Archbishop’s Teaching

Message of His Excellency the Maronite Archbishop of Cyprus Youssef Soueif For Christmas 2015



Message of His Excellency the Maronite Archbishop of Cyprus

Youssef Soueif

For Christmas 2015

“Blessed are the merciful: they shall have mercy shown them”

(Matthew 5, 7)

Dear Fathers,

Consecrated People,

Brothers and Sisters in Christ

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Homily of H.E. the Maronite Archbishop of Cyprus Youssef Soueif Holy Friday

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

On this day we gather here to kneel before the Holy Cross and to embrace Jesus, Living and Holy, who was crucified for our salvation.

On this day the entire creation send up thanksgiving to the creator because through the Cross and from the Cross, He made it return to Paradise to enjoy again the tree of life, the Eucharist, bread of life and salvation.

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Photo Exhibition - Prophet Elias Monastery 03/11/2012: Archbishop's Homily

'Destroy this Temple, and in three days I will raise it up.' (John 2/19)

With the prophetic Words of Jesus, proclaiming His Death and Resurrection, I would like to greet you, placing before me the truth of the Temple, the New Temple I would say, which is Jesus Himself, the Son of Man and Son of God who was incarnated, who "died and was buried, and on the third day He rose again from the dead." The Temple, therefore, is He Himself, the Temple is all of us with Him, members and head. He is the head of the new humanity, a humanity that was redeemed, a humanity that was regenerated in life, a humanity which was called to destroy every type of hatred, evil and sin so that it gives birth to a new world, a world of love, a world of brotherhood and peace.

The monastic life is nothing else than to die and live every day with Jesus Christ. It is a call to him or her, who with great courage take the decision to abandon everything aside and follow Jesus, to carry his cross, to die and make die in him/her every hatred, every evil, every sin, every pride, each type of the old Adam in order to revive with Jesus - Love, Jesus - Peace, Jesus - Reconciliation, who embraces all and brings them close to the heart of the Father.

The testimony of Prophet Elias Monastery which was the first missionary dimension of the Lebanese Maronite Order, bears witness to this reality: the presence of monks who wanted to share the love of Jesus and the love for their neighbors. To this effect, they would sacrifice themselves in order to live with Him and for Him. From generation to generation, the monks are in the living memory of the people, and are recalled by the Maronite community, in the villages, the parishes, in the life of the community. The Charisma of the monastery and every monastery must involve a dynamic presence, a missionary presence, a presence of the monastic prayer and a presence of witness.

This exhibition of photos and paintings, although it depicts the hard facts and moments that the island lived, and can be noted through destruction and damage, it hides however behind it, a history, an offering; there are sacrifices, there are values of spiritual, ​ monastic and pastoral life. Behind it and at the level of the Island, they hide the culture of coexistence, of multiculturism. It is a challenging picture that describes Cyprus through its history, its current role as a meeting place and a human dialogue. The photos talk to everyone and give the message that the house of God, it means every house of worship must be open to all in order to become a space of forgiveness, a deep symbolic and spiritual space in which the relationship between people, friends, communities must be renewed for the benefit of all contributing in the promotion of values and stability in the human societies. These photos show all the reality they bear, pushing all people of good will to believe in the power of life, the power of love.

I greet and welcome the Lebanese Maronite Order through the distinguish presence of the Most Rev. General Superior Abbot Tannous Nehme and the delegation that accompanies him and I wish them all the best and every success. I would like to say that the Maronite Church greatly appreciates this history and this witness.

I greet and congratulate the Rev. Father Joseph Lakkotrypis Michaelides who is of a very remarkable musical academic standard; I thank him for all effort he did for organizing this activity; I greet the Mayor of Strovolos Mr Lazaros Savvides who is the co-organizer and sponsor of the event.

May the Saints and martyr monks, through the intercession of Mar Maroun, Mar Sharbel, Mar Neammtalla and St. Rebecca give us the strength to go always ahead in the project of life witnessing the love of our Lord Jesus Christ in the world.

Nicosia, 3 November, 2012

†Youssef Soueif

Maronite Archbishop of Cyprus


Archbishop's Points on the Year of Faith

The Faith

The Christian faith is the biggest gift that man receives in his life. It is the free gift of God the Father to man, called to participate in his life, this life that was given back to us by Jesus Christ, the only Son of the Father through His Death and Resurrection, and that we have received by the Holy Spirit that makes us understand the importance of this gift. Faith is also our positive response to God expressing that we accept to live with Him all the days of our lives.

We have received faith through baptism while participating in the death and in the life of Jesus Christ; this faith is nourished and becomes concrete every time we participate in the Eucharistic banquet listening to the Word of God which is Spirit and Life.

Faith is transmitted directly to us by our parents, the family environment which is the first school of faith and to faith.

Faith is growing in a solid and deep way, every time we meet Jesus Christ in our lives but on a personal level; that is a personal relationship is created between me and Jesus, a bond of love, and a testament that should never be broken, and if it is broken because of sin or ignorance, or of moving away from God, Jesus is ready to renew it with me, by just saying “Yes” to Jesus and do His will.

Faith becomes a life project and is not only limited to the context of prayer on Sunday and during private or community prayer, it is the project of my entire life without exception, without separation, and so, when out of the church, in the business world, in the family, at school, at the university, in society , among friends, my life must correspond to the encounter with Jesus in the church, in prayer at the Holy Mass. The basic attitude is to look at it as a unique project not divided or separate, otherwise the Christian life faces danger.

Why is there a danger some times in the Christian life? This fact is caused by separation and division when we say: now this is for God and now this is for me, but unfortunately this is said in the wrong way. As for a baptized person everything is for God because everything comes from God and God is everything to me. He loves me, accompanies me, He showed His love to me once and forever in the history of mankind and in my own history when He sent His Son Jesus to save me, save us, and He died on the cross. We believe that He is the Messiah, the Savior, the Son of the living God.

We live the faith and in faith in various degrees, and each of us in a different level and experience. Only God knows what's in our heart, God knows your personal course, and God accepts you in this course and in your experience and be assured, that God walks with you all the way of your life; it is enough saying like the Apostles said to Jesus: "Give us more faith."…

We all need one another, and so it was in the history of the church, there was always a need to see "signs of faith" the signs of faith are the apostles, the martyrs, the confessors, the saints, and there are many saints that we do not know but who live among us, in our homes, in our churches, our schools, our parishes, in the societies in which we live. They are the signs of faith and of holy daily life, they are the saints of silence, the saints of the gospel and the saints through whom the world changes towards a better one despite the powers of evil that surround us.

Would you like to be "a sign of faith." This is your responsibility as baptized, as a Christian, as the beloved Son of God and from God to be a sign of faith. This gives meaning to your life as a student today and tomorrow as a responsible person in the family, in society, in the church. We have inherited this gift from our ancestors and we want to give it and pass it over to our sons.

Thus, faith makes you a disciple, a missionary, someone who feels within himself a burning fire that burns his/her existence and purifies his/her being and sends him to bring the Gospel, the Good News to everyone, living in the spirit of love, unity, openness of service as the Virgin Mary, who with great faith gave us Jesus, her Son and her Savior, our Brother and our Savior, to Him we offer our lives to be signs of His Resurrection.


Monday after Easter, 16.4.012

Monday after Easter

1 Cor 15/1-11; Marc 16/9-14

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

On this feast day of the Virgin Mary I want to meditate with you on the virtues of Virgin Mary who participated in the glory of Her alive and resurrected Son, as well as on the behavior of the other Maries. I quote the following three points:

  1. The presence of Mary. She accompanied Her Son who was born to accomplish the will of His Father, from the first moment of His mission. In the temple on the eighth day and when he became twelve years old, as well as during His teaching, she understood very well that He had come to fulfill the will of God the Father, this Daughter of David, who was called by Him to become Mother of the Son and of all of us, on the cross, at the hour of glory, in the resurrection and with the apostles in the upper room during Pentecost. Mary is the daughter, mother, friend, image of the Church who shares what She has lived with the apostles and continues to share it will each one of us, in front of His cross, in His glory. She inspires us the peace of the heart of Her Son Jesus.
  2. The other Maries. The other Maries have experienced themselves the presence of Jesus in their lives. Mary Magdalene, sentenced to death for adultery, but forgiven through His love and compassion, was the first to announce the biggest event in human history, He is no longer there, He has risen. She who wept for her sin, she who wept in front of the love of God who freed her, she who wept of joy for His victory over death, over His death and over ours, announces that He is alive; He is alive for all of us mortals. Let us approach Him. He is the God of the living and not of the mortals.
  3. Mary and her sister Martha. They asked for the life of their brother, his resurrection. In order to prepare the big event, and in the context of Easter and especially the new Easter which is His, which is Himself, Jesus resurrects Lazarus from the dead and shows that He is the source of life. Mary wanted to leave everyone and everything in order to hear His word, while Martha devoted in His service. Mary listened and Martha served. We are in front of a beautiful picture of the Church, but listening preludes service. A good hearing of the word of God so as to understand His desire leads to a good service towards others; otherwise service is given without meaning and purpose. Jesus is the servant of humanity like someone who listens to the voice of His Father and fulfils His will. His death on the cross is the greatest service of mankind, whom He transferred from death to eternal life.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

We are called to witness the living God like the Virgin Mary and the other Maries. She is the Theotokos, who accompanies us and our community on this land of our fathers and ancestors. To Her we offer our villages, our island and the whole world and we ask Her to guide us in the path of Her Son. Amen.

Nicosia, 16 April 2012

† Youssef Soueif

Maronite Archbishop of Cyprus


Archbishop's Teaching: Sunday of the Two Disciples on the Road to Emmaus, 29.4.2012

Sunday of the disciple of Emmaus, 29.4.2012 - Homely of the Archbishop

3rd Sunday after Easter 2 Tim 2/8-13; luck 24/13-35

One of them, who was called Cleopas asked Him: “Are you the only person staying in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there, these last few days?” (Luke 24:18)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

But what happened in those days? It is the question asked by the disciples of Emmaus, but it is also the question asked by each one of us in his life as disciple and baptized. It is the question motivated by faith but also by sorrow, by love but also by despair. It is the question that indicates the conflict that exists inside a human person, a search for truth and a march towards truth. The sorrow of those two disciples was caused by the fact that they were hoping for a Messiah with worldly power as all the kings of the world, whereas He announced that His kingdom was not of this world. They followed Him like so many others, but at the hour of the cross, this hour so difficult to be handled, they abandoned Him, and returned sorrowful and disappointed to their villages, to their old way of life, to their past, being aware of the happening but without understanding the meaning of it. Jesus marches with them and as pedagogue, brother, knower and examiner of their hearts, He helps them to open their hearts to the truth, and ultimately to His own truth as Lord and Resurrected. That knowledge, that light, that transformation, that joy that prevailed in their hearts, took flesh in the breaking of bread that is in Holy Eucharist, and they urged Him strongly: «Stay with us, for it is nearly evening, the day is almost over. So He entered the village to stay with them.” (Luke 24:29).

Dear brothers and sisters, it is right here, in the Holy Eucharist that we encounter the Risen Christ. It is here that we proclaim His death and resurrection, and from here that we are called to witness our faith in Him, to live following His example in the world, in integrity, in a spirit of brotherhood, of love and peace. Today’s world needs witnesses of the resurrection that will announce the good news to everyone. Christian life is a plan of life and all life marches in that spirit, otherwise all consistency and authenticity is lost. In front of this divided world, in front of sorrow and the pain of humanity, only the truth of the risen Christ consoles people. Christ is our strength, Christ is our joy, Christ is our peace, He has risen and we are the witnesses. Amen.

Nicosia, 29 April 2012

† Youssef Soueif Maronite Archbishop of Cyprus


Second Sunday after Easter, Sunday of Thomas, 22.4.2012

2nd Sunday after Easter

2 Cor 5/11-21; John 20/26-31

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

«Peace be with you»

It is the first word addressed by Jesus to His disciples and to the whole world after His resurrection from the dead. Humanity accepts the gift of peace. It is the reconciliation that was realized with His death and resurrection, between man and God the Father. It is the fruit of the offer of Christ Himself, realized on the cross. This peace has transformed the doubt of Thomas to a living and deep faith, I would say more personal, when he confesses in front of Jesus, saying: « My Lord and my God» In this way, all those who believe and confess: « You are Christ, the Son of the Living God» will have eternal life.

We received the peace of Christ through our baptism. This peace is renewed in the Holy Eucharist, in prayer and in the personal relationship with the Lord. This inner peace is manifested spontaneously and naturally in the public sphere, in order to build a human society based on peace among men. It relates to the building of the culture of peace, the culture of reconciliation and of forgiveness. During this hour, everything is transformed, the doubts, the hostilities, the divisions, the conflicts and all kinds of evil, to a brotherly love and family spirit experienced in this multicultural human family, so rich in diversity but united in the love of God and the respect of others.

Let us built our lives based on the peace of Christ. Let us live the peace in our society here where we live and in our wider region which is lacking peace, through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, Queen of peace and Saint George who defeated evil with his faith.


Nicosia, 22 April 2012

† Youssef Soueif

Maronite Archbishop of Cyprus


Easter Sunday, 15.4.2012

Sunday of Easter

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Al Masyhou Qam,

On this morning of the Resurrection I want to focus an and meditate with you, on four points highlighting the importance of the resurrection that we celebrate today:

  1. God raised His Son from the dead on the third day. It is the essence of our Christian Faith which is practically based on this confession and this announcement. God the creator of the universe, God who is the God of life and the Lord of death, God who through His plan of salvation wished to send His only begotten Son to our humanity, and became man, God who wanted to give life back to humans as they were in eternal death, has raised His Son from the dead, His Son who is true man and true God and new life is given through Him. This time, the human being is liberated from eternal death, and is filled with eternal life that is realized through His resurrection. It is the foundation of our Christian faith.
  2. Jesus is no longer in the tomb. The tomb is empty, He is not there. In fact, He has returned to His father and lives with us, at the same time. His kingdom is that of His father, but also the heart of man. He says in His Gospel: “The kingdom of God is within you.” In order to see it, to feel it, to leap of its hope, our eyes and heart should look at the sky but also at the depth of our being. We have to live the presence of the resurrected and living Christ in the depth of our hearts otherwise faith becomes an external religious action tasteless and without fruits.
  3. The theological and spiritual space of His encounter is the Eucharistic banquet. We know that the Holy Eucharist of every Sunday is a celebration of the resurrection. And today’s feast is a strong time that reminds us of the historical time of Jesus in which the Pascal Mystery was realized. But it is every Sunday that the Church celebrates in depth, the resurrection. In other words, we have to celebrate this every week rather than every year, that is once a year, or occasionally. How beautiful it is, to meet Jesus every Sunday in the Holy Eucharist and to celebrate His resurrection, having children, young people and families grow in this deep and living faith.
  4. The human space of the resurrection is each person that God puts to our path every day of our lives. It is exactly here that the confession of the resurrection is realized. It relates to living the values of the Gospel, the values of hope, peace, reconciliation, forgiveness, brotherhood so as to build together a human society where God is the Lord of the Lords, and where His love dominates the hearts and thoughts. It relates to destroying the walls of hatred, divisions, prejudices and injustices. It relates to be set free and believe in human freedom. It relates to rediscover among us the beauty and richness of our land, of our island, where the first communities have born witness of the risen Christ. It is the place where many cultures managed to live together, despite challenges and difficulties. The world needs examples, witnesses of the resurrection through unity and love, through truth and light.

I wish to all of you Happy Easter, where everyone assumes responsibility of transmitting the faith in the living Christ, source of our hope, to Him be glory for ever, Amen.

Nicosia, 15th April 2012

† Youssef Soueif

Maronite Archbishop of Cyprus


Holy Friday, 13.4.2012

Holy Friday

1 Peter 4/12-19; John 6/48-59

I want to meditate with you on the Passion of Christ focusing on the following five points:

  1. It is the Passion of Christ in all its being. The very fact of the Incarnation, that is, God the Father sending His only begotten Son to become Emmanuel, is the same Passion. The Son leaves everything behind, His Glory, the Kingdom of His Father and dwells with people, with sinners, simply because He loved us and wanted to free us from slavery.
  2. It is the Passion of His body, His Holy and Immaculate body, His body which represents human nature, but that, which is perfect whereas ours is imperfect. He invites us to perfection and bears all His passions for our salvation and our renewal.
  3. It is the Passion of His soul, the Passion of the One who came to fulfill the will of His Father, the Father who was in direct communication with Him day and night. During the day He used to meet the Father through the people and their passions, and at night in prayer and silence He was in union and communion with Him.
  4. It is the Passion of humanity. Jesus carries through His personal passions, the passions of all humanity, of all history, even those arising from the rejection of God. He carries in His Passion the sickness and the sick, the remote and the near, those who search for Him in purity to meet Him, to know Him and to become His disciples.
  5. The Passion of salvation. It is the Passion that brings salvation, not the Passion just for the Passion, but for the salvation of men. It is the Passion that leads us to the dynamism of life and resurrection. Let us thank Him for His Passions, let us present ours in front of His cross and let us bear His in our bodies so as to become His disciples. Amen.

Nicosia, 13 April 2012

† Youssef Soueif

Maronite Archbishop of Cyprus


Holy Thursday, 12.4.2012

Holy Thursday

1 Cor 11/23-32;Luc 22/1-23

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I want to meditate with you, on this Easter night, on the mystery of God’s love to us, through the following four points:

  1. It is the Thursday of the Sacraments, during which our Lord culminates His life on the Eve of His passion, offering Himself for us, through the Eucharistic Gifts that is the bread and wine. He established the mystery of Holy Eucharist, which summarizes the path of humanity towards this hour, during which He saves mankind from sin and liberates it with His death and resurrection. Through Holy Eucharist we thank and praise Him for the life and salvation He gave us. In this way, we glorify the Father through the spirit that makes us participate in this symposium of the bread of life.
  2. It is the Thursday of the washing of the feet, which clearly shows, that Jesus Christ, the King of Kings leaned towards our sinful humanity. Let us remember that He himself leaned during His incarnation and was born in a place full of humility. He, himself entered Jerusalem riding a donkey and was welcomed by the pure and the righteous. And on this night, he completes the ceremony of the washing, in order to give an example to His disciples, to all of us, that love is expressed with service and the most prominent should be the first servant. In this mystery of His love we were baptized Christians to serve humanity.
  3. It is the Thursday during which our Lord established priesthood. He is Himself the priest of the New Testament. All baptized participate in His priesthood through baptism. Some are called to serve the community through the priesthood of the altar, celebrating the Holy Eucharist and the other mysteries. The presence of priests in the world shows God’s mercy towards humanity. Because of the presence of priests in human societies, the faith within the community is testified. Jesus continues to invite young people to follow Him. My youth, open your hearts to hear His voice and accept Him.
  4. It is the Thursday during which we renew our faith in front of this huge mystery of His love towards us. Let us be honest with ourselves, let us be consistent to our baptism and Christian mission. Let us search deep inside to realize what kind of faith we live: Is it a temporary faith? Is it faith received from the family and society without any personal or deep commitment? Is it a faith in which we exercise some external religious ceremonies without considering that we adore the Living God who loves us and requests from us only to love Him? Let us renew our faith, let us apologize in front of the generosity of His love. Let us meet the challenges of faith in today’s world, because life in Christ today, tomorrow and for ever is the greatest and most beautiful gift ever. To Him be Glory for Ever. Amen

Nicosia, 12 April 2012

† Youssef Soueif

Maronite Archbishop of Cyprus


Palm Sunday, 8.4.2012

Palm Sunday

Phil 1/1-13 ; John 12/12-22

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Let us get prepared on this Sunday to welcome the Lord at His entrance in Jerusalem, as he was welcomed by the children, the families, the righteous and all those who loved Him and followed Him and wanted to enter with Him in Jerusalem. We know well, that the purpose of Christ was this entrance in Jerusalem. It was not a simple entrance, in a simple feast following the customs of the past. However, this time, the entrance in Jerusalem had another meaning and another dimension. It is Christ who was waited for centuries and centuries that entered, it is the Son of God sent by the Father to fulfill the wish of the one who has sent Him. It is Christ who has entered in order to inaugurate a new feast, a new testament, He has entered to offer Himself and become the new offer, the true lamb and the true priest at the same time. He entered in Jerusalem, the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords in humility, riding a donkey. The King was humiliated and is preparing to be humbled before men, but for the men on the cross.

He was welcomed by everybody, the righteous and those who believed in Him, even if He was denied by almost everybody during Holy Friday. It is the weakness of humans, it is human nature. But let us not forget that He is the only one who can turn human weakness to power of love and strength of will, it is the power of His forgiveness.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we welcome Christ and renew our welcoming every year. We the Church, we the baptized, welcomed Him for the first time in our baptism; we welcome our King, our Savior, our Lord. Let us welcome Him in silence and prayer. Let us welcome Him in the sufferings of our personal and community life. Let us welcome Him in our successes and our visions, for a future always according to His will. Let us welcome Him in His Word, and in His great gift that He himself offers to us in every Holy Eucharist: His body and blood for our life and salvation.

We have worn again Christ, we have become more beautiful wearing His dress, the new dress not that of the first Adam but the dress of Christ, the new Adam. Let us preserve the beauty of this dress in us, in our life, in our testimony, in our behavior, in our Christian life. Let us become a vibrant community, not just a community for the major ceremonies of the year. Let us keep in us the beauty of this dress, and let us live in our houses, in our families, in our community life, the beauty of our Christian Faith, proclaiming today, tomorrow and for ever: «Hosanna, blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord». To Him Glory for Ever. Amen.

Nicosia, 8th April 2012

           Youssef Soueif,

Maronite Archbishop of Cyprus


Sunday of the Paralytic, 25. 3. 2012

Sunday of the Paralytic

1 Tim 5/24- 6/5;Marc 2/1-12

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I want to focus on four points in this reflection on the paralyzed man.

  1. The paralyzed represents man in his sin, in his human weakness, in his inability, who searches and wants to be cured. Certainly, as in all situations of the Gospel, the illness mentioned here goes beyond physical illness, to show us the mental illness and the need of man for repentance.
  2. The role of the other or the others on the way to repentance. This is well described in the Bible, and refers to the four persons who carry the paralyzed man near Jesus. Practically, without their help, the paralyzed could not get there. And what really impresses, is the faith of this symbolic community next to the faith of the paralyzed man. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic: «Son, thy sins are forgiven. » How beautiful is this relationship between the faith of the individual and of the community.
  3. Christianity is a community. Because of the death and the resurrection of Christ, we are born church; we are born people who are saved. This does not wish to challenge the role and the importance of the individual, but on the contrary rather strengthen the role of the individual as member of the community, the people of God. This influence is mutual and reciprocal, one feeds the other, one increases the other. The testimony of this Gospel relates to the spiritual solidarity, I would have said also the human. I am here present as an individual, as a community to assist, to take initiative, to sense solidarity with our brothers and sisters, especially those having difficulties. I am not here to judge, to observe from afar whatever happens. I am here to offer a little help, even a glass of water, I am here to march with the other person. Lent, is life in Christ, the true meaning of the church, the true meaning of experience in the history of the Maronites.
  4. Community and individual. A reciprocal influence, only to receive the grace of forgiveness: «Son, thy sins are forgiven, get up, get your bed and go home. » The meeting of the paralyzed man with Christ is driven by his personal faith and that of the community, and culminates with the forgiveness of sin; he does not want anything else. We also, have received the grace of forgiveness in baptism, which is renewed through repentance and confession. Do we renew this grace? Do we realize the importance of confession in our Christian march or are we influenced by voices that marginalize the practice of confession? Christ, himself, continues to forgive sins, through priesthood. He instructs His disciples: «I assure you, whatever you declare unforgivable on earth will be unforgivable in heaven and whatever you declare forgiven on earth will be declared forgiven in heaven. » Let us renew our confession in the Christian faith, let us receive the grace that is offered to us for free. It is not the person of the priest that forgives but is Christ himself, through the priesthood of the priest, even if he is the biggest sinner in the world. It is God in His mercy that forgives, that invites man to get up and live in hope.

With the help of the Virgin Mary, on the day of Her Annunciation, let us open our hearts to receive the Holy Spirit, same as during the Annunciation and on Pentecost, to talk about the wonders of His love, His forgiveness and His mercy.


Nicosia, 25 March 2012

† Youssef Soueif

Maronite Archbishop of Cyprus


Sunday of the Prodigal Son, 18.3.2012

Sunday of the Prodigal Son

2 Corinth 13/5-13; Luk 15/11-32

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Five titles for this Gospel.

This is one of the most beautiful pages of the Gospel. A page summarizing the whole history of salvation, the history of the covenant, the relationship between God and man. I give five titles to this Gospel:

  1. The prodigal son. It relates to the youngest son, who having the tendency and the belief that his personal freedom is his intimate right, is found away from the house of his father, in real slavery, because the situation of being away from God makes man more and more the slave of his sins, his desires that lead him to death. The prodigal son discovers the importance of home and decides to return, in the vital dynamism of repentance opened to each one of us.
  2. The two lost sons. This Gospel does not relate only to the youngest son but rather to the oldest, who was with his father. In other words, it refers to the man who follows God’s commandments, but unfortunately only externally, as his heart is far away from God’s heart, from His love and mercy. It is the man of the external law and not of the new law of love. In this way, both sons were lost and experienced some kind of death.
  3. The grace of repentance. Facing the experience of sin, and the misinterpretation of freedom and way of its life, facing the two experiences of both sons, the youngest who follows his desires and the oldest who is distant from the new and true law of love, God always opens the doors of repentance to us. It is the hour for each one of us who feel strongly the presence of God and decide to return. This will be done, after your personal encounter with the living God in the intimacy of your life, which is assisted by the Word of God, supported by the Eucharistic Bread and renewed always with the grace, repentance and forgiveness. Rest assured that the doors will be always opened.
  4. The father who waits with tenderness and love. It is God’s truth. God, who suffered after the fall of Adam, and of his sons, God who couldn’t accept the death of his sons, has sent at the fullness of time his only-begotten Son to save his creation, to give life to each one of us. This behavior of God the Father continues to eternity, and it is through His Son and by the grace of the Spirit that He invites, He welcomes, He forgives, He does not judge, but embraces us and prepares for us the feast of life.
  5. The joy of the feast. The signs of the new life, the signs of the new birth of man and humanity present in this Gospel are clear: the sandals that show the status of the son and not anymore of the servant, the robe that reminds the new robe that we have worn again through baptism, the ring that symbolizes the power of the Father transmitted to us, the power and the hereditary rights, as we are the heirs of the kingdom of heaven, we become with Christ, sons and heirs, through the sacrifice and the blood of the Lamb, of Christ, shed for us for our salvation and our life. To Him Glory for Ever. Amen.

Nicosia, 18 March 2012

† Youssef Soueif

Maronite Archbishop of Cyprus


Sunday of the Hemorrhagic Women, 11.3.2012

Sunday of the Hemorrhagic Women

2 Corinth 7/4-11; Luk 8/40-56

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

In this Sunday’s message, in the light of the Divine Word that we just celebrated and in the context of our repentance lived in the spirit of Lent, we are called to submit our Passions to the Lord who will transform them into a new birth.

We have seen today in the two readings, how sadness dominates the scene of experience: the community of faithful that lives in sadness and the admonition of Saint Paul creating sadness in the hearts of the Corinthians who for various reasons were distant from God and His love. On the other hand, we see two evangelical figures bearing the symbolism of number twelve: the sick daughter of Jairus who was twelve years old and eventually died as well as the woman who for twelve years was suffering from incurable hemorrhage and was cured only after the Lord’s merciful touch. We are in fact, facing different realities, which express the human pain that can be physical, psychological, social, religious, related to the community or family. The opening of each one of us to his own reality and to the reality of the love of God can reveal thousand kinds of suffering. The truth is that Christ remains always near us before every suffering. Because of His passions, ours can be converted and interpreted in a different way. Along with Christ, with the Lord, our Passions lead to repentance that is, to a new birth. «But now I am glad, not because you were sad, but because the sorrow you experienced according to the will of God, led you to repentance without regret, leading to salvation. » states Saint Paul (B’ Corinthians, 7/10). «On the contrary, worldly sorrow brings death» (B’ Corinthians, 7/11) When I refer to repentance, I refer according to the spiritual language to the new birth and according to the Fathers of the Church the tears of repentance constitute the renewal of our baptism, a new birth resulting after our first birth through baptism, this time through the death and resurrection of the Lord. With Jesus Christ death does not exist. Let’s see how Jesus addressed the crowd after the confirmation that the little girl was dead: «Meanwhile all the people were wailing and mourning for her. Stop wailing Jesus said, she is not dead but asleep. » (Luke 8/52). At the same time, in front of this sick woman so strong in faith he proclaimed: «Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me. » (Luke 8/46). This is the power of love, the power of life.

My beloved,

The above examples must become for us an invitation to life, a new life in Jesus Christ. All these, should not remain in us as external knowledge but should lead to a change of life, a personal encounter with the living Jesus. This is the meaning of our journey in Lent; this is precisely the meaning of our participation in the Holy Eucharist. Christ touches our hearts, mind, body and whole being, in order to give us life, the life that never ends. Let us thank Him, for the grace of His presence in His word, in His body and blood and let us promise Him that we will be faithful to His call as witnesses of His mercy throughout the world.


Nicosia, 11 March 2012

† Youssef Soueif

Maronite Archbishop of Cyprus


Sunday of the Faithful departed, 19.2.2012

Sunday of the faithful departed

1 Tas 5/1-11; Luk 16/19-31

Dear Brother and Sisters in Christ,

On this Sunday, the Church commemorates all the faithful departed, after having commemorated on the preceding Sundays the dead Priests and all the righteous and saints. It is the icon of the heavenly Jerusalem, where we as citizens of the terrestrial Jerusalem down here, wait and wish to arrive. What is considered end becomes beginning with Christ and entry in the light. It is the entry of the children of light in the light that will never cease, the light is Jesus Christ the only Son of the Father, the light is God the Father, and so we profess that Jesus is the light of light. Indeed, through Christ, death has a positive meaning. « For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. » (Ph 1, 21) Here is a trustworthy saying: if we died with him, we will also live with him ». (2 Tm 2,11). The essential novelty about Christian death is this : through Baptism, the Christian is sacramentally already « dead with Christ » to live a new life, and if we die in Christ’s grace, physical death completes this « dying with Christ » and so completes our incorporation to Him in His redeeming act : It is good for me to die in Jesus Christ than to reign over the ends of the earth. It is Him whom I seek who died for us, Him whom I want, who was resurrected for us.

In death, God calls man to himself. Therefore, the Christian can experience a desire for death like that of S. Paul: «I desire to depart and be with Christ which is better by far » (Ph 1,23). He can transform his own death in an act of obedience and love towards the Father, to Christ’s example.

The commemoration of the dead, helps us to understand life in Christ by detaching from this world of vanity. This is also what Saint Ephraim the Syrian, our father in faith described in the fifty-five beatitudes of Saint Ephraim:

« Blessed is the one who has become wholly free in the Lord from all the earthly things of this vain life and loves God alone, the good and compassionate.

Blessed is the one who has become a good ploughman of the virtues and raised a harvest of fruits of life in the Lord, like a ploughed field bearing wheat.

Blessed is the one who has become a good husbandman of the virtues and planted a spiritual vine, plucked the grapes and filled his presses with fruits of life in the Lord.

Blessed is the one who has made his fellow servants glad with spiritual gladness from the fruit of the virtues, which he planted by toiling to give back the fruit of life in the Lord.

Blessed is the one who stands in the assembly and prays like an Angel from heaven, keeping his thoughts pure day by day, and has given no entrance to the evil one, to make his soul a prisoner, far from God his Saviour.

Blessed is the one who with understanding has loved, weeping and with compunction rained tears upon the ground, like fair pearls before the Lord.

Blessed is the one who loves holiness like the light and has not defiled his body with dark deeds of the evil one in the sight of the Lord.

Blessed is the one who keeps his body for holiness for the Saviour and has not shamed his soul by unnatural deeds, but remained well-pleasing to the Lord.

Blessed is the one who has hated evil-doing that is full of shame and presented himself as a living sacrifice, well-pleasing to the Lord.

Blessed is the one who always keeps the memory of God in himself, he will be wholly like an Angel from heaven upon earth, ministering to the Lord with fear and love. ». Amen.

Nicosia, 19 February 2012

† Youssef Soueif

Maronite Archbishop of Cyprus