Archbishop’s Teaching

9th Sunday after Epiphany Luke 16 / 19-31

Time of Epiphany
9th Sunday after Epiphany

Homily of His Excellency Msgr. Selim Sfeir
Maronite Archbishop of Cyprus
Luke 16 / 19-31

Sunday of the Dead

"You are all sons of the light, not of the night".

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

The prayer for the faithful departed to which our Maronite Church invites us
each year before the beginning of Lent is an act of hope and faith. It is faith in
God, who is not the God of death, but the God of life, and that death cannot
separate us from His love. Thus, our prayer for the faithful departed, whether
they be our parents, our brothers and sisters, our children or our friends, is not
a kind of religious tradition, nor devotion to a God who guards the realm of the
dead, but an act of hope in the One who is the Resurrection and the Life, and
who calls us to live with Him in a personal relationship of love.
As the Gospel of today tells us, this relationship involves looking at "the
Lazarus at our door", which could be members of our family, our colleagues at
work, our neighbors, those we cannot always tolerate... as well as anyone
different from us in character, religion, culture, skin color or social status.
The Gospel therefore invites us to meditate on the meaning of our life, to
discover its purpose and to see what give it value, starting from our love for
the Lord incarnate in every human being.
It is upon this love that we will be judged in the evening of our lives, as Saint
John of the Cross reminds us. Whatever we do to the least of these, we do to
Him. "Tell me what your love is, and I'll tell you who you are" (Pope John Paul
Saint Paul reminds us that we are "children of the light, not of the night".
Indeed, we are all brothers and sisters, children of God created to be in the
likeness of His Son Jesus Christ, Light of the world, who unites us through His
Love and fills us with His gifts through the Holy Spirit, to be kind to our
brothers and sisters in humanity, to love them by being at their service,
empathizing with their joys and sorrows, their worries as well as their hopes,
to pray for them and to bring them the joy of God's love for them as for us,
despite our sins and the trials of our life...
Let's not wait until we are dead to ask for the mercy of the Lord, like the rich
man in the Gospel. The Word of God invites us to show mercy to others in
order to obtain mercy from the Lord. This is the will of the Lord, and we can
accomplish it by God's grace in deeds, not just words, towards others, whoever
they may be.
Heaven is not a reward received after death, but this covenant of love between
the Lord and each of us, love received and love given to others, so that we can
share the life of God with them, carrying with us the burden of our weaknesses
and inadequacies, to rest eternally in his gentle and humble Heart.

Lord, we pray for all the faithful departed, that after the forgiveness of their
sins, they may enter the Kingdom with your Son, who unites us to one another
through the mystery of his love. He who lives and reigns with you in the
communion of the Holy Spirit, forever and ever. Amen.

† Selim Sfeir
Maronite Archbishop of Cyprus

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