May 2012 Letter
Christ is risen …. Truly He is risen
The Church lives these days in the joy of the Resurrection even with the pain of the departure of our spiritual father, Pope Shenouda. Yet realizing the fact of His resurrection gives us hope of eternal life and to meet the Lord with all our beloved ones who have gone before us to glory.
Although the Bible mentions cases in both Testaments of people who were raised from the dead, the resurrection of Jesus remains unique in several facts that distinguish it from other such events. Among them some examples:
1) Christ rose by His own power and not through an outside one. Exactly as He accepted crucifixion by His own will, so also was the resurrection through His own power. Remember that He had already told the disciples this fact even before he was arrested: “Then Jesus said to them, All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night, for it is written: `I will strike the Shepherd, And the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ But after I have been raised, I will go before you to Galilee ” ( Mt 26: 31-32).
2) He rose while the linen were still wrapped as if He had gone from the inside. That’s why the Bible says about St Peter “But Peter arose and ran to the tomb; and stooping down, he saw the linen cloths lying by themselves; and he departed, marveling to himself at what had happened” (Lk 24: 12).
3) He rose and will never die again. All who had returned from the dead fell asleep again, but Christ is the only one who ascended after His resurrection, and His ascension was in front of all his disciples. For this in the Book of Revelation says: “I am the First and the Last. 18 I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen” (Rev. 1: 17-18).
4) He rose with a glorified body, which we will attain in the life to come. About this body St. Paul said:“who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body” (Ph 3: 21).
5) He continued to appear to His disciples for a period of 40 days after His resurrection, of which the Bible mentioned only 11 appearances.
6) His resurrection made a clear difference in the life of His disciples, and we note a clear shift in their lives in many ways: from sadness to joy, from weakness to strength, from fear to courage, from despair to confidence. We might also note that the change did not happen in their lives when they heard about the resurrection from the Marys, but when they saw Christ Himself in their midst (note for example the story of two disciples of Emmaus in the Gospel of Luke Chapter 24, and the courage of the disciples – after they were in fear inside the upper room and doors closed – then when the Jews arrested Peter and John and asked them not to preach, Peter answered boldly:“For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard” (Acts 4: 20)).
May the blessings of the glorious resurrection be with us always, and let us pray continuously that the Lord will choose the good shepherd to shepherd His people in purity and righteousness.
Fr. Youssef Halim & Fr. Luke Istafanous
Belleville, May 1, 2012