Eastern Christians celebrated the Feast of Resurrection last Sunday, I am extending felicitations to all of you, wishing all good, peace and blessing for our Egypt and the whole world, pleading for the Lord to protect the world from the pandemic and pain.
Since man departs from the world through death, he, through resurrection as acknowledged by religions and many devotions, moves to the endless eternal life. Lord Christ has taught about resurrection when asked by some Sadducees who do not believe in the resurrection of the dead, He answered them, “…But concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.” And when the multitudes heard this, they were astonished at His teaching.” Similarly in His miracles, He raised the dead, He even raised Lazarus four days after his death! For the hope of resurrection, His teachings have called for repentance: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” as well as eternal life: “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness”, and: “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” Thus, the resurrection is a clear and permanent even if some people have tried to deny or forget it.
In the “Resurrection”, people will find the true freedom they have often sought while on earth, trying to set themselves free from its anxieties, troubles, and pains. Along the life journey, man is in a constant state of anxiety and turmoil: anxiety about the lived present, anxiety about what the future will carry for him and his loved ones, and perhaps anxiety about his past. Thus, the life journey for many becomes an endless chain of unrest and turmoil, and some people rush to the circle of searching for safety, which often makes them forget – amidst of the turmoil they suffer- taking heed to their eternity! The Feast of the Resurrection comes every year, reminding everyone that real life has not begun yet, so they must prepare for it.
The truth of life is that it inevitably passes, as the Bible says: “whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.” Therefore, we must let go of every anxiety and tension, trust in God’s care provided to His creation, offering goodness to every person, remembering that our message in life is good and peace, and that God will reward every person according to what he offered in his life, whether good or evil.
In the Resurrection, man remembers how the pain, tribulations and hardships he is going through are temporary, they will inevitably end, he is assured that he will be rewarded in eternity for all that he endured, for God is just. I remember the parable given by Lord Christ concerning Lazarus and the rich man: The rich man enjoyed his clothing, food, and dwelling, while poor Lazarus was sick, had nothing to satisfy his hunger, nonetheless, he received no mercy from that rich man. After both had died, the angels carried Lazarus to the Paradise with Abraham, the friend of God because of his endurance and patience through hardships, while the rich man was dragged to the Hades in torment. When the rich man saw Abraham with Lazarus, he cried and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.’ But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented. And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.’ Hence, the Resurrection reminds us that through patience, thanksgiving, and goodness, we will gain our life.
Happy Resurrection to all of you and… stories never end in beautiful Egypt!
The General Bishop
Head of the Coptic Orthodox Cultural Center5 May 2021