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Papal Letter for the Glorious Feast of the Resurrection 2002

My beloved children in the lands of immigration, Clergy and Congregation,

I congratulate you on the Glorious Feast of Resurrection, hoping that you have a joyful and blessed life.

I desire to talk to you in this Feast about the power of Christ.

Power was a clear advantage in the whole story of Incarnation: In His miraculous birth, His miraculous Resurrection, His miraculous Ascension and His sitting at the Right hand of the Fr., in addition to all miracles and the power of His words and its effect.

With regards to His Resurrection, it was a powerful Resurrection which the elders of the Jews fought in all ways. They fought it by placing a large stone on the door of the tomb and sealed it with seals. They placed soldiers before the tomb armed with weapons. After the Resurrection was fulfilled, they fought it with lies, rumors and bribery. They fought it by capturing the Disciples of Christ; they scourged them, imprisoned them and threatened them because they preached His Resurrection.

The Resurrection of Christ, after they put Him to death, terrified them.

It was evidence of His Righteousness, for if He was condemned, it was not possible for Him to rise after His death. Likewise, His Resurrection shows that they falsely accused Him and misled the people to call for His crucifixion. For this, they said to His disciples who preached His Resurrection, you "intend to bring this Man’s blood on us!" (Acts 5:28)

The Resurrection of the Lord was crushing to the doctrine of the Sadducees who do not believe in the Resurrection. His Resurrection was evidence of His Divinity, for He rose by Himself without anyone raising Him. This matter did not previously occur to any dead person.

They dared Him, during His crucifixion, to come down from upon the Cross so that they will believe in Him (Matthew 27:40-42). But His Resurrection from the dead was more powerful than His coming down from the Cross. His Resurrection was therefore evidence that He died willingly and not forcibly; and that His silence was by His will and not weakness.
We all believe in the Resurrection of Christ with power, as Saint Paul the Apostle said, "that I may know Him and the power of His Resurrection." (Philippians 3:10) The Lord Christ was not only powerful in His Resurrection, but He was also powerful in His tomb, in His crucifixion and during His arrest.

We confess His power every day in the prayer of the Trisagion, as we say "Holy God, Holy Almighty, Holy Immortal." We confess His power in the Pascha Praise as we say, "To You is the power, the glory, the blessing…"
The elders of the Jews thought they had become victorious over Him when they shut the tomb on Him!

But His power, while He was in His tomb, was greater than any power standing outside that tomb.

In the tomb, He was more powerful than the soldiers who guarded the tomb with all their weapons. He was more powerful than the envy that was in the hearts of the chief priests and what they claimed of false victory over Him! He was even more powerful than the tomb itself and the great stone that they placed on the door of the tomb. While He was in the tomb, He was more powerful than death. He was also more powerful than Satan, for by His death He defeated Satan and redeemed the world.

He was, while in His tomb, a source of fear for the leaders of the Jews.

He was not a prisoner inside the tomb, for His Spirit was able to descend into the lower parts of the earth (Ephesians 4:9) and to preach to the fallen asleep in hope, to transfer their spirits to Paradise and to receive with them the spirit of the thief who confessed His Lordship and Kingdom when he was with Him on the Cross (Luke 23:43).

Christ was powerful in not defending Himself during His trial and crucifixion.

Few have this strength, but their pride beats them and they defend themselves to confirm they are innocent, or that they are in the right or that they will be victorious if they speak. But the Lord Christ had the power that bears injustice in silence, that bears false allegations, all the accusations and taunting. In all this "He opened not His mouth." (Isaiah 53:7)

If He did speak, He would have convinced His accusers and oppressors. He previously convinced them many times: He had silenced the Sadducees (Matthew 22:34), and the lawyers. He dumbfounded the Jewish elders with regards to the Sabbath (Matthew 22:15-22) and "no one was able to answer Him a word." (Matthew 22:46)

In fulfilling the whole plan of redemption, His silence was more powerful than words.

Thus, He was powerful in not defending Himself, for His aim was not to save Himself, but to save people. Therefore, He did not desire to justify Himself against any accusation, but to save humanity from their sins.
Likewise, He was also powerful during His arrest.

He personally went to the place in which He will be captured and He also went at the same time that the soldiers and Judas the betrayer would come in.

In all power, He stood before them and said "I am He."
(John 18:5) "Now when He said to them, "I am He," they drew back and fell to the ground." When the disciples desired to defend Him, He disallowed them. When Peter used the sword that was with him, He said to him "Put your sword into the sheath…" (John 18:11; Matthew 26:52)

He was as one who has surrendered Himself over to His enemies.

For through power, He desired to surrender Himself to death, as He previously 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." (John 10:17,18)

Truly this is personal inner power and we must learn a lesson from it.

We must not concern ourselves with outer strength, but to be concerned with strength that gives and strength that sacrifices itself for others. For it is as the Lord said "Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends." (John 15:13)

Therefore sacrifice yourselves for the sake of your brethren, to help them enter the Kingdom, for "he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins." (James 5:20)

The Lord willed that you are present in the lands of immigration. Therefore bear fruit there.

We are joyful to see your fruits. Be well and may the Lord be with you.

Shenouda III,
Pope of Alexandria and
Patriarch of the See of Saint Mark
May 5, 2002

Posted by Fr. Moses Samaan

May 5, 2002