His Grace Bishop Serapion Resurrection Feastal Message 2007

“That the World May Believe That You Sent Me” (Jn. 17:21)
My Beloved, the Blessed Children of the Church,

Christ is Risen Truly He is Risen

It is my pleasure to wish all of you a glorious Feast of the
Resurrection of our Savior and Redeemer, our Lord Jesus Christ. The
Resurrection of Christ gives us the power to be an evangelical Church
calling on the world to believe in Christ.

Our Lord Jesus Christ prayed to the Father for His disciples and for
us that we may be one, so the world may believe in Christ and His
redeeming act, “that they may be one, as You, Father, are
in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world
may believe that You sent Me.”
(Jn. 17:21)

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Our Lord Jesus Christ wants us to be one, taking as our pattern the
unity of the Holy Trinity. Saint Athanasius the Apostolic commented
on the goal of our Lord Jesus Christ’s prayer and said, “By
Our unity may they also be so one with each other, as We are one in
nature and truth; for otherwise they could not be one, except by
learning unity in Us.”
Saint Athanasius then added, “There
is needed an image and example, that He may say of us, ‘As You in Me,
and I in You.’ And when they shall be so perfected, He says, ‘then the
world knows that You had sent Me, for unless I had come and borne this
their body, no one of them had been perfected, but one and all had
remained corruptible.’”

The One Church is an evangelical Church, and it is impossible for
Christians to be one except through the power of the resurrection.

Before the Resurrection, the disciples were scattered, as our Lord Jesus Christ told them, “Indeed the hour is coming, yes, has now come, that you will be scattered, each to his own, and will leave Me alone.” (Jn. 16:32) Judas betrayed Christ and Peter denied Him; just as the Holy Bible said, “Then all the disciples forsook Him and fled.” (Matt. 26:56) Afterwards, when the disciples were gathered in the Upper Room, “the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews.” (Jn. 20:19)

When Christ rose from the dead, the disciples’ condition completely
changed. Their fear turned to joy; their scattering to unity; and
their weakness to power. When our Lord Jesus Christ appeared to the
disciples and told them, “Peace be with you”, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the Holy Bible says, “Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.”
(Jn. 20:20) The Book of Acts presents to us a beautiful picture of one
powerful and evangelical Church, witnessing to the Resurrection of the
Lord Jesus with great power, “Now the multitude of those
who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say
that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all
things in common. And with great power the apostles gave witness to
the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all.”

(Acts 4:32-33) Indeed, the Resurrection of Christ is a great power
given to the Church to be an evangelical Church, and Christianity
became widespread in the entire world by the power of the
Resurrection. In Saint Athanasius commentary on this matter, he said,
“The Savior is working mightily among men, every day He is
invisibly persuading numbers of people all over the world, both within
and beyond the Greek-speaking world, to accept His faith and be
obedient to His teaching. Can anyone, in face of this, still doubt
that He has risen and lives, or rather that He is Himself the Life?”

My Beloved Brothers and Sisters,

On this glorious Feast, let us look up to the Holy Trinity and
follow the pattern of unity between the Father, the Son, and the Holy
Spirit, so that we may become one as our Lord, our Living Christ,
prayed for us. When the multitudes that believed were one in heart and
spirit, they were able to witness with great power to the Resurrection
of Christ, and the Lord added to the church daily those who were being
saved (Acts 2:47). But when the apostles disputed among themselves “as to which of them should be considered the greatest”
(Lk. 22:24), and when the patriarchal sees disputed over primacy, and
when the Christians became divided into denominations and different
schools, the world stopped believing. Instead, the world is watching
our schisms, and disagreements, mocking our weakness, stealing, and
causing perish to members of Christ’s flock.

Let us listen to what Saint Paul the Apostle said, “If
then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above,
where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on
things above, not on things on the earth.”
(Col. 3:1-2)

Let us pray for the peace and unity of the Holy Church, and may our
Lord keep for us the life of our beloved father, His Holiness Pope Shenouda III.

Wishing you many happy returns.

Bishop Serapion

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