My beloved children in the lands of immigration, clergy and congregation, Grace to you and peace from our Almighty and Holy God. Sincere greetings to you for the glorious Feast of the Resurrection. May God bring this occasion upon you every year while you are full of goodness and blessing.
Christ, to whom is glory, rose despite the tight security over His tomb. He appeared to His holy disciples and strengthened their faith. He spoke to them about matters pertaining to the kingdom of God. He granted them the authority of the priesthood, and gave them the responsibility of pastoral care of His Church and His people. After forty days of visiting them, He arose to heaven and sat at the right hand of God (Mark 16:19).
With His resurrection, He became the firstfruits of the resurrection, and will raise us also and “will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body…” (Phil. 3:21) That is, we will resurrect with a glorious body, as Saint Paul the Apostle said “raised in glory” (I Cor. 15:43)
But in the resurrection, we will not all be in one rank, but “each one in his own order.” (I Cor. 15:23) “For one star differs from another in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead.” (I Cor. 15:41, 42)
With this, the distinction in the resurrection will be according to the type of spirit and according to its work that it had on earth. For the Lord will reward each one according to his works (Matthew 16:27).
It is known that the spirits differ in types. There is the spirit of the righteous that may fall seven times and rise again (Proverbs 24:16). And there are spirits that God created in strength, but did not use all their energy, in contrast to the mind that used all its energy with a high degree, and confirmed its distinction with what it offered of amazing results. There are also spirits excelling in strength, in their abilities and talents, and in their connection to the Spirit of God; in the stories of victories over the flesh, the world and Satan, and in its extent of leading others and having an effect on them. So God has chosen these spirits to give them large spiritual responsibilities. Even after these spirits have left their bodies, God sends some of them to earth to rescue those who ask for help – just as the spirit of Saint George does for example without anyone seeing it; and as the spirit of the Virgin Saint Mary appeared in some of her transfigurations in some churches, and miracles occurred through her.
There are also great spirits with high perception, to whom God reveals matters that they see, while unseen by others. Like what was said about Elisha the prophet, that he saw many angelic powers, about whom he said “for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” (II Kings 6:16) Whereas his disciple Gehazi did not see what his teacher saw. Maybe the best example of perceiving spirits is what Saint John saw and recorded in the Book of Revelation. Therefore it was good what the Lord said to His holy disciples saying “Blessed are your eyes for they see” that is, they see what others do not see…
All these great types of spirits are opposite to the weak spirits that live bound with the fog of the flesh and materialism, not seeing the beauty of spiritual life, and do not taste it; and the number of their falling is greater that the number of their rising!
Therefore my beloved children, be from the strong spirits, the big and pure spirits, that live with God and God lives with them. So that in the day of resurrection, they will have a distinguished place, as it was written “for one star differs from another star in glory.”
May our good and kind God, who is rich in talents, strengthen your spirits continually. Then you will glorify God in your bodies and in your spirits, which are God’s (I Corinthians 6:20).
Be well in the Lord, absolved from His Holy Spirit.
H. H. Pope Shenouda III