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Papal Letter for the Feast of the Resurrection 2005

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My beloved children in the lands of emigration, clergy and congregations.

It gives me pleasure to greet you all on the occasion of the feast of the Glorious Resurrection.

I say to you, with the whole Church, “Christ is risen; indeed He is risen.” Khristos Anesti; Alithos Anesti.

On this glorious occasion, I wish to speak to you of the humility of our Lord in His Resurrection. It is notable that our Lord allowed for His Crucifixion to be before all although bore insults and suffering, but His Resurrection, with all its’ power and glory, was hidden. He did not rise in glory before people to make up for the insults and ridicule that followed him during the Crucifixion, but arose secretly and at dawn, while people were still asleep.

He was as distant from awe-inspiring appearances in His Resurrection, as He was from them at His Birth, when He was born in a manger.

When He appeared after His Resurrection, He appeared to a small number of His followers, amongst whom were: Mary Magdalene, the other Mary, Peter, the eleven, and the two disciples of Emmaus. He then appeared to Saul of Tarsus and some of the brethren, but He did not appear to those who had previously ridiculed Him, or called for His Crucifixion.

Due to His humility, when He appeared He did not appear in His glorified body because those who saw Him would not be able to comprehend it, for even in normal circumstances, some could not endure seeing His resurrected body. Mary Magdalene supposed Him to be the gardener (John 20:15); the disciples on the road to Emmaus did not recognise Him at the beginning of their meeting with Him (Luke 24:18); and even the eleven thought that He was a figment of their imagination or a spirit (Luke 24:37), but to reassure them He said “…Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts? Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have. When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet…” (Luke 24:38-47)

This was all a renunciation of glory, on His part, dealing at their level so that they may understand and accept the truth of the Resurrection. If He had appeared to them in His glorified body, they would not have been able to accept that reality. He did, however, appeared to them with His glorified body at the time of His Ascension- “Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.” (Acts 1:9)

With His Ascension came the end of the expression “made Himself of no reputation” (Phil 2:7). He “made Himself of no reputation” at His Birth when He took the form of a “bondservant” and took the “likeness of man.” He also “made Himself of no reputation” to a certain extent in His Resurrection when He did not appear in His glorified body. When He comes at the Second Advent for judgement however, He will come “… in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory.” (Matt. 25:31) It is also said of Him that “… the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Fr. with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.” (Matt 16:27)

My children, live in this humility which the Lord Christ demonstrated at His birth, and with which He appeared at His Resurrection; this being one of His permanent characteristics throughout the period of His Incarnation, being “humble and lowly in heart.” (Matt 11:29)

Finally, I wish you every goodness and blessing during this glorious feast, and I hope to hear all good things of you at all times.

Be absolved from the Holy Spirit and sound in the Lord.

Shenouda III

Pope of Alexandria,

Patriarch of the See of Saint Mark

 

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