Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch

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The Great Lent (Sawmo Rabo) Sunday, March 1 - Sunday, April 20, 2014

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Thomas Khoury, June 25, 1918 - January 28, 2012

Jesus said to Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, through he may die, yet shall he live. “And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25,26

Our Lord, Jesus Christ, certainly comforts and consoles us with these life-giving promises and inspiring statement and words. He lifts our spirits up and raises our hope and expectations in a second life. To live again and eternally depends upon our belief in Him and in His resurrection.

However, a sense of ambivalence stains and plagues our human nature: belief and non-belief. What if the resurrection of the dead does not take place, some non-believers question brazenly and hopelessly. Saint Paul answers back warning, “And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile. You are still in you sins.” I Corinthians 15, 17.

In the absence of Christ and His resurrection, man is found a sinner and amoral. If we deny Christ’s resurrection, we will be living short lives here on earth and we will eventually die forever. And consequently, believing or not believing will determine our living or dying forever. Therefore, “To be or not to be”, is not the question. To be or not to believe is the question and the problem. To be and to believe in Christ is the answer and the solution to all our problems and question.

We come here today, not to bury Thomas Khoury, but to praise and celebrate his great background and rich and valuable legacy. He was raised in a very religious family. Our late parents, The Very Reverend Issa Touma and Basna Khoury-Yacoub instilled in him the love of God and his church. He married his beautiful bride, the late Georgette Touma, in 1940’s. They were blessed with seven beautiful children, Paul, Piere, Andre, Nabil and three daughters, Pauline, Beatrice and May.

Our brother Tomas was a highly educated man. He acquired a degree in Philosophy. He taught in public schools, in college and for thirteen years, he taught Arabic grammar and Literature in the Alliance Jewish High School in Beirut, Lebanon..Throughout his adult life, our bother Thomas was an avid reader. He read passionately the classic writers of Literature: Moliere, Racine, Voltaire, Balzac, Maupassant, Sartre, Camus, Goethe, Gogol, Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, Chekov, Gorky, Shakespeare, Swift, Steinbeck and Hemingway to name a few. Consequently, Thomas mastered the writing of the short story in Arabic. In my estimation, he was the greatest short story writer in the whole Middle East. For a long period of time the BBC (British Broadcasting Company), delivered His short stories throughout the Arab world. His short stories writing rises to the level of Maupassant and Chekov.

He also wrote a dramatic book on the Sumerian Epic “Epic of Gilgamesh” titled “Gilgamesh”. This book has been taught in Iraqi schools until today. Brother Thomas was familiar and read with great interest the novelist and the Nobel Prize winner, Najeeb Mahfooz, Tah Hussain, Jebran, Khalil Jebran, Mikhael, Naheemeh and many others. However, I believe that my brother excelled and surpassed them all. He was a great theologian and was a constant reader of the Holy Bible. His religious background and ambience inspired and motivated him to write classic religious books. It took him 25 years only to write, the “Contemplations of Judas Iscariot", “Orthodox Fathers, Orthodox Faith”, “Cogitations and Confessions” and many other religious articles.

Walt Whitman, in his poem, “The leaves of Grass” says the following, “I celebrate myself and sing myself…I am large…I contain multitudes…”.
Today and always, as we celebrate our brother Thomas, he also celebrated himself and sang himself. He adored our great poet and theologian Saint Ephrem of the 4th. Century AD and used to sing some verses of his poems; “I made of myself a church of the Christ, within which I offered perfume and incense the work of my members”.

He also and always believed that a Christian has to receive the Holy Communion. His dream and wish was that every day would be a Sunday so he could receive the Holy Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. He use to meditate and repeat the following; “Your Body I have eaten and Your Blood I have drank.”
Brother Thomas is to be praised, honored and remembered for educating himself, his children and for his great love for the entire Khoury family. He is the one who advised and urged me, after I saw in my dream that I was carrying baby Jesus in my arms, to join our seminary in Mosul, Iraq in 1953 and to read and to further my education.

After my graduating from the Seminary in 1958, and immigration to the USA and upon the calling of our Lord I was ordained a priest. Later, most of the members of the Khoury family migrated to this blessed land. All this was do to my brother Thomas. He was indeed “large and contained multitudes”. Thomas and his beloved wife Georgette were blessed with grand children & great grand children. They passed their genes to them and they live in their off springs and their off springs live in them. We say in Arabic, “the one who gives birth to children never dies.”

Our earthly life is short and it begins with sunrises and ends with sunsets and finally comes to an end. But our spiritual life is everlasting. The sun of the Son of God, Jesus Christ, will forever shine in our spiritual world. In Thomas Khoury’s journey in this life and in our journey, with him, he was a great companion, inspirational guide and articulate advisor. We will never forget the goodness, generosity and love he bestowed upon all of us.

This world is not a perfect place. Sometimes we suffer from the agonies of sickness, tragedies and deaths. The premature passing away of Rosemary Khoury, shocked, saddened and scarred all the lives of the Khoury family. Similarly, the premature passing away of Pauline Khoury was a terrible and tragic loss and later the passing away of Georgette Khoury upset, hurt and grieved the hearts of the children, grandchildren and especially our brother Thomas. For more than ten years, he suffered from that tragic trauma.

Therefore, where do we stand; for death or resurrection? I pray that we will stand for the resurrection of the dead, for the resurrection of Rosemary, Pauline, Georgette and Thomas and all the believing dead. Meanwhile, we say farewell to our brother Thomas. We love you and may you rest in eternal peace.

Eulogy, Our dear brother Thomas Khoury
Very Reverend John Khoury
January 31, 2012

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