, because they are involved in so many problems, issues, lost families, sick people, and sometimes disasters. These things not meant to be out in the open for everybody.

    I find it funny when you say priests work harder in other Christian community, never been the case, I have been with other non Coptic priests through friends. And they are not involved in anything. Here in our community, we run to abona for every little thing, and it is good in a way. Other priests do not get involved in anything to do with personal lives of their people. So if any of their youth go on drugs, they are just not involved in that, they may drive buses as you say, they just do normal work that they get rewarded for.
    Priesthood is not a job, it is a life, a very hard life.

    OUR PRIESTS ARE THE MOST HARDWORKING PRIESTS; this has been admitted by other Christians who happen to be doctors & specialists treating our priests. I remember one doctor saying that he never knew that a priest’s job can involve all this amount of work & stress that affects their health!!!!!

    You say no need for many masses during the week. Masses are bringing heaven on earth. Pope Kirolos used to pray a mass every day, he did it some times with 1 deacon present & no congregation because people used to think he is an ignorant man that had nothing to do. & now we strive to touch the clothes that this man of miracles used to wear.

    For your own knowledge, I know some priests here who spent years fasting not to mention the prayers for some people in our congregation that have massive problems that not you or me are aware of. I find that to be ultimate spirituality, because they do that in secret & yet hear people telling them they do nothing, & you keep judging them and ask for review. Review what? You even interfere in what car they are driving. I find that more than offensive. Please stop judging, enough cos it is causing a lot of hurt. & it will lead us to nothing.

    It is not the priests’ fault that our bishop left Sydney, it is the nasty attitude of the people in this part of the world, who do not give up. By the way, our bishop is NOT under review as most of you think. Our Bishop has been visiting my relatives in Italy two weeks ago & the people there think he is the most simple & sweetest bishop. & the Coptic Italian community thinks we are a terrible congregation. Our Bishop is staying there as sort of punishment to us, because everything now is on hold. That means that we cannot expand our churches here or the schools or do any big decision, He is still in charge but He is away which affects us negatively. He is traveling everywhere with other bishops on conferences around the world. He is among much more civilized people. & sadly, it has been reported in Egypt that the church in Australia cause too many problems & lack spirituality. Apparently, a video of our congregation insulting the bishop on Sydney roads has reached Egypt & other places. & people who saw it were astonished!!!!!!
    Very sad & shameful
    So my friend, nobody will interfere, & I am afraid that nothing will be done. We deserve it afterall.

    Our priests & Bishop are very superior to be able to serve in this part of the world. Next time you judge them or get an idea to send them to the country!!, think twice, who am I to question the work of God & the Holy Spirit. Be very scared because these people you think they do nothing are very HOLY!!!

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  5. and here we go again…
    you say the clergy ‘got the message’, its a shame the people didn’t get the message!!
    The clergy are fine, I think you all need to stop whinging!!
    It’s not them who are bringing the church down, it’s you people!!

    If I’m not frequenting church anymore, its not because of the clergy, but its because of the people, the way they have become, and the environment THEY have created!!

    and hey, you complain about the priests wasting their time in meaningless tasks like liturgies, yet you want them to be more spiritual…how does that work??
    you complain about priests having cars and mobile phones and yet you want them to more efficiently serve the community…I don’t know how you put that argument together??
    If you don’t want them to have these things, then how about you lead by example and give up your own!!

    you want HH Shenouda to intervene, I would ask him to intervene and dissolve or nullify our diocese…then the problems will go away and you will have nothing to complain about…but when we go belly-up, it will be our own doing, and you will all have yourselves to blame!!

    you know what…its funny how a lot get on here and claim that others have the same opinions as yourselves…in an attempt to validate you opinion perhaps??

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  6. mate i believe the current work load of our priests is heavy….they do church sacraments ” plenty of it including liturgies and confessions with a lot of time consumption “, councilors , mediators , teachers , administrators ,visitations to the sick in hospitals as well as visitations to the congregations and those least , look after our youth in meetings , seminars , conferences and forums , other meetings on the church and it keeps going on … it is too much for the priests and their families …. on the other hand , our spiritual life and needs in this part of the world must be activated and fulfilled …i believe currently our needs is more than just liturgies for most of the week … simply it would be great if a balance on all those tasks must be created in an efficient way on those essential tasks … might be fair the tasks of the priest to be revisited in the future and to be reviewed …. as far as the the means are there and are provided and we are better than other christian communities in this part of the world in this aspect …the harvest is a lot there but it needs those who do harvesting as our Lord say …we pray that our lord Jesus Christ look after our churches and our communities and specially our youth in this part of the world ….may God get us safe and sound through this ordeal …..

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  7. Shereen, I could not have said it better myself…I finally have somebody on here who thinks the same way I do…

    Romani, you seem to have changed your tone..’I believe the workload of the priests is heavy’…as you say…

    but I just don’t understand you, I don’t understand how you are constructing your arguments…

    I think you just don’t get it…you admit the priests are attentive to their visitations, confessions, etc. You admit the priests are attentive to their social work, and they are not just priests, they are mediators, teachers and administrators.

    And yet you complain that they are fruitlessly paying too much attention to their liturgies and not paying any attention to the spiritual needs of their communities…what do you think they are doing at these litugies, praying for themselves??…HONESTLY, FOR GOD’S SAKE!?!?

    Doesn’t their attention to their social work (as you have admit) include attention to the peoples spiritual lives?….I think it does, obviously you don’t.
    Doesn’t their attention to their liturgies (which you obviously think it fruitless) include attention to the peoples spiritual lives?…I think it does, obviously you don’t…

    It seems that all you and everbody else is concentrating on is being a judgemental bigot…excuse the insult, I take that back (but I refuse to delete it)…you are complaining about meaningless things like cars and phones…I MEAN COME ON…these things are necessities, if you don’t want the priests to have them because they are taking their attention away from the people, then give up your own, maybe you are taking your attention away from your children….

    I am not closely associated to any priest like Shereen is but I am sure that being a priest is an extremely difficult life.

    You only see them pray their liturgies, so you think that is all they do, but I am sure that is not the case.

    I have found everything you have said to be of great offence. It is because of people like you that people like me are no longer coming to church…

    God’s honest truth is that you people are the problem…the priests…or the bishop…

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  8. mate you are entitled to your views like the others and i believe all of us in the blog respect and value all views as i believe it reflects honest and real feelings… i recall that our Australian Coptic community came a long way with a lot of effort and ups and downs over the years and i am fortunate i have seen , experienced and shared that in the last thirty years .. we love and respect our churches and our bishop and our priests and our community with all its walk of life and our volunteers in the different kind of church services and we love our meaningful way of life of respect ,dignity ,honesty ,openes , giving , sharing ,care ,love ,fair go and accountability……..back to our point for more clarification , i did not change tone nor changed heart regarding the work load of our priests and the other must spiritual needs for our community and our youth which i believe like others that it must be attended and activated by our priests regularly in all our churches … if you are interested you can look in the blog somewhere,i wrote about it several times … praise God by your life …..

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  9. I never told you or anybody else not to have an opinion, but when it is one that is the cause of all the problems, then I find it very hard to respect or value that opinion.

    You say that we all love and respect our priests, but it sure doesn’t sound like it!!

    I’m not trying to enforce my opinion on anyone. I am just giving it to you the way I see it; an outsider’s perspective from one who has never been interested in mingling in church affairs, church politics or church activities. I don’t care what the priests do, I don’t care what the bishop does, I don’t care what the people do, I am content attending the liturgy for two hours a week and going home and minding my own business. It is when that is disturbed (currently by the disgust being shown by the people) that I get annoyed!!

    You know what, I don’t know why I’m trying to justify myself.
    That’s it, I choose not to entertain this anymore, it’s an absolute joke. It’s made me angry, and I am extremely p#$!ed off.
    And I do not think that this is the purpose these blogs were set up.

    I refuse to go on about this any further; it is obvious I am a lone soldier in my view of the happenings.
    However I will on this last occasion summarise to you THE WAY IT IS…

    There is nothing wrong with the priests or the bishop; they are doing a damn fine job. It’s the people, they are the disgrace here!! The way you all have acted has disgusted me, and continues to disgust me!!

    Honestly, I hope HG never returns, it would be much better for him. And when the people stuff things up in his absence, then they will regret it and wonder why they acted the way they did.

    I hope HH Shenouda reads this blog and sees how disgraceful you people are, and I hope he allows HG to stay in the monastery away from you all!!

    Before you start comparing our Church to other Christian churches, I think you should go and see for yourselves. I occasionally attend Catholic Church services with friends, and I have seen it with my own eyes. The amount of respect they have for their church, their priests and their bishop is astounding. Something the people in our church need to learn. They would never speak or think ill of their clergy. When I see the way other Christians are in their churches, it embarrasses me to associate myself with our church!!

    Contrary to what you think, the youth are not leaving the church because the clergy are lousy, but because of the people and the way they are. Believe me, because I am one of them who has pulled away.

    That’s all I have to say, and before my blood boils over I’m going to stop getting on this blog…you people embarrass me, you need to stop being so judgemental and so opinionated, that will fix the problem!!

    no more threads from me!!!…that’s me, out!!!…

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  10. mate Nathan forgive me if i said something not in its right place or inappropriate ,it is not a matter of who is right and who is wrong …..you are a fine young man and i believe you will never give up your meaningful life of forgiving , giving , faith , hope ,love etc. and your sense of belongings and i believe too , you will never pull your roots because i believe it is very important for any person in life to keep own identity and we are proud with our own identity and we must accept one another as the children of God …. anyhow , i tell you , i am sure of one thing in this scenario of this conflict with those three players Bishop , priests and community that it will be resolved and managed with win /win strategy situation …life will continue as usual but with more responsibilities and account abilities at the end of the day and as a great Christian organization in this part of the world , we will emerge stronger by doing things through the right people and through the right channels which will be blessed and acceptable to God and allll …. it is just a matter of time old pal so we have to leave the issue in the hands of our Lord and we close it as you mentioned …. we ask father Antonios to continue in his great topics to strengthen our faith and deeds as usual …..mate our biggest worry now is that we have to work hard for our own salvation….may our Lord guide us with the holy spirit to strengthen our faith , hope and love and deeds ….as mother Teresa said , ” we can not fix the the problems of the world by doing big things but we can make the world more brighter by doing little things with care and love acceptable in front of the eyes of God …. be good and may God have mercy on us all amen ….

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  11. I am a fellow Copt from Melbounre.

    I have been reading the above comments and it has brought tears to my eyes knowing that my fellow youth are going through the exact same issues as we did in Melbourne a few years ago. I felt compelled to write and tell you to persevere through this war with Satan!

    Throughout these comments you have laid blame on your Bishop, your priests and yourselves but you are all wrong. It is Satan and Satan alone who is joyful at the fractions he is causing between God’s people. I am not fully aware of what is happening in Sydney, but I know that no matter what the situation is, that Satan is the root of the problem, and more importantly all things are possible through Christ and through prayer and fasting you will overcome this problem.

    I would like to say, as a person who is even closer to a priest than Shereen, the clergy of our church have an enormous responsibility and work tirelessly for their congregation because of their love for Christ. Priests, and I believe even more so Bishops, work themselves to the point of exhaustion daily, and should never be criticized for the service they offer their people. Arguments about cars and phones are inappropriate and unnecessary; you all know in your hearts that priests are always there in your time of need no matter what that need is.

    My brethren laying blame is the most unhelpful thing you can do in this time of crisis. If I learned anything from the horrible times we experienced here in Melbourne it is that the crisis will continue until the congregation realize that no on is to blame but the devil. He alone is the root of this problem and can only be defeated if the people unite as one in prayer and fasting.

    Please use this blessed time of Great Lent to pray and fast that Almighty God help you at this time, and restore joy and happiness to your churches.

    Be assured that your brothers and sisters in Melbourne always have you in their deepest prayers.

    You are all going through an extremely difficult time, I know that better than anyone, but you must stay fervent in you faith, be the firefighters be the Satanfighters!

    God Bless you all.

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  12. i believe , praise and blame are all the same ….praise and blame is a fancy way of reminding ourselves of the old cliche that we will never be able to please all people all the time ….the human being nature gets angry , frustrated and hurt when own ideas rejected by others …the truth is that everyone has got own set of ideas, thoughts and expectations and believes with which to evaluate life !!!?so approval and disapproval is part of our life cycle and if we accept this strategy i believe our life will become more easier and i believe most of us will make peace with imperfection …. today ,life is fast with a lot of demands and has got a lot and i believe the human being is exposed all the time to heaps of favorable and unfavorable influences in life …exposed to broad media , friends , society , families , churches ,priests , church servants , schools , teachers ,sophisticated technology , ideologies , broad knowledge and i believe the human being just pick what is thrown negatives and positives and reacts depending on own background of religious beliefs , ethics and behavior and values foundation ….so the bottom line every body at all levels has got a role to play and is responsible and accountable at the end of the day in any community and above all our deeds must be acceptable to our Lord Jesus Christ …..so the bottom line it is the responsibility and accountability of all to discharge own duties through the right peoples as well as through the right channels …..just the other day i could not believe that a lot of people they confuse between religious values and ethical values , they thought it is just to throw your own kids to the church and they will be all right ???!! also i could not believe in an argument with few servants in the church that they do not know the role of the servant , oh i believe it is more than a teacher as they thought , i believe a lot need to be done by our Churches to tackle a lot of aspects …i believe the church has got more than the role of spirituality and i believe it must go the extra mile of the social and development of the christian orthodox person ,,,, may the holy spirit guide us all ,amen ….

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  13. sometimes in our life we need to look beyond behavior ….having said that , have you ever heard one day somebody saying to you , don’t worry about Xor Y of what he or she said , he didn’t mean it or doesn’t know ??!!!this does not mean we have to walk around and approve and excuse all the time negative , irresponsible and unaccountable behavior !!!looking beyond behavior is a great approach in our way of meaningful life but make sure look at the things in depth before approving or disapproving , hitting or not hitting the sin …please make sure never ever hit the sinner but the sin and stick to your religious and ethical values …. however at the end of the day ,always seek the kingdom of God first and all will be added to you ,amen …..may the holy spirit guide us alll , amen …..

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