My Beloved the Benevolent September 2022
Grace and peace, wishing you every goodness and blessing
On Sunday, September 11th, we celebrate the Feast of Nayrouz and the beginning of a new Coptic year which is 1739; the Coptic calendar is the Martyrs’ Calendar. On Tuesday, September 27th (17 Tute), we celebrate the Feast of the Cross for three days. I would like to contemplate together on the subject of suffering for Christ or the fellowship of suffering with Christ.
Firstly, St. Peter in his first epistle shows us that not all the pain that a Christian suffers is pain for Christ’s sake: “But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter.” 1Pet. 4:15-16 A Christian man must live a holy life and bear witness to the world so that he may be a light to the world and salt to the earth; therefore, if a Christian suffers as a result of his mistakes or crimes he commits (such as murder, theft, doing any evil or interfering in the affairs of others), he should be ashamed of this because he has not given a good testimony to Christ before the world.
A Christian may face trials, may be thrown in prison, and may be sentenced for the good name he holds because he is a Christian. A Christian should live by the example of Christ who stood before Pilate to be judged who found no fault in Him (Jn 19:4). Also, when the Fathers the Apostles stood before the rulers and the governors, they had no charge against them except that they preached in the name of Christ. The fathers, the martyrs and confessors, stood before rulers and governors and there was no reason for them to be condemned except for their Christian faith.
Secondly: St. Peter says, “Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter.” 1Pet 4:16 The Christian is not ashamed of suffering for Christ’s sake; he is not ashamed of imprisonment or being sentenced to any punishment. Christ accepted to be crucified among evil doers and He is the Holiest of the holy. The presence of St. Paul and Silas in prison turned the prison cell into a place of joy and praise, “Having received such a charge, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks. But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.” Acts 16:24-25
Thirdly: When a Christian suffers for Christ’s sake, he should not be ashamed of his suffering, but must glorify God. Why? Isn’t it enough to endure pain for Christ’s sake? St. Paul the Apostle endured many sufferings for Christ’s sake and gave his life by being beheaded in Rome. St. Paul explains from his practical experience why a Christian rejoices and boasts of suffering for Christ’s sake.
1. The way of suffering is the way of glory; “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.” Romans 8:18
2. Suffering for Christ’s sake is a gift from God; “For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake.” Philp. 1:29
3. Suffering for Christ’s sake grants us fellowship with Him; “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 “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” Gal. 2:20
The Christian is crucified and raised up with Christ in baptism; “Buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses” Col. 2:12-13
We are called to carry the cross in order to be disciples of Christ who carried the cross for us; we must strive in our spiritual life, because struggling against sin is a crucifixion of passions and desires. We must carry each other’s burdens, “We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves.” Rom. 15:1
Let us love one another with a practical love, with actions and truth; let us help each other so that no one among us is in need, thus we fulfill the law of Christ.
May the Lord bless your lives for supporting Santa Verena’s charitable programs.