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The Chaldean Chai Parable
By Frank Dado :: Tuesday, January 22, 2008 :: 22501 Views :: Religion & Spirituality

A group of Chaldeans, well established in their careers, were talking at a wedding and debating to visit their old priest, who they heard had recently retired.  The cold weather and three hour drive to the rectory caused a debate.  “Not enough time,”  “Too busy with work,”  “He may not remember us or may be too tired or sick to see us,” were some of the excuses.  Until one of them, wisely appealing to his friends vanity and selfishness said, “Are you happy in life?”  Perhaps this visit will do more for us than him.  Plus, we can drive together, catch-up during the ride, and save on gas.  Fortunately we are all successful enough to take the time off.”

The others startled over the comment about concerns with gas cost and able to take time off, quickly objected.  “It is not about the gas or money,” one stammered. 

“Great than I will make the arrangements and pick up everyone next week at eight,” said the bolder Chaldean.  The next few days he called the rectory and made an appointment to meet with the priest and shared some of the discussions he and the others had at the wedding.     

The first hour of the drive each man in the car bragged of his success and accomplishments.  The second hour of the drive, each man lowered their defenses a bit and shared their hopes and dreams unfulfilled.  The third hour, each feeling they no longer needed to impress the others or hide their insecurities shared their frustrations, dissatisfaction, and meaninglessness with work and life in general. 

By the time they arrived at the rectory their faces could not hide their sadness.  Walking to the front door they were greeted by the old priest who shared a large smile for the obviously troubled group.  The priest happily greeted his former parishioners.  Inside his humble abode the priest scurried about serving his guests and offering them the customary hot cup of tea. 

The priest went into the kitchen and returned with a large pot of hot tea and an assortment of cups - porcelain, glass, crystal, some plain looking, some expensive, some exquisite -telling them to help themselves to the tea as he disappeared for some traditional Chaldean cookies and biscuits.  

Returning from his small kitchen he sat with the successful men and reminisced.  They sat enjoying the company and the cozy home.  The conversation soon turned to complaints about stress in their work and lives; their children being disobedient and lacked discipline, work was no longer meaningful and their wives seemed to show little if any appreciation for their ability to earn the more expensive things in life.  Quietly the successful men sat, sulking in their unhappiness. 

When they all had a cup of hot tea in hand, the priest said: "Notice that all the nice looking; expensive cups were taken, leaving behind the plain and cheap ones.  While it is normal for you to want only the best for yourselves, that is the source of your problems and stress.

The cup that you're drinking from adds nothing to the quality of the hot tea.  In most cases it is just more expensive and in some cases even hides what we drink. What all of you really wanted was hot tea, not the cup; but you consciously went for the best cups and then you began eyeing each other's cups.

Now consider this:  Life is the hot tea; your job, money and position in society are the cups.  They are just tools to hold and contain life.  The cup you have does not define, nor change the quality of life you have. Sometimes, by concentrating only on the cup, we fail to enjoy the hot tea God has provided us.

The priest continued, God makes the hot tea - man chooses the cups.

The happiest people don't have the best of everything. They just make the best of everything that they have.  They live simply, Love generously, care deeply, and speak kindly.

The men sat astounded at the wise and prophetic words.  Slowly they came to understand the application in their own personal lives.  They turned to one another embarrassed but relived. 

The priest turned to them and asked, “Do me this one favor.”  The men happily agreed.  “When you drink tea remember this. Remember that God makes the tea and man chooses the cups.”

Together the men slowly rose knowing the words were enough to help them course a new path in their lives.  The priest warmly smiled and bid them farewell as the men returned back to their car and began the trip back. 

Inside the car they sat quietly as each reflected on the uselessness of their cups and how that had spoiled their tea.  Now they all hoped to return home and brew a fresh pot of chai. 

Do you care about the chai or the cup? Don't answer, the way you live has already answered that for you.

St. Joseph, MI USA

St. Joseph Chaldean Catholic Church
2442 E. Big Beaver Rd.
Troy, MI 48083
Tel: (248) 528-3676
Fax: (248) 524-1957

Congregation Organizer:
Rev. Michael J. Bazzi

Church Constructing Pastor:
Rev. Sarhad Y. Jammo

Current Pastor:
Msgr. Zouhair Toma

Parochial Vicar:
Rev. Ayad Hanna

 Current Pastor: Msgr. Zouhair Toma

Msgr. Zouhair Toma (Kejbou) was born in Telkaif, Iraq in 1947.  He was ordained a priest in Baghdad, Iraq in 1968, and accepted his first assignment to serve the community of Baquba.  The Monsignor’s leadership skills and organizational talents along with his mastery of theology were immediately evident.  He later assisted Sts. Peter and Paul in Al-Salehia, and St. George in New Baghdad.

In August, 1978 Monsignor Toma was called to serve the growing community of persecuted Chaldeans finding refuge in Australia.   Being the fist Chaldean priest to arrive in Australia he quickly established a parish for the Chaldeans in Sydney to serve their social and spiritual needs.  The parish was named after St. Thomas the Apostle and built a rectory. 

In 1989, for his incredible work he was granted the title of Monsignor, Chaldean Patriarchal Vicar for Australia and New Zealand.  Continuing his passionate work to serve the Chaldean community the Monsignor moved the Parish Center to a more accessible location and built a large church campus featuring a modern community center, residence quarters, and administrative offices in 1995. 

In 2003, Monsignor Toma added a magnificent church to replace the previous one in order to serve the fast growing community and also opened two other centers.  The first was Our Lady Guardian of Plants in Melbourne, and the second was Mar Addai the Apostle in Auckland, New Zealand.  Mar Addai in New Zealand included two very large churches along with rectories and community centers.  Overseeing the Patriarchal Vicariate for 28 years, he managed to inspire six more priests to help minister to the fast growing Chaldean community. 

In August 2006, Monsignor chose to assist the St. Thomas the Apostle Diocese in the U.S. as more Catholic churches were being built in America and address the growing need.  On October 2006, Monsignor was incardinated and appointed Pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Troy.