Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Ethiopian Synaxarium Miyazia 20

Miyazia (Miyaza) 20 – Geez (Ge'ez) Calendar – Ethiopian Calendar
April 28, 2009


On this day Babnuda, of the city of Dandara (Denderah in Upper Egypt) became a martyr; now he was also called “Al-Dandara.” This holy man was an anchorite, and he was a righteous priest and a fighter. And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him, and said unto him, “Put on priestly apparel (i.e. the holy vestments), and get thee down from this cell, and appear before the governor.” Now Arianus the governor had arrived in a ship at the port of that city, and had asked for the anchorite and found him not. And this holy man Babnuda came to him of his own free will, and he cried out with a loud voice, saying, “I am a Christian openly, and I believe in my Lord Jesus Christ.” When the governor knew that he surely was the anchorite for whom he sought, but could not find, he commanded his soldiers to torture him severely, and they did so; and they loaded him with iron fetters, and took him into a dark chamber. And heavenly light shone upon him, and an angel of the Lord appeared unto him and healed him of his pains, and comforted him. And there was in that city a certain believer whose name was Carolus, with his wife, and his daughter, and twelve young women, and the holy man taught them, and strengthened them, and the soldiers cut off their heads and they became martyrs. And the governor was wroth, and he commanded his soldiers to hang this holy man our father up, head downwards, and to cast him into the river, but the holy man, by the power of God, swam out. And the governor also commanded them to [hang him] on a palm tree, whereupon the palm sent forth fruit, and produced twelve clusters of dates, and [this fact] is remembered unto this day. After this they cut off his head, and he delivered up his holy soul, and received the crown of martyrdom. Salutation to Babnuda, who made the palm to yield fruit. Salutation to the companions of Babnuda. Salutation to Carolus and to his wife and daughter.

[And on this day is commemorated ‘Ammoni.]

Glory be to God Who is glorified in His Saints. Amen.

Miyazia (Miyaza) = Bermodah (Baramouda, Baramuda, Baramudah, Paremoude, Farmou)

Miyazia 20 – Geez (Ge'ez) Calendar – Ethiopian Calendar = Bermodah 20 Martyr – Coptic Calendar – Egyptian Calendar


Egyptian Synaxarium Bermodah 20

Bermodah (Baramouda, Baramuda, Baramudah, Paremoude) 20 Martyr – Coptic Calendar – Martyr Calendar
April 28, 2009

The Martyrdom of St. Babnuda (Paphnute)

On this day, St. Babnuda (Paphnute), who was from Dandara (Dendereh), was martyred. This Saint was a hermit monk. The angel of the Lord appeared to him and told him to put on the priesthood vestments and go appear before Arianus, the governor.

Arianus arrived with his ship and embarked by the city of Dandara, looking for that Saint. The Saint came to Arianus and cried out in his face with a loud voice, saying: "I am Christian, and I believe in the lord Christ." When the Governor knew that he was the anchorite for whom he sought, he ordered him to be tortured severely. He chained him with iron fetters and cast him in a dark prison. A heavenly light shone upon him and an angel of the Lord appeared to him, healed his wounds, and comforted him.

There was in the city a man, whose name was Kyrillos, with his wife, his daughter, and twelve young men. The Saint preached them and confirmed them in faith. They were all martyred by cutting of their heads, and they received the crown of martyrdom. The Governor was raged of him and ordered to hang a rock in his neck and cast him in the sea, and St. Babnuda received the crown of martyrdom.

His prayers be with us and Glory be to our God forever. Amen.

Bermodah (Baramouda, Baramuda, Baramudah, Paremoude, Farmou) = Miyazia (Miyaza)

Bermodah 20 Martyr – Coptic Calendar – Egyptian Calendar = Miyazia (Miyaza) 20 – Geez (Ge'ez) Calendar – Ethiopian Calendar


Sunday, April 26, 2009

Resurrection & Life The deep significance of life

Resurrection & Life The deep significance of life
Pope Shenouda III
Translated by Dr. Wedad Abbas

The resurrection is the return of the body to life. Life is the principle of man's existence, for when God created man He breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, so man became a living being (Gen 2: 7). The woman likewise was called Eve because she was the mother of all living (Gen 3: 20).

The greatness of life lies in its being an attribute of God.
We usually say "The Living God": an attribute often repeated in the Scripture, as in the words, "As I live, says the Lord" (Num 14: 28; Isa 49: 18; Ezek 5: 11; 14: 16, 18, 20); or in the words of the Revelation, "worship Him who lives forever and ever" (Rev 4: 10). And He describes Himself as "the fountain of living waters" (Jer 2: 13).

The Kingdom also is called "the land of the living".
This is clear in the words of the Psalmist, "I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living," "I cried out to You, O Lord: I said, 'You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.'" (Ps 27: 13; 142: 5)

Why is it called "the land of the living"?
It is because a sinner is considered dead, for the Scripture says, "The just shall live by faith." (Heb 10: 38) Also in the story of the Lost Son, on his return his father said, "For this my son was dead and is alive again." (Lk 15: 24) And the widow who lives in pleasure is described as "dead while she lives." (1 Tim 5: 6)

From all this we deduce that true life is not the mere life of the body, that is, a beating heart and a breath going in and out.
Many people even hate such earthly life because of the many troubles they undergo, as the Wise Solomon says, "I hated life because the work that was done under the sun was distressing to me." (Eccl 2: 17) And Rebekah, having got tired of her son's wives, said, "I am weary of my life because of the daughters of Heth." (Gen 27: 46) Jonah the Prophet likewise in his critical situation said, "It is better for me to die than to live!" (Jon 4: 3)

What did the fathers say about such a life?
Jacob the Patriarch, speaking about his life, said to Pharaoh, "The days of my pilgrimage are one hundred and thirty years; few and evil … they have not attained to the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their pilgrimage." (Gen 47: 9) And James the Apostle says, "For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears fro a little time and then vanishes away." (Jas 4: 14) Therefore the life we live on earth is temporary and limited. It is not the real life with its spiritual joy or the everlasting life in eternity.

What then is life in its deep meaning? The apostle says:
"To me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain." (Phil 1: 21)
How can that be? The apostle explains, "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me." (Gal 2: 20) Indeed, this is the true life: that Christ lives in me! The aspects of this life are expounded in more detail in various Epistles, "Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live?" (Heb 12: 9) "If we died with Him, we shall also live with Him." (2 Tim 2: 11; Rom 6: 8) "… that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness." (1 Pet 2: 24)

In this lies our life, but our mere life on earth I fear that an angel says to us about it:
"You have a name that you are alive, but you are dead." (Rev 3: 1) And a person who is spiritually dead can never have an eternal life. Those who live according to the flesh cannot please God, for to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace (Rom 8: 6, 8).

What then is life? What is the way to it? What are its sources?
True life is that which leads to eternal life, about which the Lord said to God the Father, "This is eternal life, that they may know You," "I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them." (Jn 17: 3, 26)

The way to this life is CHRIST.
For He said about Himself, "I am the way, the truth, and the life," "I am the resurrection and the life," "I am the bread of life … I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever." (Jn 6: 48, 51; 11: 25; 14: 6) And about His mission He said:
"I have come that they may have life." (Jn10: 10)

He wants this life for us, because "in Him was life, and the life was the light of men." (Jn 1: 4) And He called upon us, saying, "Abide in Me, and I in you," "Abide in My love," "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing." (Jn 15: 4, 9, 5) Since you are a branch you should abide in the vine so as to take of its juice and live, otherwise you will wither and become dry.

If you abide in Christ, He will give you the living water which waters you that you may live and grow.
The water of the world does not quench one's thirst, as the Lord says, "Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life." (Jn 4: 13, 14) The Lord says about this water, "He who believes in Me, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water. But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive."(Jn 7: 38)

You cannot live except by the Holy Spirit who works in you.
This is the way to life: abiding in the Lord, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, abiding in the Lord means abiding in His love and in His word, because He says, "The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life," "If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love." (Jn 6: 63; 15: 10)

How can you abide in the Lord?
To abide in the Lord means to have a continual relationship with Him, continual life with Him, and continual faith in Him that you may have life in His name (Jn 20: 31). Beware not to refuse this life and be involved in the worldly life; otherwise you will deserve the Lord's reproach to the Jews: "You are not willing to come to Me that you may have life." (Jn 5: 40)

You should know that if you live in sin you will die.
If you return to Christ you will pass from death to life (Jn 5: 24). This is the first resurrection attained by repentance and return to God, like the lost son who was dead and came to life (Lk 15: 32). It is the promise of the Lord, "He who believes in Me, though He may die, he shall live." (Jn 11: 25) He shall live spiritual life and eternal life in the Kingdom.

True life also is to have one's name written in the Book of Life.
St. John the Visionary says, "I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened and another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the Books." (Rev 20: 12) However, the Lord opens before us a door for rescue from this judgment, for He says, "He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels." (Rev 3: 5)

Now, are you among those who overcame? Is your name in the Book of Life?
Overcoming is a precondition for keeping one's name in the Book of Life, for life in heaven is only for those who overcome the world, the flesh, the devil, every evil lust, and every evil thought, those who have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires (Gal 5: 24).

Those who overcome will receive life and the crown of life as well.
The Lord requires us to be faithful unto death that we may be given the crown of life (Rev 2: 10). Unless you be faithful unto death you will hear the reproach of the apostle, "You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin." (Heb 12: 4) Be on your guard then lest anyone take your crown.

The crown of life is connected with the crown of righteousness.
Therefore Paul the Apostle said, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord … will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing." (2 Tim 4: 7, 8) It means that we have to live here in righteousness that we may be given the crown of righteousness in the eternal life in the eternal Kingdom.

We receive the pledge of the true life here on the earth.
We start it here on the earth and complete it there in heaven. Here we receive the taste of the kingdom, and in heaven we enjoy it fully. So, whoever has not tasted the kingdom while on earth, even though a little part, will never eat of it in eternity. And whoever cannot keep attached to the Lord a few days on the earth, how could he live in everlasting communion with Him?

Whoever does not find pleasure in God here on earth, cannot feel or enjoy such pleasure in eternity.
Unless you enjoy the communion with God here on the earth even a taste of it, we will not be able to live it in heaven. Therefore you ought to start this life from now, as David the Prophet said, "Taste and see that the Lord is good." (Ps 34: 8) Peter the Apostle likewise said, "If indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious … you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house … to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God." (1Pet 2: 3 5)

See also what the Lord says in the Book of Deuteronomy:
"I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love the Lord your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life." (Deut 30: 19)

Here I would like to focus on these two phrases:
• Choose life, that you may live
• That you may love the Lord your God, for He is your life.
In conclusion I wish you all good of the Resurrection and Life. HAPPY EASTER

His Holiness Pope Shenouda III Patriarch 117th of the See of Alexandria and Successor of St. Mark. Pope of Alexandria and the Patriarch of All Africa on the Holy Apostolic See of Saint Mark the Evangelist of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria. He is the head of The Holy Synod of the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria.

WATANI International - 26 April 2009 - 18 Baramouda 1725 (Coptic Calendar) - Year 9 - Issue 428.
WATANI - 26 April 2009 - 18 Baramouda 1725 (Coptic Calendar) - 1st Issue Year 51 - No. 2470 - 2nd Issue Year 9 No. 436


Saturday, April 25, 2009

Spiritual meanings derived from Palm and Olive Branches

Spiritual meanings derived from Palm and Olive Branches
Pope Shenouda III
Translated by Dr. Wedad Abbas

Would that we live the power of the Resurrection; the Resurrection which changed the disciples, which made of the empty tomb a symbol of continual victory, and which was the starting point of power in the life of the Church!
Happy Easter!

Palm Sunday is a Feast of the Lord, in which we remember how the people received the Lord with palm and olive branches.

Palm branches:
1. The leafy branches are the heart of the palm tree, which we liken to the heart of the Christians. This heart we offer to God, for He says, "My son, give me your heart."(Prov 23: 26)
2. The palm tree branches also are fresh and white, two qualities required in the pure heart which has been renewed and reborn in baptism. The heart of the palm tree undoubtedly represents this new birth.
3. The heart of the palm tree is soft, submitting to the person who makes of it various shapes. This gives us an idea about the life of submission to God in complete obedience, like a piece of clay in the hand of the potter (Rom 9: 21). Therefore we offer to God the heart of the palm tree in a beautiful shape, in the form of a cross, a host or a heart. Each of these shapes has its significance.
4. The palm branches remind us that the righteous are likened to a palm tree, as the Psalmist says, "The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree." (Ps 92: 12) The similarity is perhaps in that the righteous like the palm tree is high and directed unto heaven. The palm tree is continually growing and extending high, while its roots extend deep and strongly that it may be able to bear all that height. It gives us a lesson in spiritual growth.
5. The palm tree is firm and fixed. However violent the wind may be, it may only shake but never falls although it seems slim and weak!
6. The palm true represents asceticism, forbearance, self sufficiency with the least. It can grow in the desert and endure heat and thirst, even for a long time without being watered. It is therefore one of the famous and strongest desert plants. It is the food of the hermits in the desert. It reminds us of Abba Nopher the anchorite who was nourished with the dates of the palm tree, and also of St. Paul (Abba Pola) the first anchorite whose attire was of the palm leaves or fibers.
7. The palm tree is fruitful and nurturing. Its dates give high energy, containing varied food stuff. Also it can be kept for a long time without being spoilt. The righteous person likewise provides spiritual food to the others.
8. The palm tree is of many benefits to the people. Its dates are good food, and its leaves are useful for making baskets. Of its fibres robes are made, and of its bare branches roofs of the village houses. Its rind is useful as fuel, and its stem for ceilings and fuel. Palm trees were even made hollow and used for burial in some ages. For all these benefits we can say that the righteous does not only flourish like a palm tree, but is also of benefit from all aspects.

Olive Branches:
The people received the Lord Christ with the leafy branches of the palm trees and the olive branches. What do these symbolize?
1. The olive branches have become a symbol of peace since the dove brought a freshly plucked olive leaf to our father Noah (Gen 8: 11), declaring to him that the flood had ended and the earth had become again fit for living. This reminds us that the Lord Christ made peace between heaven and earth, and between the Jews and the nations. He broke down the middle wall of separation.
2. The olive branches remind us of the olive oil, a symbol of the Holy Spirit. They remind us of the holy ointment (1Jn 2: 20, 27; Ex 30: 24- 25) with which the kings, the priests and the prophets of the Old Testament were anointed. Do you likewise have peace with the Lord Christ when you receive Him on Palm Sunday? Do you remember the ointment with which you were anointed when God's Spirit descended on you?
3. The olive branches remind us of the words of the Psalm: "… your children like olive plants all around your table." (Ps 128) The olive branches bear oil which is a symbol of the Holy Spirit inside them, and moreover bear the olive fruit. Do you also keep the Holy Spirit inside you? And when you hold up the olive branches on Palm Sunday, do you remember that your children are like an olive plant that you have to offer to God with the oil of joy and the Holy Spirit with which they have been anointed on their baptism and became a dwelling place for the Spirit?
4. The olive oil reminds us of the words of the Psalmist that he is a green olive tree in the Lord's house, an olive fruit bearing oil, that is, the Holy Spirit. Therefore the Church is likened to an olive plant because she bears the holy oil to the people. The Book of Zechariah the Prophet speaks about the two olive trees at the right of the lampstand who the angel called "the two anointed ones" (Zech 4: 11, 14). These represent the Church of the Old Testament and the Church of the New Testament. St. Paul the Apostle refers to them in (Rom 11: 17- 24) as the original olive tree representing the Church of the Old Testament, in which the wild olive tree representing the Church of the nations has been grafted. So when we hold up the olive branches on Palm Sunday, do we really mean to offer the church to the Lord?
5. Do we remember the lamps that were lighted everyday with the olive oil in the Tent of Meeting and in the Temple? Do we remember that we are the light of the world and give light by the oil that is in us? We hold up the palm branch which is the heart of the palm tree and with it the olive branch which is a symbol of the Holy Spirit, do we then connect between both matters: the heart and the Holy Spirit working in it?
The public burial prayers:
The Church prays these prayers at the end of the Palm Sunday Mass for the spirits of those who depart from this world during the Passion Week. During these prayers, do you remember death and get prepared for it, saying, "My heart is ready, O Lord." Or say with the Psalmist, "Every man at his best state is but vapor … every man walks about like a shadow … Lord, make me to know my end, and what the measure of my days is that I may know how frail I am." (Ps 39: 4-6)
Questions & Answers:
Many questions are addressed to us that may be briefed in two:
a. Did Christ descend from the tomb into the lower parts of the earth?
b. Did He descend there by both His spirit and His body?
The answer:
According to the teaching of the Holy Gospel, the Church and the Fathers, the Lord Christ descended by His human spirit only into the lower parts of the earth and announced the good tidings to the dead who lay in hope. He announced to them that salvation has been accomplished and that he has paid the wages of sin on their behalf. And having redeemed them, He then transferred them to Paradise.
This took place on the same day of crucifixion, for He said to the thief on His right, "Today you will be with Me in Paradise." (Lk 23: 43) He opened the door of Paradise on that day, entered accompanying with Him the thief on His right and all the righteous of the Old Testament who lay in hope.
On that same day as the Holy Scriptures teaches us, the body of the Lord was lying in the tomb, which means that He announced those in the lower parts of the earth by His spirit only. On the cross the Lord committed His human spirit in the hands of the Father at the ninth hour of Friday (Lk 23: 44, 46). His body remained on the cross until Joseph of Arimathea took it by permission of Pilate and prepared it for burial. So the body was taken down from the cross at the eleventh hour and was prepared for burial.
The preparation of the body for burial took much time till sunset and the Jews' Preparation Day which was nearby. Joseph came followed by Nicodemus who also came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds. They took the body and bound it in strips of linen with the spices, as the custom of the Jews was to bury (Jn 19: 39, 40; Lk 23: 54). Then they rolled a large stone against the door of the tomb, and the chief priests made the tomb secure, sealed the stone and set the guard.
When then did the body come out of the tomb? It only came out in the Resurrection early Sunday.
It is impossible to say that Christ descended by His body and spirit, because the body was in the tomb at that time and He transferred their spirits to Paradise as He had promised the thief. If the body had descended to announce the dead that would have been after the burial in the tomb, which is impossible for many reasons:
Is it reasonable that a dead body announces to them the good tidings? And if the body was united with the spirit, this means that the Resurrection had taken place, which is against the teaching of the Scripture and the Creed. For we say, "… and on the third day He arose according to the Scriptures." And the Lord said the same to His disciples that He was to be killed and be raised the third day (Mt 16: 21; Lk 9: 22). Furthermore if we say that the body had descended into the lower parts of the earth, this means that He was not like Jonah the Prophet who stayed in the belly of the fish for three days. The Lord mentioned this similarity when the Jews asked Him a sign, saying, "A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah." (Mt 16: 4) We remember this in Jonah's Zoxology.
Certainly then He did not descend by a dead body, nor the body did unite with the spirit before the third day, nor did He come out of the tomb before the fixed time. And if He had announced the dead with His body, was it in the burial cloth? Is it reasonable to do that in the burial cloth and the spices? Is it reasonable that He transfers the dead to Paradise while He Himself is in burial cloth? Or did He come out of them? And if so, did He enter into them once more and come out of them on the day of the Resurrection? Where is death then if the body moves like that, coming out of the tomb and returning to it?! And was the tomb empty during that? And when He took the souls to Paradise, did He take them by His dead body in the burial cloth?
I want those who addressed such questions to hold to the teaching of the Holy Scripture, to the Church Traditions, and to the Creed: that the Lord was buried and arose from the dead on the third day according to the Scriptures. He descended into the lower parts of the earth only by His human spirit, and by His spirit He announced to them the good tidings and accompanied them into Paradise. All that time the body lay dead in the tomb and came out only in the Resurrection. None of the Fathers; neither the Holy Scripture nor the Church Books nor the Traditions say anything different.
"He who has ears to hear, let him hear!" (Mt 13: 43)

His Holiness Pope Shenouda III Patriarch 117th of the See of Alexandria and Successor of St. Mark. Pope of Alexandria and the Patriarch of All Africa on the Holy Apostolic See of Saint Mark the Evangelist of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria. He is the head of The Holy Synod of the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria.

WATANI International - 19 April 2009 - 11 Baramouda 1725 (Coptic Calendar) - Year 9 - Issue 427.
WATANI - 19 April 2009 - 11 Baramouda 1725 (Coptic Calendar) - 1st Issue Year 51 - No. 2469 - 2nd Issue Year 9 No. 435


Friday, April 24, 2009

Glorified Through Suffering

Glorified Through Suffering
H.G. Bishop Youssef

Crucifixion entailed extreme suffering and excruciating pain. The thoughts of being nailed to a cross through ones ankles and wrists makes a person envision horrific agony. Death, slowly overcoming a person through suffocation after becoming too exhausted to pull oneself up in order to breathe, makes one wonder how could our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ have to suffer this form of execution. This manner of bringing about death was only set aside for the most violent of criminals in ancient Rome.

The Lord Jesus Christ spoke about His suffering to come as "an hour of glory." Such glory that perhaps only He could set the precedent for. This "hour of glory" would be one which would manifest the supreme Divine splendor of God. Immediately before the Lord Jesus Christ's suffering, He said, "The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified" (John 12:23). The Lord Jesus Christ did not mean the glory found within the Resurrection, but the actual suffering as "an hour of glory". The next verse in the Holy Gospel of St. John tells us, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain" (John 12:24).

Truly there is no glory within the actual suffering of the Lord Jesus Christ. No one can dispute this fact. But what occurred in His hour of suffering and what the Lord Jesus Christ completed on the Holy Cross glorified God the Father and His Son the Lord Jesus. Only this glory can be associated with His suffering. In the Lord Jesus Christ's prayer to the Father, He prayed, "Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son that Your Son also may glorify You" (John 17:1). Definitely, the hour of Crucifixion was this hour.

The Lord following His glorious Resurrection spoke of His glory of Crucifixion to the Disciples on the road to Emmaus. "Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?" (Luke 24:26). How did the Lord achieve His glory? Clearly, glory was achieved through His suffering.

The apostle St. Paul explains to us further the concept of glory which followed the Lord Jesus Christ's suffering. "...looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God" (Hebrew 12:2). What this means, "who for the joy that was set before Him" is that the Lord Jesus Christ was anticipating the glory which followed the suffering upon the Holy Cross. For the glory He endured the Holy Cross, its shame, and its pain.

Another example of St. Paul illustrating that the glory followed the suffering can be found in Hebrews 2:9,10, "Jesus was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone. For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings." Apparently St. Paul's message here was saying that suffering and glory will follow one another.

For us as children of God, suffering on this earth should represent only one side of life, the earthly. The glories which will follow suffering represent the other, the Heavenly. Suffering cannot be viewed separately from glory. They both go hand in hand.

To serve and worship God is how we glorify Him here on earth. Heavenly glory is what we strive for. St. Paul said to the Romans, "if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together" (Romans 8:17). Again to the Ephesians St. Paul teaches about the Lord Jesus Christ, "and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus" (Ephesians 2:6). For the faithful, the Lord Jesus Christ suffered and was crucified and "He raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places."

In the Holy Book of Revelations St. John reveals this great and magnificent vision of heavenly places to us,
"And I saw in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne a scroll written inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals. Then I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, 'Who is worthy to open the scroll and to loose its seals?'"

"And no one in Heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll, or to look at it. So I wept much, because no one was found worthy to open and read the scroll, or to look at it. But, one of the elder said to me, John, 'Do not weep. Behold the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals."

"And I looked, and behold, stood a Lamb as though it had been slain."

("A Lamb as though it had been slain" represents the Lord Jesus Christ in this context)

"Then He came and took the scroll. Now when He had taken the scroll, the heavenly creatures each having a harp, and they sang a new song, saying, 'You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals';

"For You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation." They said with a loud voice, 'Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing!'

"And every creature which is in Heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying, 'Blessing and honor and glory and power be to Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever!" (Excerpts from Revelation 5)
Truly this is very strong imagery and clear evidence of the suffering on the Holy Cross and the glory behind His suffering.

Let us pray that as we all contemplate the sacrifice of the Holy Crucifixion and the liberation of man from death by the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ that we also reflect upon the glory brought about through the manifestation of the two events.

His Grace Bishop Youssef is Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States (www.suscopts.org)

WATANI International - 19 April 2009 - 11 Baramouda 1725 (Coptic Calendar) - Year 9 - Issue 427.
WATANI - 19 April 2009 - 11 Baramouda 1725 (Coptic Calendar) - 1st Issue Year 51 - No. 2469 - 2nd Issue Year 9 No. 435


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen!

Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen!
Rejoicing in Hope (Romans 12:12)
H.G. Bishop Serapion

Today, we rejoice in hope as we celebrate the Glorious Feast of the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In the midst of today’s culture of despair, which is prevalent throughout the world, we as Christians nonetheless rejoice in hope. The Feast of the Resurrection is a source of everlasting joy and hope in the midst of an economic recession, unemployment, financial and social instability, and fear.
One of the great teachers of the Church, St Gregory the Theologian, guides our reflections and meditations on the message of joy and hope in this, the Feast of feasts and the Festival of festivals. We celebrate the Lord’s Resurrection itself, not as an event still hoped for, but as one that has already occurred, uniting the world to itself.
The Feast of the Resurrection is the feast of our salvation, the feast of our liberation, the feast of our reconciliation, and the feast of our being like Christ.

The Feast of Our Salvation
We see how the Feast of the Resurrection is the feast of our salvation in this meditation from St. Gregory:
Today salvation has come to the world, to things visible and to things invisible.
Christ is risen from the dead; rise with Him. Christ has returned to Himself; return. Christ is freed from the tomb; be freed from the bonds of sin.
The gates of Hades are opened and death is destroyed, and the old Adam is put aside and the new is fulfilled. If anyone in Christ is a new creation, be made new.

The Feast of Our Liberation
St Gregory teaches us that the Feast of the Resurrection is the feast of our liberation from the slavery of sin when he says:
Today we have totally escaped Egypt and Pharaoh, and we have been freed from the clay and the brick-making. And nobody hinders us from celebrating a feast of exodus for the Lord our God and keeping feast “not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (1 Corinthians 5:8).

The Feast of Our Reconciliation
St Gregory further teaches us that the Feast of the Resurrection is the feast of our reconciliation with one another:
Let us be made brilliant by the Feast and embrace each other. Let us call brothers even those who hate us, and much more those who have done everything out of love for us. Let us concede all things to the Resurrection. Let us grant pardon to each other.

The Feast of Our Becoming Like Christ
Finally, St Gregory shows us that the Feast of the Resurrection is the feast of our becoming like Christ when he says, “Let us become like Christ, since Christ also became like us.” In another passage, he offers the following beautiful meditation:
Yesterday I was crucified with Christ,
Today I am glorified with Him.
Yesterday I died with Him,
Today I am made alive with Him.
Yesterday I was buried with Him,
Today I rise with Him.
But let us make an offering to the One who died and rose again for us.
Let us offer our own selves, the possession most precious to God.
My beloved, let us pray that our Lord may “fill our hearts with joy and gladness, that we, too, having sufficiency in everything always, may abound in every good deed.”
Let us pray for the peace of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.

His Grace Bishop Serapion is Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of Los Angeles (www.lacopts.org)

WATANI International - 19 April 2009 - 11 Baramouda 1725 (Coptic Calendar) - Year 9 - Issue 427.
WATANI - 19 April 2009 - 11 Baramouda 1725 (Coptic Calendar) - 1st Issue Year 51 - No. 2469 - 2nd Issue Year 9 No. 435


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