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Paschal Letter for the Feast of the Resurrection 2014

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Resurrection

My Beloved, the Blessed Children of the Holy 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 Lord, God, and Savior, Jesus Christ. The resurrection of Christ made the whole world rejoice, because humanity, which was separated from God because of sin, has been returned once again to be close to God. Through our Lord Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection, we are reconciled with God and given new life, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (2 Cor. 5:17)

St. Mary Magdalene stood weeping by the tomb, and when she was asked why she wept, she said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.” (Jn. 20: 13). She did not see the empty tomb as proof of Christ’s resurrection, but rather as a confirmation of what the chief priests ordered the soldiers to say, “His disciples came at night and stole Him away while we slept.” (Matt. 28: 13) At the beginning, Mary Magdalene did not recognize our Lord Jesus Christ, but took him for the gardener and repeated the same words. But when she recognized Christ and realized the reality of the resurrection, she was joyful and hurried to proclaim it to the disciples.

The disciples were assembled in the upper room with the doors shut, because of their fear of the Jews. The arrest of our Lord Jesus Christ and His crucifixion caused the disciples to feel that the Lord is far from them. But when Christ appeared to them and they realized the truth about the glorious resurrection, they were glad, “Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.” (Jn. 20:20) This was an affirmation of our Lord Jesus Christ’s promise to them prior to the crucifixion when He told them, But I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you” (Jn 16:22)

My Beloved,

Today, we rejoice in the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, because we rejoice that the Lord is at hand.

Christ’s resurrection is not just a historical event, but it is a living experience. Our Lord Jesus Christ rose from the dead and raised us with Him, and we experience death and resurrection with Christ through Holy Baptism. After St. Paul’s conversion and baptism, he said, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.” (Gal. 2:20) Likewise, we also join St. Paul in saying the same thing.

  • The Lord is at hand, because He lives in us.
  • The Lord is at hand, because the resurrection makes us seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God, “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.” (Col. 3:1)
  • The Lord is at hand, because we are concerned with what is above and not with the earthly. While imprisoned in Rome, St. Paul wrote to the Philippians, “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! The Lord is at hand…  Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” (Phil 4: 4-6)
  • The Lord is at hand, because Christ’s resurrection gives us His peace. The Risen Christ appeared to His disciples and said to them, “Peace be with you.” That is why St. Paul the Apostle later said, “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:7)
  • The Lord is at hand, because His resurrection grants us a new life: a holy and righteous life. Sin separates man from God, whereas, holiness brings man close to God. Elijah the Prophet presents to us an example of a holy life. He always felt that he was in God’s presence and used to say, “As the Lord of hosts lives, before whom I stand.” (1 Kg 18:15) Also, David, as a young man, came courageously to fight the champion Goliath, who was reproaching the armies of God. He felt that God was at hand, therefore he told Goliath, “You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.” (1 Sam 17: 45)
  • The Lord is at hand. It is a miraculous phrase, which grants us power to face difficulties. When David the Prophet faced heavy tribulations, he cried to God saying, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Ps. 22:1) and “O my God, I cry in the daytime, but You do not hear; and in the night season and am not silent.” (Ps. 22:2). That is why David asked God, “Be not far from me, for trouble is near; for there is no helper.” (Ps. 22: 11) Likewise, at times of trouble, we also make the same request.

Certainly, tribulation may be close and there is no helper, but it will be turned to joy, when we experience the resurrection of Christ. Our living Christ is close to us and will never leave us, so long as we pray with David the Prophet, “I have set the Lord always before me; because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved.” (Ps. 16:8)

Let us rejoice, because our Living and Risen Christ is at hand, accepting our repentance and granting us forgiveness of sins. He wipes the tears of the suffering and defends the oppressed, protecting us by His mighty hand.

Let us pray for the peace of the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.

Let us pray for our beloved father, H.H. Pope Tawadros II.

Let us pray for the families of our martyrs in Libya and Egypt, as well as for all those suffering and troubled.

Let us pray for our countries: the United States and Egypt, and we pray that peace prevails everywhere worldwide.

Let us rejoice in the Resurrection of our Beloved Savior, Who is at hand, because He lives in us and we in Him.

 

Wishing you many happy returns.

Bishop Serapion

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