“Peace be with you” (Jn 20:19)
My Beloved, the Blessed Children of the Holy Church,
Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen!
As we celebrate the Feast of the Resurrection of our Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ, we rejoice and our hearts are full of gladness.
The Resurrection of Christ is victory over death, because “by death He trampled death, and upon those in the tomb He bestowed eternal life.”
The Resurrection of Christ is victory over sin, because Christ suffered, died on the Cross, and rose from the dead in order to “put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself” (Heb 9:26).
The Resurrection of Christ is victory over enmity. It reconciled man to God, because “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation” (2 Co 5:19).
The Resurrection of Christ is victory over the old things and the beginning of a new life, because “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Co 5:17).
This year our celebration of the Feast of Resurrection comes under different circumstances and in a different way unlike every year. It comes as the whole world is suffering from the global outbreak of the COVID-19 virus, which is known as the “Coronavirus.” This pandemic led to the loss of thousands of lives worldwide. Additionally, the economic, medical, and social conditions are greatly affected. Subsequently, measures had to be taken to prevent the transmission of the virus and the spread of the infection. Thus, social restrictions are imposed in the form of social distancing and restriction of gatherings. This is the reason why we are celebrating the Holy Feast of the Resurrection in a different way this year. Although we are still rejoicing and celebrating the Resurrection of our Savior, yet, unlike every year, we are doing this in our homes and not in our churches.
Therefore, it is appropriate for us to remember how and where the Holy Apostles rejoiced in the Resurrection of Christ.
Prior to the events of the Crucifixion, our Lord Jesus Christ foretold His apostles about His Crucifixion and Resurrection. Additionally, St. Matthew wrote that Christ asked them to go to Galilee after the Resurrection to meet Him there:
“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).
Also, after the Resurrection, Christ met Mary Magdalene and the other Mary, and told them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell My brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me” (Mt 28:10). Yet, at first, the disciples did not go to Galilee. St. Luke points to this fact in the story of the appearance of Christ to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus: “So they rose up that very hour and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together” (Lk 24:33). St. John revealed why the disciples did not go to Galilee to meet the Risen Christ: “Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews” (Jn 20:19). Thus, the reason was their fear of the Jews. As a result, they remained in the Upper Room in Jerusalem with the doors shut. So, what did our loving Lord Jesus Christ do? “Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’ When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord” (Jn 20:19–20).
Likewise, this year we cannot go to our churches to meet our Risen Christ and rejoice with Him and with one another in celebrating His Glorious Resurrection, because of fear of the spread of this pandemic. However, with faith, we are confident that our loving Christ is coming to us in our homes to say to every family gathered together, “Peace be with you.” Our Lord Jesus Christ will show us the power of His Glorious Resurrection, and we will rejoice when we realize that our powerful and Almighty Lord is with us all the time and everywhere. As the Lord continued to appear to the disciples for forty days in different places, may He also grant us to celebrate His Holy Resurrection during the Holy Fifty Days in our churches, in our homes, and everywhere.
The Glorious Resurrection of Christ and its illuminating light give us hope that no matter how long darkness remains, the light will eventually shine. Let us remember the strong faith of the Shunamite woman. When God allowed the death of her son, she went with faith to Elisha the Prophet, and when she was asked, “Is it well with you? Is it well with your husband? Is it well with the child?” And she answered, “It is well” (2 Ki 4:26). Although her son was dead and she was in bitter distress, yet she answered that he was well, because she was able to see the invisible, and with the eyes of faith, she saw her son alive. St. Paul mentioned the Shunamite woman among the heroes of faith: “Women received their dead raised to life again” (Heb 11:35).
Similarly, Moses the Prophet saw the invisible and, “By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible” (Heb 11:27).
Through the power of His Glorious Resurrection, may our loving Christ strengthen us to see Him during these painful times. Then we can rejoice as we see His loving hand turning evil to good, sadness to joy, sickness to healing, and death to life.
We pray for the peace of the whole world, for the peace of the Church, and for our beloved father, H.H. Pope Tawadros II.
Wishing you many happy returns.