My Beloved, the Blessed Children of the Holy Church,
Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen!
It is my pleasure to wish you a blessed Feast of the Resurrection of our Lord, God, and Saviour Jesus Christ. The Resurrection of Christ reveals His victory over death. Thus, we say,
“He trampled death by death, and to those in the tombs He granted eternal life.”
Christ’s victory over death has become our victory, because through His death and Resurrection, we are raised up together with Him. Formerly, we were dead in our trespasses and sins. Consequently, we were enslaved by Satan and in bondage, but Christ came to save us from Satan’s captivity, as St Paul explained in the Epistle to the Ephesians, “‘When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men.’ Now this, ‘He ascended’—what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.” (Eph 4:8-10)
The Son of God, the Word, “Who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore, God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name.” (Phil 2:6-9) Additionally, St Paul said, “And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.” (Eph 1:22-23)
The Son of God emptied Himself and was incarnate for our salvation. By His own will, Christ accepted death in order to conquer it. Then He rose and “raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” (Eph. 2:6)
Through His Resurrection, Christ granted us many gifts:
· He granted us redemption, for “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.” (Eph 1:7)
· He granted us salvation, “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ.” (Eph 2:4-5)
· He granted us reconciliation, because “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them.” (2 Cor 5:19)
· He granted us the new creation, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” (Eph 2:10)
Christ died for us and rose for our salvation, and He is calling us to live a holy life. So what is our responsibility towards our salvation?
St Paul said, “He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.” (2 Cor 5:15) This is exactly what the Church reminds us of every morning in the First Hour and teaches us to pray, “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism.” (Eph 4: 1-5) Since our new life in Christ requires holiness, therefore St Paul exhorts us, “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light.” (Eph 5:8)
The Resurrection of Christ is a calling inviting us to awaken from the death of sin, from laziness, and negligence, so Christ may shine upon us. Thus, St. Paul exhorts us saying, “Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.” (Eph. 5:14) But this calling requires diligence (carefulness) and not wasting our life away. Therefore, the Apostle Paul wrote, “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” (Eph 5: 15-16)
Let us praise our Lord and say, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.” (Eph 1:3) Let us “cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light,” (Rom. 13:12) so that “speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ.” (Eph 4:15)
Let us pray for the peace of the One, holy, catholic, and Apostolic Church.
Let us pray for our beloved father, H.H. Pope Tawadros II.
Let us pray that God may grant us the joy of His Holy Resurrection and confirm us in the orthodox faith until the last breath.
Wishing you many happy returns.
His Eminence Metropolitan Serapion is Metropolitan of the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of Los Angeles (www.lacopts.org)
28 April 2019