Today, we rejoice in the Resurrection of our Lord, God, and Saviour Jesus Christ. Indeed, today is the day which the Lord has made. The Resurrection of Christ is not just a historical
Today, we rejoice in the Resurrection of our Lord, God, and Saviour Jesus Christ. Indeed, today is the day which the Lord has made. The Resurrection of Christ is not just a historical event, but is a living event which we live and rejoice in it. The Resurrection of Christ is the resurrection of all of us, as St Paul said, “Even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” (Eph 2: 5-6)
• We were dead because of trespasses, and we were under the sentence of death and the control of Satan, the evil enemy. But what does it mean that we were dead because of sins? St Macarius the Great explains the meaning saying, “For the wicked one has defiled the entire person, soul and body, and dragged him down and subjected him to the old man, polluted, impure, and an enemy of God, “not subject of God’s law”(Rom 8:7). That is, man is under sin so that he no longer can see freely but sees evilly, hears evilly, and has swift feet to perpetrate evil acts (Ps 58:3). His hands work evil and his heart meditates evil deeds.”
• Who can liberate man from this bitter bondage? St Macarius said, “For just as the sun shines and the wind blows together, each having its own body and nature, yet no one can separate the wind from the sun unless God alone who can calm the wind so it blows no more, similarly sin is also mixed with the soul even though each has its own nature. It is, therefore, impossible to separate the soul from sin unless God should calm and turn back this evil wind, inhabiting both the soul and body.”
• The Lover of Mankind, our Lord Jesus Christ, through His incarnation, death on the cross, and resurrection liberated us from slavery to sin and ended the power of the evil enemy over us. He granted us a new life, since He is the One who said, “Whoever commits sin is a slave of sin….Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” (Jn 8: 34, 36). Only our Lord Jesus Christ is capable of uprooting sin and evil living within us. St Macarius said, “To uproot sin and the evil that is so imbedded in our sinning can be done only by divine power, for it is impossible and outside man’s competence to uproot sin. To struggle, yes, to continue to fight, to inflict blows, and to receive setbacks is in your power. To uproot, however, belongs to God alone. If you could have done it on your own, what would have been the need for the coming of the Lord?”
• Our resurrection with Christ means that we live the new life, as St. Paul the Apostle said, “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.” (Col 3: 1-2) The new life in Christ means:
First: the death of the old man. St Paul the Apostle said, “Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.” (Col 3:5)
Second: that we put on the new man, “that you put on the new man, which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.” (Eph 4:24); that we put on the Lord Jesus, “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts.” (Rom 13:14); and that our life agrees with our calling, “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering.” (Col 3:12). St Macarius said, “all who have put off the old and earthly man and from whom Jesus has removed the clothing of the kingdom of darkness have put on the new and heavenly man, Jesus Christ, so that once again the eyes are joined to the new eyes, ears to ears, head to head, to be completely pure and bearing the heavenly image.” St Paul the Apostle summarised for us the meaning of death and resurrection with Christ when he said, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.” (Gal. 2:20)
• But what is our role, we, who have believed in Christ, were baptized, have received the new nature, and have become temples of the Holy Spirit? St Macarius said, “Those who strive to live the Christian life with great zeal must above all else develop with greatest care their soul’s faculty of understanding and discerning so that, having acquired an exact discernment between good and evil, always distinguishing those things with which nature has been unnaturally tainted, we may conduct ourselves properly and without offense. By using this faculty of discerning as an eye, we may avoid any depravity and binding union with evil. And thus we may receive the divine gift and become worthy of the Lord.”
Let us pray to our Risen Lord that He may grant us the gift of discernment to lead a life of holiness and righteousness, so that we may have a share to sit with Him in the heavenly places.
Let us pray for the peace of the Holy Church.
Let us pray for the soul of our beloved father, H.H. Pope Shenouda III. May Our Lord repose his blessed soul with His saints and grant to appoint for us a good shepherd to shepherd us in purity and righteousness.
His Grace Bishop Serapion is Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of Los Angeles (www.lacopts.org)
15 April 2012
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