News from Canada

Most Rev Ibrahim M. Ibrahim: Will There Be a Resurrection for Us This Year?

17 4 2014

The Most Reverend
Ibrahim M. Ibrahim
By the Mercy of God
Melkite Catholic Eparch of Canada
To the Priests and Deacons, my fellow ministers at the Altar,
To the Religious and to All the Faithful
Of our Holy Eparchy which is Most Beloved of Christ,
A Pastoral Letter for Holy and Glorious Pascha,
Christ Is Risen! He Is Truly Risen!
Will There Be a Resurrection for Us This Year?


          The international and Middle Eastern scene, particularly the fate of the Christians, might make us think that there will be for us only a Cross and Golgotha, and nothing else.  Despair and misery, war and violence, killing and displacement, poverty and ignorance, sickness and pain, abortion and addiction, along with all the tribulations that surround us, make us live the moments of darkness, tremble, and bitter fear that accompany the Cross. Whenever an innocent one of us hands overhis or her spirit, the veil of the tabernacle of human dignity, security, liberty, and stability is torn apart. It seems that the essence of humanity is threatened to fall and be destroyed. Golgotha is no longer a small hill in Jerusalem. Nowadays it is extended to the whole world, where the oases of peace and security have been narrowed before the attacks of the “Evil One.”

          The world is in search of its lost identity. The cries of “enough” are no more enough. The voices of denunciation has been silenced. Only the war-makers and creators of a new World Map that are influenced by greed and self-interests enjoy this order. The wicked vinedressers ruled that our sweat should turn into coagulated blood drops falling to the ground. Our souls are sorrowful even to death.  The Prince of darkness is trying to defeat us, even to a small degree. Judas betrays us every day by embracing and kissing us and Instead of hanging himself; he hangs us because he is incapable of making us the sons and daughters of perdition.  

          Many of us feel the way the apostles felt. They were appalled by the crucifixion of Christ and seized by fear. As a result, they denied the Lord. Many of us are in doubt waiting for the crowing of the cock to weep bitterly while remembering that the Lord knows our weaknesses. Our offense is that in Christ, we became children of God; yet, we are arrested in order for Barabbas to be released. The crowds are shouting to crucify us; the shouts are intensified so Pilate can hear them and respond to their request. We carry our cross and wait in expectation for a Cyrenian to come and help us. Our mothers are weeping and beating their chests, because the world is not worthy of us. This is our fate despite being green trees. If these things are done when the trees are green, what will happen to the dry trees that are saying to the mountains, “Fall on us!” and to the hills, “Cover us!”   

The crowds are infuriated because from the depth of our cross we cry out, “Our Father, forgive them, they know not what they do. Our Father, into your hands we commend our spirits.” Then, we breathe our last. Meanwhile, the crowds rejoice because they “believe that by killing us, they have offered worship to God.”

          We contemplate the reality that is ours and we repeat the question: Will there be a resurrection for us this year?

          The answer comes from the depth of our faith in the new dawn of a Sunday that never ends through the power of the One who conquered death by His death and who is the Master of Life. Without this unfathomable faith, we will be the most miserable. However, in Christ, our eyes are opened and our hearts are quick to understand the truth that has been proclaimed by the prophets. By faith, we can ask the Lord to dwell in us when the day ends and the evening falls. He will offer us Himself as a food and set our hearts on fire. All our days will become “The Third Day.” There is nothing remaining in us but the joy with which we proclaim to the world that we are witnesses not only for what we have seen, but also for what we have experienced and lived. The promises of the Lord are fulfilled in us and for us. Christ will “cloth us with power from on high.”

          Now we are able to take light from the Light that never fades, transforming our darkness into light.  We are no longer blind leading the blind, but we became the children of visions and dreams, the children of the day, and the majestic light.  We are no longer dust and to dust we shall return; but we became light and to light we shall return. Not only are we created in Christ’s image and likeness; but also we became His children and His heirs. The resurrection of Christ has transformed, changed, and liberated us. With eternal yeast, He has kneaded us. Christ’s resurrection has diminished the power of our weaknesses by strengthening us and by giving us a new life. The power of death has faded. Our death is no longer an end, because we are the children of the Resurrection. Aversion and hatred are no longer capable to implant in us corruption and decadence, because the grace of the Risen Lord has baptized, confirmed, and sealed us with the gift of the Holy Spirit. The gates of hell shall not prevail over our faith-filled community, because it has been established by the Divine Command.

          The community has continued for the past two thousand years. No one from outside the community or inside of it has been able to destroy it. The One who dwells in its midst has made it a solid Church, alive and invigorating, patient and victorious, suffering and joyful, witnessing and martyrized, rich in Her poverty and strong in Her weakness.  

          Yes, we will have resurrection this year, every year, and always. The resurrection is within us, in our hearts, minds, faith, and in the depth of our being. We are crucified with Christ; and we are also raised with Him. It is not we who are alive, but rather Christ lives in us.

          Beloved brothers and sisters do not choke the seed of the resurrection that is in you by adapting the culture of death, injustice and darkness. Instead, adopt the culture of life and salvation. Do not lose the redemption that is freely offered to you. Do not favor sin over the grace that is given to you. Do not choose to stifle the conscious for an ephemeral gain that is none other than a sustained loss. Sacrifice your narrow interests for the unity of the community of the faithful. Stay away from divisions and schisms because they are from evil. Make settlement with forgiveness, heal with love, build up with generosity, and restore with reconciliation. Be strong in your faith, be patient, and rejoice in the Gospel. Give joyfully, listen humbly, and converse attentively. Revive others with your positive spirit instead of distorting their reputation. Respect people’s dignity. Live according to the evangelical counsels and fulfill the commandments, particularly the commandment of love. Do not write with the ink of injustice in the name of freedom and reformation, and do not destroy in the name of building and construction. Do not surrender to intolerance or disdain others whatever was their race, color, and particularly their religion. Do not betray the truth for personal gain, and do not build your success over the failure of others. Do not use violence as a way to establish peace: This is the biggest lie of all ages. Do not follow the false gods of this age that destroy human beings through addiction, emptiness, domination, money, and atheism.

          The numerous commandments that I have mentioned and the many that I have not, put us on the path of the triumphant Christ who overcame death. In Him, we are victorious over our corruption and death and we become the children of the Resurrection. 

          I hope that through this Easter message, I could contribute as much as desired to help you and help myself to live a glorious Passover by which we pass to a renewed life in Christ.

          My greatest and deepest hope is to see as soon as possible the resurrection of our beloved Middle East from the cycle of violence. I pray that we will soon enter into a time of peace and justice, through the prayers of the Virgin Mary, the Theotokos, our Mother and the Mother of compassion and mercy.

Christ Is Risen! He Is Truly Risen!