I strongly urge you to read this sermon.
This is the English translation of the transcription of the sermon given by His Holiness Pope Shenouda III during the Liturgy of the Feast of the Resurrection this year.
Pay close attention to the last section of the sermon. According to people who have seen the video, His Holiness "snapped out" of what seemed like a spiritual rapture, returned to earth, and ended his sermon abruptly. I need to see this video if anyone has it!
I congratulate you, my brothers and my sons, on the occasion of the Glorious Feast of the Resurrection, hoping that it will bring both you and our beloved Nation all goodness and blessing, praying that peace and love may envelope the whole world, and that God may save it from wars and calamities.
On the day of resurrection, a most wonderful and overwhelming meeting will take place, unlike any that history has ever seen. The righteous shall have a gathering full of joy in the dwelling place of grace, whereas the evildoers will have another gathering in the outer darkness, apart from the congregation of the saints.
But today we will talk about the meetings of the righteous. The first meeting will be that of the spirits with their bodies. The body will rise, whole and unharmed, bearing no defects, no weakness, no disease, no blemish, and no disability. It will rise a spiritual body, over which neither instinct nor desire has no authority, and it shall no longer resist the spirit as it sometimes did in a time past! It shall now be a heavenly body, suitable for life in Heaven, no longer having any relation to physical matter or gravity; for if it were physical, it would fall from Heaven to earth!
The spirit will recognize the body, and unite with it in earnest longing, having come back after perhaps generations of separation and estrangement since death. It finally returns for one last meeting, and what a wonderful meeting it is…
The second meeting will be the meeting of family, friends, and loved ones, a joyous meeting after the sorrowful separation cause by death.
For in the resurrection, spouses shall meet one another, and so shall children meet their parents, grandchildren their grandparents, and all kinsmen together. And so on for all members of the family, with all its branches, despite many generations having passed between its elders and its young ones. Perhaps even those who were last seen as children will be seen again, this time as elders! And so shall scattered friends meet again.
In the resurrection also, ages shall meet ages! The age of our father Adam and Abel the Righteous his son, meeting with the age of our father Noah and his children who survived the Flood in the Ark, and the age of our Fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the age of Moses, Aaron the high priest, and Miriam the prophetess their sister, and the age of David the Prophet and King and his son Solomon the Wise, with other ages that have followed since. Each era has its own environment, characteristics, and personalities.
The Patriarchs shall meet, each bearing his own history, worthy of reverence and respect. They shall make each other’s acquaintance, and share their memories while rendering to each other their due respect. Personalities hailing from thousands of years of history, finally meeting by way of the resurrection, even though they previously lived in different eras, and under different circumstances.
In the resurrection also shall meet all the martyrs, the righteous, ascetic witnesses to the Truth, witnesses to the Faith, and witnesses to virtue…all the martyrs, from among princes, commoners, knights, clergy, women, and children.
Each has their own story, their own struggle, their own witness, and their own bravery. Martyrs from the age of Nero, Diocletian, and others like them. Martyrs who have resisted idolatry, and Communism, and atheism, and deviations, and heresies…the heroes of Faith, who have defended it, and for its sake they endured injustice and torture. How wonderful shall be the meeting of all of those together, consoling each other with the glory they just attained in the resurrection!
All those shall meet the righteous from every generation, those who were role models of virtue, of ascetism, of humility, of bravery, of redemption, and of purity of hand and body.
In the resurrection, people from every race and tribe, from every language and colour, shall meet: fair skinned, olive skinned, and dark skinned…the Caucasians with the Africans, the Americans and the Native Indians…all colours shall meet! I do not suppose that people’s colour will change in eternal life!
Those who were masters will meet those who were servants, but have now been freed in eternal life. For a person’s status will change in the next life. All shall meet, but not all will have the same status.
Divine Justice will once again sort people apart, giving them ranks different from those they had during their lives on earth. All shall be re-arranged, this time according to their works and the purity of their hearts. And as it has been said of people in eternal life, a star shall exceed another star in glory. However, even with these differences in rank, all shall be happy.
But perhaps the most confounding of all these meetings will be the meeting with angels. The Kingdom of God in Heaven shall encompass both humans and angels, and so will humans meet Archangels Michael and Gabriel, and the rest of the archangels, the Cherubim and Seraphim, and all the innumerable host of the Heavenly powers.
Oh what joy, and what glory, shall be in that meeting! And what spiritual implications! Here I shall stop explaining, for it is a scene exalted above explanation!
For a wonderful celebration of first encounters will take place in Heaven…will one group of angels introduce those who have just been resurrected to those who have preceded them? Or will God grant people a spiritual sense with which they will recognize one another? Or will every saint, for example, have in their appearance features that distinguish and identify them? Or will there be another way to make someone’s acquaintance? I do not know.
What is important is that this massive celebratory meeting will take place in Heaven, between those of the past with those who had just arisen. Perhaps this celebration will last a long while. What is significant in this meeting is: how will all communicate with each other in Heaven? Through the spirit? Or through some language? And what will this language be? Is it a Heavenly language? Or is it the language of angels (do they even have a language)? Or will one understand what the other person intends to say, without articulating a single word? And I wonder what subjects the inhabitants of Heaven will talk about?
And will everyone join in one song and one praise? What shall it be? And who will lead this praise? Who shall write its words? Who shall compose its melodies? Who shall arrange its music? Who shall sustain its rhythm?
Pardon me my brethren, for I must now descend, and cease talking about Heaven to talk instead about our life on earth. We ask for peace and stability for our Nation, under the leadership of President Mubarak, and all the faithful soldiers of Egypt. And may you have many years of happy returns.