Resurrection – Friday, Saturday, Sunday are Faith, Hope, Love - H.H. Pope Tawadros II - Saturday 27, 2019

 

Sunday April 28, 2019
Love abundance & Resurrection Joy (27)
Resurrection – Friday, Saturday, Sunday are Faith, Hope, Love - H.H. Pope Tawadros II - Saturday 27, 2019

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. One God. Amen. May His grace and blessing rest upon us, from now and to eternity. Amen.

Tonight we celebrate the glorious Feast of the Resurrection, a Feast that comes after a long period of fasting - 55 days, a fast that is characterized by many ascetic practices. The last week of the Great Holy Fast is Holy Week (Passion Week), and this week commemorates the passion (sufferings) Christ went through. And we enter into this experience with Him through many prayers during this week, but these prayers greatly increase during the final three days of the week – Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, and as we celebrate the resurrection we celebrate the three days – Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

Friday was the day of the cross, a day full of suffering, then Saturday, the Lord Christ was in the tomb and it was a day of anxiety and fear, then early Sunday morning was the day of resurrection, the day of joy.

And the Holy Bible speaks of these three days many times throughout the New Testament, but St. Paul the Apostle, one of the disciples of the Lord Christ, who was a theologian and a philosopher, and who authored 14 Letters included in the New Testament and wrote much and about many subjects, but in his letter to the people of the city of Corinth he wrote an entire chapter on the subject of love, which is found in the 13th Chapter of his first Letter to the Corinthians.

And in this chapter he described love in the most magnificent way, and in a way that anyone who would read this chapter would be able to understand the very high value of love and all its characteristics, and he concludes the chapter with a very nice verse: “Love never fails.”

But at the end of this chapter he wrote a verse that may sound somewhat strange to us, he said, “And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (1 Cor 13:13). I will repeat it again: “And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love,” and included in what he meant is that these three, are the three days – Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. And so we may call Friday the day of faith, Saturday the day of hope, and Sunday, the day of Resurrection, the day of love, and I will explain the meaning of this very briefly.

Friday was the day of the cross and the events of the cross/crucifixion happened in public, for all to see, and it was a major event. And the Jews cried out and said to Pilate, the Roman Governor at the time, “Crucify Him, crucify Him!” (Lk 23:21); they were in a state of anger.

And after several judgments that Christ went through, Pilate (being a Roman Governor who did not know much about Jewish matters) stood up and made a strange statement, he said, “I am innocent of the blood of this just Person” (Mt 27:24) – he was speaking of Christ. And although he was the Governor in whose hands was the power and authority, yet he said, “I am innocent of the blood of this just Person,” and then he handed Him over to the cross, to be crucified.

And from there the Jews took Him, because in the Roman Empire crucifixion was not a Roman punishment; crucifixion was something the Jews did. The Jews took Him and began to quickly go through the procedures necessary for crucifixion, and the crucifixion of Christ took place on Friday at the 6th hour in Hebrew timing, which corresponds to our 12 noon.

And Christ was crucified on the cross. It was a day permeated with bitterness and with pain and with screams and with intercessions in Christ. This was the day that the Apostle Paul pointed to as being the day of faith.

But I would like to pause and reflect with you at a minor event that happened during the time of the crucifixion. According to Jewish custom they were not to work on Saturdays, so they wanted the three who were crucified on Friday – Christ and the two thieves next to Him – they wanted them to die quickly so that they could bury them before the Sabbath arrived, because they were not to do any work on the Sabbath.

And so a Roman centurion who was in charge of the process of crucifixion came up to Christ, and those with him took a spear and pierced the side of Christ (Jn 19:34) after He had died. And when out of His side flowed water and blood, this idol-worshipping Centurion stood and made a statement we read in the New Testament, he said, “Truly this was the Son of God” (Mt 27:54). And this was a testimony from an idol-worshipping man during the time of the cross, and it was an expression of faith.

And this Centurion later became a Christian and his name was Longinus, and he is considered to be one of the saints in the Church’s history. And so Friday represents faith.

Then Saturday began, and after Christ was crucified they brought Him down from the cross and two men came forth: a wealthy man named Joseph of Arimathea and another man who was well-known in the Jewish community by the name of Nicodemus, and they took the Body of Christ off the cross and buried It in a new tomb.

And I want you to imagine with me the feelings that the very small, first Christian community must have experienced – the Disciples of Christ and a few women. They were in a state of anxiety, fear, waiting, and hope. Before all this, Christ had told them He would rise, but with their own eyes they had seen Him crucified, dead, and buried, so where is the hope?

But we call Saturday the day of hope because a person cannot live without hope, without expectation. And hope is governed by a beautiful law that says, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God” (Rom 8:28). All things work for the good to those who love God. And so as humans, our only responsibility is to love God and to always hope for the good in everything that happens. And so this was Saturday, the day of hope.

Then came early Sunday morning, and this is the Sunday of which St. Paul said, “But the greatest of these is love.” The resurrection of the Lord Christ was the greatest love that He offered to all of us, to all of humanity, for how wonderful is resurrection and how wonderful is revival!

And the Lord Christ arose and this resurrection was the cause of the implanting of a special joy in the hearts of everyone, because resurrection sows joy in a person’s life. And when joy is planted in a person’s heart, this plant produces comprehensive love.

And so a person who lives in faith and hope and has the joy of the resurrection in his heart, love in all its forms will come forth from this heart of his; love in all its forms. And this love has three very important aspects or characteristics.

1. Loving reconciliation

The first aspect of this love is that a person will love reconciliation, and so in his heart he will only love what is good and does not love anything else, and he will never entertain any thoughts that oppose what is good.

Every morning we greet one another with “good morning,” this is an expression of the good that is in a person’s heart and of the goodness of God, who is the Source of good in a person’s life. And so the love of reconciliation, the love of the commandment, the love of what is good, the love of what is right and right living – these are all expression of the first form of love.

2. Loving nature

The second aspect of this love is the love of nature and the love of life. There are people who do not love life and may the Lord protect us all, but such a person may reach a point of anxiety and depression that could lead him to kill himself, to commit suicide.

But there is another person who is open to life, he loves life, he loves nature, he loves everything God has created, whether animals or plants. And his love of life causes him to desire life and well–being for others and causes him to be a positive person. And you find such a person to always be positive, joyous, and always looking to life with hopefulness.

3. Loving others

As for the third aspect of love, it is the love of others. Not the acceptance of others, no, because what is even more wonderful and much deeper than accepting others is loving others. And this love is not done through words nor by speech, but it is done by deeds and in truth. This is the love that causes a person to serve others.

Notice the three forms of love and their progression: the love of reconciliation is something that happens within you, the love of nature relates to what is around you, and then loving others, and without conditions, this extends out from you. 
And when a person abides in this state of loving others, he will desire to serve them, and it is from this kind of love that the philosophy of volunteerism was born.

There are people whom you feel that they just love to serve others, but there are other people, because there is no love in their hearts, who are always serving as obstacles in the lives of others.

My beloved brethren, this is the resurrection that we celebrate. “And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love,” and these are the pillars of a successful life: faith, hope and love.

Faith and hope here on earth, because when we get to heaven we will no longer need faith nor hope, but as for love, we need it here on earth and it continues in heaven. And love never ends and it cannot be measured, because God is love. “And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

The summary is that the resurrection is the implanting of the life of love in the hearts of humans for the purpose of serving one another; serving every human, and this is the love that people need very much today. And if the world has sins and aggression and crime and terrorism, then the remedy can only come through the love that is able to satisfy the heart of a human.

As for a person who commits wickedness, you can be sure that there is no love in his heart and that he was never given enough love, and that he never found anyone to give him sufficient and satisfying love.

This is the joy of resurrection that we celebrate today and which is increased by the presence of all of you here with us today. We thank all the dignitaries present with us today and we thank His Excellency President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and we thank all of our beloved friends.

And we pray for our beloved country that she may always be growing and progressing. We pray for the martyrs everywhere, we pray for their families and for their spouses and for their nations, and we also pray for the wounded, that God would grant them healing and protect them, and may He keep us all in His love.

To Him be all the glory and honor, from now and to eternity. Amen.