24 April 2011
As the disciples were drowned in their sorrowful contemplation over the persecution and crucifixion of their beloved Master, He surprised them with His glorious Resurrection. Since then, we have been enjoying the benefits of this Resurrection. Today I extend to you my wishes for a contemplative, joyful and inspiring celebration of our Lord’s Glorious Resurrection, as well as the joyful mysteries that surround it.
Tumultuous times can distract us; tempt us to unfaithfulness and, down the path, result in condemnation rather than immortal glorification. However, suffering and uncertainty should not be our demise but our salvation. We should not carry our cross with complaint, worry, and protest. The Lord Jesus Christ carried His holy Cross with courage and persistence.
We must not allow the continued unrest in the Middle East to shake our faith, whether in word or deed. Suffering prepares us for partaking in the Glorious Resurrection and the hope of the life to come. It makes us stronger and determined with unwavering faithfulness.
Persecution purifies the church. Two thousand years of purification for a church rich with apostolic tradition and rituals has made it increasingly stronger and established its teachings throughout the modern day world. A single Coptic church burned in an explosion can light candles across continents and help to evangelise nations.
The New Testament teaches us to look toward the Second Coming, the Kingdom of God, and that His glory will be manifested and revealed in us all. St Paul teaches the Romans: For I considered the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us (Rom 8:18). He teaches the Thessalonians: So that we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure, which is manifest evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be counted worthy of the Kingdom of God, for which you also suffer (II Thess 1 :4-5).
To be counted worthy of the Kingdom of God, when the dead in Christ shall rise one must be Christ-like. If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever (I Peter 4: 11).
The Glorious Resurrection opened the door to the Kingdom of Heaven, prepared the way to the Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ to resurrect the dead in Christ. Tertullian c.210 taught, “Day dies into night and is buried everywhere in darkness…Yet, it again revives, with its own beauty, its own dowry, its own sun—the same as ever. In a word I would say that all creation is instinct with renewal…The whole therefore of this revolving order of things bear witness to the resurrection of the dead?”
Let us all give thanks for the Glorious Resurrection and the pathway to the Kingdom of Heaven it opened up to us all. For the Glorious Resurrection has turned darkness into light, death into life, and hope into joy.
May we all strive to follow the footsteps of the One who tasted death for us all and know that there is no salvation, no eternal life except through Him.
To Him is the honour, the power, and the dominion over us all. He is risen, truly He is risen.
His Grace Bishop Youssef is Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States (www.suscopts.org)