May 2014 Letter
Christ is risen …. Truly He is risen
Congratulating you on the glorious feast of Resurrection, and for our benefit we quote some sayings of H.H. Pope Shenouda about resurrection:
“Christ arose of His own will and authority, as He previously gave Himself up to death of His own will and authority. He previously announced this to His disciples and said: “I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again” (John10: 17-18).
“Likewise, the Lord arose according to His promise, and according to the time that He informed His disciples. He said to them: “He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day” (Mat 16: 21). Hence the angel of the Resurrection said to the two Marys: “for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said” (Mat 28: 5-6).
“The Lord pointed towards this also in the similarity between Himself and the sign of Jonah in the belly of the whale (Mat 12: 39-40). The Lord Jesus Christ arose to guarantee that death has no authority over Him. For if He died and did not rise, they would have regarded Him as a normal person. His Resurrection and coming out of the sealed tomb are two proofs of His Divinity. Through this He shamed the Jews who attempted – by many ways – to hide the truth of His Resurrection.
“Christ through His death on our behalf, paid for us the price of sin which is death (Rom 6: 23). A price of which remained our relief from death through His Resurrection. His Resurrection has become the firstfruits of our resurrection (1Co 15: 20).
“It was inevitable that He rise in order to confirm the faith of the disciples who dispersed at the time of His crucifixion, and were greatly shaken by His death. They became afraid and locked themselves in the upper room. His Resurrection was the means by which to confirm their faith and to plant courage and power in them, in order to be able to preach this faith to others.
“The Resurrection of the Lord was also a means for removing their doubt. Not just the doubts of Thomas but also of all the disciples, who did not believe when Mary Magdalene informed them that she saw the Lord. Likewise, they did not believe the two disciples of Emmaus. And even when our Lord appeared to them they thought that He was a spirit or ghost!!
“It was inevitable also for Him to rise to hand down to His disciples all of the tenets of faith, all of the sacraments of the Church and its rites, and to also speak to them about matters pertaining to the Kingdom of God (Acts 1: 3), to also send them to all nations for preaching, teaching and to baptize (Mat 28: 19-20)”.
Asking you to remember the whole church in your prayers, and may the blessings of St. Mary & St. Mercurius, the blessings of the holy resurrection and the 50 Holy days be with us always.
Fr. Youssef Halim & Fr. Luke Istafanous
Belleville, May 1, 2014