In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, one God. Amen.
Khristos Anesti; Alithos Anesti!
Pi-Ekhrestos Aftonf; Khen O Methmi Aftonf!
Christ is Risen; Truly He is Risen!
Beloved fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters in our diocese. I congratulate you for the Glorious Feast of Resurrection, On your behalf, I congratulate His Holiness Pope Tawadros II, their Eminences the Metropolitans, and their Graces the Bishops of the Holy Synod. I also congratulate the priests, the deacons, the boards of all churches, the servants, the youth, the children as well as all the Christian families in our diocese. I congratulate all people all over the world. Happy Glorious Feast of Resurrection.
I would like to talk to you today about the resurrection as our hope for the future and how it affects our behaviour.
St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:13-14 says: “if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty.” In other words, if there isn’t any resurrection, then our faith is pointless. If Christianity is simply about this physical life and then we die to never live again, then it really doesn’t matter what we do or how we live or what we believe in.
St. Paul also says in verse 19, “If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all people.” If there is no future life for us, then our lives would more focus on having a good and enjoyable time in this life as much as we can. If there is no resurrection, then it would not be helpful for us to believe in Christ, because that might mean only sacrifice, persecution and killing like what happened in Tanta and in Alexandria. If there is no resurrection, then the crucifixion of Christ didn’t achieve anything for us, and we are still in our sins (verse 17). But there is a resurrection, not only for Christ but also for us.
Let’s look at the significance of this doctrine in our day-to-day life.
Regarding those who slept in death, we do not grieve like others who have no hope because we believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that those who have fallen asleep in him will rise with Him as well. Look to what the gospel says: “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18). The significance is that we will live forever and not just on earth, but we will live forever with Christ and not just that, but we will have glorious, powerful bodies that are like His, and life that is far better than what we have now.
There are also wonderful rewards waiting for us. No matter what kind of sacrifices we make in this life, they are well worth making, because we will be given 100 times and more in the world to come. Resurrection helps us deal with the difficulties and persecutions resulting from believing in Christ when most people around us do not.
Also resurrection goes hand in hand with the doctrine of the judgment. As Jesus said, some will rise to the resurrection of life, and others to the resurrection of condemnation. God cares about the way we live and He will make us accountable for the way we live. Everything we do in serving Christ, everything we do in supporting the gospel, is worth doing.
Our behaviour here on earth should reflect the death and resurrection of Christ. We put to death the deeds of sin. We walk and live in a new way just as Christ was raised from the dead into a new life. St. Paul is talking about how resurrection changes our behaviour. Our old self was crucified with Christ so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin. He says: “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:58).
May the Lord preserve you and keep for us our beloved His Holiness Pope Tawadros II for many years to come. Keep our beloved priests and congregations in good health enjoying these joyful days of resurrection. May our Lord also give comfort to those who lost beloved ones in Tanta and Alexandria, and give speedy recovery to those injured in hospitals.
May God bless you all.
— His Grace Bishop Mina
Bishop, Coptic Orthodox Diocese of Mississauga, Vancouver, and Western Canada
April 16, 2017