BY H.H. POPE SHENOUDA III.
In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, One God. Amen.
Today, I would like to talk to you about the important subject of the Passion Week. Passion Week is the holiest week of the year. And it's good that we talk about it right now, so we can have an opportunity to enjoy this week spiritually. In this week, the church focuses completely on the suffering of Christ. It does not become concerned with any other subject, but the suffering of Christ. It does not desire to think about any other matter.
Even the Psalms, it does not pray. Because some of the Psalms are about the Lord's birth, Resurrection, Ascension and His Second Coming, and the church wants to focus solemnly on His sufferings. All the readings of the church are about the sufferings of Christ. This subject circulates in the church's mind the entire week. In its hymns and appearance which is clothed in darkness. The front chorus is empty and the people remember that they are out of the camp. All this, gives the idea that our minds shouldn't wander away from the sufferings of Christ.
You might have read or heard a lot about Passion Week, but I would like to talk to you about only one point: the prayer that the church has chosen to pray during the entire Passion Week. She has stopped the Psalms. It turns out to be that the only thing the church prays is the praise that says, "Thok te ti-gowm nem pi o-ou nem pi esmo nem pi amahi sha eneh, amen... etc..." It means, "Thine is the power, the glory, the blessings and the majesty forever, amen..."
We say these words to Christ the entire time. What does this mean? We walk, step by step, following Christ and in every step we say in His ears, "Thine is the power, the glory, the blessings and the majesty forever, amen..."
Christ goes to Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, the people welcome Him as a king, and we rejoice in the kingdom of Christ, saying to Him, "Thine is the power, the glory, the blessings and the majesty forever, amen..." And the chief priests and elders were displeased at the horde surrounding Christ, so they start to think of His death. And while they are thinking of His death, we are behind Him saying, "Thine is the power, the glory, the blessings and the majesty forever, amen..." After that, Christ stays a while at Bethany and we are behind Him with these same words. Judas deals with the chief priests about His deliverance and we say to Him, the entire week, "Thine is the power, the glory, the blessings and the majesty forever, amen..." Christ is arrested and taken to be tried and we stand with Him in court and say to Him, while He is being tried in front of Pontius Pilate, Herod, Annas and Caiaphas the high priest, "Thine is the power, the glory, the blessings and the majesty forever, amen..." Christ is insulted, mcked, jeered and crucified and we stand under the cross and repeat the same hymn, "Thine is the power, the glory, the blessings and the majesty forever, amen..." Throughout all the sufferings that Christ bears, the nails hammered in His hands and feet, we say, "Thine is the power, the glory, the blessings and the majesty forever, amen..." During the entire time, we are not occupied with anything else.
So what is the meaning of this prayer and how can we benefit from it? This is what we are going to discuss. What are behind "Thine is the power and the glory"? We want to fully understand it.
In this week, my brothers and sisters, the last development occurred in the strange struggle between Christ and the Jews. In respect to suffering, Passion Week is not the only painful week in the life of Christ. His entire life on earth was full of suffering. It was written about Him that He is a man of suffering and will experience sorrow. A life full of pain, not just a week. But, this week, it has reached its limit.
It is a struggle between light and darkness. In the beginning, the darkness hated and rejected the light. People liked the darkness more than the light because their deeds were evil. Then it developed that the darkness tried to destroy the light.
It evolved to the point that the darkness accused the light of the being the darkness and that it was the light. It is a struggle between the light and darkness. This struggled was evident during the service of Christ. And it is strange that, during this struggle, Christ was not in resistance. "Like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its sheerer is dumb; He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth" (Isaiah 53:7). This is Passion Week! Christ said to them that this is your hour and the authority of darkness. Christ was given complete authority in heaven and on the earth, but He did not use His authority against the reign of darkness. He left the darkness to take its toll and violently work what it wants.
Without defense. Without resistance. Without standing against it, while He was able to. He strangely let it go. As an obedient lamb even to the slaughter. And we look at Christ while He is being led to the slaughter. And we sing in His ears this hymn, "Thine is the power, the glory, the blessings and the majesty forever, amen..."
Your submission to the works of evil causes you harm, anguish, insult, crucifixion and death. This does not prevent you from being strong, praised, blessed and beloved forever and ever, amen. We know who You are - the Holy God. Christ submitted to the works of the darkness. Just like He gave Satan the freedom to tempt Him as he wishes, He gave the freedom to sinful mankind to torture Him as they wish. Even for Judas, "Jesus said to him, 'What you are going to do, do quickly'" (John 13:27). Do whatever you want. It might appear before the people that He was weak. But if He was, it was not ordered of Him. In His hands was all the power, and we know that. And we sing to Him and say "Thine is the power, the glory, the blessings and the majesty forever, amen..."
To be continued