Thursday 30 May saw Anba Youssef, Coptic Orthodox Bishop of Southern United States, celebrate Mass at the church of St Anthony in Florida, opening thus the three-day celebration of first Global Coptic Day (GCD). It is hoped that the GCD would become an annual event to mark the Copts and their Church, and their contributions to the world.
The Global Coptic Day was set on 1 June, to coincide with the Feast of the Entry of the Holy Family into Egypt.
In his sermon, Bishop Youssef spoke of the meaning of the coming of Jesus Christ while yet a child to Egypt, and its significance to the entire world. He said that Egyptians were then pagans, and were obviously gentiles, that is to say non-Jews. As such they were not among God’s chosen people to whom the Messiah was promised. But Jesus came to Egypt, and in so doing, came to the gentiles as well as the Jews.
“So the Feast of the Entry of the Holy Family into Egypt,” Bishop Youssef said, “should not be exclusively celebrated by the Church in Egypt; it should concern the whole world. Because when Jesus came to the gentile Egyptians, He embraced through them non-Jews everywhere in the world.
“It is for this reason,” Bishop Youssef explained, “that we chose 1 June to Mark GCD.”
GCD, the Bishop said, should also serve to celebrate the Coptic Church and its impact on the world. “It was the Coptic Church which introduced monasticism to the world through Egypt’s Anba Antonius, St Anthony the Great. It was the Copt St Athanasius of Alexandria who drafted the Christian Creed. And it was the Coptic Patriarch St Kyrillos I, St Cyril of Alexandria, who expounded on the nature of the Christ in the Chalcedon Council. His extensive writings and Christological studies, conducted in 5th century, are to this day the reference on the topic.”
Again, said Bishop Youssef, the Coptic Church has and still is offering martyrs who witness in blood to the name of Jesus Christ.
On the other hand, Bishop Youssef remarked, the only land that Christ lived on, besides the Holy Land, was Egypt. In Egypt, where He spent 3.5 years of his childhood, He probably walked his first steps and uttered his first words which might very well have been Coptic.
“We are proud to be Copts,” he said.
Finally, Bishop Youssef thanked President and Mrs Trump for their kind greeting and good wishes for the first GCD.
31 May 2019