“That the World May Believe That You Sent Me”
My Beloved, the Blessed Children of the Church,
Christ is Risen | Truly He is Risen
It is my pleasure to wish all of you a glorious Feast of the Resurrection of our Savior and Redeemer, our Lord Jesus Christ. The Resurrection of Christ gives us the power to be an evangelical Church calling on the world to believe in Christ.
Our Lord Jesus Christ prayed to the Father for His disciples and for us that we may be one, so the world may believe in Christ and His redeeming act, “that they may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.” (Jn. 17:21)
Our Lord Jesus Christ wants us to be one, taking as our pattern the unity of the Holy Trinity. St. Athanasius the Apostolic commented on the goal of our Lord Jesus Christ’s prayer and said, “By Our unity may they also be so one with each other, as We are one in nature and truth; for otherwise they could not be one, except by learning unity in Us.” St. Athanasius then added, “There is needed an image and example, that He may say of us, ‘As You in Me, and I in You.’ And when they shall be so perfected, He says, ‘then the world knows that You had sent Me, for unless I had come and borne this their body, no one of them had been perfected, but one and all had remained corruptible.’”
The One Church is an evangelical Church, and it is impossible for Christians to be one except through the power of the resurrection.
Before the Resurrection, the disciples were scattered, as our Lord Jesus Christ told them, “Indeed the hour is coming, yes, has now come, that you will be scattered, each to his own, and will leave Me alone.” (Jn. 16:32) Judas betrayed Christ and Peter denied Him; just as the Holy Bible said, “Then all the disciples forsook Him and fled.” (Matt. 26:56) Afterwards, when the disciples were gathered in the Upper Room, “the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews.” (Jn. 20:19)
When Christ rose from the dead, the disciples’ condition completely changed. Their fear turned to joy; their scattering to unity; and their weakness to power. When our Lord Jesus Christ appeared to the disciples and told them, “Peace be with you”, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the Holy Bible says, “Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.” (Jn. 20:20) The Book of Acts presents to us a beautiful picture of one powerful and evangelical Church, witnessing to the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus with great power, “Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common. And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all.” (Acts 4:32-33) Indeed, the Resurrection of Christ is a great power given to the Church to be an evangelical Church, and Christianity became widespread in the entire world by the power of the Resurrection. In St. Athanasius commentary on this matter, he said, “The Savior is working mightily among men, every day He is invisibly persuading numbers of people all over the world, both within and beyond the Greek-speaking world, to accept His faith and be obedient to His teaching. Can anyone, in face of this, still doubt that He has risen and lives, or rather that He is Himself the Life?”
My Beloved Brothers and Sisters,
On this glorious Feast, let us look up to the Holy Trinity and follow the pattern of unity between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, so that we may become one as our Lord, our Living Christ, prayed for us. When the multitudes that believed were one in heart and spirit, they were able to witness with great power to the Resurrection of Christ, and the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved (Acts 2:47). But when the apostles disputed among themselves “as to which of them should be considered the greatest” (Lk. 22:24), and when the patriarchal sees disputed over primacy, and when the Christians became divided into denominations and different schools, the world stopped believing. Instead, the world is watching our schisms, and disagreements, mocking our weakness, stealing, and causing perish to members of Christ’s flock.
Let us listen to what St. Paul the Apostle said, “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.” (Col. 3:1-2)
Let us pray for the peace and unity of the Holy Church, and may our Lord keep for us the life of our beloved father, H.H. Pope Shenouda III.
Wishing you many happy returns.