Christ is risen! Truly He is risen!
The glorious resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ opened unto us the gate of righteousness. When the Psalmist says, “Lift up your heads, O you gates! Lift up, you everlasting doors! And the King of glory shall come in” (Psalms 24:9), we know that this can only be the Lord Jesus Christ who may enter, for He is the everlasting door by which we, too, shall enter in Him. He is the King of glory and the gate of righteousness that leads to life everlasting. There is no other way to the kingdom of heaven other than by Him, through Him, and in Him.
“Open to me the gates of righteousness;
I will go through them,
And I will praise the Lord.
This is the gate of the Lord,
Through which the righteous shall enter.”
The believers enter this gate of righteousness and life while here on earth by partaking of the Holy Eucharist in every Divine Liturgy and celebrating Christ’s glorious resurrection every Sunday, which replaced the former Sabbath. This is the day in which the Lord entered into His rest having achieved salvation for the world. Every Divine Liturgy is a journey to heaven where we see, touch, and unite with the Lord. “This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it,” is the beautiful liturgical chant taken from Psalm 118:24 and recited after the Procession of the Lamb in the Divine Liturgy. “Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:54).
The Lord told us that the only way to salvation is through Him. “I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture” (John 10:7). Not alone, nor with any other, but with the Lord Jesus, did Demas, the thief on the right, enter into Paradise: “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43). In our father Adam, we sinned and were banished with him from the garden of Eden (Genesis 3), but in the Lord Jesus, the gate of righteousness, we can enter the kingdom of heaven triumphantly in Him. He told us plainly that the way to eternal life is through Him. “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).
At the gate of the city of Nain, life greeted death when the Lord Jesus met the grieving widow while she was on her way accompanied by mourners to bury her only son (Luke 7:11-17). Death was silenced at this gate in the presence of the Lord Jesus, the gate of righteousness. With love and compassion, the Lord Jesus reached out to this heartbroken widow to console her. By His gentle life-giving touch, He raised her beloved only son from death to life. It was through Christ Jesus alone for He is the True Physician, the Healer of our souls, the Author of life, and the only reason that this young man’s life was restored. Bitter conditions in the hands of Christ the Lord are transformed to comfort and joy, and death is conquered by life through Him. “He opened the gate of Paradise and restored Adam to his authority” (Sunday Theotokia).
God is aware of our struggles and unworthiness, but His love surpasses all human wisdom. Though we do not deserve His grace, He grants us His life-giving Mysteries, an honour that not even angels can obtain. “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15). Loving God is a decision to reject all evil. Arise from every fall by repentance and the Mystery of Confession and partake of the Lord Jesus Christ who is waiting for you upon the holy altar. We are not righteous, but He is the gate of righteousness: “Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city” (Revelation 22:12).
Christ has prepared His kingdom in great anticipation to receive each one of us (John 14:3). He is the gate of righteousness and the only way into the kingdom of God and life everlasting. Through the intercessions and prayers of Saint Mary and all the angels and saints, we ask the Lord to preserve the life of our beloved father, His Holiness Pope Tawadros II, the 118th Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of Saint Mark, and to keep him on his throne for many years and peaceful times.
Glory be to God, forever, Amen.
His Grace Bishop Youssef is Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States (www.suscopts.org)
8 April 2018