April 2016 Letter
In these holy days of lent, which precedes the Holy Week, let us reflect on the words of the article “Sufferings and the Weaknesses of Believers” written by H.G. Bishop Pachomius.
“The last week of Christ’s life is rich in spiritual experiences, and full of feelings of God’s love for us, which has been able to transcend all weaknesses that the apostles experienced, due to their human weakness. This week carries a message of comfort that the heart of our crucified and resurrected Christ is full of love for us, and that He would overlook our weaknesses that we experience in the midst of our tribulations in life. The following are some of the weaknesses experienced by the disciples, which we might face in times of distress:
- Fear: the fear of the disciples at the time of crucifixion lead to their scattering apart from each other. So that at the cross, there were only St John the Beloved and St Virgin Mary. Everyone feared, including St. Peter who said: “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!” (Matthew 26: 35). None of them remained. But the love of the Lord did not seize at this fear, He appeared to them after His resurrection in the upper room, and in order to dispel their fear “said to them, Peace be with you!” (John 20: 19). In your own life, do not think that the Lord would ever abandon you amidst your fears, but call on to Him to grant you His peace saying “peace to you”, to reassure and calm your heart.
- Forget His promises: The Lord spoke with his disciples before the crucifixion several times that He will be delivered to the hands of men and suffer and be crucified, and on the third day will resurrect. But at the time of distress they did not remember His words. They forgot His promise of resurrection, so the Marys prepared the spices, and went to the tomb to visit Him as a dead person!! So the angel blamed them: “Why do you seek the living among the dead?” (Luke 24: 5). We often forget God’s promises that comfort us amid our pains. So in all your distress and sufferings work hard to remember the God’s promises, which will give you strength.
- Doubt: all the disciples doubted at the time of Christ’s passions, and doubt makes a man skeptical about God’s grace and care for him. So in all your distress do not doubt that God is with you, He who promised: “I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Mathew 28: 20). Be strong and confident, echoing with David: “though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me” (Psalm 23: 4).
- Escape: at the time of pain St Mark fled naked from the garden. Also the two disciples of Emmaus left Jerusalem heading to their little village. But the Lord appeared to all of them, despite their escape. And you also in your weakness may evade your message or your place of work or from your home country, but the Lord’s message is that you stick to Him and trust that He will declare himself in the midst of trouble, and will announce the truth. God does not accept escaping.
The blessings of St. Mary & St. Mercurius, and this Holy Lent be with us, Amen.
Fr. Youssef Halim & Fr. Luke Istafanous
Belleville, April 1, 2016