Here is the Easter message from the Patriarch of Antioch of the Syriac Catholic Church, Ignatius Youssef III YOUNAN.
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To our brothers, Archbishops and Bishops, Fathers of our Holy Synod of Antioch,
To the Priests, Deacons, religious and consecrated men and women,
To all the faithful people in Lebanon, the Middle East and the Church of Extension
In this blessed Easter season, we extend to you all, our heartfelt prayerful wishes of Peace and joy as we renew our hope and confidence in the One who conquered death, overcoming the sin and reconciled our humanity with His heavenly Father, One God, Creator of all.
The Lord’s Resurrection on Sunday, the first day of the week, is the ultimate sign of victory of Love over death, Grace over sin, Life over nothingness. It is the Hope rebirth of our humanity for a better world. The Lord’s Resurrection is quite the assurance of His everlasting presence with us, among us and for us:”Here I am with you always to the end of the age” (Mt. 28:20)
Yes indeed, the Risen Lord, promised us through his disciples that He will remain always with us: in His living Word, His grace filled Sacraments, through the pouring of His Holy Spirit and not last within His Church nurtured with His Most precious Body and Blood, the divine sacrifice offered for our sanctification and the life of the world.
Christian communities in the Middle East are facing today the most fearful challenge which threatens their very survival in their own land. Let us remind all nations that we are the forgotten “rest” of the first community of believers in Jesus the Nazarean Savior and that our land was first blessed by His Birth, Passion and Resurrection. While we are proud of our forefathers and foremothers who kept witnessing to the Gospel of Love and Peace, since the beginning of Christian faith, enduring in their homeland, every kind of persecutions by a majority of religious denomination, that recognizes no separation between religion and politics. It is time to remind all believers in the world, specially our brethren in the West, that our ancestors did shed their blood, only because of their love and faithfulness to their Lord, the God-Incarnate, Jesus Christ.
I, therefore, beg you to continue praying our Divine Prince of Peace to have mercy on us and strengthen us to keep the Hope alive. Innocent people, particularly vulnerable and targeted Christians, continue to suffer in the Middle East and most particularly in Syria and Iraq. They are suffering because of violent hatred exercised by many militant religious groups, that are often tacitly even openly supported by western politicians. Hundreds of thousands among Christians have been targeted and forced into exile inside their own country or had no other choice than to emigrate.
Many among clergy members and faithful, have been abused, kidnapped or killed because they represent a minority still believing in the Gospel of love, justice and peace. As we had stated since the beginning of the horrible turmoil in Syria, those atrocities could not happen but because of the complicity of that “Machiavellianism policy” adopted by those who look for economical opportunism by promoting “political correctness”.
Let us hope that one day, with the prayers, courage and effective solidarity of the silent majority of our Christian brothers and sisters in the Western World, peoples of the Middle East would rediscover their true calling to spread God’s Love and reconciliation for a better world.
During this blessed Easter season, I promise to keep you all, dear brothers and sisters, in my prayers and “Qurbono” the Divine Liturgy of the Eucharist. To you, who live in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, the Holy Land, Jordan, Egypt, as well to the beloved communities living in Europe the Americas and Australia, I want to send through the media my best prayerful wishes. May our Risen Lord grant you all His Peace and Joy. Halleluia!
Ignatius Youssef III YOUNAN
Patriarch of Antioch of Syriac Catholic Church