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Papal Letter for the Feast of the Resurrection 2003

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Dear beloved children and brethren in the lands of immigration, Clergy and congregation.

It is my pleasure to congratulate you on the Glorious Feast of Resurrection, hoping that you have a joyful, holy and blessed life.

Talking about the Resurrection is a joy for the ears, because it makes the heart full of joy and hope. Why?

Because the Resurrection means that man has been restored to his first state and even better. God created man for life, "and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being." (Genesis 2:7) Then death entered the world as a result of sin and "thus death spread to all men." (Romans 5:12)

But death was an intruder to human nature that God created for life. Therefore, due to His love, God wanted to return us once more to life. So, as He allowed death to enter into our nature, He also allowed the resurrection to enter into our nature…so that we will return to life.

God has given us examples of resurrection from the dead in the Old Testament through Elijah the Prophet (I Kings) and Elisha the Prophet (II Kings) and in the New Testament, the Lord raised the daughter of Jairus (Mark 5:42, Luke 8:41) and the son of the widow of Nain (Luke 7:14-15). And less than two weeks before His crucifixion the Lord raised Lazarus from the dead so that His disciples will believe, that if He is able to raise a person from the dead after four days, He is also able to rise.

And the Lord Jesus Christ rose from the dead, and it has been said that He has become "the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep" (I Corinthians 15:20). What does it mean "The firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep" although many were raised from the dead before Him?

The phrase "The firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep" that has been said about the Lord Jesus Christ means two things.

First: He rose where there is no death to follow. Because those who were raised from the dead before Him, ended up dying later on, and they are waiting for the general resurrection.

Second: He arose with a glorified body that enabled Him to enter the upper room while the doors were shut.

He also gave us to rise in a way similar to His Glorious Resurrection. St. Paul the Apostle said about that: "… The Lord Jesus Christ who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body." (Philippians 3:21)

And by this glorious resurrection that has been granted to us, we will be in a better state than the first man before the fall.

How is that?

1. Adam and Eve had a materialistic body that lives a materialistic life.

As for us, as St. Paul the Apostle said, we will be resurrected in glory and in power.

(I Corinthians 15:42-44).

2. Adam and Eve, when they were created, they had a body capable of death, and both have died and all their descendents. But we will have a body that would not die later on, because God has prepared it for eternal life.

3. Also Adam and Eve, when created, had a simple, pure body that did not know sin, but could fall in sin. And they actually did fall and both deserved a punishment. As for us, we will be in bodies that would not know sin, and will live in an everlasting purity.

4. Adam and Eve lived in a materialistic garden, eating and drinking in a materialistic manner, enjoying the trees that were there. But in our resurrection, we will be enjoying what "Eyes have not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for those who love Him." (I Corinthians 2:9)

5. Adam and Eve lived on earth, in the garden of Eden that was surrounded by four river heads (Genesis 2:10). As for us, after the resurrection, we will live in heaven, the kingdom of heaven, in heavenly Jerusalem. (Revelation 21)

6. After the resurrection, we will be elevated to the state, about which the Lord said: "Like angels of God in heaven" (Matthew 22:30), which was not the case with Adam and Eve…

7. After the resurrection, we will live with God and His angels, and with the congregation of the saints, according to the phrase in Revelation: "Behold the tabernacle of God is with men." (Revelation 21:3)

As for Adam and Eve, they only lived with animals of the wilderness that they were trying to tame. But we never heard that one of them saw angels.

8. In the resurrection, God will give us to eat from the tree of life (Revelation 2:7), which was not permitted for Adam and Eve.

For these reasons and others, the fathers rejoiced with the resurrection and with the life that follows, longing for this life, and "… for the city which has no foundations, whose builder and maker is God (Hebrews 11:10), and "they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country" (Hebrews 11:15). And a great saint like St. Paul the Apostle used to say that he "Having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better." (Philippians 1:23)

I refer to all these, while congratulating you on the Glorious Feast of Resurrection, the feast that represents the living hope and the eternal future.

May the Lord grant you many such a feast, while you are full of joy and blessing.

Be well in the Lord, absolved by the Holy Spirit. Pray for us.

Shenouda III,
Pope of Alexandria and
Patriarch of the See of Saint Mark
April 27, 2003

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