My Beloved the Benevolent
Grace and peace wishing you all goodness and blessings
I am pleased to congratulate you on the Feast of Nayrouz, which we will celebrate on Saturday, September 11th, and the beginning of a new Coptic year 1738 of the martyrs. The beginning of the Coptic year is linked to the righteous martyrs; our church is considered “the Church of the Martyrs”. There has not been an era during which the church did not produce martyrs who sacrificed their blood for the love of Christ–who loved us and gave Himself for us.
When we remember the martyrs, we remember:
+Their profound love for Christ: They refused to deny their faith, they stood up to the temptations that the world offered them, and they endured torments until bloodshed. Martyrdom is a struggle between good and evil, a struggle against sin, “You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin.” Heb 12:4 The martyrs resisted to the point of bloodshed against sin, saying with St. Paul the Apostle this beautiful chant, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Rom. 8:35-39
+Realizing the virtue of knowing Christ: St. Paul, after he believed, faced many difficulties and persecutions; as compared to his life before knowing Christ, where he was raised as a Pharisee and was the son of a Pharisee. He had great status and power in the Jewish community, and he persecuted the Church. His life after believing was quite different. He was excommunicated and was himself persecuted; working with his hands to meet his needs and the needs of those with him. After realizing this contrast, he said, “But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him.” Philip.3:7-9 Many of the martyrs had great status in society and were promised even greater status if they denied the faith; but they considered these types of worldly glories to be worthless compared to gaining Christ and the grace of knowing Him. The life of the martyrs – in rejecting the glories of the world and giving it all up to gain Christ – reminds us of the parable that Christ said about the Kingdom of God, “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” Matt 13:44 Therefore, it was not surprising to see the martyrs marching to their martyrdom with joy. Let us recall the scene of the martyrdom of St. Stephen, “When they heard these things they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed at him with their teeth. But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God” Acts 7:54-55
+Their vision of the glory of God: The martyrs saw the glory of God. St. Stephen gazed into heaven, was filled with the Holy Spirit, and saw the glory of God. The martyrs suffer for the sake of Christ; therefore, they have a share in the suffering of Christ as St. Paul says, “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death” Philip 3:10 The fellowship of suffering with Christ confirms our knowledge that Christ is the Lord of glory; so entering into the followship of suffering, is entering into His glories, “if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.” Rom 8:17 The martyrs did not look at the torture machines but gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God. “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” Rom. 8:18
Our good Lord promised the victorious ones to sit with Him on His throne, “To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” Rev 3:21-22.
It is God’s message to us to strive and suffer for His sake and stand firm to the end so that we can have a share in the heavenly glories.
May The Lord help us in our spiritual struggle, as He helped the martyrs and saints, and grant us to imitate them in their great love for Christ, and their realization of the merit of His knowledge, and their joy in entering into the fellowship of His sufferings so that we may be granted to sit with our Christ on His throne.
May God bless your life with the blessing of the righteous martyrs and bless your gifts to support Santa Verena’s charitable programs.