My Beloved the Benevolent September 2023
Grace and peace wishing you every goodness and blessing
On Tuesday, September 12th, we celebrate the Feast of Nayrouz, and on Thursday, September 28th, we celebrate the Feast of the Cross, which we celebrate for three days.
The Feast of Nayrouz is the beginning of a new Coptic year, and the Coptic calendar is the calendar of the martyrs. Therefore, with the beginning of the new Coptic year, we remember the righteous martyrs who gave their lives for Christ. The commemoration of the martyrs allows us to live and experience the carrying of the cross; we see contemporary martyrs who remind us of our righteous martyrs whose icons adorn our churches, and the history of our church contains the fragrance of their lives. Martyrdom has no specific age but is a continual occurrence in the history of the Church. The strength of the Church lies on the strength of the faith and the testimony of its martyrs, and the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.
The cross is the sign of Christianity and carrying the cross is the sign of the Christian. Christ said, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost?” Lu.9:23-25 Christ did not say these words to certain people, but to “everyone”.
The question is why? Why should the Christian carry the cross? Why is the Christian persecuted? Why does the church offer martyrs in every age? Our Lord Christ, before He asked us to carry the cross and follow him, He carried the cross Himself, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” Jn.15:13 “By this we know love that He offered Himself for us, therefore we should offer ourselves for the brethren.” 1Jn.3:11
“We love God because He loved us first.” 1Jn 3:19 As Christ expressed His love for us by offering His life for us, we express our love for Christ by offering our lives to Him, “As it is written, ‘For your sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.” Rom. 8:36-37
Carrying the cross brings us in communion with Christ; communion with His suffering, “That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.” Phil. 3:10 But the questions should be: Why does the world hate us? Why does the world hate Christians when they offer a message of love for everyone even to the enemies? Why does the world persecute Christians when they do good deeds to all? Christ answered all these questions by telling His disciples and all of us, “If the world hates you, you know that it hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love his own: but because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hated you.” Jn.15:18-19
As for us, we are not of this world, for the Christian person’s behavior differs from that of the people of the world. St. John answers the question why did Cain kill Able? “Not as Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own works were evil and his brother’s righteous.” 1Jn. 3:12
The Christian should live a righteous holy life and not return evil with evil because whoever does evil does not know God. As St. John said to his disciples, Gaius and all of us, “Beloved do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. He who does good is of God, but he who does evil has not seen God” 3Jn. 1:11
Carrying the cross is a gift from God. St. Paul says, “For it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake.” Philip.1:29
Carrying the cross is the way to glory, as the cross for Christ is the throne that made Him king of the world, as He said after His resurrection to the disciples of Emmaus, “Ought not Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?” Lu.24:26 Similarly, carrying the cross is the way to glory for every Christian. As St. Paul said, “If indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. 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.8:17-18
Carrying the cross is the sign of our love to God and our love towards each other as St. Paul said, “We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification. For even Christ did not please Himself, but as it is written, ‘The reproaches of those who reproached You fell on Me.’” Rom. 15:1-3
May the Lord grant us to carry the cross of serving our needy brethren and bear them in their weakness and hardship and sacrifice for them. The service of the needy brethren requires giving and sacrificing hearts as Christ knelt to wash the feet of His disciples and invited us to wash feet of others, “For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.” Jn.13:15
May God grant us giving hearts to sacrifice for the sake of helping others and may God bless your offerings to support Santa Verena Charity programs.