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Paschal Letter for the Feast of the Resurrection 2002

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My Beloved, the Blessed Children of the Holy Church

Christ is Risen, Truly He is Risen

Today, we rejoice in the resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and consequently our resurrection with Him, which liberated us from the bondage to sin. The Feast of the Resurrection is our Passover in which we pass from slavery to Satan to the glorious liberty of the children of God.

With a strong hand, the Lord took His people out of bondage (Ex. 13:9); He asked them to sacrifice the paschal lamb and then take some of the blood and put it on the doorposts and lintel of the house in which they were eating it. The Lord told them, “Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you.” (Ex. 12:13)
[quote]And when I see the blood, I will pass over you (Ex. 12: 13).[/quote] The paschal lamb was a symbol of the true Passover, as St. Paul wrote, “For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.” (1 Cor. 5:7) Our Lord Jesus Christ is our Passover, Who was sacrificed for us, and His Blood was sprinkled on us. Thus, we have passed from bondage to Satan into the new life in Christ.

Our Lord Jesus Christ is the new Moses; He led us and liberated us from slavery to sin and bestowed upon us blessings, which surpass those that Moses gave to the Israelites. Let us reflect on some of the blessings, which we received on the Passover, the feast of passing over, the Feast of the Resurrection, in which we were raised from the death of sin to the life of holiness and righteousness.

By His Resurrection, Christ wiped out the hand writing of requirements that was against us:
It is written in the Holy Bible, “And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He had made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.” (Col. 2:13-14)

St. John Chrysostom said, “In this handwriting of requirement that was against us are written a curse, and sin, and death, and the condemnation of the law.” Then he continues, “The apostle did not say that he erased the handwriting of requirement that was against us, or that he blotted it out, but he said that He nailed it to the cross so that no trace of it might remain.” St John Chrysostom warns up saying, “Since the old handwriting of requirements that was against us is destroyed, let us be alert to prevent any second handwriting of requirement against us… I exhort you not to become too careless.”

By His Resurrection, Christ gave us the New Life:
Christ died and arose from the dead so that we may die and rise with Him, “Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Fr., even so we also should walk in the newness of life.” (Rom. 6:4)

Dying with Christ means the death of the old man, the sinful person, and it means the death of the carnal desires and liberation from the power of sin, “knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with that we should no longer be slaves of sin.” (Rom. 6:6)

St. Paul wrote to the Corinthians, rebuking them for sin, immorality, and fornication, which leaked amongst them, “that a man has his father’s wife!” (1 Cor. 5:1) He asked them to isolate evil, warning them that a small amount of leaven affects the whole lump. Then St. Paul raised their minds to the grace they received by the resurrection of Christ, which is the life of holiness and righteousness, a life, which does not agree with the life of sin and immorality. St. Paul used the word “Passover” revealing the true meaning of the Passover. Today, as we celebrate the true Passover, St. Paul is telling us, like he told the Corinthians, “Therefore, purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” (1 Cor. 5:7-8)

Christ rose on Sunday, on the dawn of the eighth day, the new day, thus proclaiming the beginning of the new life, the life of light and holiness. Thus, on the Feast of the Resurrection, in which we pass from darkness to light, we see the Church adorned with lights and white banners symbolizing the life of holiness and purity. We chant the festal hymns as we rejoice in our passing over from the sea of death to the new life.

St. John Chrysostom said:
“The Jews passed through the sea; you have passed through the sea of death.
They were delivered from the Egyptians; you are set free from the demon. The Jews were unable to see the face of Moses transfigured, but you have seen the face of Christ in His glory. For the Jews after Egypt came the desert; for you, after your exodus will come heaven.”

By His Resurrection, Christ gave us power to conquer Satan:
By His death and resurrection, Christ conquered Satan, liberated us from slavery, and gave us the power to conquer Satan. Christ also gave us the armor and food.

He gave us a whole armor by which we can struggle against Satan and his powers and defeat them. The armor is the breastplate of righteousness, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. St. Paul exhorts us to “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.”(Eph. 6:11)
Also, by His resurrection, Christ gave us food, which is His precious Body and Blood. St. John Chrysostom explains to us the power of this heavenly Table. He said, “Has God only made ready the armor? No! He has also prepared a food, which is more powerful than any armor, so that you may not weary in the fight, and that you may dine joyously and then win the advantage over the wicked one. If the devil merely sees you returning from the Master’s banquet, he flees faster than any wind, as if he had seen a lion breathing forth flames from his mouth. If you show him a tongue stained with the precious blood, he will not be able to make a stand; if you show him your mouth all crimsoned and ruddy, cowardly beast that he is, he will run away.”

My Beloved Brothers and Sisters,
Today, we rejoice in our Passover, i.e. passing into the new life of holiness and righteousness, the life of victory over sin. We rejoice because, by being washed, the power of the Blood of Christ our Lord has cleansed us, purified us, and sanctified us. The Blood of Christ makes Satan flee from us.

We ask our Good Lord to help us celebrate this day by granting us hearts purified by repentance and sprinkled by the Precious Blood. Let us hold fast to our Lord and the power of His Precious Blood.

We pray for every wearied and suffering soul that the Lord may grant the joy of His resurrection to every one.

We pray for the liberation of every soul enslaved by Satan.

We pray for all the souls that still live in darkness because they are away from the True Light. May the light of Christ’s glorious resurrection shine on them.

We pray that our Lord keep us in the Orthodox faith and help us be sincere witnesses for Him in this world.

We pray for our beloved father, H.H. Pope Shenouda III, all the fathers, and servants of the Church.

Wishing you many happy returns,

Bishop Serapion
Servant of the Diocese of Los Angeles
May 5, 2002

 

 

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